How To Measure Your Shoe Size At Home

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Whether you’re buying shoes online or in the store, getting the right size is key for a comfortable run.

Shoes that are too big or too small can cause blisters, black toenails, or other isseus. Making sure your shoes fit plays a large part in the health of your most important running asset – your feet!

But there are two common hiccups to getting your shoe size right. One, sizing varies across brands and countries. And two, your foot size actually changes over time, both short term and long term.

So rather than just sticking with one shoe size, it’s in your best interest to learn how to measure your shoe size at home so you can ALWAYS get the right fit for your feet.

Let’s learn why it’s such an important factor and how to nail your foot measurements accurately from the comfort of your own home.

Grabbing the Right Fit: Why Measuring Your Shoe Size Matters

Whatever kind of shoes you’re wearing, their main purpose is to protect and support your feet. If you’re looking for running shoes, they have a second purpose: keeping you comfortable while you run.

Either way, both protection and comfort can be ruined if you’re wearing the wrong-sized shoes.

Runners who wear too-tight or too-small shoes increase the chance of getting bruised, blackened toenails. Tight shoes can also force your feet into unnatural positions, which might lead to you changing the way you walk or run. Over time, this can lead to foot deformities, like hammertoes and bunions, or conditions like metatarsalgia.

Similarly, shoes that are too big can quickly lead to developing blisters, whether you’re a runner or not.

Shoes that are too big can also cause you to tense your feet in an unnatural way to keep the shoes from flinging off as you walk! Hammertoes, claw toes, and tendonitis are possible from wearing shoes that are too big.

And knowing your shoe size means you won’t waste money on shoes that hurt, squeeze, or slip when you walk. Learning how to measure your shoe size at home is a win-win situation!

When is the Best Time to Measure Your Feet?

Surprisingly, your foot size changes from morning to night! This is because your feet expand slightly during the day. This is often due to fluid retention from heat or because you’ve been in your shoes all day, which can cause your feet to swell.

With this in mind, it’s best to measure your feet in the evening. At this time, they’re the biggest they will be, so you’ll get a more accurate measurement. If you measure them in the morning, you may get shoes that grow increasingly tighter during the day!

Should I Wear Socks When Measuring My Foot Size?

This depends on what kind of shoes you’re shopping for. If you plan on buying a pair of sandals or pumps, measure your feet barefoot. If you’re shopping for dress shoes, running shoes, or other shoes requiring socks, measure your feet with socks on.

Make sure they’re socks of a similar thickness to what you’d usually wear. If you prefer wearing thin socks with your work shoes, then put on a pair of your work socks and measure your feet with those on. If you like wearing slightly thicker socks with sports shoes, then take a separate measurement with those socks on.

At the end of the day, you might end up with multiple foot measurements—barefoot, thin socks, and thick socks. But considering how easy and quick it is to take these measurements, it’s worth writing down all of them so you can quickly refer back no matter what kind of shoes you’re shopping for.

How to Measure Your Shoe Size at Home

Now you know why measuring your shoe size accurately is important. The next step is learning to measure your shoe size without fancy equipment. You should have everything you need right at home!

Gather Your Supplies

Gather all your supplies upfront so you have everything within reach when you’re doing the actual measuring. Here’s what you’ll need to get your measurements right.

  • 2 pieces of A4 paper
  • Sharp pencil or fine-tipped pen
  • A ruler or soft measuring tape
  • Socks (various pairs depending on what you wear)

If you have large feet, you might need a bigger sheet of paper than A4, and you might want to use a soft tape measure instead of a ruler.

Grab a pair of socks that you’d wear with your dress shoes or fancy shoes and a pair you’d wear with running shoes or sneakers.

Measuring Your Feet

There are two ways to do this. The one you choose depends on you and which method you feel would be easiest and most accurate.

Both involve measuring with a ruler or tape measure. Our charts are based on inches, so we recommend measuring in inches. But you can convert from centimeters to inches are you take the measurement, too.

Method 1 – Tracing

You’ll need someone else to help you with this method, but it can be pretty accurate if you do it right.

  • With the paper in the middle of the floor, stand normally. Face forward and make sure your posture is good.
  • Get someone else to trace the outline around your foot. Make sure they do it as accurately as possible.
  • Switch papers and feet and repeat the process with your other foot.
  • Measure each tracing separately to get your foot measurements. Make sure you’re measuring from the longest and widest parts of the foot so you’ll end up with 2 numbers: width and length.
  • Repeat the whole process with your various pairs of socks so you have all the necessary measurements.

Method 2 – Direct Measuring

With paper:

  • Place the paper on the floor with one end of it against the wall or baseboard. You may want to tape it down as you might need to adjust your foot.
  • Place your foot on the paper, with your toes resting lightly against the wall or baseboard. They should just be lightly touching—NOT jammed against the wall.
  • Make a small mark where your heel ends.
  • Make small marks on either side of your foot. Make sure they’re at the widest points of your foot on either side.
  • Lift your foot and use the ruler to draw straight lines through each mark, vertically and horizontally. Measure your length and width using these lines.
  • Switch feet and measure the other as well. Repeat the process as many times as necessary until you have measurements for all your socks.

