How shoe Sizes differ from Country to Country


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How nice it would be if we had one standard in the entire world for shoe sizes.  That would really be marvellous, wouldn’t it?  Instead, we have all this confusion especially if the shoes are imported and the standard used is not the same as that of your country.

In this article, we’ll spread some light on the various shoe sizes you might or might not encounter and go a long way towards you selecting the correct shoe size and ultimately the best shoes for standing in.

WOMEN’S SHOES SIZE SCALE                                      



35 21.6
6 36 22.5
6.5 37 23.0
38 23.5
39 24.1
9 40 25.1
41 25.4
11 42 26.5

Let’s begin by defining what is meant by a shoe size.  A shoe size is an alphanumeric number depicting the size of a person’s shoe.    The foot is measured barefoot and with the person’s full weight applied and both feet. This usually only refers to the length of the shoe and very seldom the width.  There are differences in what unit is used to measure and how it is measured.  There are also differences in what is regarded as size 0 or 1.  There are even different sizes used for different categories of shoe, like men’s, women’s, children’s, sport or safety.

This defined length is further divided into three different lengths.  The median length of the foot, the length of the inner cavity of the shoe and the length of the last (the plastic shoe mould).  The median length has the advantage of being directly related to actual body measurements and applied to all types, forms and materials.  It is however not a popular measure with manufacturers’.  The inner cavity measurement has the advantage that it can be easily measured on the finished product, but the disadvantage is that it does not take into account manufacturer’s tolerances.

The measurement of these lengths is also done doing using different units; namely, the Paris point, the barleycorn and the metric system.

The Paris point is commonly used in continental Europe and is the equivalent of 0.26 inches.  This means an increase in size of a quarter of an inch and increases in half sizes of an eighth of an inch.

The barleycorn is used mainly in the United Kingdom and the United States.  This unit is equal to one third of an inch per size and one sixth of an inch per half size.

The metric system’s sizes go up in increments of 5mm or 0.20 inches which is in between the Paris point and the barleycorn.  This system is used with the Asian and International Mondopoint systems. The Mondopoint system is recommended by the IS0- 9407 standard and uses the average foot length and foot width in millimetres for a suitable shoe size.

These sizing systems also place different emphasis on Zeropoints (that is the size 0 or 1).  If zero is placed at zero length of the foot then the actual shoe size is directly proportional to the size of the foot regardless of what units are chosen.  This forms the basis of the Mondopoint and Asian systems.  This has the advantage that different types and categories of shoes can be compared directly.

Size 0 or 1 can also be deemed to be the minimum practical length of a shoe, making it impossible to compare shoes. As an example, a woman’s size 7 is a different length to a men’s size 8 in the UK system but not in the US system.

Some systems include the width of the shoe.  In the Mondopoint system this is measured in millimetres.  In other systems, the width is designated a letter or a combination of letters, although there is no uniformity between manufacturers.  In another, it is simply grouped into narrow, medium or regular and wide.  Now that we have a better understanding of the different size systems we should have little trouble in finding the best shoes for standing in.


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