The statistics on the number of people who buy the wrong shoe size is surprising. Did you know that 80 percent of men and women wear the wrong shoe size?

Getting the correct shoe size is trickier than you think unless you get a pair of bespoke shoes.

Boot sizes are based on a sculpture that represents the shape of a foot. The generic shoe sizes are designed to fit a wide range of people; hence, no pair will fit perfectly.

However, you can get close enough by knowing what your ideal size is. 

Apart from wasting money, wearing the wrong boot size has serious consequences. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can reduce mobility due to discomfort and increase the risk of falling.

Tight shoes cause pinching of the nerves and repetitive stress. The result is damage to the nerves running through the toes and causing irritation, nerve pain, and numbness.

Ill-fitting shoes can also worsen the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy in older adults.

They can also cause foot conditions like hammertoes, calluses, corns, and bunions. Narrow boots can also lead to pain, and due to pressure caused by tight shoes, your toenails can grow back into the skin. Ingrown toenails cause inflammation and infection.

Physical Things to Watch Out for When Fitting Boots

  • If you have never gotten fitted in a store, you are likely wearing the wrong size, and you may have bought the boots because you couldn't resist a sale. Unfortunately, wearing boots that don’t quite fit can result in severe and permanent harm. 
  • If your feet are tilting to the side or forward, the boots are too small. If your heel lifts when walking, the boot is too large. Large pairs cause slippage, which might result in plantar fasciitis and overpronation. When finding the right size, consider weight distribution.
  • Your boots feel too tight when worn with socks. Yes, boots should always be worn with socks. When wearing socks, the boots should not feel tight. Try them with socks on in the store; otherwise, they may end up being too small. 
  • The toe box puts pressure on your toes. You should be able to wiggle your toes in the toe box comfortably. This area at the front of your boot should neither stretch nor put pressure on your toes. 
  • A poorly fitting pair makes the toes cramp after a gentle kick on the wall. The wall-kick test is ideal for checking how well they fit. For example, if your toes cramp on impact after gently kicking a wall, you might need a size larger.
  • Compression between your arch and toes or at the ball of your feet signifies you need a wider boot.
  • If your toenails get bruised, crack, or completely fall off, then your toe box doesn’t fit correctly.
  • If you keep getting blisters after wearing boots, especially at the back of your toes, you need a better fit. Shoes that are too big or too tight can cause a blister problem. 
  • Heel pain is linked to plantar fasciitis, which often occurs when they don’t fit your arch type.
  • A narrow boot forces the bones at the front part of your foot to move out of place, causing a bunion. Corns are thick layers of skin that build up on the sides or on top of your toes. They result from repeated friction and pressure from ill-fitting shoes. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Boot Size

Most boots either run small or large. What makes their size challenging is they are designed for the masses, all with different feet.

They are versatile, comfortable, and provide good support for the feet. To choose the right size, be intuitive, measure your feet, and try different sizes.

Get the correct size by measuring your feet using a Brannock device before buying them. The shape and size of your feet can change over time, so don’t rely on the size you normally wear.

In addition, your foot size may fluctuate with weight change, health conditions, and age. It is therefore normal for your shoe size to change even in months.

Most people have one foot larger than the other. Measure both feet, and pick the size of the larger foot to get the right size. Feet swell throughout the day after standing and sitting. Shopping in the afternoon when your feet are the biggest will help you know the proper fit.

Do not depend on the shoe size alone. The size markings of the shoes may vary with the brand. Make sure the shape of the shoes fits your feet comfortably.

The widest part of your feet should comfortably fit in the broadest part of the shoe. Check the toe box, buckles, and zipper to ensure they are comfortable for your feet.

The depth of your shoes should be adequate for the flexibility of your toes. When the shoebox is small, your toes will rub at the top of the shoe and develop sores, corns, or calluses.

Ensure there’s an allowance of at least 0.5 inches between the big toe and the end of the boot.

Try at least three sizes before making a purchase. First, fit the size you normally wear, then try a half size up and down.

In addition, walk around in the shoes to test their comfort, and pick the boot you are most comfortable in.

If you are buying them during winter, go for a size larger since you will typically wear them with thicker socks.

During summer, choose your foot size since you will most likely be wearing thinner socks.  When choosing a pair with a lace-up design, get a half-size larger since the laces will fit the boot when tied.

