Hudson's FTM Resource Guide

Men's Shoes in Small Sizes and Lift Shoes


How to find your shoe size
Measuring your feet
Converting measurements to shoe size
Women's sizes
Youth sizes
UK and European sizing
Online Shoe Retailers with Small Sizes
Appearing Taller: About Shoe Lifts and Shoes with Built-in Lifts

Just as it can be hard to find men's clothing in smaller sizes, it can be even more difficult to find small-sized men's shoes. This section lists a number of online retail sites that feature small men's shoes and size-based search engines, lift shoes (shoes that add height), as well as pointers for shoe size conversion between women's and men's shoes, as well as boy's/youth, UK, and European sizes.

How to find your shoe size
The best way to get fitted properly for a pair of shoes is to go to a knowledgeable shoe retailer, in person, who can measure your feet in-store and help you choose the shoe brand that will best suit your measurements and foot type. However, for most guys with feet smaller than the average male population, this is nearly an impossibility-- most stores in the U.S. don't regularly stock men's shoes smaller than size 7. You can still have your feet measured at a quality shoe store to get your size and width measurements, but you'll probably have to take that knowledge elsewhere to buy your shoes. Keep in mind that in the U.S., most shoe stores will probably measure your feet with a metal Brannock device, which will provide you with typical U.S. sizing (but not European or UK sizing). If you are being measured on a Brannock device, be sure to ask for the standard men's measurement.

Measuring your feet
You can measure your feet at home and use your measurement data to purchase shoes from online retailers, who often have a larger range of small men's sizes available than brick-and-mortar stores are able to stock. To measure at home, you'll need a pencil, a two pieces of blank paper, tape, and a flat, smooth floor surface. Measuring your feet at home is much easier with the help of a friend, but you can do it by yourself. It is best to take your measurements late in the day, after being on your feet for a while, so your feet are at their most swollen size.

Roll up your pant legs or wear shorts to make the measurement easier. Wear the type of socks you normally wear and keep them taut to your feet-- no sagging or bunching. Place a blank piece of paper on a flat, clean floor surface. Tape it at the corners to keep it from shifting. If you are doing the measurement with a friend, stand normally with your right foot on the paper, and distribute your weight evenly between your two feet. If you are doing the measurement alone, sit in a chair and place your right foot on the paper, with both feet squarely on the floor. Take your pencil and trace all the way around the edge of your foot, keeping the pencil as upright as possible the whole time (perpendicular to the floor). Ensure that the pencil is snug against the foot during the entire tracing. Repeat this process for the left foot. It is important to measure both feet, as one foot is usually larger than the other, and it is best to choose a size based on the larger foot.

Now you are ready to get your length and width measurements from your tracing. The tracing will be slightly larger than your feet due to the thickness of the pencil. You will need to subtract 0.2 inches (5 mm) from both the length measurement and the width measurement to compensate for the thickness of the pencil.

To determine your foot length, measure the distance between the two longest points on your tracing. Subtract 0.2 inches (or 5 mm) from the measurement to compensate for the pencil. The result is your foot length.

To determine your foot width, measure the distance between the two widest points on your tracing. Subtract 0.2 inches (or 5 mm) from the measurement to compensate for the pencil. The result is your foot width.

You may wish to convert those numbers to both inches and centimeters, since different shoe companies use different units of measure in relation to their size designation charts.

Converting measurements to shoe size
Now that you have your foot's physical measurements, you can determine how those measurements convert to the various size designations used by different manufacturers. This task can be more difficult than it appears, since shoe manufacturers use different measuring systems (U.S. versus UK or European, etc.). Manufacturers also vary in the way they measure their products to determine size, and sizing may differ depending on the type of shoes they make (men's, women's, youth, athletic, combat boot, etc.). Further, not all systems account for width in a standardized way.

Thankfully, many online retailers and shoe manufacturers provide size conversion charts based on foot length measurements. Some online stores provide printable Brannock measurement guides that you can use to determine your U.S. shoe size. There are also some good conversion guides listed on the internet, including a shoe size comparison chart on Wikipedia that includes US, UK, European and Mondopoint sizing.

