The Essential Guide to Measuring Your Shoe Size

model in boots

DION LAMAR MILLS FOR BYRDIE 

As someone who loves shoes, you would think that I would own more of them; and yet, my very modest-sized closet can easily accommodate my paltry collection—if you can even call it that. It's not like I'm trying to save up money (though, I probably should), or that I have self-control when it comes to shopping (I wish). No, the reason why I just can't seem to realize my shoe glut fantasy is due to another matter altogether: finicky fit and sizing. 

In my experience, shopping for a fresh pair of kicks is on par with searching for new jeans. It typically begins with a sense of excitement, then moves on to feelings of frustration, and more times than not ends in disappointment. The thing is, there is no universal size chart that shoe manufacturers adhere to, and this lack of standardization is what accounts for inconsistencies in sizing (e.g. why you're an 8 in one brand and a 9 in another). Still, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. Thanks to my many shoe misadventures, I've picked up a few tips and tricks to help bring you one step closer to procuring perfect-fitting footwear.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to measuring your feet in inches and finding your correct shoe sizes—in both men's and women's—once and for all.

How to Measure Your Feet

If a brand doesn't make their shoe size chart available, you may be tempted to write them a strongly worded letter (or let's be real, vent on social media), but we suggest measuring your feet instead.

And it's not just foot length you should be after, but width, too. While not all shoes reference their width—often seen as letters that can be decoded to mean "narrow" or "wide"—they should. Knowing both length and width is the key to comfort, and with the help of some basic school supplies (we're talking, ruler, paper, pencil, etc.) it's pretty easy to figure out:

  1. Stand on a level, flat surface so that all of your body weight is on your feet. The pressure makes them expand a bit.
  2. Tape a piece of paper to the floor. Put one foot on the paper, making sure that your full weight is resting on your feet; rock forward slightly. This helps your feet spread as they do naturally in shoes.
  3. Trace around your foot on the paper. Hold your pen or pencil as straight up and down as possible. (FYI: If you're having trouble balancing, ask your bestie to lend you a hand—that's what friends are for, right?).
  4. Flip the paper over, tape it down to the floor, and repeat step three with the other foot.
  5. On the tracings you've created, using a tape measure or ruler measure from your heel to the tip of your longest toe.
  6. Use the Women's or Men's Shoe Size Conversion charts below to convert the length of your feet to your corresponding shoe size.
  7. Using your tracings, measure the width of each foot at its widest point and record the larger of the two numbers.
  8. To compensate for the width of your writing utensil, subtract about 1/4 inch (1/2 centimeter) from that measurement.
  9. Check the Women's or Men's Shoe Width charts to determine your foot width.

It's best to measure your feet at the end of the day—as that's when they're most swollen—and while wearing the type of socks you plan on wearing with your shoes.

Inches to Women's Shoe Size Conversion Chart

Inches Centimeters U.S. & Canada Europe UK
8-3/16 20.8 4 35 2
8-3/8 21.3 4.5 35 2.5
8-1/2 21.6 5 35–36 3
8-3/4 22.2 5.5 36 3.5
8-7/8 22.5 6 36–37 4
9-1/16 23 6.5 37 4.5
9-1/4 23.5 7 37–38 5
9-3/8 23.8 7.5 38 5.5
9-1/2 24.1 8 38–39 6
9-11/16 24.6 8.5 39 6.5
9-7/8 25.1 9 39-40 7
10 25.4 9.5 40 7.5
10-3/16 25.9 10 40–41 8
10-5/16 26.2 10.5 41 8.5
10-1/2 26.7 11 41–42 9
10-11/16 27.1 11.5 42 9.5
10-7/8 27.6 12 42–43 10

Women's Shoe Width Chart

U.S. Shoe Size Narrow (AA) Average (B or M) Wide (D) Extra-Wide (EE)
5 2-13/16" 3-3/16" 3-9/16" 3-15/16"
5.5 2-14/16" 3-1/4" 3-10/16" 4"
6 2-15/16" 3-5/16" 3-11/16" 4-1/16"
6.5 3" 3-3/16" 3-3/4" 4-2/16"
7 3-1/16" 3-7/16" 3-13/16" 4-3/16"
7.5 3-2/16" 3-1/2" 3-14/16" 4-1/4"
8 3-3/16" 3-9/16" 3-15/16" 4-5/16"
8.5 3-1/4" 3-10/16" 4" 4-3/16"
9 3-5/16" 3-11/16" 4-1/16" 4-7/16"
9.5 3-3/16" 3-3/4" 4-2/16" 4.5
10 3-7/16" 3-13/16" 4-3/16" 4-9/16"
10.5 3-1/2" 3-14/16" 4-1/4" 4-10/16"
11 3-9/16" 3-15/16" 4-5/16" 4-11/16"
11.5 3-10/16" 4" 4-3/16" 4-3/4"
12 3-11/16" 4-1/16" 4-7/16" 4-13/16"
12.5 3-3/4" 4-2/16" 4.5 4-14/16"
13 3-13/16" 4-3/16" 4-9/16" 4-15/16"
13.5 3-14/16" 4-1/4" 4-10/16" 5"
14 3-15/16" 4-5/16" 4-11/16" 5-1/16"

