fe fi fo fum, sandal sizing makes me feel dumb
June 29, 2012 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Birkenstock Sandals: I got two pair of the Gizeh sandal, 40 and 41. I wear a 9.5 US. I'm having trouble figuring which of these is going to fit and googling isn't helping.

The 40 is what the chart on all the Birkenstock sites says I should be in. It feels comfortable for the most part. The toe thing was uncomfortable on my right foot but some of the reviews said that went away. I've worn thong sandals before so it's not an issue of me not being used to it all.

The 41 seems too big in the heel area. when i walk in them my heel no longer stays back like it is supposed to even on the tightest strap setting.

The issue is that with the size 40, my 3rd toe rubs up and sometimes goes over the edge when I'm walking. When I'm standing in the shoes, they seem to fit like the all the help i can find says they should fit - my heel back and my toes not touching the edge of the shoe.

The larger size is way too big in the heel, but seems better in the front. I don't have the toe issue with that.

So, is this something that will get better as they break in? I've never had Birkenstocks and I walk everywhere so I'm trying to find decent sandals that go with everything and won't kill my feet pounding the pavement.

here are pics of my feet in these in things:

in those pics i realize it looks like the side of my foot is hanging over the side but it's really not. that part of the shoe doesn't bother me at all. these are the regular width not narrow.
posted by sio42 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The 41 looks too big if you ask me. I'm a size 9 and am a perfect 39 in the Gizeh. That said, not all shoes are for all people and you might find that this style is just not going to work for you... unfortunately with the long break in period for Birkenstocks, you'll be well and truly committed by the time you get there.
posted by telegraph at 6:15 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wear 41 in most Birkenstock styles; I prefer to have extra room at the heel rather than having my toes right up to the edge. I'm also 9.5 US.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:18 PM on June 29, 2012

That said, the 40 looks like it fits you better in the photo. What about the arch? Which fits better through the arch?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:20 PM on June 29, 2012

the 40 feels like it fits except the toe thing. the 41 seems floppy.

im just wondering if this toe thing is gonna get better as they get broken in or not. it's only on my right foot not left.
posted by sio42 at 6:29 PM on June 29, 2012

I bought my first pair of Birkenstocks last year, and a sales person convinced me to go with the size where my toes hit the front when I walked. It has definitely worn in, and I think I got the right size. YMMV.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:50 PM on June 29, 2012

The edges of your Birks will break in and get softer as you wear them and allow for your toe/s to mold the shoe into a comfortable shape. Of the two, I'd choose the size that fits the arch through toe bar section best. (I've been wearing Birks almost exclusively for 20+ years and have two Gizehs in my current Birk lineup.)
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:16 PM on June 29, 2012

I'd say neither. One isn't comfortable because it's too big, the other too small. There are other shoe companies that make leather sandals (Naot, for instance), and Birkenstock makes other designs. If you want to wear these for a lot of walking all the time, you want not to start with shoes that are uncomfortable, because there is no guarantee they will break in and be comfortable in the future.
posted by jeather at 7:24 PM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I find that Birkenstocks run really big. The 40 looks better based on your pics.
posted by scratch at 7:24 PM on June 29, 2012

You might be a 41 narrow.
posted by bilabial at 7:26 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agree with bilabial. Is the little footprint drawing on the insole an outline (wide) or is it filled in (narrow)? I personally think they both look too long. I can wear 40 wide or 41 narrow.
posted by jgirl at 7:51 PM on June 29, 2012

I would recommend the narrow. A word of caution though.....I also thought I was in between 40 and 41 (I wear a 9 1/2). I wore a pair of 40 Birks all last summer but my toes were uncomfortably close to slipping over the edge. I went with a 41 this summer but I've sadly discovered that they hurt the underside of my big toes rather a lot after long periods of wear. This is because my feet are actually quite dainty (probably a size 7 or so) but I have finger toes. Looooong toes that bring me up to a 9 1/2 shoe size all on their own. I'm starting to realize that because of this, Birks will never truly work for me as the toe ridge is nowhere close to where my toes end in the shoe bed. I'm pretty bummed I spent the money on a new pair before figuring this out, so do an honest toe assessment before you commit to keeping them.
posted by Go Banana at 8:47 PM on June 29, 2012

I am a 9.5 and have that exact shoe (well, different Colorado) in 41 and it fits me perfectly. That said, I think the 40 looks like a better fit for you. The leather does stretch s little during break-in.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:19 PM on June 29, 2012

Argh, color, not Colorado. A not s.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:20 PM on June 29, 2012

You should have sandals that fit you and feel comfortable, and neither of these options seem to do that for you. I had to look at the photos a couple of times to see the difference in fit. To me, it looks like your heel is in the same place on each shoe, but the front of the shoe is different. I'm wondering if the slippage you are feeling in the 41s is because your big toe is smaller than the second toe. I'm just looking at my feet and my big toe is a little bit bigger than the second toe, which I think would give me more "grasp" on the footbed and prevent slipping. I think this shoe just isn't right for you. The 40 is useless if it only feels good when you stand still. Having a toe tumble out of the shoe all summer will not feel good. If the 41 slips off your heel, they are also useless to you.

I'd return them and go to a shoe store to try on different brands. If you find something that suits your foot you can order it on Zappos for cheaper.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:08 PM on June 29, 2012

If your second and third toes are as long or longer than your big toe? Birks won't fit you. Nor Danskos. Too swoopy in the toe area, you need something more squared off.
posted by fshgrl at 12:30 AM on June 30, 2012

From the pictures it looks like you stole my feet! I wear the same size, 10 American with some variation, have the longer second toe as well. Never tried Birks but have a hard time finding comfortable shoes. I would agree with the person who said if you are going to walk a lot, the shoe should be comfortable right from the start. Maybe try another brand. From sad experience you can't really break in walking shoes if they are not right from the start.
posted by mermayd at 3:53 AM on June 30, 2012

I think you should try some other models and it doesn't look like this one fits in either size.
posted by lulu68 at 4:58 AM on June 30, 2012

i'll see if i can find a store near me that sells birkenstocks and see what they say.

but thanks for all the advice!
posted by sio42 at 7:36 AM on June 30, 2012

I used to sell Birkenstocks, and definitely wouldn't have let you leave my store in either of those, not because of the length, but because of the width. They're both too narrow for you-- your foot shouldn't be rubbing up against the side of the shoe like that. Other Birkenstock styles might work, though, as many of them run a bit wide.
posted by dizziest at 10:23 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your foot seems just not to fit Birkenstocks -- your foot is wider where your arch is and falling over the side, but then too narrow in the toes for the shoe. I'd say you shouldn't go with Birkenstocks at all, but look for a brand that follows your footbed better. Maybe Naots, which have a shape more like yours, I think.

I don't like the idea someone suggested of going to a store and getting their advice and fitting and then, when they find the right shoe for you, leaving without buying anything so that you can buy it on the Internet instead. There won't be anyone left to help us if we all act like that! (I do buy some shoes on the Internet -- I'm just saying that if it's something I'm having trouble getting a proper fit for and need help, I buy from the store that provided that help.)
posted by palliser at 5:35 PM on June 30, 2012

i don't like the idea of shopping in-person and buying on-line either.

based on what dizziest said, i think i'm just gonna return both pairs and go to a place i found nearby that sells birkenstocks and noats and some other brands.

thanks for everyone's help!
posted by sio42 at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2012

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