Vanity sizing shoes

[Re: title; Of course I don’t believe shoes are being vanity sized; “vanity sizing” is the term consumers use to mean sizing evolution so I mean this in the latter context. See also, Sizing is a variety problem.]

Kate’s earlier comment gives me the perfect opportunity to bring up something that’s been on my mind:

As for shoes, I refuse to buy poorly-fitting shoes (I have a narrow foot) so when I get something I like I buy a couple of pairs so I can keep wearing them when the first one wears out. (And I alternate identical pairs so they will last longer.) Though a woman, I’ve worn the exact same style of shoes almost every day for the past five years.

This weekend, I spent some time chatting with a woman who buys lots of shoes. She says the size of her foot has remained static but that recently, she has to buy 20 pairs (over the web) just to find two pairs that fit.

Now it may just be me, but I am finding that a size 4 is no longer a size 4. Some of the size 4 shoes out there fit my sister’s size 5 feet. Not only that, I have shoes in a size 5 from years ago (I take good care of my shoes, have a great cobbler, and replace soles when needed) and they fit fine.

[She also mentioned that women are having foot surgery so they can wear the latest narrow profile shoes. And people thought foot binding was barbaric; have we failed to progress at all? ]

I hadn’t noticed a problem with shoe sizing until last year (I don’t buy many shoes) and I’ve been wearing an eight for the past thirty plus years. Those Keene’s I got last year were definitely running large. A pair of running shoes I bought were also a half size smaller than what I normally take.

The evolution in shoe sizing doesn’t surprise me much; I’ve expected as much. Twenty years ago, the average shoe size was a five or six. These days, it’s an eight or eight and a half. Normalizing to the population, it would only make sense that shoe sizes evolve to the median as have clothing sizes.

Anyone else notice a difference in shoe sizing?

Amended:
Please refer to the other articles in this series which offer substantive supporting material. Add to the discussion rather than backtracking to topics discussed elsewhere. It is likely that the exceptions you’ve thought of have been dissected in depth. For your convenience, links open in a new window or tab.

The Myth of Vanity Sizing
Fit and Sizing Entropy
Push manufacturing; subverting the fit feedback loop
Sizing evolution
Shrinkage and fit
Alternatives in Women’s sizing
Tyranny of tiny sizes?
The history of women’s sizing pt 1
The history of women’s sizing pt 2
The history of women’s sizing pt 3
Sizing is a variety problem
The birth of size 10?
Vanity sizing shoes
Tyranny of tiny sizes pt.2
Vanity sizing: generational edition
Vanity sizing: generational edition pt.2
Vanity sizing: the consumer spending edition

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