Having a good understanding of shoe sizes has never been as important as it is now, with the advent of online shopping, and the subsequent domination of that method of shopping of the more traditional method of physically going into a shop, more people are buying shoes online than ever before. You also might be buying shoes for a friend, but whatever the reason, buying shoes without trying them on can be a bit pot luck if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Making matters worse is the ever-changing nature of people—and the fashion industry for that matter. People today are, on average, larger than they were fifty years ago, and industries don’t always succeed in keeping up with that fact, as anyone who has flown on an economy flight in recent years will be able to attest. Still, just because they aren’t always the most informed, doesn’t mean you can’t be. So read on for everything you need to know about the average shoe size for women.
What is the Average Shoe Size for a Woman Worldwide?
There are several different sizing systems across the world, but for simplicities sake, we’re going to stick to the US size equivalent in this post. To that end, between 7 and 8 in US shoe sizes are the average shoe sizes for women across the world.
A conclusion like this is reached by looking at the most well-stocked and most often-bought shoe sizes. It is also worth noting that, while some people have larger or smaller than average feet, shoe size does tend to scale with height. In other words, the taller you are, the more likely you are to have bigger feet. In this respect, the average shoe size also correlates to the average height of women across the globe. That average is 5’9″ in case you were wondering.
What is the Average Shoe Size for Women in the US?
As it turns out, American girls skew a little bigger in the shoe size department, landing at around 8.5 to 9 on average. This is up from an average of about 7.5 a few decades ago.
Something that may be interesting to non-Americans is that US shoe sizes are gendered, meaning there are different sizes for men’s and women’s shoes. Conversely, it might be surprising to a lot of Americans to learn that Europeans do not have a gendered shoe sizing system.
What is the Average Shoe Size for Women in Europe?
As we just mentioned, Europeans have a unisex sizing system, meaning both men’s and women’s shoes are working from the same standard. However, they do have a separate system for children’s shoes.
In the European shoe sizing system, shoe sizes start at 2 US, which translates to 32 in European sizing. While the sizing system may be different, European ladies have something in common with their American cousins when it comes to the average shoe sizes themselves. The average shoe size for European women is around 9, just like the US.
Why Are Feet Getting Bigger?
You may have noticed a mention of US shoe sizes being around a full size larger on average today than they were only a few decades ago. This is the same for both men and women and is indicative of a general increase in obesity among the population. One shoe size in almost fifty years may not sound like a great deal, but it is actually a substantial proportional increase for a human body part and one that can be practically entirely pinned on unhealthy eating and a lack of exercise.
Whatever the reasons, it is undeniable that obesity has been rising worldwide, and that it has a knock-on effect on the average size of feet—particularly foot width—as our bodies adapt to the changes. This can also lead to painful conditions due to women attempting to force larger feet into shoes that haven’t grown with them, largely fuelled by a fashion industry that doesn’t necessarily have the best interests of its clientele at heart.
But, however you choose to view these changes, the trend is clear for all to see. Women’s feet have been getting larger on average.
What Is the Average Shoe Size for a 5’1″ Tall Woman?
We mentioned above that there is a direct correlation between height and shoe size. We also mentioned that the average height of women was around 5’9″ so, as you might expect, the average shoe size for women who are 5’1″ tall is a little less than the average across all women.
Women of this height are, on average, between 6.5 and 8 in the shoe department, which is actually in step with the global average, but a little lower than the US average.
What Is the Average Shoe Size for a 5’5″ Tall Woman?
In keeping with the trend, women who fall into the 5’5″ height bracket have an average shoe size 7 to 8.5; around half a shoe size more than women who are 5’1″.
What Is the Average Shoe Size for a 6′ Tall Woman?
Knowing that the average difference between the shoe sizes of women who are 5’1″ and women who are 5’5″ is only half a shoe size, you might expect women who are 6 foot tall to be another half a shoe size bigger. Perhaps a little more.
It turns out that there’s something of a jump in size for women this tall, with the average shoe size being 10 to 10.5.
How to Measure Your Foot Correctly?
We won’t lie to you, measuring your feet without a Brannock Device—a standard tool for measuring feet—is not easy. Of course, buying such a device for the very few times it would be needed is not exactly a practical use of your money, so let’s talk about how you measure your foot without one.
First off, you will need a couple of pieces of paper, something to draw with, and a ruler. It will also make life easier if you have a second pair of hands to help out.
Once you have your tools ready, lay one of the pieces of paper on the floor and stand on it, the second piece of paper is for your other foot. Now, trace around your foot with the pen or pencil. It is here where you might need a friend to help. Once you have an accurate-as-possible outline of your foot, measure across the widest part, which will usually be the ball of your foot. Then you want to measure the longest part of your foot, which may differ from person to person but will usually be from the heel to the tip of your big toe.
Once you have your measurements, check them against a size chart like this one. If you have wider than average feet, it might be worth checking your measurements on an equivalent width size chart as well.
How to Choose the Correct Shoe Size When Shopping Online?
The first step is to make sure you have a good idea of your shoe size. This can be from measuring your feet as we outlined in the last section, or perhaps from visiting a shoe store and getting measured there. And, of course, you can use your existing shoes as a guide. If you are comfortable wearing size eight shoes, there is no reason to believe size eight shoes will not be comfortable if bought online.
The next step is to do some research on the shoes you are thinking of purchasing. While shoe sizes are standardised (within their specific region), some shoes wear a little tight, some a little loose. Buying online means you can’t try the shoes on to see how they fit, so you will need to check user reviews and see what people have said about them. In particular, you should look out for talk of wide and narrow fits, as they are the most common sizing problems when buying shoes online.
Be gentle with the shoes until you are sure you want to keep them, sending them back is usually an option as long as you haven’t damaged them.
Does Pregnancy Affect Shoe Size?
Unfortunately, pregnancy does affect shoe size, albeit temporarily. This can be down to a number of factors, such as the increased weight a pregnant woman carries around adding more stress to their feet and causing them to “spread” slightly. Pregnancy also introduces a number of hormonal changes that can lead to swollen joints and ligaments.
One of the more frustrating things about these changes is the fact that they are temporary. Of course, few women would choose to have bigger feet indefinitely, but it does put pregnant women in the position of potentially not having any shoes that fit for a few months.
If you are pregnant and you find you are a person whose feet have gotten a little tight in their favorite shoes, it is best to get some cheap, comfortable shoes to tide you over until your feet return to normal size. There is no sense in buying expensive shoes that will only fit you for a few months.