Friday, 21 May 2010

Tips for international shoe size conversion

I’ve recently made some purchases from US, so I thought I’d just pour myself some more tips on converting your shoe size when you do online purchase. For reference, I usually wear size EU 38 or 39 for heels; I’m happy with insole length 9.5-9.75” (24.5-25cm) and width of ball of foot 3” (7.5cm), but for heels, if it gets larger than that, it won’t do me good. I go up to EU 40 for boots. My right foot is half a number smaller than my left foot, but that’s common for many people, so I’m not an alien here. I might have to say that these sizing tips apply only for women shoes. Sorry, guys…

Is AU size = US size?The thing is, whenever I go to Novo, one of my favourite shoe stores in Australia, I usually go with “8 = 39” and it fits me well. So naturally, I thought that my size is AU 8 or EU 39 (which is the size I use in Indonesia). Several time I shopped in Ebay UK and I always asked for UK 6, and they fit me well.

Then came the time when I found Modcloth and got confused because they said AU 8 = US 9.5, or EU 41. Which is impossible! So, what is my US size? Is it possible that I actually had been shopping with US 8, and thought that it was AU 8?

A few months ago, I bought a Poetic Licence Butterfly Love (or ‘Rainbow Road’ in Modcloth’s term, cos it reminds people of the cute Rainbow Brite!) from Modcloth. I adopted both names and henceforth call her Rainbow Brite.
Now, Poetic Licence is from London, and many US Modcloth buyers already testified that they ran at least half a size bigger (so buyers better size down). I’m glad I spent some time to chat with Modcloth’s stylist (very recommended and helpful!) cos eventually I went and bought the only size left: US 7.5. And… it fits. Okay, not like heaven, cos it’s made of leather and I need to break it first. But still, it proves my suspicion that when I shopped for shoes in Australia, I actually shopped with a US size of 8 (instead of AU 8).

Breaking period
Breaking new shoes with your own feet is never advisable. Not in my book, at least. For my new Rainbow Brite, I placed my inexpensive shoe stretcher into the left pair just to break it and stretched the right pair with a small sandwich bag of water inside the fridge. See Michelle Phan’s tutorial for stretching your heels with water/ice.

In the morning, the left pair became very comfortable for my left foot, and the right pair becomes accommodative to my right foot. I then wore them inside for a few minutes every night (your feet tend to be larger in the evening after work) to get my feet used to them. I also buff them with aromatic oil (coconut oil with jasmine essence) to moisturise them and give them the glow. The oil was absorbed well, and the heels are fragrant now. I debated to spray them with Tana waterproof sprayer, but after a bit of testing inside the shoes, I decided not to. The sprayer changed the colour a bit, but because my Rainbow Brite is bright electric blue, I’m not taking the chance.

By the way, because of my increased confidence in US size, recently I bought a pair of Born sandals (‘Rosie’), projected for my sister’s upcoming wedding (or other important events…). I bought US 8, and now waiting for the preciousss one to arrive. Born Shoes is famous for their comfort, so I might be reporting about it later.

Heel tips:

For leather heels, if you don’t have the best size, you can go down half a size and stretch the shoes later. It worked well for me. Don't go up a size, even just half a size. You don’t want your heels to be too floppy, it will give you blisters (I had it more than once!). Tips for Poetic Licence: Size down for heels, particularly leather peep toes. Possibly applies to UK's Miss L. Fire as well. Tips for women in Australia who usually buy size ‘AU 8’… just be mindful that there is a chance that you actually use size US 8 instead of AU 8.


A while ago, I saw a pair of black leather ankle boot that I’d been salivating upon went on 40% sale at Williams. Because I didn’t have any black boots (excuses, excuses…), I just HAD to buy it! After cracking my student bank account, I came out with a pair of Diana Ferrari Supersoft boots, size 7.5C. Supremely comfortable… but it made me think. Size 7.5 for boots… whereas I usually wear size 8 for heels. Heck, I should’ve only fit with size 8.5 or 9! How’d that happen?

Then I remembered that on two other sale occasions last year (I’m not THAT shoeaholic!), I bought two pairs of Corelli heels size 7.5; one slingback, and one strappy heels. I wasn’t confused back then, cos I usually bought size 8 anyway. But now, I realise that the Corelli shoes operates with US size then, instead of AU size. Thus their 7.5 still fits me.

The insoles of the heels are always smaller than boots. If you have heels size US 8.5, very likely you’ll have boots size US 9 or 9.5. Or heels size UK 6, you’ll do boots size UK 7 or higher. Which means that my Diana Ferrari should not be sized US 7.5 at all. But it fits. Hence…I conclude that Diana Ferrari operates with REAL Australian size. Online Conversion states that AU 7.5 = US 9 = EU 40, which is the same as Modcloth’s size conversion.

Boot tips:
Your boots would go half or one size larger than your usual heels, so size up if you never buy boots beforehand.

Golden rule of online shoe purchase

Always ask for the insole length of the shoes (and width of ball of foot, if possible). If there’s no one replying and you still want to buy it, read the reviews of that particular brand and model. You’ll reduce the risk of mis-fitting the shoes.

For boots, seller cannot measure the insole length, so ask for the bottom length, or the half-perimeter length, from the tip of the toes to the back of the heels. Match the measurement with your old boots, or your friend’s boots of the same size.

My shoe measurements

To conclude, I go with US 8 for heels with standard medium width, sometimes going down to US 7.5 depending on the brand and style. That is the equivalent of UK 5.5-6 (EU 38-39), and also equivalent with AU 6.5 - 7. For boots, I go with US 9 (EU 40, AU 7.5). For ballet flats, I go with US 8 as well (so I might be selling my Tangerine Guess ballet flats cos size 9 is too big for me - I wasn't well-educated about international sizing back then).

Hope the tips help you deciding your best online measurement. So, anyone wants to buy me a pair of shoes? I can use a yellow or peony Miss L Fire Alisha!

Pic 2: Poetic Licence's Butterfly Love/Rainbow Road/Rainbow Brite
Pic 3: Born's Rosie
Pic 4: Wonder Woman's iconic red boots that Batman loves! Cover of 'Hikiteia' by Greg Rucka

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