Shoe Sizing and Fitting: The Ultimate Guide

Correct shoe sizing comes down to measuring your feet beforehand. But, unfortunately, your feet aren’t going to slide snugly into a pair of Nikes like they will a pair of Timberlands. Different types of shoes, from boots to heels or running shoes, will also require a different fit.

You also need to think about whether your toes touch the tip of the shoe when you’re trying them on. And how do you find the right size for running shoes and allow for movement? That’s not to mention what the correct size is for high heels or boots.

But you’re in the right place.

We’ll go through all you need to know about shoe sizing and fitting in this article, including size conversion charts. Also, refer to our guide for men, women and kids’ sizes and take out the guesswork.

What Is Shoe Sizing?

Shoe sizing refers to finding the right, fitting shoe size for your feet. The correct shoe size depends on your foot’s length and width, but you’ll need to check each brand’s size conversion charts to identify your size.

Your feet will also change their size and shape as you get older, so nailing your exact size is imperative.

Why Is Shoe Sizing Important?

Knowing your shoe size is not only important to avoid immediate discomfort. It’s also crucial for your health and safety.

The right shoe size will help you avoid many small issues on your feet, including blisters, calluses and bunions. The correct shoe size will also help you maintain your joints in the right alignment and even help you maintain your balance.

Especially when we get older, our muscles grow more fragile, and with that, our balance can also weaken. A shoe that’s the right size gives us support, while a poorly fitted pair may make you unstable when walking.

By picking the right shoe size, you might also extend the life of the shoe. When you’re wearing a poorly fitted shoe, you’re likely to fall into unnatural movement patterns. These movements will worsen the wear and tear of your shoe in the wrong places, and you may notice them wearing out unnaturally.

How Do You Measure Your Shoe Size?

You can measure men’s, women’s and children’s footwear the same way, but you’ll have to take into account that the sizes are very different:

  1. Measure your foot.
  2. Compare it to the specific shoe size conversion charts below.
  3. Also, check out the shoe width charts in this article if you suspect your feet are wider or narrower than standard.

Here’s how you can measure your feet:

  1. Measure your feet in the afternoon so you’ll get a more accurate size. They’re likely to be more swollen after hours of standing and movement.
  2. Find a piece of paper larger than your feet and grab a pencil and a ruler. You should wear socks or tights you’ll be wearing with the shoes.
  3. Place the piece of paper on a flat surface, preferably against a wall, and step on it with your foot. Keep your heel against the wall for the best accuracy.
  4. Outline your foot on the paper. Follow your foot closely and keep the pen in an upright position to avoid sizing up or down. Repeat on the other foot.
  5. Measure your foot with the ruler from the tip of your longest toe to the heel and at its widest point. If one of your feet is bigger than the other, use that measurement as your reference.
  6. Compare your length measurement to the shoe size conversion charts below, depending on whether you’re picking men’s, women’s or kid’s shoes. Also, see the specific information below for dress shoes, sports shoes and heels.
  7. Every brand and model of shoe is different. If you’re buying online, check their specific shoe size conversion charts and measurements. Also, ensure whether the brand/model runs true to size or not.
  8. Measure your feet periodically, ideally every time you’re buying shoes. Your feet may grow because of age, hormonal or weight changes, so the shoe size you’ve always worn may not have been correct.

How to Know Your Shoes Are the Right Size

Even if a pair feels right when you try them on, you may find they don’t fit the same later on or the next day.

Although this is frustrating as hell, here are some tips to avoid making mistakes when trying on new shoes:

  • Go shoe shopping at the end of the day. Just like with measurements, you should buy shoes when your feet are at their largest point. The best time is after hours of being on your feet or moving around.
  • Take your measurements with you to the shoe store. Salespersons should be able to find you the right shoe size for your measurements.
  • If you wear orthotic insoles, keep them with you when you’re shoe shopping. You’ll need a bit more room in the shoe to fit in the sole, so it’s crucial to try on the shoes with the insoles.
  • Your foot shouldn’t feel cramped, and your toes should be able to wiggle comfortably. The ball of the foot should feel snug and supported, but not tight.
  • If the shoe has laces, check how they fit. Do they feel way too long or short? The two sides shouldn’t overlap, but they also shouldn’t be too far apart. If either one of those is your case, look into extra-narrow or wide options.
  • Is there any discomfort when you’re walking? Does the arch feel like it’s exerting pressure in the wrong place? Is something rubbing or pinching against your foot? If the shoe isn’t comfortable from the start, don’t bother buying it.
  • Does the heel fit and stay snugly in place? If the shoe moves around when you walk, it may mean it’s too big and may give you blisters in the long run.
  • Check out where your longest toe fits. There should be about ⅜ to ½ of an inch between it and the tip of the shoe, or about the size of your thumbnail. Keep in mind that your longest toe isn’t necessarily your big toe.
  • Never buy shoes that are too small and think they’ll be better when you break them in. Shoes should fit comfortably from the start. When you break them in, the top layer might expand slightly, but the length of the shoe won’t change with use. It will only get painful.

