Women's Shoe Size Guide

(This guide is for women's shoes only. For men's shoes, check out our article on how to make men's dress shoes more comfortable).

Finding the perfect shoe, the holy grail of shoe shopping for every woman in the world, is akin to hitting the jackpot. Angels sing, a light shines down on your chosen pair and all's right with the world.

Getting to this sweet spot, however, requires thought, effort and of course, knowing your perfect size.

There are a few ground rules you should take heed of when buying your perfect pair of shoes. Following these simple guidelines will help you to make every purchase, one with #noregrets

  1. Don’t be committed to the size that you think you are- the label inside the shoe is merely a guide- rather buy based on how the shoe feels on your foot. Size up and down as is necessary.
  2. Buy a shoe that follows the shape of your foot as close as fashion will dictate it. We’re not suggesting you wear boats on your feet but comfort is key!
  3. Buy your shoes at the end of the day when your feet are their largest.
  4. Have your feet measured regularly, feet change with age. Measure either by yourself (see our foot measurement guide)or professionally at the store.
  5. Stand and walk around in your shoes in store. There should be a half inch of space between your longest toes and the front of the shoe.
  6. Make sure the ball of your foot fits perfectly into the widest part of the shoe.
  7. If you already use any, arch supports or heel lifts, make sure to take them with you when you try the shoes on to make sure they’ll work with your new pair.
  8. After measuring both your feet, always try the larger foot first- this is the indicator of the size that will fit best.

    Here’s how 6 of your footwear wardrobe staples ought to fit

    6 of your footwear wardrobe staples ought to fit

    Ballet Flats

    • Make sure your pinky finger can slide in behind your heel when sitting and trying on the shoes- this is how much space your toes will need to grip sufficiently.

    • Make sure you can wiggle your toes at least in the shoes, if your small toe is squashed, hard pass and try a half-size up.

    • The back counter of the shoe should grip the back of your foot where your heel starts to curve upward toward the Achilles. It should not have any give nor should it be too tight.

    • Flexing your foot in the shoe should not present any gaping on the sides. If there is some gaping, you need to find a narrower fit.

    • If your heel slips out even if you go down a size or half size, consider buying flats with an elasticated topline.

    yellow stiletto heels

    Stiletto Heels

    • No gaps anywhere- Pumps and other high styles should fit snugly but not overly tight. If your heels fit loosely, your muscles will need to work overtime to keep your feet in your shoes.

    • If you’re buying a style with any sort of ankle tie, make sure it actually does support the ankle and tie it tight enough for this to happen.

    • If you’re sliding forward in your correct size, try a thin insole insert to give your foot some grip- sometimes it’s just the insole lining that slides your foot forward.

    • The heel placement is pretty important- make sure the heel of the shoe is directly under your own heel, not too forward nor too far back- both of these extremes will throw your balance off and walking will be an agony

    • If the straps cut when you’re trying on the shoes, they will only get worse- don’t try wearing it in. Move on.

    • Wiggle your foot back and forth whilst digging the heel into the ground- the heel should be firm and have no give at all.

    • Your toes will not be able to wiggle much as with fitting on ballet flats- but do make sure that your small toe has enough room and is not squashed.

    flat strappy sandals

    Flat Sandals

    • Rather go half a size up to avoid toe overhang. Toe overhang is just wrong.

    • For slide sandals, make sure that the toe band offers enough support to keep your foot in the sandal when walking and you don’t need to clench your toes for it to stay on.

    • For sandals with a back counter; make sure your heel fits squarely into the heel cup and that the lip of the counter does not bite into your ankles

    • Your entire foot should not hang over sandals that are completely bare- such as a t-strap sandal. Feet hanging over the sandal destabilizes your gait- rather go for a wider style.

    • For strappy styles, your small toe should be covered by a strap or the strap should end where the joint of the little toe begins- this is to ensure your small toe doesn’t stick out the side of your foot unnaturally.

    • Toe bands should still allow your toe knuckle to flex when striding.

    • When buying thong sandals, ensure the thong is not too long or short- it must offer a degree of stability in your forefoot. It should rest snugly between and slightly above your toes.

    • The back strap of a sandal needs to fit snugly into the curve behind your heel in order for it not to slip off when walking.

    black ankle boots with lucite heel

    Ankle Boots

    • There are two points of fit to consider with ankle boots. The girth of your foot i.e the widest part of your foot where the ball of your foot is and the ankle shaft of the boot

    • The boot should be comfortable around the girth area of your foot, especially when flexing- if your foot feels constricted in this area- size up.

    • If sizing up means that the ball area of your foot is now comfortable but the rest is a little loose- use thicker socks or an insole to make it fit.

    • The ankle should have some space for flexion and movement, so don’t be too concerned with getting the ankle shaft to fit too snugly.

    • Boots, in general, are designed with toe space in mind- so wiggle room for your toes is important.

    • A little bit of heel slip is normal for boots and is necessary, otherwise the boot will be too stiff; your foot will need to have flexion inside the boot.

    • If you’re struggling to get your feet in with a sock on, try wearing a thin plastic over the sock, push the foot into the boot and tear the plastic away. (We hate plastic too but sometimes its use is a necessary evil.)

    brown calf boots

    Calf Boots

    • Calf size is key- have both your calves measured and use the measurement of the larger one when searching for boots.

    • For a good calf fit, there should be no more than about a quarter of an inch space between your calf and the boot shaft.

    • For wider calves, look for brands that specifically cater to wider calves rather than buying lace-up boots in the hope that the loosened laces will give you space for your calves. This can cause gaping and is also mostly uncomfortable.

    • Elastication on the boot shaft can help to ease the fit over bigger calves too.

    • Cobblers can help to stretch boots out- leather boots particularly work well on their stretching machine.

    • For narrow calves, look for styles that feature lots of buckles/lacing so you can adjust to fit. There are also brands that cater specifically to a narrower calf.

    • If you’ve found the perfect boot and it gapes too much at the calf, consider wearing toeless socks to give you a bit more width on your calves.



    • They’re a great stable, less painful height-adding alternative to stilettos. Ensure that the pair you’re buying has a non-slip sole.

    • You should be able to wiggle your toes in any wedge style- they are generally manufactured to run wider than stilettos.

    • Because there is a bit of heel drag with wedges since the shoe can’t flex, make sure that there are sufficient straps (for sandals) wide enough to provide stability when walking.

    • Because wedges don’t really flex, it is important that you ensure that there is no gaping when you walk- if your size does gape, lift your foot inside the shoe with a thick contoured insole.

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