Why You're Probably Wearing the Wrong Shoe Size

Looking after your feet is important for many reasons—we've already seen how much a simple piece of tape can seriously lessen the amount of pain caused by your high heels—but this shoe size–related research is mind-blowing. According to The Wall Street Journal, a study reveals that as many as half of all women in the UK are wearing the wrong size shoes. Wait, what?

According to the study, conducted by the College of Podiatry and released last month, of 2000 adults surveyed, one-third of men and nearly half of women admitted to purchasing shoes that didn't exactly fit. While it might not seem a huge deal at the time if a pair of heels feels a tad too tight (they'll stretch, right?), improperly fitting shoes can have a number of negative health effects—hammertoes deformities, bunion growth, and consistent foot pain are a given, but poorly fitting shoes can also contribute to things like headaches and back pain.

The solution? Never wear a pair of shoes you haven't confirmed properly fit. In theory, this means online shopping for shoes can be tricky when you aren't sure of the brand, and if they don't fit when you receive them, you should return them. But more importantly: doing a really solid measurement of your feet to determine the size you should be wearing is a must. Back in the day, most people got their feet professionally measured on a regular basis. Nowadays, that's a rarity. But good news: you can do it yourself.

Keep scrolling for eight easy DIY steps to measure your own feet and determine your proper shoe size.

1. Take out a piece of notebook paper. 

If you don't have legit notebook paper, a normal piece of paper will do.

2. Place your foot onto the piece of paper. 

We recommend sitting in a chair or crouching, not standing. And make sure you are on a truly flat surface, like a part of your house with hardwood floors.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

3. Trace your foot. 

We recommend using a pen or pencil for this part, so you don't leave any serious markings on your foot and/or sock. When you're done, it should look like your foot tracing is inside a rectangle.

4. Outline your tracing with straight lines. 

Using a ruler, draw a perfectly straight line on each edge of your foot: the toes, each side and the heel.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

5. Measure the length and width of your foot.

Using your ruler, measure the inches between the two parallel lines on either side of your foot: top to bottom and side to side. Note these two numbers.

6. Subtract 3/16ths of an inch from each number.

This just accommodates for the tiny bit of extra space between your foot and the straight lines.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

7. Using the chart below, find your true shoe size based on the length of your foot.

Size 4: 8 3/16" or 20.8 cm in length

Size 4.5: 8 5/16" or 21.3 cm

Size 5: 8 11/16" or 21.6 cm

Size 5.5: 8 13/16" or 22.2 cm

Size 6: 9" or 22.5 cm

Size 6.5: 9 3/16" or 23 cm

Size 7: 9 5/16" or 23.5 cm

Size 7.5: 9 1/2" or 23.8 cm

Size 8: 9 11/16" or 24.1 cm

Size 8.5: 9 13/16" or 24.6 cm

Size 9: 10" or 25.1 cm

Size 9.5: 10 3/16" or 25.4 cm

Size 10: 10 5/16" or 25.9 cm

Size 10.5: 10 1/2" or 26.2 cm

Size 11: 10 11/16" or 26.7 cm

Size 11.5: 10 13/16" or 27.1 cm

Size 12: 11" or 27.6 cm

8. Find the right width.

Most shoes don't come with special width sizes, although a few do note if they're especially narrow. If you need it, here's a helpful chart to determine your appropriate shoe width size.

Now shop some of the shoes we're coveting right now with your correct shoe size.

Next up! How to keep your shoes from squeaking.

Meghan Blalock
Managing Editor

Hailing from the heart of the South and cutting her teeth on the mean streets of New York, Meghan has six years of experience covering fashion, style, celebrities, culture, and human behavior. A longtime devotee of rap music, tacos, and generally perfect weather, she is excited to put down roots in Los Angeles. Her top three style staples are a good pair of cutoff shorts, virtually any kind of colorful digi-print, and a solid set of shades.