Getting the Right Japanese Shoe Size

One thing that a lot of lolita have mentioned time and again as being hard to figure out is shoe sizing. Fortunately, once you get an idea for your Japanese shoe size, you actually are usually pretty set. Where people run into trouble most often is in trying to use conversion charts, and getting confused because they vary.

Angelic Pretty Shoes

Lesson number one: never use conversion charts from US sizes to other country’s sizes. They aren’t a 1-to-1 match; US shoes are not physically the same size as Japanese sizes, for example. So while there might be a chart that says a US 8 is this… it’s really that a US 8 is between two Japanese sizes, but it’s closer to one than the other, so they picked that. Now, two people who wear a US size 8 actually have slightly differently sized feet. So, the shoe a chart suggests might fit one, but not the other. Then, sometimes, people will ask if a shoe runs true to size online, and get some people saying they run large or small, because people are going by converted measurements in different sizes! Sounds like a total nightmare right?

Thankfully, Japanese shoes are some of the most logically sized shoes in the world (excepting when they do SS/S/M/L/LL). It’s litterally based on the size of your foot. No math required, no conversions… just a sheet of paper, a ruler with CM, a pencil and your foot.

  1. Lay a sheet of paper bigger than your foot flat on a hard floor.
  2. Take off your shoes so you are just in your socks (wear the type of socks you plan on wearing with the shoes).
  3. Place your foot on the paper.
  4. Stand straight and have someone trace around your foot. If you are alone, try to bend at the waist as you trace around your foot (bending the knee flexes your calf muscles and changes how your foot sits on the paper).
  5. Draw a rectangle around your foot like so:
    foot
  6. Measure the long-side of the rectangle in CM and write down the measurement.
  7. Repeat 1-6 for your other foot.
  8. Take the number for your larger foot. and round up to the nearest half CM. If it is exactly a cm size, or less than 0.15cm from a size, you may want to go up a size if you are nervous of your shoes being too small.

That’s it. That’s your Japanese shoe size. As long as the shoes aren’t totally miss-marked (which means the inside would measure differently than the size on the label) then they should fit.

If the shoes are listed in SS/S/M/L/LL, check around the site for a size chart. Most companies list the CM sizes of each of their letter sizes.

When ordering from Taobao, if your shopping service insists on a Chinese size, then you usually can get away with a chart, but some shopping services and lolita specific Taobao brands list shoes in Japanese sizes for convenience.

The only time I’ve ever had trouble with lolita shoes not fitting using this method was when I ordered the wrong size by mistake, and that includes buying shoes from Bodyline, who’s shoes people notoriously worry about the sizing of.

bodyline shoes

And, just in case you are thinking of cutting corners… do not measure the bottom of your foot with a tape measure or ruler directly, that doesn’t work. Also, do not skip drawing the box and just measure the length of the tracing, you will get the wrong size. Nor should you measure on an angle inside the box. Don’t try to measure the inside of a pair of shoes either, as that will give you the diagonal measurement from heel to toe most of the time, which is wrong. Nor should you trace the outside of a shoe, as it is bigger than the inside (common sense on this one, I realize, but people have claimed to have tried all these things before, so I figure it was worth noting).

4 thoughts on “Getting the Right Japanese Shoe Size

  1. wow! That was super helpful! Thank you so much! I found this through tumblr. I’m buying my first pair of lolita shoes, and the sizing was really confusing me. đŸ˜€

  2. I’m buying my first pair of Japanese shoes and I’m confused because the shoes sizes is letters (S, M and L)
    I’m really greatful if you can help me.

    • It depends on the brand you are buying from, and the pair. Look on the brand website and see if they have a chart explaining the CM sizes that correspond to S/M/L? A lot of them will have the cm sizes in the description or a size chart.

      If not, you can usually get away with guessing.

      S: 22-23
      M: 23.5-24
      L: 24-24.5
      LL: 24.5-25

      If you comment back with a link to the shoes, I can help more. :)

  3. Hello, I’m planning to get a fresh punch sneakers from Sanrio. Do you know how the sizing of the shoes are? I kept measuring my foot and no idea which size to go for! It would be great if you could help! :) My foot length is about 23cm.

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