The international standard “ISO 9407: 1991, Shoe size – Mondopoint calibration and marking system” recommends a shoe size system known as Mondopoint, based on the average of the foot length for which the shoe is suitable, measured in millimeters.
The European standard EN 13402, also used for clothing, recommends instead that shoes should be classified with a range of foot lengths for which they are suitable, measured in centimeters.
There are only four shoe size systems worldwide: the Mondopoint, the European, theEnglish and the American.
The shoe can be measured in various ways:
European measure: in Europe, shoe sizes are based on the “French point”, which is a unit of measurement used by shoemakers born in France in 1800. To calculate the shoe size, the actual size of the foot plus 10 or 15mm is used and divided by 0.667 (corresponding to the French point, or 2/3 of a centimeter). Another simpler method involves multiplying the “oversized” foot size by 1.5. In concrete terms, this means that 27.5 cm of “increased” foot length results in a European shoe size of 41.25 (27.5 x 1.5 = 41.25 or 27.5 x 0.667 = 41.25) . But since only half measures are supplied in Europe, it is rounded off to obtain a 41.5. Occasionally you can find numbers like 41 and 1/3 or 41 and 2/3, the result of converting the UK or US measures.
American measurement: in North America there are two valid measurement methods and at the same time also “zero points” set differently for women, men and children.
English size: in Great Britain and North America, the unit of measurement for shoes is the “Barleycorn” (literally grain of barley), which corresponds to 1/3 of an inch. Unlike the Mondopoint or the European system, there are several “zero points” for both child and adult measurements. Size 0 indicates the minimum length of the shoe last (i.e. foot length + 10 or 15mm) for the smallest size for men, women and children. UK adult shoe size is calculated from the shoe last in inches, multiplied by 3 and subtracted from 25. For children’s measurements the same procedure is used, subtracting 12 instead of 25.
Mondopoint size: in this system, the length and width of the foot are the starting dimensions, always indicated in centimeters or millimeters. Mondopoint measurements are mainly used in ski boots: the length is indicated in cm with fixed increments of 0.5cm while the width is not considered. A foot with an absolute length of 27.5 centimeters is therefore equivalent to the MP 27.5.
These measurements are based on a thumb proportion.
The measurement in Great Britain is based on the length of the model used for the construction of the shoe (which is always longer than the foot by about 1.5 – 2 cm), measured in Barleycorn (thirds of an inch) and with a measurement of starting which is zero. A zero-sized baby starts with the width of one hand (4 inches, equivalent to 12 barleycorns) and goes up to the length of two hands which is a size 12 (eight inches). Consequently, the size calculation for a child’s shoes in the UK is:
– child sizes = 3 x length in inches – 12
Sizes for an adult start at number three (corresponding to nine inches) and each size continues progression into barleycorns. The calculation for an adult’s shoe size in the UK is:
– adult male sizes = 3 x inch length – 25
The female size differs by being half a size smaller. therefore we have:
– adult female sizes = 3 x inch length – 25.5
United States and Canada
Shoe sizes in North America are similar to those in Great Britain but start counting from 1 rather than zero and equivalently the size is one larger. A similar difference can be found in the numbering of the floors of the buildings, which start from zero in some areas of the world and from one in others. So, the calculation for a male shoe in the United States or Canada is:
– adult male sizes = 3 x inch length – 24
The size of women’s shoes is almost always determined with the “common” scale, in which the size of women’s shoes is the same as men’s, but increased by 1.5 (for example, a men’s 10.5 is a 12 of the women.). In other words:
– adult female sizes = 3 x inch length – 22.5
They are less popular, the “standard” or “FIA” (footwear of America) women’s scale, whose dimensions are those dimensions of men plus 1 (a 10.5 of men is an 11.5 of women).
– FIA female adult sizes = 3 x inch length – 23
The sizes for children are equal to that of men plus 12.33, in this measurement the female size does not differ from the male one.
– child sizes = 3 x length in inches – 11.67
For the international market, the ISO 9407 standard is used.
This system is the most common worldwide and the most used.
Europe and China
In most continental European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the traditional measurement for shoe length is expressed in French points. The same convention was also adopted in China. A French point corresponds to 2/3 centimeters.
To calculate the size based on the actual length of the feet you must first add a length of about 1.5 to 2 cm. For example, for a shoe with an internal length 1.5 cm longer than the foot:
– size = (length in centimeters + 1.5) x 3/2
Shoe size is available in multiples of 0.5, where size is calculated based on foot length in centimeters. We have:
– size = x length in centimeters – 1.5
HOW IS FOOT LENGTH MEASURED?
The foot length is the most important data from which to start to choose the right size. We recommend measuring both feet, it is not uncommon for one foot to be slightly larger than the other. To orient yourself in the measurement tables, always take the largest foot as a reference and better avoid measuring them in the morning as soon as you get up.
What else affects the shoe size?
Tracing the footprint is sometimes not enough. You need to know how to measure your foot correctly to avoid getting different results with each test. It is also necessary to consider other factors such as width, the shape of the foot in general, the instep, and individual specificities.
For this reason many shoe manufacturers rarely rely on actual foot length when determining their numbers. So starting from a hypothetical measure, they add 15 or 20mm of space in the front of the shoe near the toes. Usually the exact amount added varies depending on the manufacturer, the shape of the shoe and the height of the heel; the width, for example, is proportional.
Measurement conversion tables
In the tables below you will find the Italian, American, English and Japanese sizes as well as the corresponding measurement in cm:
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