Whatever chart or system you decide to use to find your shoe size, keep in mind that the standards and methods for measuring size really do vary quite a bit. Thus you might find you have a pair of boots in size 6 that fit well, and a pair of running shoes in size 7 that also fit well-- your shoe size will be a general guideline, and each brand may fit differently.

It is also important to note that overall foot length is not always a perfect way to determine your best size. For example, if your toes are very long or very short in comparison to the overall proportions of your foot, you might need to go up a size to find a good fit. Remember that tight-fitting shoes can cause a number of foot problems, which can eventually lead to other issues in your legs and back. So don't get shoes that are too snug-- if they don't feel right when you try them on, they will probably never feel right!

Look for shoe stores where you can try on the shoes before buying. If you are using an online source, choose one that offers a fair returns policy so that you can return or exchange shoes that do not fit correctly. And be kind to your online shoe retailer-- try on your new shoes indoors, on clean floors, and wearing clean socks, so if you choose to return them they remain in new, salable condition.

The following are some general size conversion tips that can be used as quick rules of thumb if you already know your U.S. shoe size.

Women's sizes
If you already know your U.S. size in women's shoes, the conversion to men's is fairly simple-- just subtract 1.5. So, if you wear a U.S. size 7 in women's shoes, then you should wear around U.S. size 5.5 in men's shoes. (Please note that this is an approximation, and that each style of shoe may fit differently.)

Youth sizes
If you have very small feet (men's size 5 or below), you may also wish to try boy's or youth size shoes. In fact, this can be a distinct advantage when buying a quality name brand shoe, as youth sizes are sometimes less expensive than adult sizes (for example, Timberland makes a classic waterproof work boot that costs $160 in adult size but only $80 in a junior size, yet they look identical, and the quality of the junior boot is excellent). Do be sure to check the quality of the particular youth shoes you are considering, however, as some youth shoes are not made to the same standards as adult shoes.

UK and European sizing
Opinions on the conversion from U.S. sizes to UK and European sizes vary. For the most part, UK sizes tend to run a half size to one full size smaller than U.S. sizes in men's shoes (i.e., if you wear a U.S. men's 5, you would wear a UK 4 or 4.5).

When converting from U.S. sizes to European sizes, it is best to follow the recommendations of the store that you are purchasing from, or have them measure your foot for European sizing. If you are ordering online, you may wish to simply to provide your actual foot measurements in inches or centimeters; some online sellers provide sizing charts based on physical measurements. When in doubt, contact customer service and check on the company's return policy. A number of the online sellers listed below offer free return shipping if shoes do not fit properly.

Different vendors use different terms for shoe widths. Check with the store you are buying from to see how they designate width. In general, narrow widths are designated by the letters A, B, and sometimes C for men's shoes (Please note: the letter C may be considered wide for a women's shoe designation, but narrow for a men's). Very narrow widths are designated by AA or AAA. Wider shoes are designated by the letters E through EEEEEE (sometimes noted as 2E, 3E, 6E, etc.). Occasionally, shoes may be marked with a "W" for wide, "N" narrow, or "S" for slim. Each manufacturer's shoe will fit a little differently. If a shoe does not feature a special width notation, you can assume it is a standard or "medium" or "M" width. Remember, some companies standard widths run wider than others.

back to the top

Online Shoe Retailers with Small Sizes

Zappos has one of the best search engines for finding small and specialty sizes. Their men's size search engine goes all the way down to size 3, and widths can be searched from 3A to 6E. You can also do very specific searches on shoe type (numerous subtypes are included within dress, casual, and athletic), and even shoe color. Their selection is huge, plus they offer free shipping and free return shipping. You can also search sale items by size, and there are often great deals on smaller men's sizes. also has a fantastic advanced search engine for finding small sizes. Their men's size search goes down to size 1 (though the selection really begins at size 3), and you can also search by category, type, color, width, and price. They offer free shipping, and have a very wide selection.

