They say you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. Do the shoes really make the man? Have you ever wondered about the differences between men’s and women’s shoes?

While there are obvious differences in size and style, there may be some distinctions you are unaware of between men’s and women’s shoes.

Learning about these differences will give you the knowledge you need to choose a pair of shoes wisely.

men's tan colored shoes vs women's burgundy shoes with laces

Key takeaways

  • There is no universal sizing system for men and women.
  • Men’s and women’s feet are shaped differently.
  • Men’s shoes run about 1 1/2 sizes larger than women’s shoes.
  • Men’s shoes are wider than women’s.
  • Men’s shoes tend to have more support.
  • Women’s shoes have deeper grooves where the ball of their feet lies inside the shoe.

Why Is There No Universal Sizing System For Men and Women?

Since the first modern shoe sizing system showed up in the early 20th century, consumers have been questioning sizes and wondering about the differences between men’s and women’s shoes.

In the past, there was no sizing system specifically made for women. Although Charles F. Brannock developed the modern-day foot measuring device we now use in 1925, it took 70 more years for an updated version to be developed that catered to the unique sizing needs of women.

We sure have come a long way since then!

As people began studying the complexities of the human foot, they realized there are vast differences between a woman’s foot and a man’s.

For instance, a woman’s foot presses more heavily in the ball area of the foot. For this reason, her toes spread more, so women need greater room in the toe box.

Because of the differences between men’s and women’s feet, there is no universal sizing system that includes both men and women.

Men and women deserve their own sizing systems to ensure they get the perfect fit, no matter the shoes or the brand.

Measurements for shoes infographic
Measurements for shoes

Men’s and Women’s Feet Are Shaped Differently

Like it or not, men and women are different. Generally, men are going to have a larger foot than women, though this certainly is not always the case.

Men need more length, while women need a narrower heel. There are also differences in the pressure point areas of men’s and women’s feet.

man tying shoelace on sneaker

What Are the Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Shoe Sizes?

As we begin to investigate the differences between men’s and women’s shoe sizes and their designs, it is clear to see women’s shoes were made to fit women’s feet specifically, and men’s shoes were made for the specific needs of men.

women's sneakers

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

You cannot purchase a men’s size eight shoe and expect it to fit like a woman’s size eight. For most brands, men’s shoes run about 1 1/2 sizes higher than women’s.

So, if you are a woman who wants to wear a men’s shoe, you need to choose a 1.5 smaller size. Men wanting to wear a woman’s shoe would need to purchase 1 1/2 sizes larger.

For instance, if a woman wears a size eight shoe, she would need to purchase a 6.5 in men’s shoes.

This method of calculating the differences in sizes can be used as a good rule of thumb, but it is important to remember all brands are sized differently.

Can Men and Women Switch Shoes?

What can you do if you prefer to wear the opposite sex’s shoes? Can men and women easily switch shoes according to their preferences? While the easy answer to this question is a resounding yes, there are some things to consider.

Think about the following differences between men’s and women’s shoes before you decide.

  • Men’s shoes are wider overall, but women’s shoes are wider in the toe box and narrower in the heel. If a man tries to wear a pair of women’s running shoes, his heel may be too compressed. A woman may find a man’s pair of running shoes to be too wide in the heel.
  • Men also tend to be heavier than women, so their shoes need a more substantial level of support. If a man tries to wear women’s running shoes, the support may not be enough, and the shoes could wear out too fast on the insole.
  • Women’s shoes have deeper grooves where the ball of their feet lies inside the shoe. When men wear women’s shoes, they sometimes find this deep groove to be too uncomfortable, especially when running.
  • Another difference you need to consider is that women tend to suffer from overpronation because of their hip width. Men’s shoes typically do not offer enough protection for women, so they end up suffering from pronation, discomfort, and possible injuries.
white and blue rubber shoes

How to Measure Your Foot for the Right Size

Whether you wear a men’s shoe or a woman’s, size is essential for your safety and comfort. Have you ever had your feet professionally measured? Do you know it is not difficult to measure them at home?

All you need are the following:

  • A piece of paper
  • A pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Your bare feet
  • A possible friend to help

It is much easier if you have a friend help you, but the process of measuring your feet is not overly difficult, even if you do it alone. Follow the steps below to get your perfect size.

1. Place the piece of paper against a wall.
2. Place your foot against the wall, with your heel to the wall.
3. Trace the shape of your foot with the pencil.
4. Measure from your longest toe to the back of the heel impression.

(Hint) If you are measuring your feet alone, you may want to tape the piece of paper to the floor to keep it from slipping.

Men's vs women's foot size chart
Men’s vs women’s foot size chart

Now You Know the Facts

There truly are differences between men’s and women’s shoe sizes. Manufacturers size men’s and women’s shoes differently because of the distinctions in their feet. Now that you are aware of the differences, you can choose your footwear accordingly.

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