The average women’s shoe size allegedly ranges from 8.5–9, with most unconfirmed sources stating the exact average is 8.5. But, the size can vary depending on other factors, such as age, whether or not she’s pregnant or in menopause. Feet get larger throughout your life, so be on the lookout for that, too.
As your feet are your body’s foundation, ensuring you wear shoes the correct size is essential for foot health. This includes knowing your correct foot size and re-measuring your feet throughout life.
Join us as we discuss the factors that impact foot size further, and we have a bonus guide to help you measure your size!
Average Women’s Shoe Size: Most-Sold Size
Well, there are no official sources, studies and surveys, but this Google Answers information gives an indication.
Now, keep one thing in mind: many adults wear the wrong shoe size. So while we’re basing the average women’s shoe size on the most commonly sold shoe sizes, many of these women could be wearing shoes too large or small.
With that said, here are the most sold sizes of women’s shoes:
- Size 8: 16% sold.
- Size 9: 13% sold.
- Size 7: 12.5% sold.
- Size 8.5: 11.8% sold.
- Size 7.5: 11.2% sold.
The next most popular size is a 10, with a significant drop in popularity for the sizes after that.
From the results above, we see that the most common shoe sizes sold are in the 7–9 range, making this the average range most women’s feet fall into. This information is in Footwear Impression Evidence: Detection, Recovery and Examination by William J. Bodziak.
Bodizak’s sources are unspecified and unconfirmed, but if he’s right, then measurement-wise, this means the average foot length is around 9.25–9.875 inches.
The average from an unofficial small-pool survey seems to fall neatly into the most-sold sizes. The average women’s shoe size from the survey was 8.5.
Are Women’s Feet Getting Larger?
A size 7 seems relatively okay, but a size 9 appears quite large as an average given women’s petite builds.
That begs the question, are women’s feet getting larger?
Yes, as it turns out, and it’s not just women—feet as a whole are getting larger, but it’s not for the evolutionary reason you might expect.
Men’s and women’s shoe sizes have allegedly increased by four sizes since the 1900s, according to many unnamed experts online. This is attributed to the increasing height and weight of many people—scientists theorize that as height and weight increase, so should foot size.
Our feet hold us up and therefore need to get bigger to support a bulkier frame—this is the common theory for the foot-size evolution.
Unfortunately, no studies are available online that support these claims, other than ones referenced in various news articles (1, 2, 3, 4) from around the world. Each piece cites the same sources and information, but it’s still not solid evidence. One of these news pieces (2) cites another as a “study” (1) when it’s nothing more than a statement.
Anecdotally, women have noticed it’s increasingly difficult to find shoes, too, and all we can do is take their word for it.
What Helps Determine Shoe Size?
Experts say the size of your feet is “generally” proportional compared to how tall you are. You can use shoe size to estimate your height, but it’s a poor predictor in many cases. Podiatrists argue that attempting to base height off of foot size can be fun but state that you still may not be correct.
Since feet seem to be getting bigger to support larger heights and weights, does build impact foot size?
Yes and no.
Something to note is that it’s easier to determine a woman’s height from her foot size, according to one study, over a man’s.
How Does Life Impact Your Shoe Size?
Gravity takes a toll on everything; it’s why skin sags and features fall.
It gets worse when something puts pressure on an object alongside gravity—and that’s exactly what happens to your feet.
By the time you’re 80, if you walk as much as the average person, you’ll have walked around 110,000 miles. That’s well over 216 million steps.
Like how driving takes a toll on your tires, walking takes a toll on your feet. The combined pressure and the natural gravity of aging flatten foot padding, adding to their width and length.
When this occurs, your shoes get a little tight, and you may need to size up.
Menopause is just another fact of life. The body stops producing as much estrogen, impacting many bodily aspects.
Lower bone density can occur during menopause, which can lead to osteoporosis, depending on how much density the bones lose.
You can treat osteoporosis, including through hormone-replacement therapy, to keep your bones strong and regulate your hormones. However, if untreated, osteoporosis can have an impact on your feet.
As your bones are thinner through osteoporosis, they fracture more easily. In extreme cases, these bones may shift into new positions, including in your feet. This can impact your shoe size—you’ll most likely need to size-up to accommodate any moving bones.