A perfect-sized pair presses wide feet on the sides. If you have wide feet, select a half-size larger pair.

How to Measure Boot Size

Measure your feet regularly to ensure you are wearing the proper fit.

To measure the length and width of your feet, you need a Brannock device or a pencil, A4 sheets of drawing paper, and a ruler/tape.

How to measure your foot length:

  • Put the foot on the piece of paper and trace around your foot or where the big toe ends and your heel completes with a pencil.
  • Measure the distance in between the marks with a ruler and record in centimeters.
  • Repeat the process with your other foot and record the measurements.
  • Select the size according to the length of the larger foot.
  • Use a boot length size chart to determine your size. 

Foot Length

SIZE

INCHES

CM

4

8 2/3

22.0

4.5

8 5/6

22.4

5

9

22.9

5.5

9 1/6

22.3

6

9 1/3

23.7

6.5

9 1/2

24.1

7

9 2/3

24.6

7.5

9 5/16

25.0

8

10

25.4

8.5

10 1/6

25.8

9

10 1/3

26.2

9.5

10 1/2

26.7

10

10 2/3

27.1

10.5

10 5/6

27.5

11

11

27.9

11.5

11 1/6

28.4

12

11 1/3

28.8

13

11 2/3

29.6

14

12

30.5

15

12 1/3

31.3

16

12 2/3

32.2

17

13

33.2

How to measure your foot width: 

  • Place your foot on the drawing paper and mark the widest part of your foot on the paper.
  • Using a ruler, measure the distance between the two marks in inches and record.
  • Repeat the process for your other foot.
  • Find the corresponding width in your shoe size on a boot width size chart.

Foot Width (inches)

Size

B

C

D

E

EE

EEE

4

2.9

3.1

3.3

3.4

3.5

3.8

4.5

2.9

3.1

3.3

3.5

3.7

3.9

5

3.0

3.2

3.4

3.6

3.8

3.9

5.5

3.1

3.3

3.4

3.6

3.8

4.0

6

3.1

3.3

3.5

3.7

3.9

4.1

6.5

3.2

3.4

3.6

3.8

3.9

4.1

7

3.3

3.4

3.6

3.8

4.0

4.2

7.5

3.3

3.5

3.7

3.9

4.1

4.3

8

3.4

3.6

3.8

3.9

4.1

4.3

8.5

3.4

3.6

3.8

4.0

4.2

4.4

9

3.5

3.7

3.9

4.1

4.3

4.4

9.5

3.6

3.8

3.9

4.1

4.3

4.5

10

3.6

3.8

4.0

4.2

4.4

4.6

10.5

3.7

3.9

4.1

4.3

4.4

4.6

11

3.8

3.9

4.1

4.3

4.5

4.7

11.5

3.8

4.0

4.2

4.4

4.6

4.8

12

3.9

4.1

4.3

4.4

4.6

4.8

13

4.0

4.2

4.4

4.6

4.8

4.9

14

4.1

4.3

4.5

4.7

4.9

5.1

15

4.3

4.4

4.6

4.8

5.0

5.1

16

4.4

4.6

4.8

4.9

5.1

5.3

17

4.5

4.7

4.9

5.1

5.3

5.4

There is an estimated difference of 1.5 in size between men’s and women’s boots. For example, men's size 4 is approximately a woman's size 5.5.

Unisex boots are usually in men’s size. However, the width for men's and women's boots is the same on the size chart.

Nevertheless, the length and width charts do not guarantee accurate sizes. In addition, there are variations with the shoe type, materials, and brands.  

For instance, a snow boot is generally larger to accommodate a thick sock and a slip-on design.

It’s also important to note that most boots will not be comfortable in the first wear; unlike sneakers, they require some breaking in.

On the other hand, Cowboy boots are made to mold to the shape of your feet due to their leather material. Cowboy boots should therefore fit snug since they will stretch with time.

IN SUMMARY

To keep your feet comfortable and healthy when wearing boots, you need to know your proper size.

Unfortunately, because your feet can change sizes throughout your life, it's important to regularly measure your feet and gauge your size.

Lastly, remember that you will likely need to go up a size for any winter boots, as you will probably want extra-thick socks to keep your toes warm in the colder months.


No matter the season, if the boot has laces, consider getting half a size larger as the laces themselves will take up space in your boots.