Trying to find a pair of shoes or boots that fit correctly is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but worse because you have to try on every shoe you pass. Sizing charts do little to bring enlightenment, as many countries have their own system, not to mention individual shoe manufacturers often take great liberties when labeling their shoes. Don't assume your size 11 sneakers are going to translate into size 11 steel-toed boots. Luckily, there is a way through this annoying quagmire of numbers.
Sneaker Sizing vs. Boot Sizing
Technically, all shoes of any type marked size "10" should be the same size. The reality, however, is not so perfect. Different manufacturers size their shoes more on what your ego wants to buy than what you actually need. Sometimes a size 12 tennis shoe could easily fit a size 10 foot. Boot manufacturers often remain truer to size, causing you to unwittingly buy a pair that's too large if you don't try them on first.
Finding the Right Size: Trying On
The best way to find the right size, of course, is to try on the boots before buying. Visit the store in the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest, and bring the type of socks you intend on wearing with the boots. Good boots will not stretch in length, so it's better to buy slightly large than slightly small. Thicker socks can always fill up extra room, but there is no fix for pinched feet.
Measuring Foot Size Accurately
Sometimes, though, the only option is to order a pair of boots online, either because there is no dealer available in your area, or because you found a spectacular deal. Either way, how do you know what size to order? You must measure your feet. To measure them accurately, do it in the afternoon. Wear the same type of socks you intend to wear with the boots. Sit on a chair and firmly press your foot onto a piece of paper on the floor. Now trace with a pencil around your foot, ensuring that the pencil remains perpendicular. Subtract .5 cm from both the length and width of the tracing to make up for the thickness of the pencil.
Converting Measurements to Size
To convert the two measurement (length and width) into an actual shoe size, you'll need to find a sizing chart on the boot manufacturer's website that gives accurate sizing for your measurements. Don't use another manufacturer's chart, as the numbers may differ.
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