As someone who loves shoes, you would think that I would own more of them; and yet, the footprint of 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 I did); 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 size(s) once and for all.
How to Measure Your Feet
Whip out the ruler because it's feet measuring time. Simple, yet effective, measuring your feet is the most accurate way to figuring out your shoe size:
- Stand on a level, flat surface so that all of your body weight is on your feet. The pressure makes them expand a bit.
- 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.
- 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?).
- Flip the paper over, tape it down to the floor, and repeat step three with the other foot.
- On the tracings you've created, using a tape measure or ruler, measure from your heel to the tip of your longest toe.
- Use Chart 1 below to convert the length of your feet to your corresponding shoe size. If a brand makes its size chart available, check that first over a general size chart.
Tip: Make sure to take your measurements toward the end of the day when your feet are at their largest (read: most swollen) and wear the same type of socks you'll wear with your shoes to account for their thickness.
|Inches||Centimeters||U.S. & Canada||Europe||UK|
Don't Forget the Width
If there's one common misstep that many of us make when shopping for shoes, it's neglecting to consider our foot width. Even if you get the length measurement right, an incorrect width could mean the difference between shoe bliss and shoe miss. When the fit is too wide, your feet constantly slide in and out of your shoe; when it's too narrow, they end up throbbing. Either situation can also cause blisters and abrasions, so to avoid them, follow these three simple steps:
- Using the tracings from above, measure the width of each foot at its widest point and record the larger of the two numbers.
- To compensate for the width of your writing utensil, subtract about 1/4 inch (1/2 centimeter) from that measurement.
- Check Chart 2 to determine your foot width.
|U.S. Shoe Size||Narrow (AA)||Average (B or M)||Wide (D)||Extra-Wide (EE)|
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.
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. 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!
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 Essential Guide to Men's Shoe Sizing in Inches
Women's International Shoe Size Conversion
International Shoe Size Conversion Chart
How to Measure Your Feet for Shoes
How to Find Your Jeans Size: A Step-by-Step Guide
Men's Shoe Width Letters Decoded
Men's Shoe Size and Widths Chart
How to Convert Men's and Women's Shoe Sizes
Women's Shoe Width Size Chart
A Guide to Wearing High Heels for Beginners
What Petite Means in Women's Clothing
The Most Far Out Shoes of the 1970s
Children's International Shoe Size Conversion Chart
Baby Shoes: US, UK, and European Size Chart for Baby Shoes
Toddler Shoe Tips and Baby Shoe Sizes: U.S. Versus European
9 Tips for Stylishly Camouflaging Large Feet