Making sure your shoes fit properly is critical to comfort, good posture and general health. Feeling good is looking good and style should never need to be sacrificed for comfort. For this reason knowing how to determine your proper shoe size in both length and width is important.
Even if you think you already know your proper shoe size, it is important to measure your feet periodically. Our feet grow as we get older and the shoe size you wore in your twenties may no longer be appropriate in your 40s. Additionally, it is important to remember that our feet swell throughout the day, so a more accurate measurement is one taken in the afternoon. Finally, remember to wear the appropriate socks when measuring your feet: women should wear stockings for dress shoes, but wear athletic socks when measuring for sneakers and similar casual shoes. Men should wear dress socks for dress shoes and athletic socks for sporting shoes.
To measure your foot begin by placing your foot on a piece of paper on the floor and tracing around it. Make sure to keep your pencil completely upright at all times while tracing. You may have to tilt your leg forward a bit to trace smoothly around the heel. It is important that you trace both feet. It is common for one foot to be slightly larger than the other (it’s usually the non-dominant one; right-handed people usually have a larger left foot) and you shoe size will ultimately be based on the larger foot’s measurements.
Once you have your tracing, measure your foot at the longest point. Do not run your ruler on a diagonal. Rather, place it parallel to your tracing and take the measurement that way. To compensate for the width of your pencil, be sure to subtract 1/5th of an inch from the measurement. Compare the length measurement to a shoe size chart (there are dozens available online).
Ascertain the width of your foot in the same fashion, being sure to remember to adjust for the width of your pencil. Shoe width charts are also readily available online. However, choosing the shoe width for your foot can be difficult. Many shoes no longer come in widths designated by letter. Regular and Wide are often all that are available in women’s shoes. Regular is usually a B width for women. Women with broader feet may wish to try a Wide when available. Narrow has also commonly replaced A through AAA sizing for women. Men’s shoes more commonly use the traditional letter designation for widths. D generally translates to a Regular width in men’s shoes, with Narrow and Wide being on either side.
While shoe sizing is consistent within countries, shoe sizes are named differently in different places. Luckily, conversions charts are readily available online. It is also important to remember that different shoes are cut in different ways and not every shoe is right for every foot. When trying on shoes it is important to walk in them to test for comfort and fit.