The Foolproof Way to Finding Your True Shoe Size

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The Foolproof Way to Finding Your True Shoe Size

Many people have had the frustrating experience of ordering shoes online, only to find that the shoes do not fit their feet correctly. The shoes may be the same size and width that the buyer has always wears, but for whatever reasons, the particular brand and style was off. Maybe that company has a different standard for sizing, or the style is cut narrowly, or it is even possible that the particular pair received was sized incorrectly. Some shoe manufacturers only make shoes in the most common width, concluding that it is not cost-effective to produce shoes in other widths. This leaves those with narrow or wide feet with a greatly reduced selection of options in their correct size.

Unsatisfying shoe-buying experiences can be reduced by taking the time to determine one's true shoe size. The shoe size is a matter of both length and width, the latter being a detail that many people ignore. Men are more likely to purchase the correct shoe size because they have no cultural or societal standard to adhere to as far as having slender, beautiful feet. Women, on the other hand, are likely to squeeze their feet into ill-fitting footwear, either because they like the look of the shoe (which may not come in a range of widths) or because they have never considered whether or not their foot is a standard width. Many people also do not realize that their shoe size changes over time due to gravity and pressure, age, pregnancy, weight gain, fluid retention, and other factors.

Some people believe that they need to visit a shoe store and have their feet measured on a slide device, but the good news is that finding one's true shoe size is just as easy at home. First, one can measure for length, then move on to finding the width. Feet should be measured about once a year to see if there have been any changes.


Measuring Foot Length

Measuring the feet at home is done by tracing the feet on paper and measuring the length and width of each foot. In order to get the most accurate figures:

  • Gather paper (legal size is good for most adults), a pencil, and a long ruler or tape measure.
  • Trace feet in the evening, after the feet have swollen to their maximum size.
  • Trace feet in the hosiery that will be worn with the shoes in question.

Tracing the Feet

Follow the steps below to trace the feet:

  • Sit down on a chair and place a sheet of paper on the floor.
  • Place one foot on the paper and allow it to rest naturally.
  • Holding the pencil perfectly vertically and perpendicular to the paper, trace around the perimeter of the foot as closely as possible without angling the pencil in or out. It is not necessary to draw the outline of each toe; the longest toe is of primary concern.
  • Using the ruler, measure the distance from the very bottom of the heel to the top of the longest toe. Subtract 0.20 to 0.25 inches or about 0.50 centimeter to account for the diameter of the pencil. Record the resulting measurement in both inches and centimeters.
  • Measure the distance spanning the ball of the foot at its widest point, from left to right. Again, subtract 0.20 to 0.25 inches or 0.50 centimeter from this figure to account for the width of the pencil, and record the final measurement in both inches and centimeters.
  • Flip the paper over and repeat these steps with the other foot.


Determining Shoe Size

To find the shoe size based on the measurement, simply follow the appropriate table below to the measurement that corresponds to the length of the foot tracing. If between sizes, go to the next highest half size. If one foot is longer than the other, buy a pair of shoes in the larger of the two sizes. Self-adhesive pads can be attached inside the heel of the shoe that goes on the smaller foot to keep it from slipping.

Men's Shoe Length Chart

The following chart indicates measurements for the most common men's shoe sizes.
 

Foot Length in Inches

Corresponding Men's Shoe Size

9 5/16

6

9 1/2

6 1/2

9 11/16

7

9 13/16

7 1/2

10

8

10 3/16

8 1/2

10 5/16

9

10 1/2

9 1/2

10 11/16

10

10 13/16

10 1/2

11

11

11 3/16

11 1/2

11 5/16

12

11 1/2

12 1/2

11 11/16

13

11 13/16

13 1/2

12

14

12 3/16

14 1/2

12 5/16

15


Women's Shoe Length Chart

The following chart indicates measurements for the most common women's shoe sizes.
 

Foot Length in Inches

Corresponding Women's Shoe Size

8 11/16

5

8 13/16

5 1/2

9

6

9 3/16

6 1/2

9 5/16

7

9 1/2

7 1/2

9 11/16

8

9 13/16

8 1/2

10

9

10 3/16

9 1/2

10 5/16

10

10 1/2

10 1/2

10 11/16

11

10 13/16

11 1/2

11

12


Children's Shoe Length Chart

The following chart indicates measurements for the most common children's shoe sizes.
 

Foot Length in Inches

Corresponding Children's Shoe Size

5.38

6 1/2

5.56

7

5.75

7 1/2

5.88

8

6.06

8 1/2

6.25

9

6.38

9 1/2

6.47

10

6.67

10 1/2

6.83

11

6.98

11 1/2

7.14

12

7.30

12 1/2

7.46

13

7.77

1

7.93

1 1/2

8.09

2

8.25

2 1/2

8.40

3


Please note that while these size charts are standard for U.S. shoe sizes, each manufacturer may use its own sizing chart. To get the best fit, check the measurements against the specific shoe manufacturer's size chart.


Determining Shoe Width

Like shoe length, shoe width is determined by measuring the distance across the widest part of the ball of the foot. Width is relative to shoe size, so a foot that is 3 1/2 inches wide might be considered regular width for one size but narrow for a larger size. To find the width, go to the appropriate table below and move down to find the right shoe size. Then move horizontally until the width measurement is reached. If between measurements, go with the wider of the two widths.

Men's Shoe Width Chart

Men's shoes come in narrow, medium, and wide widths, as indicated in the table below.
 

