Shoe shopping can be confusing, especially when different sizing systems are used around the world. If you’ve ever wondered whether UK and US shoe sizes are the same, you’re not alone!

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: No, UK and US shoe sizes are not the same. There are key differences in sizing increments and fit between the two systems.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about comparing UK and US shoe sizes. You’ll learn about the history of shoe sizing, how sizes are calculated differently, tips for converting sizes, and recommendations for ensuring a proper fit when shopping for shoes.

The History and Evolution of Shoe Sizing

Understanding the history and evolution of shoe sizing can help us appreciate the complexities of the different systems used today. It is fascinating to see how shoe sizing has developed over time to accommodate the diverse needs of people around the world.

The Origins of Shoe Sizing

The concept of shoe sizing can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The Egyptians, for example, used foot measurements to create custom-made footwear for their pharaohs. However, it wasn’t until the 14th century in Europe that standardized shoe sizes began to emerge.

At that time, shoes were categorized into different sizes based on the length of a barleycorn, a unit of measurement equivalent to one-third of an inch.

As shoe manufacturing became more industrialized in the 19th century, the need for a more uniform sizing system became apparent. In 1880, the Brannock Device, a foot-measuring tool, was invented by Charles F. Brannock.

This device revolutionized the way shoes were sized and provided a more accurate and consistent method of measuring foot length and width.

The Development of Different Sizing Systems

Despite the invention of the Brannock Device, different countries and regions started adopting their own sizing systems, leading to variations in shoe sizes across the globe. In the United Kingdom, shoe sizing is based on the length of the foot in inches, while the United States uses a system based on length in inches and width, indicated by letters such as D for standard width and E for wide width.

In addition to the UK and US sizing systems, there are various other systems used worldwide. For example, Europe uses the European Shoe Size (EU) system, which is based on the length of the foot in centimeters.

Australia also has its own sizing system, which is similar to the UK system but with slight differences.

It is important to note that while UK and US shoe sizes may have some similarities, they are not exactly the same. The UK sizing system generally runs one size smaller than the US system. So, if you wear a size 9 in the US, you would typically wear a size 8 in the UK.

It is recommended to refer to size conversion charts or consult with a shoe fitting professional when purchasing shoes internationally or online. This will help ensure a proper fit and avoid any discomfort or inconvenience.

To learn more about shoe sizing and explore size conversion charts, you can visit reputable websites such as or

How UK and US Shoe Sizes Are Calculated

The units of measurement

Both UK and US shoe sizes are calculated using a standardized unit of measurement, which is the length of the foot. However, there is a slight difference in the units used. In the United Kingdom, shoe sizes are measured in inches, whereas in the United States, shoe sizes are measured in both inches and centimeters.

This slight variation in the unit of measurement is important to understand when comparing shoe sizes between the two countries.

The sizing scales

While the basic concept of measuring the foot length remains the same, the UK and US shoe sizing scales differ slightly. In the UK, shoe sizes typically start at a smaller number for children and gradually increase as the foot length increases. For example, a UK size 1 is smaller than a UK size 2.

On the other hand, the US shoe sizing scale uses a different system. In the US, shoe sizes start at a higher number for children and decrease as the foot length increases. This means that a US size 1 is larger than a US size 2.

Size increments

The increments between shoe sizes also vary between the UK and US. In the UK, shoe sizes typically increase by half a size for each step. For example, the difference between a UK size 7 and a UK size 7.5 is half a size. In the US, however, shoe sizes increase by a whole size for each step.

This means that the difference between a US size 7 and a US size 8 is a full size.

It’s important to keep these differences in mind when shopping for shoes in either the UK or the US. To ensure the best fit, it’s recommended to try on shoes before purchasing or refer to sizing charts provided by brands or retailers.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that different shoe brands may also have their own slight variations in sizing, so it’s always a good idea to consult the specific brand’s size guide if available.

