shoe fitting 101


this may sound ridiculous, but until last week i didn’t know my shoe size.  for those of you that know me, this is no surprise.  i’m constantly buying shoes, wearing them for two days, and then putting them up on ebay.  it’s become a ridiculous and expensive cycle, but a nice one for ebayers that like red wings and aldens.

the week before thanksgiving i called the closest red wing store and had them ship me a new pair of boots.  they didn’t fit.  they were too wide and too short.  i tried to ship them back, but they made me come to the store.  i’m glad i did.  the lady working at the store measured me on red wing’s machine and gave me the bad/good news: i measured an 11a.  i told her she was crazy and that i was 9.5 or a 10.  she then pulled out the brannock device and that’s when things clicked. 

i would imagine that 90% of people working in places that sell shoes have no clue how to fit your feet (notice i did not say shoe stores).  they measure based on the heel-to-toe measurement and don’t take into account the heel-to-ball.  i’ve been victim of this process for most of my life.  i go to the store, get measured, and the salesperson tells me i’m in between a 9.5 and a 10.  i end up leaving with one of those sizes and then don’t understand why my feet hurt so bad at the end of the day.

here’s the deal and the most important part of this post: there are 3 measurements that the salesperson needs to take.  1) heel-to-toe.  2) heel to ball.  3) width.  let me explain using my measurements as an example:

1) heel-to-toe: this is the length of your foot (obviously).  my foot measures a 10 heel-to-toe.

2) heel-to-ball (bottom sidebar of picture above): this measures your arch length and is the most important measurement of the shoe buying process.  this measures where your foot bends.  if this doesn’t line up correctly with the shoe, then you’re going to be in pain.  my heel-to-ball measurement is an 11.

3) width (top side bar of picture above): now you look at the width measurement sidebar based on your heel to ball measurement.  mine was an 11 and lines up with the a or aa.

after taking these measurements, you can now determine your shoe size – which is the longer of the heel-to-toe and heel-to-ball measurements.  since my heel-to-ball measurement was longer, i’m an 11a or 11aa.  if your heel-to-toe measurement is longer, then that is your shoe size.  this doesn’t mean that an 11a will fit me every time, but it does give me a nice place to start.  shoes are made on lasts and all lasts are different.  for example, an 11d in one brand might be the equivalent of a 10.5d from another brand.

i realize that this is not the most exciting post, but it’s an important post.  why do you think there are hundreds of posts on styleforum, askandy and other menswear related sites regarding shoe size?  because few people know their correct shoe size.  all of our feet are different, but we head to message boards for confirmation rather than having our feet measure by professionals.

i’m glad i figured this s**t out, because i’m tired of wasting money and energy on shoes that don’t fit.


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