Considering the basic need for footwear and the long-standing history, finding shoes that fit would be something that would be streamlined by now. And we are far from that. Finding shoes, especially for women, is very much a challenge. And with the rise of e-commerce, it’s become even more difficult to find something that fits “your size”. To add on top of the pile standards and styles keep changing in the industries across the world.
Despite all the confusion, we somehow do manage to get by. And if you start doing research into the subject you might find that it gets even more complicated but to help you find some answers, we are going to tell you about the important essentials.
So what’s going on and what is the average shoe size for a woman ?
How to measure your foot for size?
Before you get to selecting shoes, you first have to know your size. Even if the industry standard changes, it won’t help if you don’t know what the measurement of your feet even is. So let’s talk about how you can get the measurement for your feet.
Tracing your foot
Step 1: Take a paper (larger than your feet) and pencil. Step on the paper and ask someone to (or if you can do it yourself) trace an outline of your foot on the paper.
Step 2 : Use a measuring tape and measure, lengthwise/vertically, from your big two to your heel on the tracing of your foot. Take the measurements in Inches and Centimeters.
Step 3 : Unlike the length of your foot, the width isn’t going to be accurate if measured using the 2D tracing. So use the measuring tape and wrap it around the widest part of your foot at your bunion joint. This will give you the width of your foot, note it down on the paper in Inches and Centimeters.
Now you can use these measurements to compare with size charts available online. Check your measurements against the sizes in the chart to see which size fits you. Additionally, you can also check the sizes of your shoes to get an idea of what sizes have been comfortable and uncomfortable for your wear.
Another way you can get your measurements is to order a Ritz stick from Amazon and use it to get a more accurate measurement.
FUN FACT: In 1913, Oliver Cornelius Ritz-Woller invented the ‘Ritz Stick’. It’s a scale with a fixed heel and a sliding stop for the toes that moves along the scale and was invented in the USA. These devices are still being manufactured today.
How shoe size is calculated
To answer the question of “what is the average shoe size for a woman ?” it is important to first understand that shoe size calculated worldwide varies by countries and manufacturers. Many countries have their own measurement system that is based on traditional elements. Things that influence the difference between shoe sizes are:
- What the number for size measures exactly
- The unit for measurement used
- Whether the measurements start from 0 or 1
FUN FACT: The sizes of the left and right feet are slightly different but all shoes are sold in the same sizes because companies are not allowed to sell the same pair of shoes in different sizes.
The relation between shoe size against Height and Weight
There is data to suggest that height and shoe size are co-related. Shoe size goes up with height however, formal research does not show this consistency. The reason for this difference in information is because the data will vary depending on who is asked and how the shoe size is measured. Additionally, height is strongly dependent on genetic factors which would explain the reason for mixed data.
When people buy shoes they also tend to buy sizes slightly larger than their feet, for comfort. This means there will be a difference between the actual foot size and the shoes purchased.
Weight directly does not impact foot size. But weight gain does affect your body’s strategy for storing fat across the body, which includes the feet. So things like pregnancy, obesity, and swelling in feet due to injuries or medical conditions will affect the overall size that will be a comfortable fit when selecting shoes.
Women should expect and prepare for a change in foot size during pregnancy, as the weight gain or fluid retention in the body will probably create some swelling in the feet leading to a foot change. During pregnancy, women should wear soft and comfortable shoes. There is a wide variety available with lots of cushioning and support.
FUN FACT: Barleycorn was the unit of measurement used by shoemakers. One grain of Barley is sized a third of an inch, so three Barleycorn would one inch.
What is the average shoe size for a woman ?
Women’s Size Conversion
Today the average shoe size for women in USA is 8.59 (foot length of ~9.75 in / 24.6 cm) to 9 (~9.875 in / 25 cm). The size has increased compared to previous decades. In the 1960s for example the average shoe size for women was 6.5 (~9 in / 23 cm).
The UK and Europe
Today the average shoe size for women in the UK is 6 and for women in Europe, it is size 39 (~9.5 in / 24 cm). This is also an increase compared to a previously reported average of size 5 (~9.25 in / 23.5 cm).
In Japan, the shoe sizes are measured in centimeters and sold at the same too, which greatly reduces any confusion about “sizes” offered by shoe companies. The average shoe size for women in Japan is 21.5 cm. The Japanese are also shorter in height compared to people in the west and the maximum shoe size in Japan goes up to 28 cm for men (US size 10) and women 25 cm (US size 8).
Why have the sizes in the US and UK increased?
It is quite noticeable that the size of and the US and UK have increased over the decade. This is generally attributed to an increase in obesity rates and quality of rich nourishment. As mentioned, weight gain leads to swelling in the foot due to fat storage but also due to stress on the foot to balance movement with the extra stress on the body.
Additionally, the diet has gone up in quality of products is said to have improved over the years which is has led to an increase in overall size increase in people.
Does our foot size change with age?
Some people claim and believe that our feet change with age. Research shows that this is not accurate and is a myth. Age is not a direct factor in changes to the feet – even during puberty. Throughout puberty we go through various changes in our body, the most obvious ones being in our height, weight, skin, and shape.
Girls start puberty earlier than boys, around the ages between the ages of 8-13. Most of their development is completed by late teens and as far as feet are concerned, they stop growing by the age of 20. Usually, the rate of foot growth decreases between ages 12 to 13.5 in females.
Feet do change as you get older and these changes sometimes affect the shape and size of the feet but don’t involve bone growth. In old age, these changes are possibly due to decreased elasticity of your tendons and ligaments, which makes the feet wider and longer. Conditions like bunions and hammertoes also lead to women buying larger sizes for comfort.
Increase in average shoe size:
The average shoe size in the west has increased compared to the previous decades and this change is attributed to an increase in obesity and improvements in the quality of diet. However, it is important to remember that it is unclear if this change is accurate due to the inconsistency in measurements. Regardless, it remains true that weight gain does influence changes in the feet due to fat storage and fluid retention. Feet also loose elasticity in ligaments during old age and pregnancies will also influence women to purchase shoes that are more comfortable to wear and provide more support.
FUN FACT: What is known as “Flip Flops” today, is footwear that has been used by humans for thousands of years across cultures. The oldest record of their use is from Ancient Egyptian murals from 4000 BC. In Japan, they were called “Zori” and were brought to the USA during World War 2.
The average shoe size varies from country to country and largely depend on industry standards. In the UK and USA, many companies have their standards for providing shoe sizes, which creates a lot of confusion since the measurements of the feet dedicated to a certain size will differ from company to company. Additionally, the size varies depending on whether the company’s size scale starts at 0 or 1. In countries like Japan, the shoe size is based simply on the length of the shoe and measured in centimeters.