Boot Bay features a large selection of work, western, and outdoor boots, in addition to many styles of shoes in adult and youth sizes. Their size search engine goes down to size 1, and search results can be sorted by gender, brand, category, features (i.e. waterproof, steel toe, etc.), color, width, and price range. They also offer free shipping.'s advanced search engine goes down to size men's size 3. You can also search by brand, category, width, and price. They also have a wide selection, and offer free shipping.
Payless shoes are affordable, and they often carry smaller men's sizes. A nice thing about visiting a Payless store in person is that they arrange their shoes by size rather than by style, which can save a lot of time. sells hundreds of name brand shoes in athletic, casual, and dress shoes, as well as slippers. Their search engine goes down to size 5 on men's shoes. Searches can be sorted by price or style.

Hitchcock Wide Shoes for Men
Hitchcock Shoes specializes in men's shoes in widths EEE, EEEE, EEEEE and EEEEEE in sizes 5 through 15. Use their "shoe finder" feature to search by size and a variety of other criteria. They sell more than 200 men's wide width styles in dress shoes, casual styles and moccasins, athletic footwear, work boots and even slippers and sandals. Good for guys with small, wide feet!

back to the top

Appearing Taller: About Shoe Lifts and Shoes with Built-in Lifts
For guys who are on the short side, shoe lifts or lift shoes are an option to add a couple of inches in height.

Shoe lifts are plastic, cork, or foam devices that are inserted into your regular shoes in order to give a slight increase in height. The advantages to lifts are that they are generally less expensive than shoes with built-in lifts, and you can use them in any pair of shoes that you already own (so that you can be taller in all of your shoes rather than just one pair). Lifts can be bought in incremental sets to gradually increase your height over time so that your sudden "growth" is less noticeable.

The disadvantages of lifts are that they need to be replaced every few months (due to hygienic reasons), they may be uncomfortable, and the larger-sized lifts may not fit in smaller shoes. It may be best to try a modest-sized pair of lifts first (perhaps 1 inch or 1.25 inches) to see if they are comfortable, and then think about working up to larger lifts.

Lift shoes differ from removable shoe lifts in that extra height is built into the shoe's design itself, thereby (usually) allowing for a better fit and feel than lifts. However, many still find lift shoes to be uncomfortable; as with any shoe, some styles and brands may be more comfortable and fit better than others.

Shoe Lifts

Levitator Lifts
This company makes affordable shoe lifts in 8 sizes, ranging from 1/2 inch lifts ($9.95/pair) to 2-1/2 inch lifts ($24.95/pair). They are made of a lightweight foam that remains firm under pressure. These lifts may be better for men with smaller-sized feet because they are not full insoles; they simply slip into the heel area of the shoe.

Taller Heels
This site offers a number of different types of shoe lifts, inserts, and other shoe accessories.

Lift Shoes

Richlee Shoe Company
Features lift shoes in dress, sport, work, and casual styles that make you appear 2 to 3 inches taller, depending on the shoe model. Their web site cannot be searched by size. It is easier to search for smaller sizes in Richlee's printed mail-order catalog, which can be obtained for free by calling 1-800-343-3810 or emailing

Walk Tall Shoes
Features dress shoes and a few casual styles that make you appear 2.5 to 2.75 inches taller, depending on the shoe model. The site is not searchable by size, and the smallest size they offer is US size 6.

Tall Men's Shoes
Features dress, casual, walking, and extra heightening styles that add 2-5 inches in height, depending on the shoe model. The site can be searched by size, and the smallest size they offer is US 6.

Increasing Shoes
Features dress and casual styles that add 2-5.5 inches in height, depending on the shoe model. They offer a shop by size option, and the smallest size they list is 5.5. You can also shop by height increase range.

Don's Footwear
Don's offers high-end, handmade leather shoes and boots that add 2-5 inches in height, depending on the shoe model. The site is not searchable by size, but you can search by certain height increase amounts.

Was this page helpful to you?
Please consider donating to!

Back to the Top

Back to Hudson's FTM Resource Guide main page

Copyright, disclaimer, and privacy information