How to Measure and Test your Shoe Width

When it comes to shoe sizes, there are different measurement systems for men, women, and kids that may look the same, but are significantly different. This means that a shoe size length of “9” for example will be different depending on whether the person is an adult male, adult female, or a toddler. The same is also true for width which is measured in a series of letters. The more you can understand the meaning of the shoe size meant for you, the better fit you will enjoy.

The first step is to understand what shoes sizes are, following by how to measure your own feet so you can then find the shoes that work best for you.

In the United States, men’s and women’s shoe use simple number system to represent the length of the shoe itself. For men, the numbers range from 6 up to 16. While women’s shoe sizes range from 4 up to 12. Keep in mind that in other countries, they use a similar system but with different meaning to the numbers.

In addition, different countries use different standards for what is a shoe size. For example, a size 6 in the US would be the equivalent of a size 36 or 37 in Europe and a size 4 in the UK. Other parts of the world have their own shoe sizes as well, so if you are ordering from a country that has its own standards, be sure to account for that before making your order.

Using the US men’s standard starting with size 7, the length of the foot is 9.6”. The ensuing sizes go up approximately 0.3” for every full size.

  • Size 7: 9.6”
  • Size 8: 9.9”
  • Size 9: 10.25”
  • Size 10: 10.6”
  • Size 11: 10.9”

For women, the shoe sizes feature the same numbers, but are different in terms of foot length.

  • Size 6: 8.75
  • Size 7: 9”
  • Size 8: 9.5”
  • Size 9: 9.875”
  • Size 10: 10.2”
  • Size 11: 10.5”

Width is measured in a series of letters, not unlike bra sizes in terms of the cup. For men’s and women’s shoes, the width includes A, B, D, and E. A is the narrowest of shoe sizes with E being the widest. However, you may see the letters doubled, tripled or even quadrupled such as “EEEE” which is the widest of the wide shoe sizes.

How to Measure Your Feet to Get the Right Shoe Size

Whether you are a man, woman, kid, toddler, or infant, there are shoe sizes for everyone with feet. What follows is how to take the measurement of your feet and compare it to shoe sizes in terms of length and width to find the right one for you.

If you are old enough, you may remember the shoe salesperson using a measuring device that was placed on the bottom of the foot. The device had sliders for both the length and the width and provide the right size. If you can get that device, you can save yourself a little time. However, what follows is a simple way to determine your foot size.

Paper: Take a piece of standard size paper and place it on the floor. You may want to tape it down to keep it from sliding. Just make sure that the paper is both longer and wider than your foot.

Trace: Now, take a pencil and trace your foot all the way around. Try to keep the pencil straight up or perpendicular to the paper as you do the tracing. If you cannot do it yourself, get someone else to do the tracing for you. Remember that you can keep your socks on for the tracing.

Flip Paper and Repeat: When you have completed one foot, flip the paper over and trace the other. Remember that while your feet are not identical, so it is possible that one foot is smaller or larger than the other.

Measure: Pick up the paper and measure the length at the longest point and the width at the longest point. Do so for both feet.

Subtract: Once you have the measurements, you should subtract ¼” for both length and width which accounts for the pencil mark. You can now find a standard shoe chart depending on if you are getting men’s, women’s, or children’s shoes.

Men’s Shoe Size

As mentioned earlier, men’s shoes range in sizes from 6 to 16. However, the differences in men’s shoes compared to women’s shoes are more than the different scale used for the sizes. Men’s shoes tend to be longer, wider, and feature more support in certain areas compared to women’s shoes. The reason for the differences is based on the weight and structure differences between the sexes.

It is why men’s shoes generally have different types of support for the heel, the structure of the midsoles, and the overall build of the shoe itself. Because of the weight and stress difference, men’s shoes tend to have more robust material in different places compared to women’s shoes. This is especially true for cross trainers.

Women’s Shoe Size

The shoe sizes for women range from 4 up to 12. However, the length for men is roughly a half-inch longer compared to women’s sizes for shoes. This means that you cannot interchange men’s and women’s shoes in terms of size even if they appear identical in design.

However, there is no other significant difference in men’s and women’s shoes in terms of size or quality. It may be fair to say that women’s shoes are aesthetically different in some regards, but that is subjective in terms of taste. For women looking for the right size of shoe, just remember that a man’s size is going to be bigger compared to the same shoe size for women. 

Kids Shoe Size

Because toddlers and little ones have smaller feet than the scale for either men or women, they have their own scale that is still based on the numerical system. This means that you will need to measure the feet and then try on the shoes that provide the best fit.

Many parents who want to save money will purchase shoes a size larger than what fits because they know the child’s feet will continue to grow for some time. If you are one of those parents, then you will need to add another sock to your child’s feet to make up the difference in the space. Otherwise, they run the risk of blisters and other complications. Also, be sure that there is plenty of width as well as length when purchasing the shoes.

You may notice a trait with children that disappears by the time they reach adulthood. This is the tapping of the shoes on the toe after they have put them on, but before they start to walk. This interesting quirk does not happen with every child, but many will do that with their shoes. The tapping of the toe against the floor does not damage the shoe, but it does help to ensure that it fits snugly towards the front.

How to Test Your Shoes Fit

Even the best measurements are not always going to be 100% with your feet. This means that you will need to test your shoes first to ensure that they fit correctly. This is most notable when one foot is more than just minutely smaller than the other.

Engage in Activities: Testing the shoes once you receive them should consist of more than taking a few steps.

Here are a few tips that will help you get the best results:

Find a Place to Lean: It’s not as easy as you think to bend down and trace your feet. If you do not have a friend to do the job, lean against the wall or other solid object to help you maintain your balance.

Measure in the Evening: The best time to measure your feet are in the evening after you have been on your feet all day. The feet will be at their longest and widest point.

Largest Foot: Your largest foot should be the basis for the shoe size. You can always add a thin sick to the smaller foot to keep it from sliding around if that is an issue.