How Much Bigger Is A Half Size In Shoes?

(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)



Shoe sizes are not always as straightforward as we may believe, especially given the variety of shoe sizing systems in use throughout the world. This does not account for the slight variations in shoe sizes between brands, both for men and women. With all of these unknowns, it’s effortless to select a shoe that isn’t your actual size. So, how much more significant is a half-size shoe? Not much more extensive, that is, strictly speaking in terms of measurement. However, there are additional factors to consider, which we will discuss throughout this article. While it’s disastrous when a shoe is too big or too small, seemingly insignificant differences can also have a significant impact on how your shoes fit.

Your Foot’s Actual Dimensions

foot dimensions

It is well-known that our two feet are not identical in size, with one slightly larger than the other. That is why getting shoes and breaking them in can be challenging at times, even more so if you have purchased shoes you believe will fit you perfectly.

There is a simple DIY method for determining your actual foot size. Stand on a piece of paper on a flat surface in your home and distribute your weight evenly between both feet. Ascertain your comfort. The part of the paper can be lined or unlined; ensure that it is flat. Mark the farthest point of your heels and toes as precisely as possible with a pen or pencil. A rep for both feet, including markings for the width of each foot. Calculate the distance between the two markings using any scale you like, feet, centimeters, or inches. Once you’re finished, record the length measurement and use it as a reference point when shopping for shoes. This is because, as previously stated, our feet are not the same size, and if you use the slightly shorter dimensions, you may end up with one foot feeling choked and the other feeling OK.

Shoe Sizing Systems Throughout the World

shoe size systems

There are numerous sizing systems in use throughout the world, which, as previously stated, contribute to the uncertainty surrounding our actual foot sizes.

We will discuss two major sizing systems:

  • The American.
  • The European.

American Shoe Sizing

Men’s and women’s shoe size ranges in the United States are quite different. For starters, men’s shoes are typically cut wider than women’s shoes because men’s feet are typically larger than women’s feet. Children’s sizing is quite distinct from adult sizing and is not dependent on the sizing system. Another distinction is that women’s sizes range from 4 to 12, whereas men’s sizes range from 6 to 16. Though it is uncommon, larger shoe sizes are occasionally developed, but this is always dependent on the brand’s decision to construct them.

The width of shoes also plays a significant role in the sizing system, and in the United States, the law requires that shoes be made in a range of widths and be federally recognized. The widths are classified as extra-wide, wide, medium, and narrow.

European Shoe Sizing

In Europe, unlike in the United States, the sizing system does not take gender and age into account, so more giant shoes are designed for men, while the smallest is designed for children. Additionally, because sizing increases in whole numbers, there are no half-size shoes. Further, the details and designs of American and European shoes are opposed. The width of shoes varies slightly as well, though the sizing system allows a woman to comfortably wear size 35 in women’s shoes and size 35 in men’s shoes. The only difference would be that men’s shoes would be slightly wider than women’s shoes.

Is It Acceptable To Wear A Shoe A Half-Size Larger?

shoe half a size larger

This is subjective. It’s a good idea for running shoes because as you run, blood flow to your foot muscles is increased to keep them oxygenated. As a result, the foot becomes swollen. Additionally, socks are typically worn with running shoes, so it’s a good idea to account for this when purchasing. Perhaps not for dress shoes. We recommend that you select your proper size to ensure maximum comfort. Children’s feet are still developing, and they will outgrow their shoes faster than they can wear them. As a result, it is prudent to purchase shoes that fit comfortably but have room for growth. Another option is to buy shoes that are a full size larger and provide them with comfortable shoe inserts to compensate for the extra space created by their growing feet.

Another consideration is the brand of shoes you choose. There will always be a slight variation in shoe sizes between brands, as different brands manufacture in other countries, each of which has its sizing system. As such, we recommend that, in addition to your actual foot measurements (the larger one is preferable), you consult the brand’s size chart to determine the exact size of a shoe to purchase.

Why Experts Recommend Purchasing A Half-Size Larger Running Shoe?

Investing in the ideal running shoe is the first step toward a successful run. When it comes to finding the perfect shoe, the fit is always paramount. If your shoe is too small, you risk developing blisters, numbness, and general discomfort; many experts recommend purchasing a half-size larger running shoe to avoid this. Additionally, it would help if you had your feet measured later in the day when they are the largest. Your feet change over time, and the fit of one model may be markedly different from that of another.” Numerous other factors contribute to a person’s feet changing over time, including pregnancy, falling arches, and even the weather. Christine Luff of recommends ordering a half-size larger shoe because running causes the feet to swell, and it is critical to have plenty of room in the toebox. If the toes are crammed into the front of the running shoe, blisters or black toenails may develop. According to Runner’s World, “the additional space allows your foot to flex and your toes to advance with each stride.” When standing with both shoes on, ensure that there is at least a thumbnail’s width of space between the tip of the shoe and the end of your longest toe. Try on shoes with both feet and run around the store, on a treadmill, or the sidewalk.” Therefore, before purchasing a new pair of shoes, ensure that you have your feet measured regularly and later in the day. When purchasing your next couple, consider going up half a size to maintain a strong run and stride.

