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Fitting shoes can be a tricky thing. Especially when having to do it online only and not being able to first try something on. And on top of that, when you want to try and buy shoes from different countries that have different ideas of what size is or what a shoe width translates to. And the icing on the cake is the so-called universal size guide, which again, is simply one version of the interpretation or idea of size and width. It’s not a rule, nor a fact, nor anything that should dictate anything but rather simply initially guide you. The reason is that everyone’s idea of size is different. Because at the end of the day, it is all quite subjective really. So let’s break it down.

Typically speaking, most size guides have the corresponding breakdown:

US9 = UK8 = EU42

But some think the below equation to be true:

US9 = UK8.5 = EU42

So, which is correct? Neither is wrong. It really just a matter of each brand’s interpretation of their own category of fit and size. And that also translates to width, so let us look at those too.

Usually speaking a US ‘D’ = a UK ‘E’ = EU ‘Medium’ which is not usually indicated with any width letter associated.

But for some a US ‘D’ = a UK ‘F’ and some Italian brands idea of the standard is a EE, as is Ferragamo at their headquarters in Florence, Italy.

So, now let’s really confuse things. You could be a US9D and some brands will interpret that as a UK8.5E (as Gaziano & Girling or Edward Green would). But yet, Cheaney’s equivalent will be a UK8F, as I believe will be Church’s too, while in Crockett & Jones you would be put into a UK8E. And to make matters worse, one should not confuse a US ‘E’ with a UK ‘E’ as they not the same. An E in the UK is always a standard or even more narrow for those that find ‘F’ to be their standard. On the contrary, a US ‘E’ is a wide width. A D in the UK is a narrow, while a US ‘D’ is the standard, normal width. So, as you can see, every country and every brand has their own idea of what A, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, F, G and lastly H actually mean.

The point of the story is none of them are right yet none of them are wrong. This is why finding someone that has fit/worn/owns a good selection of brands will always be the best size advice giver. But even then, people’s feet are different and last shapes are also different and will fit differently even to two people who ‘measure’ the same size. Two people could technically measure the same on the Brannock device, both owning a G&G, a Crockett & Jones, and a Magnanni and take different sizes in them. So, finding patterns in correlations of fit across multiple brands by numerous different customers will be your best way to get advice on what size and width to select when shopping online halfway across the planet.

It sounds like a pain, and it can be. But this is the world we live in. The question is, who will be the first to compile a list of aggregate sizing across customers in correlation to brands and put it all in one place? That would be something!

But until that exists, when finding yourself confused and without an answer, first and foremost, get the brand’s suggestion. And after that, compare it to other people’s online advice and see what trend shows itself.

Best of luck!


P.S. all shoes in the post by Gaziano & Girling and have nothing to do with the post itself.

6 thoughts on “Shoe Widths – An Idea of Interpretation”

  1. Hello Jasper

    I reduce the risk asking for advice to in Style Forum shoe threads. There are loads of experience among those nice shoe nerds that are happy to share; very fine lads I must say.


  2. Great article, Shoe Snob! It is indeed a frustrating thing. I’ve found that contacting the brand’s customer service can be helpful. The people who respond from the smaller companies are often quite knowledgeable so long as the question is straightforward.

  3. And then there are lasts that are roomier (like Alden’s Trublalance and Barrie especially compared to Plaza and Hampton). I size down in Trublance and can’t fit Barrie at all. Luckily I have a factory store for Alden near me so I can try on shoes in every last (except Modified) to find the right size. I also have some Alfred Sargents in two different sizes depending on the recommendations from the seller. They always recommended correctly.

    1. Justin FitzPatrick

      Yes, the brands that have their special, unique fit of really large or really small are always tricky. Definitely require more input from a good selection of people to feel secure in online ordering

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