Shoe shopping can be confusing when you’re not sure how shoe sizes convert between men’s and women’s sizing. With different sizing systems used around the world, it’s easy to end up with the wrong size shoe. This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know about converting men’s and women’s shoe sizes.
Whether you’re buying shoes as a gift or shopping for yourself, getting the right size is essential for comfort and fit. However, shoe sizing isn’t always straightforward. Women’s sizes often run smaller than men’s, and international sizing systems differ as well. Converting between men’s and women’s shoe sizes is possible with some simple calculations.
This detailed guide covers various shoe sizing systems, how to convert men’s and women’s sizes, size differences in specific shoe types, and tips for finding the perfect fit. With the information here, you’ll be able to confidently shop for shoes knowing you’re getting the right size every time.
Overview of Shoe Sizing Systems
Before diving into converting sizes, it’s helpful to understand the key shoe sizing systems used around the world:
United States Shoe Sizes
The American system uses a numeric sizing scale that increments by 1. For example, size 6 is one full size larger than size 5. Sizes range from 0 or 1 up to 13 or 14 for men and 3 to 12 for women on average.
United Kingdom Shoe Sizes
UK sizes increment by 1/3 rather than a full size. Size increments are 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, etc. UK sizes range from 0 or 1 to 14 for men and 1 to 11 for women typically.
European Shoe Sizes
Many European countries use the Continental or Paris point sizing scale. Full sizes increment by 2 with half sizes as 1. Sizes are converted from centimeters (e.g. size 38 = 38 cm long). The scale runs 35 to 50 for men and 32 to 46 for women.
Mondopoint Shoe Sizing
The mondopoint system measures the length of the foot in centimeters. It’s used alongside some European sizing scales. For example, a size 38 shoe may be marked with a mondopoint length of 245 mm.
Asian Sizing Systems
Countries in Asia use metric sizing systems similar to European scales. However, sizing varies between regions. China, Japan, and Korea have country-specific scales that differ slightly from one another.
Now that you know the main shoe sizing systems, let’s look at how to convert sizes between men’s and women’s shoes.
Converting Men’s and Women’s Shoe Sizes
The first step in converting shoe sizes is to determine which sizing system you’re starting from. Women’s sizes are often indicated as such, while men’s are typically the standard or neutral size. Once you know the sizing scale, you can use some simple rules of thumb to convert:
Converting US Men’s and Women’s Shoe Sizes
- Women’s sizes are usually 1.5 to 2 sizes smaller than men’s sizes in the same foot length.
- To convert a women’s size to men’s, add 1.5 or 2 sizes.
- For example, a women’s size 8 would be around a men’s size 9.5 or 10.
- To convert a men’s size to women’s, subtract 1.5 to 2 sizes.
- For example, a men’s 12 would be around a women’s size 10.5 or 11.
Converting UK Men’s and Women’s Shoe Sizes
- Women’s UK sizes are typically 4 to 5 sizes smaller than men’s.
- To convert women’s to men’s, add 4 or 5 sizes.
- For example, a UK women’s 5 is approximately a UK men’s 9 or 10.
- To convert men’s to women’s, subtract 4 or 5 sizes.
- For example, a UK men’s 10 is about a UK women’s 5 or 6.
Converting European Shoe Sizes
- Women’s sizes are generally 1.5 to 2.5 sizes smaller than men’s.
- To convert women’s to men’s, add 1.5 to 2.5 sizes.
- For example, a women’s 40 would be around a men’s 41.5 to 43.
- To convert men’s to women’s, subtract 1.5 to 2.5 sizes.
- For example, a men’s 45 would be around a women’s 42.5 to 43.5.
These guidelines provide a good starting point for converting sizes. However, it’s important to note that sizes aren’t always consistent across brands or style of shoe. The next section covers more details.
Converting Specific Shoe Styles and Types
While the general size conversion rules apply in most cases, some types of shoes tend to fit differently between men’s and women’s sizing. Here are some style-specific size conversions:
- Women’s athletic shoe sizes often run 1.5 sizes smaller than men’s.
- Tip: Try converting women’s athletic shoes by adding 1.5 sizes.
- Women’s boot sizes are typically 1 to 2 full sizes smaller than men’s boots.
- Tip: Adding 1.5 sizes when converting women’s to men’s boot sizes works well.