Different Shoe Sizes in Different Countries

Knowing your shoe size conversion in inches and centimeters is very useful when traveling or ordering shoes online from foreign companies or different brands.

There are differences between US, UK and continental European sizes, so the exact measurement comes in handy.

UK vs. US

  • Men: UK sizes for men tend to be about half a size smaller than US sizes.
  • Women: UK sizes are approximately two numbers smaller. However, this may vary on the brand.

European Differences

European sizes may vary between countries—a 39 in France may be smaller than in Sweden.

Others vs. US

Latin American and Asian shoe sizes also differ from the US standard, so your measurements will come in handy.

Japan and Mexico, for example, use centimeters. China, Brazil and Argentina use European sizing, though sometimes a size or two smaller.

In particular, if you’re buying Li-Ning sneakers from China or Brazilian Havaianas flip-flops online, check out the specifics of each brand.

Brand Differences

Many brands include the shoe size in inches or centimeters in their labels or on their websites and shoe size conversion charts. When you’ve measured your foot correctly, you can use this to find the right size.

Sports Shoes Differences

Sports shoes usually express the measurement in centimeters, so convert your measurements from inches to centimeters before buying.

Men’s Guide to Shoe Sizing

Did you know that the average foot size for men in the US is about 10.5, and worldwide, the number is between 9 and 12?

You’re forgiven for estimating your shoe size based on height; we’ve all done it, but there’s more to nailing your shoe size.

Height depends on both genetic and environmental factors, and foot size correlates with height.

But now that you’ve got your measurements, we’re ready to identify where you land on the chart. The below size chart of shoe will help you identify your shoe size for most casual styles of men s shoe, but here are some sizing quirks to look out for when buying:

  • Boots: Calculate for a bit more room since your feet will need to breathe. You’ll also likely use thicker socks with boots.
  • Sandals: Usually best when you calculate ¼ of an inch extra to avoid your toes from going over the top of the shoe.
  • Dress and sports shoes: The fitting can be a bit trickier, and you’ll need to pay attention to different things. We’ll cover both in this article, so don’t worry.

Men s Shoe Size Conversion Chart

This sizing chart for shoes will help you identify your size. Remember that the sizes are approximate, and you’ll always need to refer to the shoe size conversion chart for each brand to know your specific size.

Foot Length (inches) US Shoe Size UK Shoe Size EU Shoe Size
9 ⅓ 6 5.5 38 to 39
9 ½ 6.5 6 39
9 ⅔ 7 6.5 40
9 ⅘ 7.5 7 40 to 41
9 ⅞ 8 7.5 41
10 ⅛ 8.5 8 41 to 42
10 ⅓ 9 8.5 42
10 ⅜ 9.5 9 42 to 43
10 ⅝ 10 9.5 43
10 6/8 10.5 10 43 to 44
10 ⅞ 11 10.5 44
11 ⅛ 11.5 11 44 to 45
11 ⅓ 12 11.5 45
11 ⅔ 13 12.5 46
11 ⅞ 14 13.5 47

How Men’s Dress Shoes Should Fit

There’s nothing worse than having to wear a pair of dress shoes that are too tight for an entire day. And if you need to wear them every day, you know the right fit is absolutely crucial.

Fitting a dress shoe is different from other types of men s shoe. The socks you’ll wear are usually thinner, and the shoe is likely to be less cushioned and comfy.

Don’t be put off by potential discomfort—properly fitted dress shoes from the right brand shouldn’t be uncomfortable.

degree colors of brown

Length

You’ll need a little less room between the shoe and your foot than with a running shoe or sneaker. Still, you should be able to fit your finger in the shoe right behind your heel.

If your work has you on your feet in dress shoes for long hours, you can calculate a bit more space. Try them on at the end of the workday if you can to get the most authentic feeling possible.

Width

When fitting the shoe, pay attention to any pressure at the sides of your toes. Does your pinky feel unnaturally crushed? Is there a lot of pressure on your big toe?

That pressure might end up being a nasty blister at the end of the day. If you wear dress shoes every day, you might develop long-term problems.