Ideally, you won’t get to this stage, and you’ll catch osteoporosis early on. If you’re experiencing symptoms relating to lower bone density, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Those symptoms include:
- Height loss.
- Back pain.
- Bones breaking and fracturing easily.
It’s common for feet to swell during pregnancy. Your feet may also soften and become malleable due to a pregnancy hormone called relaxin.
As well as this, you may find your arches fall during pregnancy. This is based on the additional pressure your heightened weight places on the feet. Your feet flattening out like this may add length and width to them.
More often than not, the arches rise again after birth. If they don’t, you may need some insoles for flat feet.
Even so, it isn’t a given that these issues will occur, but if they do, there’s no guarantee they’ll reverse post-partum. In some cases, pregnancy leads to lasting changes in your foot size as well as structure.
This could explain how women have a higher risk of developing arthritis in the feet and legs, although experts can’t confirm this.
Measuring Your Feet: Step By Step
Based on how your foot shape can change with time, it’s smart to measure your feet often. Not only is it insightful to measure your feet regularly, but it’s good practice to do this before you purchase any new pair of shoes, too.
Shoe size can vary depending on the brand, which is why we have many helpful guides such as Sorel boots sizing and New Balance shoe sizing.
Going to a shoe store to get this done can be a pain and won’t always give you an accurate measurement of your shoe size.
So, why not do it at home? It’s really simple…
- A4 paper.
- Pen or pencil.
- Flat surface.
Step 1: Prepare the Paper
Use the ruler to draw a straight line down the center of the paper. Make this as straight as possible; otherwise, you’ll throw off the reading.
If you need help getting the line straight, consider finding a flat surface next to a wall. Place the end of the paper and end of the ruler flat against the wall to ensure they’re straight.
Step 2: Paper Alignment
If you already have the paper flat against the wall, there’s no need to move it.
You need the paper to be on a flat, even surface, like large tiles or a wooden floor. Tiles with lots of grooves may mess with your result as the paper sinks into them—every millimeter matters when it comes to foot health.
The wall should also be flat, with no slopes in sight. You need to be able to stand against it.
Step 3: Making Markings
While length is highly important, so is width, so measure both with this method.
Step onto the paper with your heel against the wall and your longest toe along the line on the paper.
It’s best to have help here as bending may cause you to move your foot. You can do this yourself if you’re ultra-flexible enough.
Then, mark out:
- The tip of your longest toe.
- Both sides around the widest area of your foot.
For in-store shoe shopping where you don’t want to try on shoes, you could also draw around your foot and make a cutout after you finish measuring. It’s a real time-saver when shoe shopping.
Step 4: Repeat Measurements
Most people have one foot bigger than the other, so repeat the measuring process for your other foot.
Use the same sheet of paper for the most accurate results—hence, not drawing around your foot until you finish measuring.
With your second foot marked out, you’re ready to measure.
Step 5: Measure
Take the measurement from the end of the paper to the marking from in front of your toe.
Do this for both feet: the longest foot’s measurement determines your shoe size. You can use this measurement against various shoe sizing charts, such as New Balance, UGGs and adidas charts.
Also take the width measurement, and check it against our chart in our what does shoe width letters mean article to determine if you have standard, wide or narrow feet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Most Common Female Foot Size?
In the US, the most common female foot size is a 9 based on the data shown above. However, size 8.5 is the most common based on anecdotes and a small online survey. There is no better evidence to back up this claim.
Is Size 7 Shoe Big for a Girl?
No, a size 7 is not big for a girl at all, unless you’re highly petite. It’s on the lower end of the most common size range, and it’s one of the most heavily stocked shoe sizes in the US and many other countries based on the demand.
At What Age Do Your Feet Stop Growing?
Many feet stop growing during the teen years, but it’s common for them to keep growing until 21 years old. In some cases, they continue to grow during the early 20s. Alongside this, feet change with age and life circumstances, so never stop measuring your feet regularly.
Women’s Shoe Sizes: The Bottom Line
The average women’s shoe size is 8.5, and sizes 7–9 are common, but this isn’t based on an official study or record.
Women’s feet change throughout their lives, and with that, so does their shoe size. This makes it difficult to determine a true average or most common size.
Stay on top of your foot size and regularly measure to ensure you always have the best-fitting shoes. Don’t forget to visit our website for lots of shoe sizing tips and tricks.