Having a world of large size shoes to choose from online is amazing, but working out what shoe size you need can be SO confusing. Here's all you need to know about women's shoe sizes, plus a handy international shoe size conversion chart.
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|UK||US/AU||EURO||Foot length (cm)|
This women's shoe size converter is based on the original formula for each shoe size system2, so it's as accurate as possible. In the real world, different brands have their own shoe sizing. There is no one conversion chart to rule them all unfortunately, but this table is a useful benchmark.
Note that UK, US & European shoe sizes are based on the length of the last the shoe is made on. The foot lengths in this conversion table are 1.5cm less than the last length to allow for wiggle room. That's about the width of your index finger.
Brands often have unique shoe sizes and come up with their own international conversions. The best way to get your shoe size right is as follows:
- Use the brand's primary shoe size system
Brands usually base shoe sizing on their local market. So for UK brands, the UK shoe size should be the true size etc. Some brands make their shoes to European sizes instead of using their native sizing. This should be clear from their website & you would go by euro sizes then. Use the conversion table above to find your size for each region.
- Go by the foot length measurement in cm if provided, or the Japanese size otherwise. Choose the size that is your foot length or slightly larger
- If both methods give the same size, you can be confident that's the right shoe size for you.
If you get different results, more research is needed. You could contact the brand for fit advice or read reviews to see how others find sizing.
Tip: when trying on shoes, put your index finger across the top of the shoe above where your big toe is. There should be the width of your index finger between your big toe and the top of the shoe. If there's more space, try a size down and if there's less, the shoes are too tight.
Width is just as important as length for shoe fit. Read the shoe widths guide to find out about the different shoe widths brands use around the world.
Tip: if you have a wider foot, you may need to go up a half or even full size in standard width shoes. If you struggle to find shoes that fit well, try a wide width in a size smaller (or half size) than you usual wear in medium width shoes.
My sensitive feet blister easily, and I've recently found that wide width size 8-8.5 uk shoes can fit better than my usual standard width size 9s.
American shoe brands can have strange European shoe size conversions. Size 11 us (9 uk) can be listed as 41 or 42 instead of 43. It's common for British brands to convert 9 uk to 42 eu too.
While this can mean that the brand's shoe sizes run small, it's not always the case. Sometimes the european shoe size conversion is just plain wrong.
So check the foot length for your shoe size first. If that looks OK, the shoes could fit like a glove. Don't let a dodgy euro size conversion make you miss out on your dream shoes!
Get your free one-page printable version of this shoe size conversion guide.
The UK shoe size system is the oldest in the world & uses an inch based formula. US women's shoe sizes are also based on the UK system, just with different numbering.
There is 8.46mm or ⅓inch between each whole UK & US shoe size. That's only the width of your little fingernail! So there's a tiny 4.23mm or ⅙ inch between half sizes. But these small amounts make a big difference.
Add 2 to your UK shoe size to get your US women's shoe size. For example, if you wear size 9 UK shoes, you are shoe size 11 US women's.
Subtract 2 from your US shoe size to get your UK shoe size. So, if you wear size 12 US shoes, you are shoe size 10 UK.
Women's UK to US shoe size converter
Which countries use UK shoe sizes?
Women's shoes use UK sizing in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, India and Pakistan.
Which countries use US shoe sizes?
Women's shoes use US sizing in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
While UK & European shoe sizes are unisex, US male shoe sizing is different from women's.
There are actually 2 different men's US shoe sizing systems (common and customary) which complicates things.
Subtract 1-1.5 from your US female shoe size to get your US male shoe size. For example, if you wear a US women's 12, a men's size 10.5-11 shoe should fit you.
Add 1-1.5 to your US male shoe size to get your US female shoe size. So if you wear a US men's 12, you are size 13-13.5 US in women's shoes.
US male to female shoe size converter
There is no exact formula because some brands use the common size system, where gender sizes vary by 1.5, while others use the customary system where sizes differ by 1. Compare the US male and female shoe size charts for the relevant brand or retailer for additional guidance.
European shoe sizes use a completely different formula to UK and US shoe sizes. It's metric based and there's only 6.67mm or .26 inches between each European shoe size. So European shoe sizes have a slightly smaller gap between each size than UK and US shoe sizes.
Unfortunately, there is no simple conversion between European and UK/US shoe sizes because they use different size increments.
It is easier to understand this visually. The scales below shows the true relationship between European, UK and US women's shoe sizes.
For large shoe sizes, US women's size 14 (12 uk) does equal size 47 EU. But that's an exception and other European and UK/US sizes do not match up exactly.
Many shoe store size guides equate each European shoe size with a UK/US size for simplicity. This is not that accurate and makes buying the right size shoes tricky.