- Women’s high heel sizes run quite small, usually 2 full sizes or more smaller than men’s.
- Tip: Try converting by adding 2.5 sizes when going from women’s heels to men’s sizes.
- Women’s sandal sizes are often only 1 size smaller than men’s sandals.
- Tip: Adding just 1 size to women’s usually gives the men’s equivalent.
- Running shoe sizes can vary a lot based on brand and model.
- Tip: Refer to brand specific sizing charts for the most accurate conversion.
- Ski boots need an exact fit, so checking brand specific mondopoint sizing is recommended.
- Tip: Avoid conversions and use mondopoint centimeters for the length of the foot.
- Dress shoes and formal styles tend to run large or small, especially high end brands.
- Tip: Try shoes on in person when possible if converting sizes of formal footwear.
As you can see, converting sizes isn’t an exact science. The fit of a particular brand or shoe style can affect sizing as well. Next we’ll cover some additional tips for finding your ideal shoe size.
Tips for Finding the Perfect Shoe Size
Converting sizes is a helpful starting point when shopping for shoes, but a few extra tips can help you dial in the perfect fit:
- Try shoes on in the afternoon. Feet swell during the day, so shoes may fit differently in the morning compared to afternoon.
- Wear socks similar to how you’ll wear them. Whether you’ll be wearing the shoes with dress socks, no socks, or athletic socks impacts the fit.
- Stand up and walk in the shoes rather than just sitting. Walking and standing highlights any tightness or looseness.
- Pay attention to width sizing. Women’s shoes are available in narrow, medium, and wide widths which affects size and fit.
- Know your measurements. Having your foot length in both inches/cm and mondopoint can make finding the right size easier.
- Refer to brand sizing. Most shoe brands have size charts on their sites indicating how sizes convert across genders and widths.
- Shop at stores with generous return policies. Being able to exchange sizes makes getting the perfect fit much simpler.
Taking these extra steps when shoe shopping can help you avoid the frustration of shoes that don’t fit properly. Now let’s look at some frequently asked questions about converting men’s and women’s shoe sizes.
FAQ About Converting Men’s and Women’s Shoe Sizes
Converting shoe sizes between men’s and women’s raises some common questions. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions:
Why are women’s shoes smaller than men’s?
Women generally have smaller feet on average than men. A women’s size 6 is not the same length as a men’s size 6. This is why women’s sizes tend to run about 1.5 to 2 sizes smaller for a given foot length.
Do kids sizes follow men’s or women’s sizing?
Kids shoe sizes can use either the men’s or women’s sizing scale. However, many brands use a simplified numeric sizing system that increments by whole sizes (e.g. 1, 2, 3) for young children. Older kids are sized on standard men’s or women’s scales.
What’s the difference between medium, wide, and narrow width shoes?
Width indicates the girth of the shoe and foot. Medium or regular width fits average foot proportions. Wide widths accommodate broader feet, while narrow widths are for slimmer feet. Women can buy shoes in all three widths more easily than men.
Should kids follow the same sizing conversion rules?
The standard rules for converting men’s and women’s sizes generally apply to older kids as well. However, young children have more variable foot proportions. Checking brand specific size charts is ideal for determining kids shoe sizes.
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Do international shoe sizes convert differently?
Yes, European, UK, Asian, and other international sizing scales convert differently than US sizes. Refer to the sizing charts earlier in this guide for details on converting international men’s and women’s shoe sizes accurately.
Why don’t some shoes fit according to the size conversion?
Shoes vary in how they are sized by different brands and for different styles. Some brands run small or large compared to others, so the conversions are general guidelines. Trying shoes on and checking brand size charts provides the most precision.
Converting between men’s and women’s shoe sizes is straightforward once you understand the major sizing systems. While general size conversion rules exist, finding the perfect fit also relies on trying shoes on, checking brand sizing info, and getting your feet properly measured.
Remember that women’s shoe sizes typically run about 1.5 to 2 sizes smaller than men’s. Adding or subtracting sizes based on the shoe style gives you a starting point. Use the tips provided to hone in the ideal size for ultimate comfort.
With this comprehensive guide, you can shop for shoes with confidence and find the perfect fit whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else. Understanding international sizes also makes shopping abroad a breeze. So relish the joy of shoes that truly fit well!