How To Measure Your Feet?

how to measure feet

Your feet should be measured once or twice a year at a shoe store. Do not rely on a ten-year-old foot measurement. As you age, the ligaments and other soft tissues in your feet tend to relax and stretch. This results in a change in the shape and size of your feet. Numerous studies have revealed that a sizable portion of the population wears footwear that is too small, associated with foot pain and disorders. Make sure to take measurements of your feet’ length, width, and arch length.

Later In The Day

Have your feet measured and return later in the day to shop for shoes. By the end of the day, almost everyone develops some swelling in their feet. If you wait until later in the day to shop for shoes, you’re more likely to avoid purchasing too-tight shoes.

Things To Keep In Mind When Finalizing Feet Measurements

When Measuring, Take a Stand

Always measure your feet standing up. When you stand, your feet will spread wider. It is preferable to have someone else take the measurement, as you must stand tall and look straight ahead, with your weight evenly distributed over your foot. Your standing position can affect the size and shape of your feet.

Calculate The Length Of The Arch

The arch length is a critical component of shoe fit. The arch length is determined by the distance between your heel and the ball of your foot (where your big toe joint bends). The bend in your big toe should correspond to the turn in the shoe. Raise onto your toes while wearing both shoes. If the shoe bends before or following the big toe joint, it is not a good fit for your arch length.

Size Is Irrelevant

Make an effort not to obsess over the shoe size. Due to the lasts used, there is a significant difference in shoe sizes between shoe companies. A last is a shape around which a shoe is molded. Each company utilizes a unique last, which means that a size 8 New Balance will fit differently than a size 8 Nike, and a size 9 Manolo Blahnik will fit differently than a size 9 Jimmy Choo.

Adjust Shoes For A Larger Foot

Each foot is unique. Typically, one foot is slightly larger than the other. Purchase the shoe size that corresponds to the larger foot. Some various pads and inserts can add space to an oversize shoe, but you cannot add length to a bit of the shoe. Shoe fitting for the larger foot has a limit. If your feet are more than 1 1/2 sizes apart, purchase two pairs of shoes in two different sizes.

Trying On Shoes To Determine Fit

You can try on shoes in-store or straight from the box if you order them online. Here are some guidelines to assist you in determining whether to pursue them further or to reject them.

Wear Appropriate Socks Or Undergarments

It is critical to wear the socks, nylons, or other footwear that you typically wear with the type of shoes you are trying on. You should wear the same sock you would go with them (or none at all if that is how they will be worn).

When wearing athletic or outdoor shoes, be sure to wear the same thickness of socks as you usually do. The thickness of the hose has a significant effect on the fit of the shoe.

Leave 1/2 Inch At The Shoe’s Front

Between the end of your longest toe and the end of the front of the shoe, there should be about a 1/2 inch. This is approximately the size of the tip of your index finger (if you have small hands) or pinky finger (large arrows). While the big toe is typically the longest, some people have a longer second toe, referred to as Morton’s toe.

Allow 1/8 Inch Of Space At The Back Of The Shoe

You do not want the shoe’s back to being too close to the back of your heel. This may result in irritation and blisters on the skin. Allow approximately 1/8 inch between the back of your heel and the shoe.

Choose Shoes With Enough Space In The Toe Box

Toes require space to move. Inadequate room for your toes can result in corns, calluses, neuromas, or deformed toes.

Walk While Wearing Both Shoes

Take your time and try on both shoes while walking around the store. If possible, walk on a variety of surfaces (carpet, tile, etc.). In an ideal world, you would bring the shoes to a gym and walk on a treadmill. This will keep the shoes clean and allow you to test them out truly. Some stores provide this service; therefore, do not be afraid to inquire.

Shoes Should Provide Immediate Comfort

Shoes should be comfortable in the store or immediately upon receipt if purchased online. Do not purchase shoes in the hope that they will become comfortable enough to wear in the future. If an online purchase does not feel right, return it immediately.

Laced Shoes Are More Convenient to Fit

Lace-up shoes are easier to adjust to your specific needs and keep on your feet. Shoes without laces cannot change for swelling variations and are more challenging to keep on the feet, putting additional strain on your feet.


It’s a relatively common and natural occurrence for one foot to be slightly larger than the others. Thus, it is critical to determine your actual shoe size, either by self-measurement using the method described above or by having your feet measured by a professional. Once you’ve chosen your exact dimensions, you can use sizing charts to select shoes that will fit properly when you purchase them. You’ll permanently avoid the pain and discomfort associated with breaking in shoes that are too big or too small.



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