Measuring shoes - doesn't work?

Dimitri

New Member
I recently read a post on the thrift thread from a poster saying that measuring shoe soles is useless. I've never bought shoes online and am currently considering doing so, so I'm curious as to whether folks agree that it IS indeed useless.

I don't see why it would be, shoes differ in shape, obviously some are narrower here, wider there, but I can't imagine that would matter that much.

What has been your experience with this? Can I buy based on length and width measurements?
 

Mox

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Shoe heels vary a fair bit, so length isn't going to give you much more than a ballpark idea of fit. Even if you could compare the insole of two different shoes, that wouldn't give you the whole picture, as the height of the vamp will affect the effective width. As I remember, manufacturers often use the same soles within a range of sizes, with the difference coming from how much the sides will give way to your foot. The less material, the tighter the shoe.
 

Steve Smith

Super Member
The OP PMed me and requested that I weigh in on this discussion. I have handled, and measured the soles of, many pairs of shoes. My observations led me to the conclusion that measuring soles is a waste of my time. Why? I will give an example.

I took the time tonight to measure the soles of 4 pairs of shoes, and I think the results make a point. When I first put the numbers together it seemed a little bit unrealistic that they came out the way they did so I remeasured and came up with identical numbers. I measured to the nearest 16th of an inch and then converted to hundredths.

I measured the soles of two pairs of shoes from my closet, a pair of English Chelsea boots and a pair of vintage Florsheim USA made longwings. Both fit me well. The Florsheims sole measured .56 inches longer and .25 inches wider than the Chelseas.

No big deal, right? Only .56 inches longer and .25 inches wider. Hold that thought.

Then I measured two pairs of new Alden shell cordovan cap toe bluchers, sizes 8.5D and 10D. The 10D was .56 longer and only .13 wider. The .13 seems like a very small difference and I would attribute that at least partly to variance in manufacturing.

Here is the important observation to bring out from this. There was a greater difference in the sole measurements of two pairs of shoes which fit me well than there is in the measurements of two pairs of the same model shoe with a difference of 1.5 sizes. Whatever your size, think about wearing the same make and model of shoe and going up or down 1.5 sizes. It is ridiculous.

So here is the bottom line. You don't know the sole measurement which means that a pair of shoes will fit your foot, because there isn't one. The reason for that is that there is no consistent relationship between sole measurement and interior dimensions of shoes. Whether a shoe will fit your foot is determined by the inner length, width, volume and overall shape of the last which is used in construction of the shoe.
 

Dimitri

New Member
The OP PMed me and requested that I weigh in on this discussion. I have handled, and measured the soles of, many pairs of shoes. My observations led me to the conclusion that measuring soles is a waste of my time. Why? I will give an example.

I took the time tonight to measure the soles of 4 pairs of shoes, and I think the results make a point. When I first put the numbers together it seemed a little bit unrealistic that they came out the way they did so I remeasured and came up with identical numbers. I measured to the nearest 16th of an inch and then converted to hundredths.

I measured the soles of two pairs of shoes from my closet, a pair of English Chelsea boots and a pair of vintage Florsheim USA made longwings. Both fit me well. The Florsheims sole measured .56 inches longer and .25 inches wider than the Chelseas.

No big deal, right? Only .56 inches longer and .25 inches wider. Hold that thought.

Then I measured two pairs of new Alden shell cordovan cap toe bluchers, sizes 8.5D and 10D. The 10D was .56 longer and only .13 wider. The .13 seems like a very small difference and I would attribute that at least partly to variance in manufacturing.

Here is the important observation to bring out from this. There was a greater difference in the sole measurements of two pairs of shoes which fit me well than there is in the measurements of two pairs of the same model shoe with a difference of 1.5 sizes. Whatever your size, think about wearing the same make and model of shoe and going up or down 1.5 sizes. It is ridiculous.

So here is the bottom line. You don't know the sole measurement which means that a pair of shoes will fit your foot, because there isn't one. The reason for that is that there is no consistent relationship between sole measurement and interior dimensions of shoes. Whether a shoe will fit your foot is determined by the inner length, width, volume and overall shape of the last which is used in construction of the shoe.

Thanks for the help, Steve.

It says on wikipedia that the common step size for width is 0.2 (that's between the different widths like A, D etc) so it is possible that the 0.13 of difference you measured is a standard step, maybe human feet vary more in length than in width.

Ultimately, I suspect you're right and the variation in sizes is due to how much material they sow onto the sole (the volume).


Has anyone had practical experience with this? Has anyone bought shoes from sole measurements? How did it go?
 
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firedancer

Super Member
As someone who sells a lot of shoes I will concur with Mr. Smith. He is right on the money.

I list shoes with sole measurements because it never fails. Some odd ball will email me and ask for them anyway. They are completely useless.

If you plan on buying shoes online I say go for it. There are bargains galore. Just do your homework regarding shoe sizes an styles.

Additionally you may want to deal with firms and sellers that offer a return policy.
Good luck n
 

Dimitri

New Member
As someone who sells a lot of shoes I will concur with Mr. Smith. He is right on the money.

I list shoes with sole measurements because it never fails. Some odd ball will email me and ask for them anyway. They are completely useless.

If you plan on buying shoes online I say go for it. There are bargains galore. Just do your homework regarding shoe sizes an styles.

Additionally you may want to deal with firms and sellers that offer a return policy.
Good luck n

So I can figure it as this: if this person is size 10 in shoes by maker x and I'm also 10 in maker x, then if he is 9 in maker y I'm also likely to be a 9 in y?
 

Steve Smith

Super Member
So I can figure it as this: if this person is size 10 in shoes by maker x and I'm also 10 in maker x, then if he is 9 in maker y I'm also likely to be a 9 in y?

You need to go one level deeper. You may find that a 9 in one Alden last fits perfectly, while a 9.5 in another Alden last also fits perfectly.
 

pusso

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
The safest way to ensure a perfect fit is to buy a brand one has previously bought and therefore is comfortable with the size.

I would only buy online shoes if I was sure they were going to fit..
 

cincydavid

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Or don't spend more on an online purchase than you are willing to lose. I bought some beautiful NOS Wright Arch Preserver tassel loafers the other day, for about $30...I have never owned that brand before but for $30 I was willing to roll the dice. They arrived last evening, and are a little narrow, but should break in and be OK. If they hadn't fit, I suppose I could have resold them, or donated to Goodwill for the tax write-off. For that matter, my kids are growing like weeds, and surely they would have fit one of them for a homecoming dance or somesuch.

I wouldn't dream of purchasing high-end shoes online unless I had a real solid notion about how a particular last and type of shoe fits. My default size in US shoes is 12D, but I own, and wear, everything from 11.5D to 12.5B, in comfort. For that matter, I bought a pair of To Boot New York Chelsea boots yesterday, and the 13D fit beautifully...the 12 was too small.

In short, you can't trust measurements and you can't trust nominal sizes.
 
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