Shoe Size

C or N (Narrow)

D or M (Medium)

E or W (Wide)

6

3.30

3.50

3.70

6 1/2

3.30

3.60

3.80

7

3.40

3.60

3.80

7 1/2

3.40

3.70

3.90

8

3.50

3.80

3.90

8 1/2

3.60

3.80

4.00

9

3.60

3.90

4.10

9 1/2

3.70

3.90

4.10

10

3.80

4.00

4.20

10 1/2

3.80

4.10

4.30

11

3.90

4.10

4.30

11 1/2

3.90

4.20

4.40

12

4.00

4.30

4.40

12 1/2

4.10

4.30

4.50

13

4.10

4.40

4.60

13 1/2

4.20

4.40

4.80

14

4.20

4.50

4.90

14 1/2

4.30

4.60

4.90

15

4.30

4.60

5.00


Women's Shoe Width Chart

Women's shoes come in narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide widths, as indicated in the table below.
 

Shoe Size

AA (Narrow)

B or M (Medium)

D (Wide)

EE (Extra Wide)

5

2.81

3.19

3.56

3.94

5 1/2

2.88

3.25

3.63

4.00

6

2.94

3.31

3.69

4.06

6 1/2

3.00

3.38

3.75

4.13

7

3.06

3.44

3.81

4.19

7 1/2

3.13

3.50

3.88

4.25

8

3.19

3.56

3.94

4.31

8 1/2

3.25

3.63

4.00

4.38

9

3.31

3.69

4.06

4.44

9 1/2

3.38

3.75

4.13

4.50

10

3.44

3.81

4.19

4.56

10 1/2

3.50

3.88

4.25

4.63

11

3.56

3.94

4.31

4.69

11 1/2

3.63

4.00

4.38

4.75

12

3.69

4.06

4.44

4.81


Additional Shoe Fit Factors

They may not be part of finding shoe size, but some other factors that may affect the way a shoe fits are as follows:

Arch Height

The arch of the foot is the concave bottom section of the foot between the ball and the heel. An experienced salesperson can determine arch height by looking at the bottom of someone's foot; individuals can know their arch height by stepping in sand at the beach or stepping on the concrete around a swimming pool with wet feet. A high arch will show the ball and heel of the foot in the footprint but only a narrow side foot. A low or flat arch will look almost solid from ball to heel. A regular arch will have the classic footprint look, with a curved side foot connecting the ball and heel.

Instep Height

The instep is basically the top of the foot that slopes up from the toes to the ankle. Some people have a thinner foot or a more shallow instep, while others have a thicker foot or a steep instep. Instep differences may affect how well the foot fits into a shoe, depending on the cut of the shoe.

Foot Proportions

Some people have very long toes, while others have shorter toes. This can affect the fit of shoes in that the ball of the foot may not sit at the right part of the shoe. A salesperson can make recommendations to assist with this problem.

This information is given to remind shoppers that shoe size alone will not always guarantee a perfect fit. A person may find, for example, that he or she needs more arch support in a shoe or a lower vamp (shoe front) to accommodate a high instep. These factors combine with shoe size to give the most comfortable fit possible.


International Shoe Sizes

Buying shoes from the U.K., elsewhere in Europe, or from other parts of the world requires that buyers consult international size charts. Be sure to check the U.S. size against a size conversion chart for the appropriate country in order to get a good fit. Some conversion charts are inaccurate, so using measurements to arrive at the size from scratch is a better way to size for international shoes.


How to Buy Shoes That Fit Perfectly

The difficulty in finding great-fitting shoes in the correct size comes from the fact that each manufacturer may use a different sizing system. There is no universal standard for shoe sizing. While the charts above are considered to be the most accurate, always retain the specific foot measurements, and write them down on a business or index card to keep in your wallet or purse. Then you will have the figures handy if you run into a shopping situation where your normal size does not fit well. A sales associate may be able to find a manufacturer-specific size chart and determine your size for that brand by using your measurements. This is important because the Brannock device used in most shoe stores to measure feet does not give measurements in inches or centimeters; they are automatically converted to sizes.

When shopping in a shoe store or department store, it never hurts to have a sales associate measure your feet with the Brannock or another device to double-check your own measurements. If there is a difference, mention this to the associate and ask why there is a discrepancy.

How to Buy Great-Fitting Shoes on eBay

eBay makes it fast and easy to find tons of great-looking shoes in your perfect shoe size and width. The men's, women's, and children's shoe sections feature clickable sorting. To find your category, hover over the Fashion link at the homepage and navigate to Men's Shoes, Women's Shoes, or Kids'Clothing. Children's shoes can be viewed by selecting either Boys'Shoes or Girls'Shoes from the clothing page. Further sorting can be done by style, brand, and color to see all listings that match specific criteria, such as all men's work boots in an 11 D, for example.

You can always contact the seller directly if you have any concerns about the fit of a particular pair of shoes. It is a good idea to look for sellers with return policies, as the only way to be 100 percent sure of a footwear purchase is to try the shoes on and be sure that they really do fit correctly.


Conclusion

While there is no one standardized shoe size chart used around the world, it is still possible to find shoes in the right size that fit well. The best shoppers can do is take accurate measurements of their feet and compare these measurements with the size chart used by a particular footwear manufacturer. By tracing the feet carefully and recording these measurements, an appropriate size chart can be consulted, and the right size shoes can be obtained.

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