Clarks and Cole Haan are quality brands with wide and comfortable dress shoe sizes for those with extra-wide feet. Check them out if your feet are on the wider side.

Laces

If the shoe has laces, make sure you can tie them up and that they’re not overlapping. Shoelaces on dress shoes are sometimes too short by design, but it can also be an indicator of the wrong shoe size for you.

Inserts

To make wearing dress shoes easier, use a comfortable insole that provides the correct arch support for your feet.

The right type of insole will turn any type of shoe from enemy to ally, and you can visit a podiatrist to get insoles that are specifically designed for your feet.

If you’re buying a men s shoe online, calculate about ¼-inch or more for your insoles or orthopedic inserts. They occupy some space inside the shoe, so you’ll need to take that into account when you’re buying.

Clarks vs. Cole Haan Shoes Sizing

Clarks and Cole Haan are both popular brands, but how are their sizing for a men s shoe? Do they run true to size, tight or small?

Clarks

Clarks is a UK company that specializes in comfortable, affordable styles. Its dress shoes are especially comfortable compared to many other brands, so they’re a solid option for those who fear this type of footwear.

Clarks men s shoes usually run true to size. However, remember to always take your measurements and compare to the brands’ shoe size conversion charts to find your UK size. It’s also helpful to check out some reviews on the specific model before buying.

Cole Haan

Cole Haan is a bit more expensive than Clarks, but you can find great deals on their shoes online.

Also, Cole Haan men s shoe size tends to run about half a size bigger than many other dress shoe brands, so you should size down.

Still, always check the shoe size conversion chart and the information about every specific model before buying.

Women’s Guide to Shoe Sizing

The average women’s shoe size in the US has grown in the past decades as women have grown taller. The average shoe size for women in the US nowadays is 8.5 to 9, while a hundred years ago, it was between 3.5 and 4.

Remember that hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, may make your feet change their size and shape. Especially, the first pregnancy has a major effect on the foot structure and arch height. This will impact your foot width and the support you need from your shoe for years.

For this reason, it’s even more important for women to measure their shoe length and width regularly.

Women’s Shoe Size Chart Conversion: EU to US

Foot Length (inches) US Shoe Size UK Shoe Size EU Shoe Size
8 ¾ 6 4 36 to 37
9 6.5 4.5 37
9 ¼ 7 5 37 to 38
9 ⅜ 7.5 5.5 38
9 ½ 8 6 38 to 39
9 ¾ 8.5 6.5 39
9 ⅞ 9 7 39 to 40
10 9.5 7.5 40
10 ⅕ 10 8 40 to 41
10 ⅓ 10.5 8.5 41
10 ½ 11 9 41 to 42

Women’s Dress Shoes and Heels Size Guide

Sizing is especially important in women’s dress shoes. You’ll likely be wearing them with very fine socks, tights or even without socks. This means there’s less protection between your foot and the shoe, and you’ll develop blisters even faster if you’re wearing poorly fitted footwear.

Here are some tips for fitting women’s dress shoes:

Ballet Flats

Ballet flats can be tricky if they’re a size too big. They’ll easily start sliding off your feet, and you’ll get blisters or end up tensing up your foot muscles as a result.

You should be able to fit your pinky finger inside the shoe at the back when you’re sitting. This will guarantee you enough freedom of movement when you’re walking, but it won’t be too much to make your foot slide out.

Flat Sandals

With flat sandals, it’s always better to go one size up rather than down. If you wear sandals half a size too small, your toes might hang over the top of the shoe, which isn’t pretty.

Make sure the straps fit comfortably but snugly. You shouldn’t have to clench your toes to keep the sandal on, but you also shouldn’t be cutting circulation to your feet.

If any strap bothers you or cuts into your skin when you’re trying them on, leave the pair behind. It will only feel worse after use.

Boots

Boots can and should have a little room for your toes and heel to move around to not be too tight. This goes for ankle boots, as well. Your feet need to breathe when you’re wearing boots!

When buying boots online, make sure you also measure your calf width. You should find this indicated with the information on every boot model, but that’s not always the case. If you know from experience that your calves differ from standard size, look for brands that specialize in narrow or wide models.

When trying the boots on, you should be able to comfortably fit your thumb inside the boot shaft to make sure it’s not too tight. However, there should be no more than a ¼-inch between the shoe and your calf.

Heels

Stilettos

Stilettos should be a bit smaller than other types of shoes. They should be a snug fit, but not tight.