Without paper:

  • Lay the ruler on the floor, touching the wall with the zero end. If you’re using a soft tape measure, either tape it down with duct tape so it doesn’t move or get someone to hold it taut.
  • Place your foot on top of the ruler/measuring tape, with your toes just touching the wall or baseboard ahead of you.
  • Take note of the number where your heel ends. This is your foot length.
  • Switch feet and repeat the process.
  • To measure the width, place the ruler or tape on the ground, horizontally in front of you. Step onto it with the ball of your foot, which is the widest part.
  • Measure the distance from one side to the other. This is your foot width.
  • Switch feet and repeat the process.
  • Remember to do this for each pair of socks you’ve set aside.

Arch Measurement

Arch length is often neglected and can make a difference to the fit and your comfort. It’s measured from the heel to the ball of your foot, where your big toe joint is.

You can measure it by simply rising up onto your toes while you’re measuring your feet and making a mark where your ball of foot ends on the paper. Then measure from your heel to this mark.

Not all shoes have an arch length measurement on their sizing charts, but it’s worth knowing your length and width.

Consulting the Shoe Size Chart

Once you know your foot measurements, you’re ready to find the right size shoe in any brand. The key is to consult the sizing chart, usually found on the product page if you’re buying online.

We recommend not settling on a general shoe size based on what you find on one chart. Each brand is slightly different, so ALWAYS check the sizing based on your measurement in inches and NOT a “size” number.

Men’s Size Chart
Inches US Europe UK
9 1/4 6 39 5.5
9 1/2 6.5 39 6
9 5/8 7 40 6.5
9 3/4 7.5 40/41 7
9 15/16 8 41 7.5
10 1/8 8.5 41/42 8
10 1/4 9 42 8.5
10 7/16 9.5 42/43 9
10 9/16 10 43 9.5
10 3/4 10.5 43/44 10
10 15/16 11 44 10.5
11 1/8 11.5 44/45 11
11 1/4 12 45 11.5
11 9/16 13 46 12.5
11 7/8 14 47 13.5
12 3/16 15 48 14.5
12 1/2 16 49 15.5
12 3/4 17 . 16.5
13 1/8 18 . 17.5
13 1/2 19 . 18.5
13 7/8 20 . 19.5
Women’s Size Chart
Inches US Europe UK
8 3/16 4 35 2
8 3/8 4.5 35 2.5
8 1/2 5 35/36 3
8 3/4 5.5 36 3.5
8 7/8 6 36/37 4
9 1/16 6.5 37 4.5
9 1/4 7 37/38 5
9 3/8 7.5 38 5.5
9 1/2 8 38/39 6
9 11/16 8.5 39 6.5
9 7/8 9 39/40 7
10 9.5 40 7.5
10 3/16 10 40/41 8
10 5/16 10.5 41 8.5
10 1/2 11 41/42 9
10 11/16 11.5 42 9.5
10 7/8 12 42/43 10
11 1/4 13 43 11
11 5/8 14 43/44 12
12 15 44 13
12 1/4 16 44/45 14
Men’s Width Chart
Size Narrow (B) Medium (D) Wide (2E) Extra Wide (4E)
6 3 3⁄8 3 1⁄2 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4
6.5 3 1⁄2 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8
7 3 1⁄2 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8
7.5 3 9⁄16 3 11⁄16 3 13⁄16 3 15⁄16
8 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8 4
8.5 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8 4
9 3 13⁄16 3 15⁄16 4 1⁄16 4 3⁄16
9.5 3 13⁄16 3 15⁄16 4 1⁄16 4 3⁄16
10 3 7⁄8 4 4 1⁄8 4 1⁄4
10.5 4 4 1⁄8 4 1⁄4 4 3⁄8
11 4 4 1⁄8 4 1⁄4 4 3⁄8
11.5 41⁄16 4 3⁄16 4 5⁄16 4 7⁄16
12 4 3⁄16 4 5⁄16 4 7⁄16 4 9⁄16
12.5 4 3⁄16 4 5⁄16 4 7⁄16 4 9⁄16
13 4 3⁄16 4 5⁄16 4 7⁄16 4 9⁄16
13.5 4 1⁄4 4 3⁄8 4 1⁄2 4 5⁄8
Women’s Width Chart
Size Narrow (AA) Medium (B) Wide (D) Extra Wide (2E)
5 3 1⁄16 3 3⁄16 3 5⁄16 3 7⁄16
5.5 3 1⁄8 3 1⁄4 3 3⁄8 3 1⁄2
6 3 3⁄16 3 5⁄16 3 7⁄16 3 9⁄16
6.5 3 1⁄4 3 3⁄8 3 1⁄2 3 5⁄8
7 3 5⁄16 3 7⁄16 3 9⁄16 3 11⁄16
7.5 3 3⁄8 3 1⁄2 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4
8 3 7⁄16 3 9⁄16 3 11⁄16 3 13⁄16
8.5 3 1⁄2 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8
9 3 9⁄16 3 11⁄16 3 13⁄16 3 15⁄16
9.5 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8 4
10 3 5⁄8 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8 4
10.5 3 3⁄4 3 7⁄8 4 4 1⁄8
11 3 13⁄16 3 15⁄16 4 1⁄16 4 3⁄16
12 3 15⁄16 4 1⁄16 4 3⁄16 4 5⁄16
Child Size Chart
Inches US
3 3/16 0C
3 9/16 1C
3 15/16 2C
4 1/4 3C
4 9/16 4C
4 15/16 5C
5 1/4 6C
5 9/16 7C
5 15/16 8C
6 1/4 9C
6 9/16 10C
6 3/4 10.5C
6 15/16 11C
7 1/16 11.5C
7 1/4 12C
7 7/16 12.5C
7 9/16 13C
7 3/4 13.5C
Youth Size Chart
Inches US
7 15/16 1Y
8 1/16 1.5Y
8 1/4 2Y
8 7/16 2.5Y
8 9/16 3Y
8 3/4 3.5Y
8 13/16 4Y
8 15/16 4.5Y
9 1/8 5Y
9 1/4 5.5Y
9 3/8 6Y
9 9/16 6.5Y
9 11/16 7Y
9 13/16 7.5Y
10 8Y
10 3/16 8.5Y
10 5/16 9Y
10 1/2 9.5Y
10 11/16 10Y
10 13/16 10.5Y

