How to Convert Men's and Women's Shoe Sizes

Woman standing on man's feet, both wearing white sneakers.
Steven Lippman / Photodisc / Getty Images

Picture this: You're wandering around a shoe store when you come across the perfect pair of shoes. But there's only one problem. They're men's shoes and you're a woman - or vice versa.

Shoe sizes differ slightly between men and women, and knowing your companion size can give you a lot more options.

Aesthetics aren't the only reason why you'd want to purchase a pair of men's or women's shoes. Size is also an important factor.

If you have narrow or wide feet, you can find a great fit in a pair of shoes that are marketed toward the opposite sex.

Generally speaking, women with wide feet can find a better fit in a pair men's shoes, and men with narrow feet will comfortably fit in a pair of women's shoes.

So how do you convert men's shoe sizes to women's shoe sizes?

Men's & Women's Shoe Size Conversion

Converting men's to women's shoe sizes is fairly simple. If you're a woman, subtract two sizes from your U.S. women's shoe size. If you're a man, add two sizes from your U.S. men's shoe size.

Say you're a U.S. women's size 8.5. Your U.S. men's size companion is a 6.5.

With sneakers, subtract a size and a half if you're a woman and add a size and a half if you're a man. If you're a U.S. women's size 8.5, you would probably find a comfortable fit in a U.S. men's size 7.

Finding the Right Fit

These conversion guidelines will come in handy, but they're still very generalized rules of thumb.

In my experience I've seen the conversions vary quite a bit. I can't guarantee that these conversions are 100% accurate, as there can be a huge size disparity from brand to brand, and even between different styles of shoes made by the same company.

As previously mentioned, women's shoes tend to be more narrow and men's shoes are wider.

If you're a woman whose men's shoe size is a 6.5, you might find you need to go down an additional half size or full size to get the right fit if the shoe is too wide.

Trying a pair of shoes on in-store is the best way to find a perfect fit in any type of shoe. If you're shopping online you don't have that luxury, so the best thing you can do is measure your feet. It's also wise to order two different sizes of the shoes so you can compare the fit, but before you order anything, make sure you've thoroughly researched the retailer's return policy.