Dear New Sneaker People, Just Because You Usually Wear a Certain Size Doesn't Mean You Always Wear That Size

Illustration for article titled Dear New Sneaker People, Just Because You Usually Wear a Certain Size Doesn't Mean You Always Wear That Size
Photo: Panama Jackson

It’s been documented here before, but the onset of the coronavirus over a year ago seems to have turned everybody and their mothers into sneakerheads (and ultimately rendering most of us winless at the SNKRS app sweepstakes). And while the sneaker culture (and folks attempting to become resellers; good morning to everybody except the Hebert family of Oregon) is alive and thriving, feeling damn near COVID -proof, there’s one side effect that I’m sure a few people have discovered that comes along with the frequent perusal and procurement of kicks: the moment you discover that you don’t actually know what size you wear.


Or more accurately, your shoe size really depends on a shit-ton of factors.

There’s nothing more annoying than excitedly purchasing a pair of shoes online, only for them to show up a few days (or weeks) later and they’re either too big or too small. How can this be? You ordered the size you always order in shoes. Well, as it turns out, and as the world turns, there really is no solid metric for what your actual shoe size will be. I’m sure what I just said flies in the face of some science, but allow me to share some anecdotal and physical evidence to illustrate this here point.

In my possession are well over 100+ pairs of shoes. It might be more than that but stop counting my pockets. I have all manner of shoes: Nike, Adidas, Converse, Pumas, Timberland, Dr. Martens, etc. And within those brands, I have so many different shoe models, etc. So let me break down the various shoe sizes I own.

For the record, my “true-to-size” (one of the most useless terms ever) is 10.

In Jordans, for the most part, I wear a 9.5. I say for the most part because I have two pairs of Jordan 11s and my “Concords” are a 9.5, but my “Breds” are a 10. I originally got the “Breds” in a 9.5 only to feel trapped in my shoes. Same shoe. Same model. Different sizes. But I can wear a 10 in Jordan 1s but the more snug fit is a 9.5. My Lebrons are all a 9.5, but the Lebron 17 low? A 10. Nike’s Air Max 1? Let’s talk about them. I have pairs (I own 5) that are either 10 or a 10.5. The 10 is snug, the 10.5 feels almost just right but a wee bit loose. Yay. My Kobe 6s? 10.5 fits better than the 10; the padding is serious in those joints. I made that discovery the hard way. All of my Nike React shoes are a 10.5. My Air Max 97s are a 10.

Let’s talk Adidas right quick. Stan Smith’s? I wear a 10, tried and true. Yeezys, though, I’m a 10.5 and probably more accurately an 11. Those shoes have so much damn padding that if you buy your standard size, you probably have to pull the insole out to make them fit because you sure as hell aren’t going to find them in a store somewhere to exchange for a bigger pair. Most of my Adidas Boost shoes (Yeezy included) require a size up, UNLESS it’s the Pharrell Williams suite of shoes in which case true-to-size works.

Converse, which is owned by Nike? I wear a 9. Everybody knows that Chucks run big, so you size down. Timberlands? 9. My Doc Martens I had to go up half-a-size.


In my possession, as I said, are a bunch of shoeboxes with sizes that run anywhere from 9-11, and in the case of more than one shoe model, multiple sizes within the shoe universe.

Now, I have no idea why this conundrum exists. In fact, it is a stupid problem if you ask me and creates way more problems than it solves. When I was young, I remember my parents traipsing me down to some department store to get my feet sized so I could get my new shoes for the upcoming school year. Whatever lucky shoe department salesman happened to be there would pull out that super heavy, steel Brannock device and indicate to my parents what size shoes they should get for me. This seemed fairly simple and uniform; all the shoe stores had (and have) the same shoe device. So it’s not a foot problem, it’s a shoe problem.


It seems that shoe companies are just using different sized molds or something, or in the case of some shoes they add so much damn padding to the shoes that it requires sizing up for the sake of comfort (and depending on how you like your toes to feel at the toe box of your shoes). Some of y’alls feet look like your shoes are always too small, stop that. There really is no reason that I can’t go on a website and confidently buy a pair of shoes with the belief that they will fit right out of the box. And yet, here we are. It’s why I watch so many unboxing videos of shoes on YouTube. I rarely buy a new model of a pair of shoes without trying to find out some information on sizing somewhere online. That shit will save you a headache.

I don’t know how many of you are out here wearing Yeezys, some of the most comfortable shoes on the market, uncomfortably because you need a slightly larger size because nobody told you that to begin with. Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care. Especially because nowadays, you can’t just run up in a store and try on a pair of shoes to see what size you need; none of the exclusive shoes you want start out in stores anyway.


Do with this knowledge what you will. I hate buying shoes online for this reason but this is the world we live in, plus, most coveted shoes only release online at this point. Such is life.

Happy hunting.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



I worked in the footwear dept at Dick’s for four years and I’m a runner, so I know what I’m talking about when I say that you are dead on here. When I’d help people, I’d always advise them to not look down and to let their feet tell them the answer. I don’t give a shit if you’re wearing size 9. If the 9.5 is more comfortable, then there’s your answer. People get too hung up on stuff like that. I’d see people trying to squeeze into a size 8 knowing damn well they need a size 9. Like, why would you put yourself through that kind of discomfort? Or I’d measure a kid’s foot, tell Mom they’re measuring at a 4, and mom replies that the old shoes are size 6. Yeah, but those are clown shoes. I’m telling you what the device says. You’re a parent. It’s your money. Do what you want. Just don’t ask for my advice before you ignore it.

Tl;dr people get really hung up on the wrong things with shoes