What sizes shoes do I wear?
August 7, 2011 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I searched previous AskMeFi questions for recommendations on shoes to help my aching feet, but I realize I don't know my shoe size and don't really know how to measure my feet. And because my feet are wide, I think I need both length and width. Please help.
posted by layceepee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Most shoe stores that aren't super-discount will have guys or girls with metal measuring things that will sit you down and measure your feet then have you try on a bunch of stuff to see what fits.

I don't know what you specifically need shoes for, but I would suggest finding a running store in your area where they do fittings. Even if you just need some sneakers to walk around in, they'll help you figure out your size and width and they may even do a gait analysis (have you walk or run on a treadmill and watch/tape it to see how you walk/run) and come up with shoes for that type of gait. Less useful if you need more formal shoes, of course, but it may help.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:30 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is what good (Nordstrom, not Payless) shoestores are for. They will measure the length and width of your feet for free and recommend makes of shoes that work for your feet.
posted by zippy at 1:08 PM on August 7, 2011

Try Merrells or Privo! - both brands are built for comfort and have lasted a long time for me (I tend to wear a pair of shoes exclusively until they fall apart, and Merrells tend to make it several years).

You could go into Nordstrom and have them measure your foot, then get the shoe they recommend for cheaper online. It's not that nice to the salespeople, given that they work on commission, but it is cheaper.
posted by guster4lovers at 1:15 PM on August 7, 2011

The metal measuring thing is called a Brannock Device. But even if the staff uses them correctly on you, the resulting measurements, length and width, should only be considered a rough guideline.

Your foot has far too many dimensions to be represented with just two measurements; feet can be low volume, high volume, high arch, wide forefoot, narrow heel, etc. And shoe manufacturers rarely build their shoes to what the Brannock device specifications, plus they're inconsistently made, so two shoe models with the same size may not fit the same way. So basically - the only way you'll know if a shoe fits is if you try it on. And don't just try on one pair of shoes - try on a half size smaller and a half size bigger than the shoes that you think will fit. If the manufacturer has widths, you might want to try on one size wider and one size narrower. Don't feel pressured to buy a pair of shoes that doesn't fit just right because you took up the salesman's time.

Running shoe stores are more used to these kind of shoppers (runners would be pickier about their shoes), but running shoes are usually only good for running and little else.

If you know your feet fit weird, definitely avoid buying shoes online. You will be tempted to try out a pair of shoes for a short period of time, shoes that you would reject instantly in a store, because returning them takes additional effort. Then you will have shoes that don't fit and can't be returned.
posted by meowzilla at 1:42 PM on August 7, 2011

If you know your feet fit weird, definitely avoid buying shoes online. You will be tempted to try out a pair of shoes for a short period of time, shoes that you would reject instantly in a store, because returning them takes additional effort. Then you will have shoes that don't fit and can't be returned.

I have hard-to-fit feet, and I find the opposite to be true, but I buy shoes almost exclusively through Zappos. I once went through a few months where I ordered and returned 14 pairs of boots from Zappos, looking for the perfect ones. Most shoe stores wouldn't even have 14 styles in stock that I liked, nor do the stores feature customer reviews of how their stock fits. The UPS drop-off is closer to my house than any shoe store, so there's less effort in returning them. I also don't have to deal with sending shoe salespeople to the stock room repeatedly, or have the pressure of having them hang over me while I'm trying to decide.

And interestingly, the Brannock Device doesn’t give an accurate measure of my foot. Every time I go to the stupid New Balance store, they tell me that one of my feet is a size 8 and the other is a 9. And every time, they end up fitting me with a size 10 pair of shoes.

If your feet ache, please also consider that you might have very high arches, or flat feet – measuring alone won’t tell you that. You might also be aching because you over-pronate.

My screwy feet are long, wide, very flat, I have crooked toes, a high instep, and I over-pronate. I have to pick shoes for the intended task. Running shoes need to be wide, large toe box, very good arch support and stability. Something I know I’ll only be wearing while sitting at my desk all day at work doesn’t need to fit as well. If I walk or stand for any length of time in shoes with no arch support, it is extremely painful.

You don’t provide much info on what kinds of shoes you need, or what you wear them for, but all the factors listed above could come into play for why your feet hurt.

Here’s some info about telling what kind of arch your foot has.

Here's some info about pronation.

Here's some info about finding your shoe size.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:00 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

If your shoes feel comfortable at first but then your feet start to hurt after you've walked a couple of miles you might need better arch support and wider shoes.

It might be helpful if you could tell use what part or parts of your feet hurt.
posted by mareli at 7:12 PM on August 7, 2011

If you have a running-specific store near you, see if they have the crazy foot scanner/analysis machines. My husband had his done recently and found out all kinds of useful things (like that his feet are two different sizes).
posted by Lyn Never at 9:06 AM on August 8, 2011

I hope maybe you can come back and give more info because foot pain could also have causes like bunions, corns, hammer toes, or plantar fasciitis.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:34 AM on August 8, 2011

I don't worry much about what size any more, I usually ask the sales person to bring out an assortment of sizes and then I work through until I find the one that feels best. I'm sensitive to the 'last' that's used, apparently, so the best fit in terms of number or width can vary by a whole size and several widths, depending on the design of the shoe.

Do you have shoes that you think fit, but still somehow hurt your feet? I had a lot of shoes that fit well enough (they didn't rub, pinch, or slop around) yet at the end of a day (and sometimes the next morning) my feet would ache and cramp. I went to REI and tried a few 'colors' of "Superfeet" in my favorite pair of shoes to find the thickness that worked best. That turned out to be "blue" for that particular pair of shoes.

Next day: happy feet. Now virtually all my shoes with removable insoles have superfeet of one type or another.

I see them in Nordstrom and hiking/outdoor stores like REI.

Good luck!
posted by cairnish at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2011

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