This means that your toes will likely be closer to the top of the shoe than with flats. You also won’t need to fit a finger behind your heel. In fact, if there’s a space between your heel and the shoe when you’re sitting down, the shoe size is probably too big.

blue and yellow women shoes

Wedges

Wedges are a great option for those with wide feet. They’re often a bit bigger than other types of heels, and you’ll be able to support your weight more evenly along the whole foot.

Make sure the fit is snug, but not uncomfortable. You shouldn’t feel your toes crushed at the front. Your feet should feel firmly supported and with no movement back and forth when you walk.

Arch

Wrongly-sized heels for you won’t only cause you blisters; they may also give you quite a lot of pain in the arch of the foot. Sometimes, arch pain can also occur because of poor design or high or low arches.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell if the arch is in the wrong place in a heel. You won’t be able to feel your weight distributed evenly along the length of the sole. The ball of your foot, or even worse, your toes, will support all your weight.

This will make your heels experience incredibly uncomfortable. Your feet, legs and

back will get tired faster, and you’ll have trouble wearing those beautiful heels for hours.

Do High Heels always Hurt?

Women are often so accustomed to wearing uncomfortable shoes that they may even consider it normal when high heels are painful.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

While the correct shoe size is key for comfort, many brands make comfortable heels.

Try Vionic, Clarks or Ecco. All these brands have comfortable dress shoes for women—even high heels and sandals.

If you’re new to wearing heels, you might also find some relief from placing small gel pads under the balls of your feet. They help your foot stay in place and relieve some of the pressure from the front of your foot.

Also, try this easy tape hack to make your high heels more comfortable:

Some women tape their third and fourth toes together when they’re wearing heels. This prevents discomfort from pressure on the nerves that run between the toes. The higher the heel, the bigger the difference you’ll notice with this method.

Kids’ Guide to Shoe Sizing

Knowing a kid’s shoe size can be a bit tricky, but with these tips, they’re no more complicated than adults’ shoes.

First of all, note that kids’ shoe sizes begin at 0 for newborn babies and go up to 13.5 for kids of about 6 to 7 years old. After that, they start again at shoe size 1, which is where adult sizes begin.

As for age divisions when you’re in a kids’ shoe store, these are the common groups:

  • Babies’ shoe sizes: Shoe size 0.5 to 4, which corresponds to a one-year-old infant.
  • Little kid shoe sizes: Ages 4 to 8.
  • Big kid shoe sizes: Ages 8 to 12.

How to Measure Kids’ Feet

To measure a kid’s feet, proceed as you would with an adult, but take extra care to find the correct size. This means you need to pay attention to keeping the foot flat and make sure your child isn’t clenching their toes or the arch:

  1. Place a piece of paper under their feet and trace the outline with a pencil. If you have an infant younger than 12 months that doesn’t stand on their own yet, you can measure their feet when sitting or lying down.
  2. Measure the foot’s length from the toes to the heel, just like you would with an adult.
  3. Add about a ¼-inch to the measurement for growth and movement.
  4. Make sure to measure both feet, as there are often differences in sizing. Go with the bigger foot.
  5. If your child is between sizes, always pick a shoe size that’s bigger rather than smaller. Kids don’t shrink, but they will outgrow a shoe too small really fast.
  6. Measure your child’s feet every couple of months and whenever you’re buying new shoes to make sure you’ve got the right size.

baby foot

Baby Shoe Size Conversion Chart

This shoe size chart will help you find the right shoe for a baby from newborn to about 9 to 12 months of age, depending on their size.

Note that the age is only an approximate measure to help you buy the right shoe if you don’t have the exact measurement. If you can, always trust the measurement instead of the age. Even 6-month-old babies may vary a lot in size. When kids get bigger, their shoe size differences can grow, too.

Age (months) Foot Length (inches) US Shoe Size UK Shoe Size EU Shoe Size
0 to 2 3 ⅛ 0 0 15
0 to 2 3 ¼ 0.5 0.5 16
0 to 2 3 ½ 1 0.5 16
0 to 2 3 ⅝ 1.5 1 17
1 to 3 3 ¾ 2 1 17
3 to 6 4 2.5 1.5 18
6 to 9 4 ⅛ 3 2 18
9 to 11 4 ¼ 3.5 2.5 19
10 to 12 4 ½ 4 3 19

Kids’ Shoe Size Conversion Chart

Here’s a handy size conversion chart that will help you buy shoes for a child from birth to about 12 years old:

