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Is My Sandal Size the Same as Shoe Size?

Last update: 2024-05-13

Determining your correct sandal size can be confusing, especially in relation to your regular shoe size. While there are some general guidelines to follow, there are also many variables that can affect sizing between shoe types. Read on for tips on finding the right sandal size for your feet.

How Sandal Sizes Typically Compare to Shoe Sizes

In most cases, your sandal size will be close to your regular shoe size, but it may not be an exact match. Here are some general things to keep in mind:

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  • For open-toed sandals like flip-flops, your size will often be the same as your regular shoe size. Since these sandals are very open, they need to fit your feet similarly to closed-toe shoes.
  • For sport sandals and hiking sandals, it's common to size up by about 1/2 a size. These types of active sandals fit more snugly and won't have as much "give" as regular shoes when you're moving around. Sizing up prevents your toes from hitting the edge.
  • Dressier sandals with straps across the front of the foot also tend to fit more snugly. Consider sizing up by 1/2 a size to allow a little more room for your foot to expand.
  • Sandals featuring a backstrap tend to run large or oversized. You can often go down 1/2 to a full size for a proper fit.

Factors That Influence Sandal Sizing

While the above guidelines provide a starting point, other variables can also impact the fit and sizing of sandals. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind:

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Style of the sandal: The amount of coverage and support the sandal provides can significantly change the fit. More minimal styles like flip-flops will fit differently than hiking sandals with multiple adjustment points. Consider the overall style and structure when deciding on size.

Type of closure: How the sandal fastens onto your foot affects the fit. Things like buckles, velcro, or elastic give you more room for adjustment versus a simple thong style. Sandals with more closure options can allow for a more customized and exact fit.

Foot shape: Those with wide feet or high arches may need to size up in sandals to allow enough width and depth. People with narrow feet can sometimes size down for a contoured fit. Knowing your foot shape helps determine ideal size.

Brand sizing: Like with shoes, some brands run large or small in their sizing. Trying a particular brand's sizing chart can give you a more accurate starting point for that company's sandals. Reviews can also indicate if the brand runs true to size.

Season/Occasion: During warmer months or for a quick trip outdoors, you may want a bit more wiggle room from swelling. For cooler weather or special occasions, a more snug fit usually works better. Consider the conditions you'll wear the sandals in.

Sock use: Will you wear socks with the sandals? That requires more space, so you'll want to size up. For barefoot use, natural foot size is ideal.

Tips for Finding Your Perfect Sandal Size

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    Trace your foot on paper and measure the length to determine your general size range before trying on sandals. This gives you a starting point.
  • Try sandals on at the end of the day when your feet are naturally slightly swollen. This mimics the fit during regular use. Your feet are smallest in the morning.
  • Try both sizes up and down from your regular shoe size to find the best fit. Don't assume an exact match of your normal size.
  • Opt for straps that are adjustable or have some stretch when possible. This allows for a more customizable and flexible fit as feet swell and contract.
  • Shop for sandals that conform closely to the shape of your feet without excess material. Loose-fitting or bulky straps can allow too much movement.
  • Walk around the store with the sandals on. Shifts in footing reveal any rubbing or fit issues before purchasing.
  • Consider having feet sized every year or so. Feet can change over time, so your sandal (and shoe) size may too. Regular checks ensure proper fit.
  • For sport sandals, prioritize performance over size. A snugger fit supports better control and prevents injury from unwanted foot slippage.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should my sandals be a little tight at first to allow for breaking in?

No, sandals should feel comfortable and not tight when first tried on. They will not stretch significantly, so an initially tight fit will likely remain uncomfortable. Find one that feels good walking around right away.

2. Can I just buy any size sandal and use the straps to tighten or loosen it?

Straps allow for some adjustment but cannot drastically change overall fit. The size should match close to your foot length to prevent excess motion or pressure points from straps being pulled too tight. Purchase the general size for your foot.

3. Do I need a larger sandal size to account for swelling in the heat?

In very hot climates, sizing up by half a size is reasonable to accommodate more swelling. But sandals should still fit snugly and not be overly loose. Get the best natural fit and use adjustable straps for slight flexibility. Excessively large sizes increase risk of tripping.

4. How do I know if a sport sandal fits right for hiking or water activities?

Hiking and sport sandals should prevent sliding around when wet, on trails, or during activity. Your heel should not lift out, and toes should not bang the front edge when going downhill or stepping forward. A properly fitted sport sandal hugs the foot securely.

5. Why do some sandals fit me tight while others are loose, even though they’re the same size?

Variables like sandal structure, closure style, and brand sizing quirks account for inconsistencies. You may be different sizes between flat sandals, active hiking sandals, dress sandals, etc. Try each style and brand individually for optimal fit.


Finding the right sandal size involves considering your usual shoe size as a starting point along with variables like sandal style, sizing features, foot shape, and intended usage. Testing different sizes of the same sandal brand and style directly on your feet while walking provides the best sense of ideal fit for comfort and support.

Remember to recheck sandal sizing annually as your feet change over time. With some informed trial and error, you can determine the perfect sandal size for summertime fun.

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