A Note About Width

Not to make things too complicated, but some manufacturers offer non-standard widths, which you'll see as combinations of the numbers and letters above. For example, 11EE is a bit wider than extra wide—by about 38/100 of an inch, to be exact. Generally, that's the difference between each successive letter width designation.

Trying It Out

So to put it all together, let's say you measure your foot's length as 9-1/2 inches long; that gives you a basic U.S. women's shoe size of 8. If you then measure the width at 3-15/16 inches, you come up with a wide ("D") width. That makes your shoe size 8D. Bingo!

Inches to Men's Shoe Size Conversion Chart

Inches U.S. Men's Shoe Size
9 5/16 6
9 1/2 6.5
9 11/16 7
9 13/16 7.5
10 8
10 3/16 8.5
10 5/16 9
10 1/2 9.5
10 11/16 10
10 13/16 10.5
11 11
11 3/16 11.5
11 5/16 12
11 1/2 12.5
11 11/16 13
11 13/16 13.5
12 14
12 3/16 14.5
12 5/16 15

Men's Shoe Width Chart

US Shoe Size Narrow (B) Medium (D) Wide (EE) X-Wide (4E) XX-Wide (6E)
6 3 5/16" 3 1/2" 3 11/16" 3 7/8" 4 1/16"
6.5 3 3/8" 3 9/16" 3 3/4" 3 15/16" 4 1/8"
7 3 7/16" 3 5/8" 3 13/16" 4" 4 3/16"
7.5 3 1/2" 3 11/16" 3 7/8" 4 1/16" 4 1/4"
8 3 9/16" 3 3/4" 3 15/16" 4 1/8" 4 5/16"
8.5 3 5/8" 3 13/16" 4" 4 3/16" 4 3/8"
9 3 11/16" 3 7/8" 4 1/16" 4 1/4" 4 7/16"
9.5 3 3/4" 3 15/16" 4 1/8" 4 5/16" 4 1/2"
10 3 13/16" 4" 4 3/16" 4 3/8" 4 9/16"
10.5 3 7/8" 4 1/16" 4 1/4" 4 7/16" 4 5/8"
11 3 15/16" 4 1/8" 4 5/16" 4 1/2" 4 11/16"
11.5 4" 4 3/16" 4 3/8" 4 9/16" 4 3/4"
12 4 1/16" 4 1/4" 4 7/16" 4 5/8" 4 13/16"
12.5 4 1/8" 4 5/16" 4 1/2" 4 11/16" 4 7/8"
13 4 3/16" 4 3/8" 4 9/16" 4 3/4" 4 15/16"
13.5 4 1/4" 4 7/16" 4 5/8" 4 13/16" 5"
14 4 5/16" 4 1/2" 4 11/16" 4 7/8" 5 1/16"
14.5 4 3/8" 4 9/16" 4 3/4" 4 15/16" 5 1/8"
15 4 7/16" 4 5/8" 4 13/16" 5" 5 3/16"

Trying It Out

Let's make pretend that you've already measured your feet and they're 10.5 inches long and 4 inches wide. According to the men's size conversion chart, that would make you a size 9.5 men's shoe. Next, locate your 9.5 shoe size on the shoe width size chart and move across the corresponding row until you find the measurement that matches—or is closest to—your width of 4 inches. You'll find that it's 3 15/16 inches located under column "Medium (D)." That would mean your shoe size is 9.5D or just 9.5 since a medium width is considered "average."

Nothing Beats a Fitting

While our measuring guide and conversation charts are useful sizing tools—especially if you're shopping for shoes online—nothing beats trying on a pair in person (if you can). That's because the type of footwear (e.g. boots, loafers, heels) and its materials (leather vs. synthetic) will affect its fit and feel. So go ahead and give them a test run, walk, trot, dance—whatever moves you.

The Final Takeaway

Now that you have your foot size, write it down and commit it to memory. Even though we stand by our shoe measuring and sizing guidelines, there's no better way to get a real feel for how shoes fit than by actually putting them on and walking around a bit. So if you have the opportunity to try on a pair of sneakers, bootsloafers, or what have you before buying them, do it. And if there's a handy dandy salesperson available to offer their help and expertise, take it. Lastly, if all else fails, never underestimate the power of a return policy.

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