Age (years) Foot Length (inches) US Size UK Size EU Size
0 to 1 3 ½ to 4 ½ 0 to 4 0 to 3 15 to 19
1 4 ½ to 5 ⅝ 4 to 7 3.5 to 6 19 to 23
2 5 ¾ to 6 ⅛ 7.5 to 8.5 6.5 to 7.5 24 to 25
3 6 ¼ to 6 ⅜ 9 to 9.5 8 to 8.5 25 to 26
4 6 ⅝ to 7 10 to 11.5 9 to 10.5 27 to 29
5 7 ⅛ to 7 ¼ 12 to 12.5 11 to 11.5 30
6 7 ⅜ to 7 ½ 13 to 13.5 12 to 12.5 31
7 7 ⅝ to 7 ⅞ 1 to 1.5 13 to 13.5 32 to 33
8 8 to 8 ¼ 2 to 2.5 1 to 1.5 33 to 34
9 8 ⅜ to 8 ½ 3 to 3.5 2 to 2.5 34 to 35
10 8 ⅝ to 8 ⅞ 4 to 4.5 3 to 3.5 36
11 9 to 9 ¼ 5 to 5.5 4 to 4.5 37
12 9 ¾ 6 5 38

What Do Different Shoe Widths Mean?

You’ve probably wondered what does shoe width letters mean when shopping for a new pair of kicks.

Foot width letters are simpler than they seem, and they usually go from AAA to EEE. To simplify:

  • AAA: Extra-narrow.
  • EEE: Extra-wide.

But there’s more to the story.

Women usually have narrower feet than men, which is why A is more common in women’s shoes and E for men s shoes.

D is actually a standard shoe size for men, but a wide shoe for women.

For women, B is a standard foot width.

Mens’ Shoe Width Size Chart

Here’s an approximate guide to help you find the right width in a men s shoe size. These sizes always depend on the brand, too:

Shoe Size US C: Narrow Fit

(width in inches)

D: Standard Fit

(width in inches)

E: Wide Fit

(width in inches)

6 3 5/16 3 ½ 3 11/16
6.5 3 5/16 3 ⅝ 3 ¾
7 3 ⅜ 3 ⅝ 3 ¾
7.5 3 ⅜ 3 11/16 3 15/16
8 3 ½ 3 ¾ 3 15/16
8.5 3 ⅝ 3 ¾ 4
9 3 ⅝ 3 15/16 4 ⅛
9.5 3 11/16 3 15/16 4 ⅛
10 3 ¾ 4 4 3/16
10.5 3 ¾ 4 ⅛ 4 5/16
11 3 15/16 4 ⅛ 4 5/16
11.5 3 15/16 4 3/16 4 ⅜
12 4 4 5/16 4 ⅜
12.5 4 ⅛ 4 5/16 4 ½
13 4 ⅛ 4 5/16 4 ⅝
13.5 4 3/16 4 ⅜ 4 ¾

Women’s Shoe Width Chart

Here’s a chart to help you identify the width in a women’s shoe:

Shoe Size US AA: Narrow Fit

(width in inches)

B: Standard Fit

(width in inches)

D: Wide

(width in inches)

5 2 13/16 3 3/16 3 ½
5.5 2 ⅞ 3 ¼ 3 ⅝
6 2 15/16 3 5/16 3 11/16
6.5 3 3 ⅜ 3 ¾
7 3 1/16 3 7/16 3 13/16
7.5 3 ⅛ 3 ½ 3 ⅞
8 3 3/16 3 9/16 3 15/16
8.5 3 ¼ 3 ⅝ 4
9 3 ⅜ 3 11/16 4 1/16
9.5 3 ⅜ 3 ¾ 4 ⅛
10 3 7/16 3 ¾ 4 3/16
10.5 3 ½ 3 ⅞ 4 ¼
11 3 9/16 3 15/16 4 5/16
12 3 11/16 4 1/16 4 7/16

How Do You Know What Size Sports Shoes to Buy?

Sneakers and other sports shoes have their sizing tricks, and no two shoe manufacturers or models are the same.

Even the same model of shoe, when redesigned, can see a shoe size change. This is because the internal mechanics of the shoe evolve, and even a small adjustment in an insole may leave less room for your foot.

This is why you always need to measure your feet before buying, but you’ll never know what fits until you try on the shoe.

Different sports will often use different things. For example, soccer cleats need to be tight, and they’re often bought half a shoe size smaller. Running shoes are the opposite.

running shoes

What Size Should My Running Shoes Be

Here are some crucial things to keep in mind when fitting running shoes:

Ask for Help

The best thing you can do is to take your measurements to the shoe store. Don’t just wander around and pick the model by the color, but ask a well-informed salesperson to help you find the right fit and model.

You can then hunt online to find a good deal if you feel the need.

Mention or Research Previous Conditions

Consider any previous conditions you might have, like flat or excessively high arches that alter your gait. Taking these into account will help you pick out shoes that help you neutralize your step and remove any excess pressure from your arches.

