(Photo: Cultura Exclusive)
If you’re struggling to fit into your normal shoe size and fear your feet have either shrunk or ballooned with age, you can breath a sigh of relief.
Despite what the label might say, sizes on the high street are literally all over the shop – causing frustration for those who don’t try before they buy.
The Daily Mirror took to the high street to investigate the discrepancies and discovered how footwear can vary by three sizes depending not only where you shop but also thanks to what type of shoes you buy.
Our reporter thought she was a typical 5 – the same size for the last 20 years – but trying on pairs of flats, sandals, high heels and trainers in eight High Street stores produced some staggering results.
Shoes fitted from a petite 4 to 6 – a three size difference.
We started our experiment at school shoes favourite Clarks. A measuring gauge recorded her as a 5 and all four types of shoes fitted in that size.
But at Marks and Spencer , a size 4 and a half pair of soft brown loafers fitted like a glove, while size 5 grey trainers were a squeeze leaving her with a larger 6.
It was a similar story at New Look where she slipped into a pink pair of ballet pumps in a 4 but required two sizes bigger when trying on some gold sandals.
But the opposite happened next door at H&M . Here she could only just squeeze into some gold ballet pumps in a size 6 and a pair of brown Grecian-style sandals were the perfect fit at size 4.
In River Island a pair of flats to fit could not be found as while a size four was just right for the left foot, it was too tight for the right, while sandals and high heels were required in size 6.
As recently as 15 years ago, the factory foot moulds, known as ‘lasts’, were still made in Britain to a standard size.
But as retailers push for cheaper ways to keep up with fashions trends, the majority of shoe production has moved to Asia.
Nearly half of women in the UK are wearing the wrong shoe size – and a third of 2,000 people asked readily admit to wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, according to a survey by the College of Podiatry.
Most people haven’t had their feet measured since they were a child and simply attempt to figure out their own shoe size by trying a few pairs on in their favourite shop.
To add to the confusion, retailers use conversion charts that give conflicting advice about the European size equivalents.
Matthew Fitzpatrick, consultant podiatrist from The College of Podiatry, said: “In the past there were fewer retailers selling shoes were the majority were built around the traditional sized moulds.
“But as demand for cheap fashion has increased, each company cuts it its own individual moulds explaining why there is such a variation on the high street.
“Women in particular squeeze their feet into the size they think they are but this can cause problems. Bunions, corns and callous are caused by ill-fitting shoes and claw toes can occur if footwear is too big.”
Next explained why they have a size variation. A spokesman said: “We work to UK grading standards, whereas some retailers use the European or even American.
“The foot also behaves differently in different shoe styles.”
While a M&S spokesperson said: “Everyone’s feet are unique – we work really hard to make sure our shoes are comfy and fit well, and our sizes are in line with the UK industry standard.“
Primark said: “Our footwear sizing follows the SATRA Standard.”
River Island added: “All of our shoes are fitted around industry standard sizes.
New Look and Topshop declined to comment while H&M failed to comment.