Size selection is primarily done by foot length, but width does factor in (more on that at the end of the FAQ). To understand a size chart you first should read the instructions listed on the brands’ web page, because different brands create their size charts differently.
- If the size chart shows the length of the insole then you take your foot length and add roughly 1.2cm to it (or whatever your preferred extra length is).
- If the size chart shows the dimensions of the “last” used to mold the shoe then you follow the above instructions.
- If the size chart shows the length of the foot that fits in each size then all you need to do is locate the size that is closest to your measurement (but not smaller than).
If there are no instructions for how to use the size chart, contact the brand for clarification. But in my experience, when it’s not stated, the size chart shows the internal dimensions of the shoe and not the foot that fits inside.
In general, you want the internal length to be approximately 1.2 cm longer than your longest toe, but depending on the shoe anywhere from .7cm to 2cm extra length could work (for example, in dress shoes I prefer less space in front of my toes, but in boots or shoes I wear socks with I like more length).
Understanding Width in a Size Chart: Ok, width measurements in a size chart trip everyone up. I hear constantly from people who look at size charts and immediately say “these shoes are so narrow!!” It’s confusing because before wearing barefoot shoes many of us never even considered width! Here is why some of the widest barefoot shoes on the market might look narrow by the numbers.
- Unless you took a perfectly accurate Wall Method Measurement, the width of your pencil likely added some extra millimeters to your measurement. This may lead you to think you need shoes wider than you do.
- Width measurements are often taken from the insole, which sits underneath your foot in the bottom of the shoe – many barefoot shoes curve out away from the insole resulting in more usable space than the measurement suggests.
- Width can be taken at different places in the toe box of a shoe, and it might not line up with where you measured
- You don’t need as much extra space on the sides of your feet as in the front – you can often comfortably wear shoes close to your actual foot width.
Of course, this does not mean that you shouldn’t consider width. It is best to choose a shoe that fits both your length AND width, and I don’t recommend trying to squeeze your feet into a shoe that is too narrow.
But the truth is, size charts only take you so far. The shape and volume of your feet, as well as your personal preferences, all factor into what makes the ideal shoe for you.
I do my best to serve up the most practical barefoot shoe reviews and advice, but ultimately, you might need to try the shoes on your feet before you know if they’re a good fit.