Half sizes are not traditionally used in European shoe sizing, but some brands use them as a closer equivalent to certain UK and US sizes.
Technical note: the converter scales above compare shoe last lengths from European vs UK/US shoe size formulas rather than ISO foot lengths, because ISO international conversions1 allow for more foot room at the top of UK/US sized shoes than EU sized shoes.
Neither a European 42 or 43 is an exact match for shoe size 11 us or 9 uk. Size 43 is the closest to size 11 us (9 uk).
The ISO international standard1 converts shoe size 42 to a woman's size 10.5 us (8.5 uk), and says that size 43 is slightly larger than size 11 us (9 uk). However the ISO allows more toe room for UK/US sized shoes than Euro ones, which is a bit daft.
A traditional size 43 shoe last is actually slightly shorter than a size 11 us shoe last (9 uk) and a size 42 last is only just larger than a size 10 us (8 uk) last. But modern shoe lasts can vary significantly by brand and style.
Mainstream shoe brands often sell size 42 shoes as women's size 11 us (9 uk). This does not always mean they run small and are not "proper" size 11s / 9s. Once the size 11 us (9 uk) foot length is around 27cm, they should be true to size even if labelled 42.
The majority of international shoe retailers consider size 10 uk (12 us women's) to be a 44 EU and size 11 UK (13 us women's) to be a 45 for simplicity.
The ISO international shoe size standard1 also says a women's 12 us (10 uk) is almost identical to size 44 eu, with a foot length of 28cm approx, while size 13 us (11 uk) is slightly larger than size 45. But ISO foot lengths allow for more space at the top of US/UK sized shoes than European sized shoes which is questionable.
Based on traditional shoe last lengths, neither 44 nor 45 is a good match for size 12 us (10 uk). A women's size 12 us (10 uk) shoe last is approximately 44.5 European whereas a size 13 us last (11 uk) is between 45.5 and 46.
So European to US/UK shoe size conversion is not clear cut. That's why I recommend using the brand's primary sizing system (e.g. euro shoe sizing for brands who make their shoes to European sizes) to get the best fit instead of relying on their international shoe size conversions.
We all know our local shoe size. But do you know how long your foot is? Think about it. Buying shoes would be much easier if you could just choose the length to match your foot.
Some countries including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea do actually use foot length in centimetres for shoe sizing. So a size 28 shoe in Japan is for a foot that's 28cm long. Easy!
A growing number of shoe brands include foot length measurements in their size guides. Always look for this and read it closely.
Don't just assume buying your usual shoe size will fit. We all know how crazy women's clothes sizing is. A size 14 dress fits perfectly in one store but won't go near you in another brand.
Shoe brand sizes can be inconsistent too. But the lengths don't lie! So if you struggle with picking the right shoe size, buying shoes based on the foot length measurement could be the answer.
To get the most accurate result when measuring your feet:
- Measure them in the afternoon or evening if possible, because your feet swell a little through the day.
- Wear socks or tights if you will wear them with the shoes.
There are a few ways to measure your foot size:
- Use the brand's printable foot measure guide
A few brands provide a downloadable measurement kit, which you can print out, stand on and read off your size. This is the most reliable method, but you must print the guide at 100% for accurate results. So I'd recommend also using another option below to double check.
- Stand against a wall
Lay a ruler or stiff measuring tape alongside your foot and read off the measurement in cm at the top of your big toe.
Alternatively, place a sheet of paper against the wall, stand on the page and mark the top of your big toe on it. Then measure the page afterwards with a ruler.
- Place your foot on a sheet of paper
Draw around your foot with a pencil. It can be more accurate to get someone else to do this. Make sure you allow for how far your heel protrudes out above your sole. Then just measure your outline from top to bottom in cm with a ruler.
You should measure both your feet in centimetres to 1 decimal place e.g. 27.2 cm. Multiply this by 10 to get your foot length in millimetres e.g. 272 mm.
It's natural for your feet to be different lengths. Use the length of your longer foot.
Your exact foot length is likely to be a hard number to remember, so keep a note of it somewhere you can easily refer to when shopping online. Add a note on your phone, email it to yourself or jot it down in your handbag notebook if you're old skool like me. There's also a box to write this down on the one page printable version of this guide.
Keep an eye out for foot length measurements on shoe product pages and brand size guides. Choose the size closest to (but at least as big as) your foot length measurement for the best fit.
If you take just one thing from this guide, measure your feet!
I hope this guide to understanding large shoe sizes is helpful. If you have any conversion questions or insights to share, just get in touch.
- ISO STANDARD 19407:2015 for conversion of footwear sizing systems (UK & Euro shoe size formulas are included in the Swedish Institute of Standards preview)
- Wikipedia: common shoe sizing systems and formulas
Download or print out a one-page PDF of this guide as a handy reference.