When shopping online, research the right models for your pronation type beforehand. Many runners’ brands include this information on their websites on every specific model.

Overpronation, or your ankles rolling slightly inward, is common for people with flat arches.

Underpronation, also called supination, is its opposite, common for people with high arches.

Test the Insole

Try this great trick to test the size of the footwear.

  1. Take the insole out and place it on the floor.
  2. Step on the insole.
  3. Make sure your foot doesn’t spill over the sides, the front or back.
  4. The sole should be comfortable and the same size and shape as your foot.

Lace Them Up

  1. Ensure the insole is in, and slip the shoe on.
  2. Tie the laces tight enough for the fit to feel snug, but not so much that it gets uncomfortable.
  3. See if you can fit your finger in between the shoe and the laces. This helps ensure they’re not too tight.

Check the Fit

Stand up and check if the fit is correct.

You should be able to have about a finger’s width of room between your toe and the front of the shoe.

As for the width, make sure there’s no pressure at the big toe or the pinky, and that you’re able to wiggle them with ease.

Move

When fitting a new running shoe, you need to test it. Walk, jump and run, just like you would when you go out for a run. Don’t worry about looking weird; it’s super important to see if the running movement is actually comfortable.

Pay attention to anything that might feel off, pinch or rub against your skin. Does the heel move around, or does it stay snugly in place? If you feel your foot slipping out of place, you may need a smaller size.

Repeat as Needed

Don’t give up until you’ve found the pair that feels just right. If the shoe is even a bit uncomfortable when you’re trying it on, just imagine what it will feel like when you log in some mileage.

With a running shoe, it’s especially important to use the right shoe size because the repetitive movement will give you serious discomfort if you don’t.

Don’t buy a shoe too small thinking you’ll be able to break it in. You’ll risk getting alignment problems, blackened toenails and other ailments as a result.

Should Running Shoes Be a Size Bigger?

Yes and no. You should always buy a running shoe with enough room, but one shoe size bigger may be too much and cause blisters or other uncomfortable outcomes.

Runners often hear the recommendation to buy a shoe that’s a size bigger to allow for swelling. When you’re running, especially in warm weather, your feet pack more liquid and get slightly bigger.

This is why it’s a good idea to get a different pair for the winter and summer months to account for the fluctuation in size.

Another good option is to measure your feet after training when they’re swollen. Always make sure you have about a finger’s length of space between your toes and the tip. It’s also important to have a toe box that’s wide enough to move your toes around.

However, buying a shoe that’s too big is a risk on its own. You might develop problems with your alignment or your foot muscles, or deformities on your feet.

What’s most important with a running shoe is trying it on. This way, you’ll be able to see its size and test the right fit for the shape of your foot. Whether you need a wide shoe or a bit more support for the arch, it’s impossible to know if the model fits your foot well unless you test it.

Adidas vs. Nike Sizing

The adidas vs. Nike sizing differences is something you should pay attention to.

Adidas shoes tend to be about 1–5mm bigger than Nikes, but every shoe may vary. Some models can run smaller or bigger.

In general, Nikes tend to run about half a size to one full shoe size smaller compared to true size. They’re also often a bit narrow in the middle, but they do have a wide toe box. But note that they do have a lot of arch support, which may be a blessing or a curse, depending on your foot.

Always check the shoe size conversion charts of each brand before buying.

New Balance vs. ASICS

How do New Balance shoes fit? What about ASICS? These two brands are both runners’ favorites, but they use different sizing systems.

Some runners consider ASICS true to size, but they’re actually between a half and one size smaller than true size. ASICS running shoes also have a pretty narrow toe box, which can sometimes make them an uncomfortable option for runners with wide feet.

New Balance shoes usually run true to size. They’re also wider than ASICS running shoes. This is great for people with wide feet, but not as comfortable for those with narrow feet. Your feet may have too much movement to the sides, which can change your alignment.

If you’re ordering online, check out all the information available on the fit and see the shoe size conversion chart. Compare the centimeters measurements to find the exact right size. Also, read reviews of other people who have purchased the shoe to see if they found the fit true to size.

Vans Sizing vs. Nike

Vans are unisex, and its sizes are in US men’s, whereas women have to convert their shoe size to men s shoe sizes. We’ve got a handy chart to compare Vans sizing vs. Nike for you, though!

One important thing to note about Vans’ unisex sizes is that they’re made to fit men and are often quite wide. This is why women with narrow feet may have some trouble with Vans shoes. Otherwise, they usually run true to size.

