It’s better to just know your size in every country

Posted on 16.10.2015


I’ve written before about buying bras in other countries, and how sizes change based on where you are. I recently had another experience happen to me TWICE over the course of one month, and felt the need to write about it. For cautionary purposes.

Info: in the US, I’m generally a size 5.5 shoe. I’d be a plain 5 if my feet weren’t so wide and flat, but them’s the breaks. For some reason, although this should translate to a size 35/34 shoe in Europe, it somehow turned into a size 36. Many companies in the US think that a 36 is equal to a size 7. It might be. It really depends on who you ask.

This post is not about fluctuating weight: for the most part, in the wise words of Toni Collette in In Her Shoes, “Your shoe size doesn’t change”.

So here in Japan, most things are measured in centimeters. My tiny circus feet come in at about 22 cm. But in the US, this would be a size 4 or some shit. It’s not. It may be what the conversion tags inside the shoes say, but those are completely wrong, which is why I’m writing.

Issue #1: I ordered some custom-made boots for my Halloween costume. I’ll be going as Sailor Pluto for Halloween this year, and her boots basically need to be ordered online. I don’t have time to try to make or find something similar on my own.

So I placed an order with a company for a custom boot, and they asked me my shoe size. It got interesting, because they asked me to actually measure my foot. So I measured and told them that my foot length is 22 cm, but that I generally wear a size 23.5 . This is ridiculous, because it sounds like I’m wearing shoes that are way too big for me. I’m not. Size 23 hurts and is way too tight, so size 22 will NEVER fit.

I told them this information, and they still sent me a size 22 boot, which did NOT fit. Of course. So I had to return them and ask for a size 24, just to be safe. And now I’m waiting on these boots to arrive. I’m glad I got on that shit early this year, with time for mistakes and returns.

IMG_5811Issue/Non-issue #2: At the Onitsuka Tiger shop. Onitsuka Tiger is somehow the most comfortable tennis shoe on the planet. I really don’t understand how in the world a sole that is so thin could be so completely cushy, but it is. I finally got around to trying on a pair (early birthday gift!), and confusion ensued.

The lady who was helping me wanted to know my US shoe size, even though I was trying to tell her my Japanese 23.5 size. So I told her 5.5, and she brought out a shoe that was way too small. After proving that these didn’t fit, I asked for a 23.5 again, and she finally brought them out. Wouldn’t you know, they fit. BUT one look at the box told me why there was confusion.

23.5 appears to be the equivalent of a US size 5 (WTF) and a 37.5 (again,WTF). These two should not, and cannot, exist on the same size plane together. A 37.5 shoe is HUGE compared to a US 5. I tried to explain this to the lady, but I should have done it in Japanese. I don’t think she got what I was saying.

IMG_5812What’s hysterical about all of this is that Apple seems to have gotten the size conversion MUCH closer to correct. As you can see from the photo to the left, my 22 cm foot converts to an EU 36 and an American 5.5. All of these are the size that I wear in each country, aside from the 22 cm, which although correct technically, is really too tight for me. WAY too tight. I would say it’s because I have really wide feet, but the fact that my toes are scrunched up even in a size 23 just suggests that it’s wrong.

What does all of this mean? It means try on the damn shoes before you buy them from/in a different country. Because that label on the box is most likely wrong.