How to Measure Shoe Size and Width

You can measure the size and width of your feet at home using a simple measuring tape, a pencil and a piece of paper. Having your foot measurements helps you find shoes that fit well.

According to a study by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, nearly 90 percent of US women wear too small a shoe. And, as much as 70 percent of men wear shoes that aren’t a perfect fit.

Whether it’s because they’re unaware of their shoe size or prioritize other factors—such as look and style—this can have serious consequences for their feet.

Our guidelines below advance on shoe sizing and fitting, teaching you to find a standard width for your feet and prevent the physical complications.

Here, we’ll talk about the significance of measuring your shoe size, explain how the numerical scales fail to meet your feet dimensions, and offer practical steps to determine your shoe size accurately.

Why Should I Measure My Shoe Size?

Wearing Ill-Fitting Shoes Has Irreversible Consequences

Wearing wrong-sized shoes can cause different kinds of foot deformities, such as hammertoes, corns and calluses. These conditions are painful and sometimes incurable.

Another side effect, which results from wearing narrow-width shoes, is a common experience known as ingrown toenails, which can cause infections around your nail skin.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes can even result in a more painful ailment—peripheral neuropathy—that causes pins and needles in your feet, and gradually numbs the area.

Your Shoe Size Can Change Over Time

Some people always buy the same shoe size because they assume it’s a fixed number that won’t change. However, that’s not true.

Many factors, such as age, fluid retention, pregnancy and weight loss/gain, can affect your shoe size, which means you should regularly measure your feet to be aware of their changes.

Ideally, we recommend you measure your feet at least once a year. If their length hasn’t changed, but the width has grown, you should go for extra-wide shoes.

Shoe Sizing Varies Between Countries

There are international nuances in terms of measuring shoe sizes. So, when buying your shoes from manufacturers in other countries, you may get into trouble:

  • US: Shoes come in full and half sizes and range from size 4 to 16.
  • Europe: Shoe sizes come in exact numbers, and range from 35 to 45.

Therefore, when converting the US shoe size to the European style, a half size could be ignored entirely.

In these conditions, measuring your foot size will reduce the risk of getting the wrong fit, for both online and in-store purchases.

Shoe Size Is Mostly Based on Length

Knowing your shoe size doesn’t always translate into the right fit because most manufacturers determine these numbers by merely the length of the feet.

So, you should be able to measure your foot width and base your choices on both numbers.

How to Measure Shoe Size and Width at Home

How to Measure Foot Length

For measuring the length of your foot, grab these:

  • Piece of paper—more if your foot is bigger than one piece
  • Tape measure.
  • Pencil.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Place the paper on the ground.
  2. Tape it to the floor so it won’t slip.
  3. Place a foot on the paper while standing. Put your whole weight on the paper, so your foot is fully expanded to get the maximum size.
  4. Trace around your foot with the pencil. Make sure to keep the pencil perpendicular. For more accuracy, it’s better to have someone else do this.
  5. Use the measuring tape to measure the distance from the back of your heel to the tip of the longest toe—usually the hallux, but this may vary between people.
  6. Note down the dimensions somewhere.
  7. Repeat for the other foot and take the longest measurement.

How to Measure Foot Width

To measure your foot width:

  1. Make sure you’re sitting down.
  2. Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your foot—which is the ball. Don’t hold the tape too tight.
  3. Repeat the process for the other foot for optimum accuracy. Go with the widest reading.
  4. Write down the results, and enter the numbers into a shoe size calculator, where you can get the best sizes in shoes.

How to measure shoe size and width

Shoes Sizing Tips

  1. Measure at the end of the day: The best time for foot measurement is at the end of the day when you’ve walked a lot. At this time, your feet have probably swelled, and they’re at their widest.
  2. Wear socks: Don’t measure your bare feet unless you intend to wear the shoes without socks. Pick socks that you plan to wear with the shoes you want to buy, and have them on your foot while measuring your shoe size to determine your shoe wide width.
  3. Stick with exact measurements: Don’t round up or down when recording the results. Every single inch can have a significant effect on your shoe size.
  4. Be careful not to fall over: If you don’t have anyone to help you, stand next to a wall or chair to balance while drawing the outline of your foot. This can contribute to accuracy.
  5. Round down to the nearest quarter-inch: Since there might still be a slight deviation in measuring, subtract about ¼-inch from the width and length for a more accurate result.

adidas shoe

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know My Shoe Width Size?

You can know your shoe width size using a simple measuring method. Pick a tape measure, and gently wrap it up across the widest part of your foot.

How Are Shoe Sizes Measured?

Shoe sizes can be measured by either a hand ruler or mechanic ruler. If you want to do it yourself, draw an outline of your foot on a piece of paper and measure the dimensions with a ruler. You can also go to a professional shoe fitter to have your foot measured by a mechanical ruler, called the Brannock device.

Is It OK to Wear a Half Size Bigger Shoe?

Generally, it’s not OK to wear a half size bigger shoe because they should always fit you. However, if you want to go jogging or walk for a long period, it’s good to pick a half size bigger because your feet may swell up. They’ll need more room so that the blood can circulate to your feet.

The Takeaway

The alarming statistics show that most people are regularly wearing inadequately sized shoes. Whether they’re ignorant or unaware of their shoe size changes, this can have severe foot complications.

So, before buying any sizes shoes, we suggest you follow our measuring steps to measure your feet. Don’t just rely on the shoe size label at the bottom of your shoes.


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