When coming across the letter H in shoe size many wonder what it means. Here is a guide (including charts) to help!
Depending on where you live and travel in the world, shoe sizes can become confusing, especially if you are buying them for the first time. You’ll know that finding the correct shoe size in Europe and other metric-based countries takes some understanding if you have travelled.
The letter H in shoe size has two possible meanings. One denotes a half-size shoe, i.e., a size that sits between two full sizes. The other use of the letter H in shoe size indicates the widest possible shoe in that size and is also known as an extra-wide fitting shoe.
Aside from the fact that there are other letters involved in shoe sizes and shoe widths, we will focus on the letter H in shoe size and clear up any confusion so you know what that letter means when you buy shoes.
I have also included a H sizing chart in this post, to help you find the right fit.
The Letter H In Shoe Size – The Half Size
In a universe filled with as much variety as ours, feet aren’t the exact sizes either, and so shoe manufacturers soon learned that they needed to include variations in shoe length and width so that people whose feet didn’t quite fit into the full-size shoes, could still buy their products.
Having comfortable shoes that fit correctly is essential as poorly fitting shoes can cause significant discomfort to the body and injure the feet. Blisters, cramps, and ankle and knee pain can all be caused by ill-fitting shoes.
For example, let’s assume you are looking for a pair of sneakers and are usually a size 9. You find a particular shoe that appeals to you, but to your dismay, the size 9 is too small, and the size 10 is too big!
But, the size 9H fits perfectly- this is the size 9.5 and sits between the size nine and size 10. If you are overseas, you may see this notation on the side of the shoebox instead of the ‘H’ notation.
Whether you are walking, running, jogging, or just using them for casual wear, it’s critical to have the correct shoe size, so if you need a half size, then buy them.
While this is typically found in shoe stores in the UK and Europe, you will find this in countries like Australia and South Africa. Anytime you see a shoe size with the “.5” notation next to the number, it tells you that the shoes in the box are a half size.
H in Shoe Size Sizing Chart
Here is a helpful sizing chart, that includes measurements for the half sizes.
|US Shoe Size||EU Shoe Size||cm measurement||Inches Measurement|
|6.5||39||24.1 cm||9.5 in|
|7.5||40||24.8 cm||9.8 in|
|8.5||41.5||25.7 cm||10.1 in|
|9.5||42.5||26.7 cm||10.5 in|
|10.5||44||27.3 cm||10.7 in|
|11.5||45||28.3 cm||11.1 in|
|US Shoe Size||EU Shoe Size||cm Measurement||Inches Measurement|
|5.5||36||22.2 cm||8.7 in|
|6.5||37.5||23 cm||9 in|
|7.5||39||23.8 cm||9.4 in|
|8.5||40||24.6 cm||9.7 in|
|9.5||41.5||25.4 cm||10 in|
Simply measure your feet and use the above charts to find your correct size.
I find it is best to measure your feet using a piece of paper, a pencil, and a ruler or tape measure. In the below image I demonstrate how to do this.
- Put your foot on the piece of paper.
- Use the pencil to mark the tip of your longest toes and the back of your heel.
- Using the tape measure, measure the distance between the two marks to get your foot size in cm and inches.
If you are needing a sizing guide for specific brands, I have a range here to help:
The Letter H In Shoe Size – Shoe Width
The second meaning for the letter H in shoe size is the width. Typically, this letter is only related to width in men’s shoes. In women’s shoes, the letters E or EE are used to denote the maximum width of the shoe.
The width of an H-size shoe is measured at 4 11/16″ wide, taken at the widest part of the foot. This denotation is found internationally when referring to the width of the shoe rather than the half size.
For example, you may see shoes that are 9.5H. This means that the shoes are the widest in that size, and since they are already half-size, you will know that the H denotes the width of the shoe and not the length.
Why The Right Shoe Width Is Important
Like shoe size, the shoe width also plays a significant role in the comfort of your feet inside the shoe. If the shoe is too broad, you won’t get the lateral support, and you risk twisting ankles and other instability injuries.
Conversely, too narrow shoes will have equally detrimental effects like chafing of the skin, blisters and can also result in the shoe’s shape becoming distorted and, in extreme cases, causing inflammation to the tendons and bones in the feet.
How To Check Your Shoe Size And Width
Instead of guessing or estimating your shoe size, a more straightforward way to ensure you always have the right size shoe is to measure your feet. Shoe stores often have a measuring device in-store, and you can place your foot in it and see what size you need.
As far as the shoe width is concerned, you can use a tape measure to check the width measurements from the broadest part of your foot, and if it is 4 11/16″ wider or close to it, the chances are you will need an H size shoe.
If you are under that width, you can use a regular width shoe in the correct size. It may be even easier to check with the store assistant or manager to be sure what the H means on a pair of shoes.
The reason is that some shoe brands may use the letter H to denote a half size or an extra width shoe, so before you spend money and then find out later it’s the wrong fit, check with the assistant before you buy.
Of course, trying them on before buying is always preferable, but if you buy shoes online, that is not possible.
This is why it is always better to have accurate foot measurements, as there are many tools and calculators online that you can use to increase the likelihood that you will get the right size and width.
Can You Wear H Size Shoes With Normal Size Feet
Technically yes, you can, but they will not be comfortable, and of course, you risk injury and discomfort if you do when it comes to being comfortable and safe on your feet; instead, buy the right size and width of shoes for your feet.
Again, the lack of proper fitting when wearing shoes that are not adequately suited to your feet is not worth the potential discomfort.
Knowing what the letter H means when it comes to shoe size is a valuable bit of knowledge to have for buying shoes at home and abroad, and it can save you and your feet a lot of pain and discomfort throughout your life.
When it comes to your feet, it’s always better to get the best fitting shoes you can, and if that means a half size or extra width shoes, then so be it because your body and your feet will thank you for it!
Thank you for reading this post on what the letter H means in shoe size. I hope you now feel confident to purchase a pair of shoes in a half size.
For more footwear content check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).