Foreign Shoe Sizes

If you’re buying online, there’s a chance that the shoes are sized differently. For example, a UK size 8 shoe is an 8.5 in US men’s, a 10 in US women’s, and a size 41.5 in European sizes!

This is why we highly recommend knowing your measurements in inches and centimeters rather than a single shoe size number. It’s also why we suggest ALWAYS checking the sizing chart—you don’t want to choose your size thinking it’s US, without realizing the shoe is sized in the UK!

How Do You Measure Your Shoe Size If You Have Bunions?

If you have bunions, you still need to measure your shoe length and width the same way. But you’ll find that your foot width is noticeably wider as you measure it from the widest part of your foot, which will be your bunion.

This means you’ll have to find a shoe with a wide toe box, but that still has a snug enough midfoot and heel to fit properly on your rearfoot. It’s not always as easy as buying a wide version of the shoe you like, because the heel can be TOO wide for your foot.

Consider shoe brands known for having a spacious forefoot, like Altra or Topo. Above all, stick to your measurements, and you’ll find a shoe that works for your foot.

Measuring Your Kids’ Shoe Size

To get the right size shoe for your kids, measure their feet the exact same way as you would yourself. However, it’s important to note that kids’ feet grow FAST—so you should add about ¼ to ½ an inch to their final foot length measurements to account for rapid growth.

If you grab a pair of shoes for your kids that are their exact size, expect them to outgrow them in a flash and be stuck wearing too-tight shoes… Or having to shell out more cash to replace a pair of shoes that’s still practically new.

How Do You Know If Your Shoe Fits Properly?

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if your shoes fit nicely or if they’re slightly too big or small.

Here’s what to look for based on the type of shoes you’re wearing. If you’ve measured your feet and are still experiencing an incorrect fit, you might need to get your feet professionally measured!

Walking Shoes

Your walking shoes should be comfortable and have space for your toes to move unrestricted. Aim for about half a thumb’s width of space between your toes and the front of the shoe. Around the heel and midfoot, the shoe should be snug but not painful.

Running Shoes

Running shoes should fit similarly to walking shoes, with ½- to one thumb’s width of space in the toe box. This will allow your toes some “breathing room” when you’re running, as your feet swell during activity. The extra room will accommodate that change in your feet.

The heel should hug your foot and be tight enough that your foot doesn’t slide in and out when you run. It’s also important that there’s enough volume inside the shoe—your foot shouldn’t feel like it’s been squeezed from the top and bottom.

If you feel like the upper is pressing into your foot, the shoe isn’t quite the right fit. You can remove the insole and replace it with a lower-volume one if you aren’t planning on buying new shoes.

Hiking Shoes

Your hiking boots should be snug with room in the toe so your toes can wiggle comfortably. They should fit tightly around the rest of your foot because you don’t want loose shoes causing you to turn an ankle.

Sports Shoes

You generally want your baseball, softball, football, soccer, and basketball shoes to fit snugly and NOT have a stretchy upper. About a ¼-inch of space between your toes and the front of the shoe is sufficient.

Boots

Boot fit can be more tricky, depending on your boots. For example, hiking, hunting, and winter-season boots are likely to be worn with thicker socks, so you might need a slightly wider fit than usual to accommodate your socks.

If you’re looking at a pair of boots with a very high ankle collar—like rain boots or stylish women’s boots—then you’ll need to make sure they fit around the calf and on your feet.

Your heel should fit snugly in the shoe without slipping when you walk, but it shouldn’t slap or rub on the back of your calf, either.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.