Nike sizes are usually narrow and small compared to Vans. In general, consider going up one shoe size if you’re switching from Vans to Nikes.

Ties shoelace

Health Implications of Poorly Fitted Shoes

Having poorly fitted footwear isn’t only incredibly painful, but it can also have long-term implications to your feet and entire body:

Blisters

A shoe that’s too big or too small may cause immediate discomfort. If you’re walking or running, you may get blisters when the foot moves inside the shoe, causing friction.

Bunions

Bunions are another painful result of wearing a shoe that’s too tight. They’re an enlargement of the big toe bone or the tissue at the joint. This tissue grows and gets painful, and as it swells, it may even change the foot’s alignment as the big toe turns outward.

You can treat bunions at home with ice, rest or better footwear with a wider toe box. If your bunion pain gets severe, you can treat them with surgery.

Hammertoes

Hammertoes occur when your toes don’t have enough room. The middle toe starts curling upward into an unnatural position, which will cause pain. Eventually, wearing tight shoes may end up weakening the muscles on that toe and make the situation more permanent.

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses form when there’s friction between the shoe and your skin because of a poor fit. The skin ends up hardening in places to protect itself from this friction.

You can treat corns and calluses at home by removing the hardened skin and using moisturizer. They’re usually not dangerous, but if they get very painful or inflamed, you should see a doctor. Also, get them checked if you have diabetes or blood flow issues.

Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia refers to pain at the ball of your foot. Unsupportive shoes cause it, but overuse, underlying conditions or being overweight can also be a source.

Well-fitting, adjustable models with laces are the best treatment for metatarsalgia. Weight loss and rest will also help.

Plantar Fasciitis

Poorly fitted shoes may make you tense up your foot muscles unconsciously to keep the shoe in the right position as you walk. This will make you overwork those muscles and the tissue—fascia—that runs from your heel to your toes.

When this tissue gets inflamed and painful due to stress, it’s called plantar fasciitis. This condition is painful, but you can usually treat it with the appropriate footwear and rest.

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is a common issue for runners, especially those with underlying issues like flat or over-pronounced arches. When you use poorly fitted shoes, you may compensate for it by putting excessive stress on your muscles and tendons.

Joint Pain

Big or small kicks may also affect your gait. When your foot isn’t correctly aligned, this will affect your knees and ankles. You’ll need to make sure your feet remain in the right position, or risk causing an impact to your joints, especially if you’re running.

If you feel any pain in your ankles or knees, you should check with a medical professional. By not correcting this problem, you’ll risk permanent damage to your joints or even transferring the problem to your hips and lower back.

Hip and Back Pain

Shoes have the arch in the right place for a specific size by design. If your footwear is too big or too small, the arch could be exerting pressure in the wrong spot.

A problem in one small part of your body will impact others. If your feet aren’t aligned, you may impact your body’s alignment to your back. Hip and lower back pain can be a symptom of problems originating in your shoes.

foot pain

How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Small

Here are some ways to know the shoe size you’re wearing is too small:

  • Your toe touches the end of the shoe. There should always be space between your toes and the tip of the shoe.
  • There’s pressure on your pinky toe. If your pinky toe rubs uncomfortably or feels crushed against the side of the shoe, it may be too narrow.
  • Pain in your toenails. A common symptom is pain in your longest toes or even blackened toenails.
  • Tension at the arch of your foot. If you’re walking around in footwear that’s too small, your foot will feel cramped, and you could experience pain at the arch.
  • In heels, your toes feel crushed at the front, and the arch is at the wrong place. With heels, there should be less wiggle room than other shoes, but you should have about a third of an inch between your foot and the heel. The sole should also support your foot’s natural arch.

You’d think it would be easy to tell when the shoe you’re wearing is too small, but sometimes, just a half-size difference isn’t that noticeable.

For instance, you might buy a shoe that’s too small and only notice it at home. This may also happen with an old pair you haven’t worn in a while. As you age, your feet grow, and you might not be able to fit into your favorite pair.

How Do You Stretch Shoes That Are Too Small?

If you accidentally bought a pair that’s too small in length or width, there’s not much you can do. However, if they’re a bit too tight in one specific spot, there are a couple of hacks you can try to expand them.

Note that some materials will adapt more to these techniques than others. Leather usually stretches a bit, but synthetic fabrics may not stretch that much.

  • Thick sock trick.
  • Hairdryer hack.
  • Ziploc freeze.
  • Rubbing alcohol spray.

