Although you and your toddler may both wear a shoe size 7, it’s obvious that your shoes are not the same size. Men and women may also both wear a size 12, but the man’s size 12 will be almost half an inch longer than the woman’s. To complicate matters even further, there’s lots of variation in shoe width, and many countries also size shoes differently. Fortunately, a little time with a measuring tape and the right size chart can help you get the perfect fit.
Shoe Sizing Basics
Your numerical shoe size, whether you are buying Italian shoes or American shoes, is based on the length of your foot. This is the distance from your heel to your longest toe. It does not account for shape variations or width.
Although some shoes only come in standard widths, many are available in wider or narrower styles. Knowing the width of your foot and how it compares to a pair of shoes is essential for a comfortable fit. Shoe width is usually described with a letter or group of letters, such as “D” or “EEEE.” Sometimes, the letters are replaced by a combination of letters and numbers, such as “4E.” It’s important to note that the width sizing is also dependent on your foot’s length. For instance, if your foot is 3 9/16 inches wide and you wear a size 8, this is considered regular width. However, if you have a foot that is 3 9/16 inches wide and you wear a size 5, you’ll need a wide shoe.
Children’s shoes usually do not come in varying widths.
In the United States, women’s shoes come in whole and half sizes that range from 4 through 12. Men’s shoes have whole and half sizes from 6 through 16.
However, numerical sizes are different in other countries. For instance, a woman who wears a size 6 in the United States will wear a size 4 in the United Kingdom, a size 36/37 in Europe, and a size 23 in Japan.
Finding Your Shoe Size
From infant’s crib shoes to men’s work boots, shoes are sized according to length and width. Understanding how your foot compares to the standard sizes will ensure your shoes fit perfectly, whether you buy them in person or order them online.
How to Measure
To measure properly, you’ll need a piece of paper larger than your foot, a pencil, and a measuring tape.
- Stand and place the paper on the floor in front of you. If you like, you can tape the paper to the floor to keep it from sliding around. Put your foot on the paper.
- Use a pencil to trace all the way around your foot. Try to keep the pencil perpendicular to the paper.
- When you’ve completely traced your foot, flip the paper over and trace your other foot on the reverse side.
- Use a tape measure to find the length of your foot at its longest point. Next, find the width at the widest point. Write these numbers on the paper.
- Subtract ¼ inch or about ½ centimeter from both the length and the width to account for the pencil outline.
- Use these measurements to find your shoe size on the chart below.
Helpful Measuring Tips
Keep these tips in mind to help you get the best results from your measurement:
- Take your measurements at the end of the day, especially if you know your feet tend to swell throughout the day.
- When measuring, wear the socks or tights you plan to wear with this pair of shoes.
- Always trace and measure both feet, since it’s common for one foot to be a bit larger than the other. Use the largest foot to find your shoe size.
- If you’re having trouble keeping your balance while tracing, do it next to a chair or table that you can hold to steady yourself. Some people also find it easier to have a friend trace the foot.
Women’s Shoe Size Charts (Length and Width)
|US Size||Narrow (AA) (inches)||Narrow (AA) (cm)||Medium (M or B) (inches)||Medium (M or B) (cm)||Wide (D) inches||Wide (D) (cm)||Extra Wide (EE) (inches)||Extra Wide (EE) (cm)|
|5||2 13/16″||7.1 cm||3 3/16″||8.1 cm||3 9/16″||9 cm||3 15/16″||10 cm|
|5.5||2 7/8″||7.3 cm||3 1/4″||8.3 cm||3 5/8″||9.2 cm||4″||10.1 cm|
|6||2 15/16″||7.5 cm||3 5/16″||8.4 cm||3 11/16″||9.4 cm||4 1/16″||10.3 cm|
|6.5||3″||7.6 cm||3 3/8″||8.6 cm||3 3/4″||9.5 cm||4 1/8″||10.5 cm|
|7||3 1/16″||7.8 cm||3 7/16″||8.7 cm||3 13/16″||9.7 cm||4 3/16″||10.6 cm|
|7.5||3 1/8″||8 cm||3 1/2″||8.9 cm||3 7/8″||9.9 cm||4 1/4″||10.8 cm|
|8||3 3/16″||8.1 cm||3 9/16″||9 cm||3 15/16″||10 cm||4 5/16″||11 cm|
|8.5||3 1/4″||8.3 cm||3 5/8″||9.2 cm||4″||10.1 cm||4 3/8″||11.1 cm|
|9||3 5/16″||8.4 cm||3 11/16″||9.4 cm||4 1/16″||10.3 cm||4 7/16″||11.3 cm|
|9.5||3 3/8″||8.6 cm||3 3/4″||9.5 cm||4 1/8″||10.5 cm||4 1/2″||11.4 cm|
|10||3 7/16″||8.7 cm||3 13/16″||9.7 cm||4 3/16″||10.6 cm||4 9/16″||11.6 cm|
|10.5||3 1/2″||8.9 cm||3 7/8″||9.9 cm||4 1/4″||10.8 cm||4 5/8″||11.8 cm|
|11||3 9/16″||9 cm||3 15/16″||10 cm||4 5/16″||11 cm||4 11/16″||11.9 cm|
|11.5||3 5/8″||9.2 cm||4″||10.1 cm||4 3/8″||11.1 cm||4 3/4″||12.1 cm|
|12||3 11/16″||9.4 cm||4 1/16″||10.3 cm||4 7/16″||11.3 cm||4 13/16″||12.2 cm|
Important First Step
Knowing your shoe size is a very important first step in finding a comfortable pair of shoes. Keep in mind that some manufacturers may deviate from the traditional sizing charts, so it’s always a good idea to double check you measurements against those of the specific shoe brand you’re considering. That way, you can be positive you’ll end up with shoes that feel as good as they look.