How to choose the right shoe size? Real world advice

Shoe sizing can vary a lot between brands, and even within a range. The best way to get your shoe size right is as follows:

  1. Use the brand’s primary shoe size systemBrands usually base shoe sizing on their local market. So for UK brands, the UK shoe size should be the true size etc. Some brands make their shoes to European sizes instead though. This should be clear from their website & you would go by euro sizes then.
  2. Go by the foot length measurement in cm if provided, or the Japanese size otherwise. Choose the size that is your foot length or slightly larger.
  3. If both methods give the same size, you can be confident that’s the right shoe size for you.

If you get different results, more research is needed. Contact the brand for fit advice or read reviews to see how others find sizing.

Tip: when trying on shoes, there should be the width of your index finger between your big toe and the top of the shoe. If there’s more space, try a size down and if there’s much less, the shoes are too tight.

Shoe width matters too

Shoe width is just as important as length for shoe fit but it often gets neglected.

If you struggle to find shoes that fit well, shoe width could be your main problem. It took me 30 years to realise this!

The 2 big problems with shoe widths are:

1. Most shoes are still only made in 1 width.

2. There are no common standards for shoe widths, unlike shoe lengths. Most brands don’t even give any shoe width measurements.

My Top Tips for Shoe Widths

  • If you wear standard width shoes but they’re often not quite right, try a wider width a half or one size smaller.
  • If you have wide feet but can’t find wide shoes you like, standard width shoes a half or one size bigger can work. If they’re too long, padded heel grips may fix that.
  • UK & European women’s shoe brands tend to be wider than US women’s shoes.
  • Men’s and unisex shoes are wider than women’s shoes. Women with quite wide feet can often wear standard men’s width shoes.

Read the shoe widths guide to find out about the different shoe widths brands use around the world.

Don’t be put off by Euro shoe size conversions

Shoe brands can have strange European shoe size conversions, especially in North America and Australia. Size 11 us (9 uk) can be listed as 41 or 42 instead of 43. It’s common for British brands to convert 9 uk to 42 eu too.

While this could mean the brand’s shoe sizes run small, it’s not always the case. One possible explanation is the brand uses Italian shoe sizing. Sometimes the european shoe size conversion is just plain wrong.

So check the foot length for your shoe size first. If that looks OK, the shoes may fit like a glove. Don’t let a dodgy euro size conversion make you miss out on your dream shoes!

Women’s large shoe size conversion chart

This women’s shoe size converter is based on the original formula for each shoe size system2. In the real world, different brands have their own shoe sizing. There is no one conversion chart to rule them all unfortunately, but this table is accurate for true to size brands.

Note that UK, US & European shoe sizes are based on the length of the last the shoe is made on. So the foot lengths are 1.5cm less than the last length to allow for wiggle room. That’s about the width of your index finger.

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Download my free printable shoe size charts and measure your feet at home. Find your Euro, UK & US women’s shoe size.

UK vs US women’s shoe sizes

The UK shoe size system is the oldest in the world & uses an inch based formula. US women’s shoe sizes are also based on the UK system, just with different numbering.

There is 8.46mm or ⅓inch between each whole UK & US shoe size. That’s only the width of your little fingernail! So there’s a tiny 4.23mm or ⅙ inch between half sizes. But these small amounts make a big difference.

How do I convert between UK and US women’s shoe sizes?

Add 2 to your UK shoe size to get your US women’s shoe size. For example, if you wear size 9 UK shoes, you are shoe size 11 US women’s.

Subtract 2 from your US shoe size to get your UK shoe size. So, if you wear size 12 US shoes, you are shoe size 10 UK.

Which countries use UK shoe sizes?

Women’s shoes use UK sizing in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, India and Pakistan.

Which countries use US shoe sizes?

Women’s shoes use US sizing in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

US women’s vs men’s shoe sizes

While UK & European shoe sizes are unisex, US male shoe sizing is different from women’s.

There are actually 2 different men’s US shoe sizing systems (common and customary) which complicates things.

How do I convert between US male and female shoe sizes?

Subtract 1-1.5 from your US female shoe size to get your US male shoe size. For example, if you wear a US women’s 12, a men’s size 10.5-11 shoe should fit you.

Add 1-1.5 to your US male shoe size to get your US female shoe size. So if you wear a US men’s 12, you are size 13-13.5 US in women’s shoes.

There is no exact formula because some brands use the common size system, where gender sizes vary by 1.5, while others use the customary system where sizes differ by 1. Compare the US male and female shoe size charts for the relevant brand or retailer for additional guidance.

TIP: men’s shoes are wider than women’s, so men may need to go up a width in women’s shoes & vice versa.

European shoe sizes

European shoe sizes use a completely different formula to UK and US shoe sizes. It’s metric based and there’s only 6.67mm or .26 inches between each European shoe size. So European shoe sizes have a slightly smaller gap between each size than UK and US shoe sizes.

Unfortunately, there is no simple conversion between European and UK/US shoe sizes because they use different size increments.

It is easier to understand this visually. The scales below shows the true relationship between European, UK and US women’s shoe sizes.

Euro to US women’s shoe size converter

Scale showing US women

European to UK shoe size converter

Scale showing UK shoe sizes 8-14 vs European sizes 42-50

For large shoe sizes, US women’s size 14 (12 uk) does equal size 47 EU. But that’s an exception and other European and UK/US sizes do not match up exactly.

Many shoe store size guides equate each European shoe size with a UK/US size for simplicity. This is not that accurate and makes buying the right size shoes tricky.

Half sizes are not traditionally used in European shoe sizing, but some brands use them as a closer equivalent to certain UK and US sizes.