Thick Sock Trick

Need to break in a pair of boots or heels that are a bit too tight? Here’s an easy trick to stretch them out before you leave the house:

  1. Find the thickest pair of socks you can fit into the shoe. These can be woolen winter socks if the shoe is big enough.
  2. Put the socks and shoes on and wear them around the house when you walk and do chores.

The socks will help you stretch out the shoes, and they’ll be the right size when you use them with thin dress socks.

Remember to take them off after a while or if you feel discomfort or pain. The goal is to stretch the shoe, not your feet!

Hairdryer Hack

This trick is much like the previous one, but the heat speeds up the process.

  1. Put on a thick pair of socks, and squeeze your feet into the shoes.
  2. Direct a hairdryer to the shoes to warm them up.
  3. Try to move your toes around as much as you can.
  4. Keep the socks on until your feet have cooled down and, if you still need a bit of extra room, repeat.

Ziploc Freeze

  1. Place a ziplock bag inside the shoe, taking special care to have it in the right spot of your shoe that feels too tight.
  2. Fill the bag with water.
  3. Carefully place the shoe and the bag in the freezer.
  4. As the water freezes, it expands, stretching out your shoe.
  5. When you take out the shoe from the freezer, let it thaw just enough to be able to comfortably remove the bag.

Note: For added safety, you can use two bags, one inside the other.

Rubbing Alcohol Spray

For this hack, you’ll need some rubbing alcohol and a small spray bottle.

  1. Spray the insides of the shoes with alcohol until they’re damp, or apply the alcohol onto a pair of socks.
  2. Put them on, and keep the shoes on until they’re dry.

Be careful not to spray the outer layers of the shoe. Depending on the material, you may leave some marks on them.

 

How to Wear Shoes That Are Too Big

While there are some negative effects of wearing shoes that are too big, there are some hacks you can try to make them fit. These will work best when the difference in size is no more than one size. More than that, and you’ll likely be better off leaving the pair in your closet.

Here are some tricks on how to wear shoes that are too big:

  • Add some cushioned insoles or pads. They’ll occupy a bit of the extra room and make the shoe more comfortable to wear.
  • Wear thick socks. For sports shoes or winter boots, you can even wear two pairs.
  • Try cloth or cotton padding. This is an inexpensive way to stuff your shoes, but it may not be the most comfortable and durable.

With dress shoes or heels, these techniques may not work as well as with athletic shoes. If you’re looking for more in-depth advice and tips for shrinking your shoes, see more here.

How to Tell If Shoes Are Too Big

You may not notice your footwear is too big, especially if you’re used to wearing a certain size. Here are some tips for identifying if your pair is too big:

  • Laces overlap. If you have to tighten the shoe so much that the laces start to overlap and the two sides meet, the shoes are too big.
  • If your foot slides out of the shoe as you walk. If you have to tense up your muscles to keep it in place, it’s a clear sign that the shoe size is too large for you.
  • You get blisters even from gentle walking.
  • Too much space at the tip. If there’s more than a thumbnail’s width at the end of the shoe, it might mean it’s too big.

If you want in-depth tips, read more on how to tell if shoes are too big.

FAQs

Is It Ok to Wear a Half Size Bigger Shoe?

No, it’s not ok to wear a half size bigger shoe. It’s always best to wear a shoe that fits your feet than a shoe that’s too big or small. However, if there’s only a half shoe size of difference and you don’t feel uncomfortable with the shoe, you may be able to wear it without problems. Try the hacks above if you need some extra help.

Should Your Toes Touch the End of Shoes?

No, your toes shouldn’t touch the end of your shoes. There should generally be about one finger’s distance from the tip of your big toe to the end of the shoe. However, high heels or a dress shoe need to fit a bit more snugly.

Do Timberland Boots Run Big?

Timberland boots are usually quite true to size, but this isn’t universal. You should measure for them with a thick sock, like the one you’ll be wearing with the boots. The fit of Timberland boots also may vary depending on the model.

Still need more info? We go deeper into the do Timberland boots run big debate.

Do Birkenstocks Run True to Size?

Birkenstocks do run true to size, but they’re measured in European sizes. They should also always have a bit of room to spare, so when measuring, you should add about a ¼ of an inch to make sure you have the right size. For more details and size conversion from US to EU shoe sizes, check out the Birkenstock size chart.

The Takeaway

There’s really no short answer to shoe sizing. Correct shoe sizing always requires measurements and taking into account the size conversion chart of each brand. Also, look for the specifications and reviews on each model to know if they run true to size.

In the end, you’ll need to try on the shoe to know if it’s the right fit for you. Try on shoes at night or in the afternoon when your feet are swollen to make sure they’re not too tight.

 

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