Have you ever noticed that it can be seemingly impossible to find your size in a shoe store unless you wear a small number? And it is even more difficult to find a shoe that fits in an appealing style. This is partly because the most popular sneaker sizes for both men and women are getting larger and larger every few decades.
The average sneaker size for men is between 9 and 12, and the average sneaker size for women is between a 7 and a 9. As a result, sneaker sizes that fall within those ranges are generally the most popular, although it varies depending on the geographic region of the world.
To help you find a sneaker that fits you perfectly, we have compiled information on the factors that affect shoe size, reasons why shoe sizes are increasing around the world and how to determine your real shoe size. With the tips in this article, you can avoid foot pain and other health problems from wearing sneakers that might be a bit too small and discover the reasons why many people might even be knowingly wearing shoes that do not fit correctly.
Table of Contents
Mens to Womens Shoe Size Conversion
|Men’s Shoe Size||Women’s Shoe Size|
Average Shoe Size for Men and Women
For American men specifically, the average shoe size is 10.5, but the world average for men is between 9 and 12. For American women, the average shoe size is between 8.5 and 9. Worldwide, the average is lower, from sizes 7–8, as women in Asia and many other parts of the world generally have smaller feet than American women.
Height also typically plays a role in average shoe sizes. Taller people generally have bigger feet, and shorter people usually have smaller feet, although there are exceptions as everyone’s feet are slightly different. A woman who is between 4’9” and 5’3” normally has feet that range from 5–8.5 in U.S. sizes. Women who are between 5’4” and 5’7” might wear shoes in sizes from 6.5 to 10. And women who are 5’8” or taller might wear sizes 9 to 15.
However, it is important to consider the width of your foot because your foot might be a size 9 in length, but if you have a foot that is wide near the top, you might need a shoe that is slightly bigger as well as extra wide in order to allow your toes to spread properly in your shoes when you are running or doing other activities.
For women, life events such as pregnancy can also affect shoe size. When women are pregnant, they often notice their feet become wider, and this change can be temporary due to extra weight or permanent because of the hormone relaxin secreted in the placenta that loosens the foot’s ligaments.
USA Men’s Shoe Size (Inches)
|Size||Length in Inches|
|6||9 1/4″ (9.4 in)|
|6.5||9 1/2″ (9.5 in)|
|7||9 5/8″ (9.6 in)|
|7.5||9 3/4″ (9.8 in)|
|8||9 15/16″ (10.0 in)|
|8.5||10 1/8″ (10.1 in)|
|9||10 1/4″ (10.2 in)|
|9.5||10 7/16″ (10.5 in)|
|10||10 9/16″ (10.6 in)|
|10.5||10 3/4″ (10.7 in)|
|11||10 15/16″ (11.0 in)|
|11.5||11 1/8″ (11.1 in)|
|12||11 1/4″ (11.3 in)|
|13||11 9/16″ (11.6 in)|
|14||11 7/8″ (11.9 in)|
|15||12 3/16″ (12.2 in)|
|16||12 1/2″ (12.5 in)|
USA Women’s Shoe Size (Inches)
|Size||Length in Inches|
|4||8 3/16″ (8.2 in)|
|4.5||8 5/16″ (8.4 in)|
|5||8 11/16″ (8.5 in)|
|5.5||8 13/16″ (8.7 in)|
|6||9″ (8.9 in)|
|6.5||9 3/16″ (9.1 in)|
|7||9 5/16″ (9.3 in)|
|7.5||9 1/2″ (9.4 in)|
|8||9 11/16″ (9.5 in)|
|8.5||9 13/16″ (9.7 in)|
|9||10″ (9.9 in)|
|9.5||10 3/16″ (10.0 in)|
|10||10 5/16″ (10.2 in)|
|10.5||10 1/2″ (10.3 in)|
|11||10 11/16″ (10.5 in)|
|11.5||10 13/16″ (10.7 in)|
|12||11″ (10.9 in)|
Why average shoe sizes are increasing
Interestingly, people’s feet are getting larger over time. In fact, during the past thirty years, the foot of an average woman has increased by more than a size, according to an article in Time. This is mostly caused by increased access to high-calorie foods during childhood, when we are still developing. An average woman wore a size 3.5–4 in the beginning of the 20th century, and a 5.5 in the 1940s. In the ‘70s, the average size was 7.5—a full size smaller than it is now.
This increase in the size of women’s feet has also been noticed in other countries such as the United Kingdom.
Tragically, having to buy shoes in a large size has caused many women such embarrassment that they buy shoes that are too small, leading to foot pain and possibly worse complications over time, such as headaches and back pain. Often, the shoes in larger sizes do not look as stylish and give women fewer options when it comes to fashion.
Worse yet, many shoe stores still do not even carry shoes that are large enough for what is becoming the majority of the female population, causing difficulties and further embarrassment when women have to special order shoes that actually fit. The problem is that stores cannot send back what they do not sell, so many still refuse to buy bigger shoes, even though the demand for those sizes is growing more and more over time.
How to Measure Your Feet Size at Home
- Tape a sheet of paper on the floor.
- Put your foot on the paper with your leg slightly bent and your shin in front of your ankle.
- Trace the outline of your bare foot.
- Draw a straight line on each side of your foot, so that it looks like your tracing is in a rectangle.
- Use a ruler to measure the inches between the two parallel lines on each side of your foot—top to bottom and side to side.
- Subtract 3/16 of an inch from each measurement.
These shoe size tables will help you find your true size once the measuring process is complete.
International Men’s Shoe Size Conversion
International Women’s Shoe Size Conversion
How to figure out your true shoe size
Measure your foot from the heel to the tip of your longest toe at the end of the day in case of any expansion or swelling. Make sure to measure both of your feet because many people have feet that are different sizes, and it is crucial to buy shoes that are big enough for the larger foot.
Note both the length and the width, as people can have many different combinations, such as a long foot that is narrow or a small foot that is extra wide.
If your size is in the middle of two sizes, go with the larger size to avoid issues with discomfort and foot pain.
Be careful not to assume that your size in one sneaker is automatically the same in another—the make and brand of each shoe causes it to fit differently, and sometimes the difference is so slight that it might not be noticeable right away. However, if you start to develop foot pain over time, it is crucial to see a podiatrist, as many people do not realize that the cause of foot problems often stems from wearing shoes that are just a bit too small.
In fact, according to the study from the College of Podiatry, out of 2,000 adults, one-third of the men (34 percent) and nearly half of the women (46 percent) had bought shoes that did not quite fit. Unfortunately, twice as many respondents bought shoes that were too small than too big.
Below is a chart with a summary of their reasons with the corresponding percentages.
Twenty percent of the people surveyed said they had trouble finding shoes that are wide enough, and 51 percent said they struggled to find shoes that are comfortable, but still stylish. Seventeen percent of the respondents said they had never even had their feet measured before.
Even if your feet are measured by an expert at a shoe store, make sure that the shoes in that size are actually comfortable for your feet. Feet vary quite drastically from person to person in shape and past injuries, so even if you are told your best size on paper, it may need slight adjustments when it comes to sneakers in different brands or styles.
A Word from Love at First Fit
If your feet fall outside of the range of what you would consider “normal,” do not worry. As the years go by, feet are getting bigger and bigger, and thus, the most popular sneaker sizes are also growing larger and larger. If your feet are not in the average range right now, they are bound to be eventually.
What is more important is having shoes that fit well and do not cause you pain. By measuring your feet accurately and being flexible enough to adjust that number based on the style of sneaker and what feels comfortable to you, you will find exactly the right sneaker size for your individual needs.