Tips for Converting Between UK and US Sizes

General conversion guidance

Converting between UK and US shoe sizes can be a bit tricky, but with a few tips, you’ll be able to find the right fit. In general, UK shoe sizes are about one size smaller than their US counterparts. So, if you typically wear a size 7 in the US, you’ll likely wear a size 6 in the UK.

However, it’s important to note that this is just a general guideline and there can be variations between brands and styles.

Variation by brand and style

It’s important to remember that shoe sizes can vary not only between countries but also between different brands and styles. For example, a size 7 in one brand may fit differently than a size 7 in another brand.

This is why it’s always a good idea to try on shoes before purchasing them, especially if you’re buying online or from a brand you’re not familiar with. Additionally, keep in mind that certain styles, such as boots or heels, may require a different size than your regular shoe size.

Using size conversion charts

One helpful tool when converting between UK and US shoe sizes is a size conversion chart. These charts provide a guide to help you determine the corresponding size in the other country’s sizing system. You can find size conversion charts online or at shoe stores.

Some popular shoe retailers also provide their own conversion charts on their websites.

When using a size conversion chart, locate your US shoe size on one side and find the corresponding UK size on the other side. Keep in mind that these charts are based on general conversions and may not be 100% accurate for every brand or style.

It’s always best to try on shoes whenever possible to ensure the best fit.

Pro tip: If you’re unsure about your size or if you’re between sizes, it’s recommended to go with the larger size. It’s easier to add an extra insole or wear thicker socks to make a slightly larger shoe fit, rather than trying to squeeze into a shoe that’s too small.

Remember, understanding the differences between UK and US shoe sizes and using conversion charts can help you find the perfect fit. Don’t hesitate to reach out to shoe retailers or consult professional shoe fitters for more guidance on finding the right size for your feet.

Achieving the Right Fit When Buying Shoes

Trying shoes on in person

When it comes to buying shoes, nothing beats the experience of trying them on in person. Visiting a physical store allows you to feel the materials, assess the quality, and most importantly, ensure the proper fit.

Plus, you get the added benefit of interacting with knowledgeable sales associates who can assist you in finding the perfect pair.

Remember to bring the type of socks or stockings you would typically wear with the shoes, as this can affect the fit. Don’t be afraid to walk around the store and test the shoes for comfort and support. And don’t rush the process – take your time to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Ordering online

If you prefer the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your home, ordering shoes online can be a great option. However, it’s important to take a few extra steps to ensure a proper fit.

Start by measuring your feet using a reliable shoe size chart. Many online retailers provide detailed instructions on how to measure your feet accurately. Be sure to measure both feet, as it’s common for one foot to be slightly larger than the other.

When selecting a shoe size online, pay attention to customer reviews and feedback. If multiple reviews mention that the shoes run small or large, it’s a good idea to adjust your size accordingly. Additionally, look for retailers with flexible return policies, so you can easily exchange or return the shoes if they don’t fit as expected.

Understanding style-specific sizing

One challenge when it comes to shoe shopping is that different styles and brands may have variations in sizing. For example, athletic shoes may have a different fit compared to dress shoes or boots. It’s important to understand these differences and adjust your size accordingly.

Many shoe retailers provide size conversion charts on their websites, which can help you find the right size in different styles. These charts typically show the equivalent UK and US shoe sizes, as well as the corresponding European sizes.

Keep in mind that these charts are a general guide, and it’s always best to refer to the specific brand’s sizing information whenever possible. Additionally, reading customer reviews and feedback can provide valuable insights into how a particular style or brand fits.

Remember, achieving the right fit is crucial for both comfort and foot health. Whether you prefer trying shoes on in person or ordering online, taking the time to find the perfect fit will ensure that you can step out with confidence and style.


While UK and US shoe sizing systems share some similarities, they are fundamentally different in the way sizes are calculated and increments between sizes. Converting sizes is not an exact science. The best way to achieve the perfect fit is to reference sizing charts, try shoes on in person when possible, and learn the nuances of different brands and styles.

Understanding the key differences between the two sizing systems will help you find your true size no matter where you shop around the world.

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