Here we will try to address common problems for matching sizes internationally and provide some guidance on size selection. The page will cover men's, women's and children's sizes for countries where reliable data is available. Be warned however that the information is used entirely at your own risk as the footwear industry has many nuances - two styles in the same size from the same firm will have differences, some styles require more 'wriggle' room than others (in the extreme think 'winkle pickers' vs Wellingtons!), some companies that had been manufacturing for a specific market now find themselves globalized and thus are approximating sizes for new audiences. It's not all bad news though, there are some gems of information that will help navigate this tricky issue which I will document on these pages. The obvious but often overlooked one is when buying shoes without the ability to try them on is of course to buy from a company that has a comprehensive returns policy, note all reputable firms understand the dilemmas of purchasing remotely.
First off, if you're interested in understanding the base systems then look here but be warned that this is not widely followed by the retailers and manufacturers so please don't use this information to make decisions around purchases.
So why is this so hard? Well to show the problem I've mapped the shoes size charts from various manufacturers who provide sizes against foot length. There are three charts one for EU sizes and one each for the US and UK systems.
As you can see there is the distinct pattern of shoe size increasing with foot length which is obviously very welcome however where we would expect a specific size for a foot of given length we can see that in some cases 4 or more sizes could be recommended particularly with the EU system. Other conclusions we may draw from this is that the UK system seems on the the whole to be marginally more consistent perhaps for historic shoe manufacturing reasons or more likely the US system has more nuances - particularly with regard to the sexes.
Note of course that formal, casual and leisure shoes are all present in these graphs.
To follow the story of my investigations to unravel the mysteries of the shoe sizing world click here.
My next step is to get some manufacturer sizes collated for comparison, feel free to visit my google plus page for progress updates and/or offer feedback.
Measure your feet! It may be that you've not have your feet measured for years or are even relying on a measurement from that day you discovered those killer shoes and had to go up a size for a suitable width. Whatever the story get them measured - it's simple and quite empowering. A couple of points though - measure whilst standing up (half a barleycorn difference in some instances), measure both feet and use the longest. If you're unable to do this then head for the shops but make sure you understand and note down what system they use the Brannock system is popular in stores but it's aligned with the US standard size - ideally request the mm actual foot size.