Technical note: the converter scales above compare shoe last lengths from European vs UK/US shoe size formulas.

Measure your European shoe size at home with my free printable Euro shoe size chart.

Italian Shoe Size Confusion

Some brands use Italian shoe size charts where the sizes run a size larger than European (French) shoe sizes.

So the Italian shoe sizes are numbered 1 less than standard Euro shoe sizes. For example, an Italian size 42 is the same as a standard (or French) size 43 Euro.

I’ve yet to find strong evidence that Italian shoe sizes are actually different from the rest of Europe, so I highly recommend looking for foot length measurements to know whether shoes run true to size.

But this would explain why some brand’s size 42 shoes are big enough for size 11 us or 9 uk feet.

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Is size 11 us (9 uk) a 42 or 43?

Neither a European 42 or 43 is an exact match for shoe size 11 us or 9 uk. Size 43 is the closest to size 11 us (9 uk).

A traditional size 43 shoe last is actually slightly shorter than a size 11 us shoe last (9 uk) and a size 42 last is only just larger than a size 10 us (8 uk) last. But modern shoe lasts can vary significantly by brand and style.

The ISO international standard1 converts shoe size 42 to a woman’s size 10.5 us (8.5 uk), and says that size 43 is slightly larger than size 11 us (9 uk). However the ISO allows more toe room for UK/US sized shoes than Euro ones, which seems strange to me.

Mainstream shoe brands often sell size 42 shoes as women’s size 11 us (9 uk). This does not always mean they run small and are not “proper” size 11s / 9s.

Once the size 42 foot length is around 27cm, they should be true to size 11 us or 9 uk shoes.

Is size 12 us (10 uk) a 44 or 45?

The majority of international shoe retailers consider size 10 uk (12 us women’s) to be a 44 EU and size 11 UK (13 us women’s) to be a 45 for simplicity.

Based on traditional shoe last lengths, neither 44 nor 45 is a good match for size 12 us (10 uk). A women’s size 12 us (10 uk) shoe last is approximately 44.5 European whereas a size 13 us last (11 uk) is between 45.5 and 46.

The ISO international shoe size standard1 also says a women’s 12 us (10 uk) is almost identical to size 44 eu, with a foot length of 28cm approx, while size 13 us (11 uk) is slightly larger than size 45. But ISO foot lengths allow for more space at the top of US/UK sized shoes than European sized shoes which is questionable.

So European to US/UK shoe size conversion is not clear cut. That’s why I recommend using the brand’s primary sizing system (e.g. euro shoe sizing for brands who make their shoes to European sizes) to get the best fit instead of relying on their international shoe size conversions.

Shoe sizing based on foot length

Some countries including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea use foot length in centimetres for shoe sizing. So a size 28 shoe in Japan is for a foot that’s 28cm long. Easy!

A growing number of shoe brands include foot length measurements in their size guides. Always look for this and read it closely.

Don’t just assume buying your usual shoe size will fit. We all know how crazy women’s clothes sizing is. A size 14 dress fits perfectly in one store but won’t go near you in another brand.

Shoe brand sizes can be inconsistent too. But the lengths don’t lie! So if you struggle with picking the right shoe size, buying shoes based on the foot length measurement should help.

How to measure your foot size

To get the most accurate result when measuring your feet:

  • Measure them in the afternoon or evening if possible, because your feet swell a little through the day.
  • Wear socks or tights if you will wear them with the shoes.

There are a few ways to measure your foot size:

  1. Use the brand’s custom foot measuring chartA few shoe brands provide a downloadable foot measurement kit, which you can print out, stand on and read off your size. This is the most reliable method, but you must print at 100% scale for accurate results. So I recommend double checking your shoe size using one of the other ways below too.
  2. Use my free printable shoe size chartYou can use my free printable foot measurement chart to measure your feet at home and find your standard European, UK & US women’s shoe size. It suggests what width shoes you need too. Heads up: my chart is based on the classic shoe size formulas2, which brands don’t always follow. But this chart is a general guide and good for true to size brands.
  3. Stand against a wall on a hard floor with a rulerLay a ruler or stiff measuring tape alongside your foot and read off the measurement in cm at the top of your big toe. Alternatively, place a sheet of paper against the wall, stand on the page and mark the top of your big toe on it. Then measure the page afterwards with a ruler.
  4. Draw around your foot on a sheet of paperDraw around your foot with a pencil. It’s more accurate to get someone else to do this for you. Make sure you allow for how far your heel protrudes out above your sole. Then just measure your outline from top to bottom in cm with a ruler.
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You should measure both your feet in centimetres to 1 decimal place e.g. 27.2 cm. Multiply this by 10 to get your foot length in millimetres e.g. 272 mm.

It’s natural for your feet to be different lengths. Use the length of your longer foot.

Your exact foot length is likely to be a hard number to remember, so keep a note of it somewhere you can easily refer to when shopping online. Add a note on your phone or email it to yourself. There’s also a box to write it down on the one page printable version of this guide.

Keep an eye out for foot length measurements on shoe product pages and brand size guides. Choose the size closest to (but at least as big as) your foot length measurement for the best fit.

If you take just one thing from this guide, measure your feet!

I hope this guide to understanding large shoe sizes is helpful. If you have any shoe size conversion questions or insights to share, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Download a one-page PDF of this guide plus get free printable foot measuring charts.


  1. ISO STANDARD 19407:2015 for conversion of footwear sizing systems (UK & Euro shoe size formulas are included in the Swedish Institute of Standards preview)
  2. Wikipedia: common shoe sizing systems and formulas

Viết từ Greenpineresort

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