In everyday life we often juggle different units of measurements. If I'm baking I weigh my ingredients in grams but wouldn't have a clue what my weight is in kilograms as I read my scales in Stones and pounds. If I'm doing D.I.Y (badly) I'll measure using centimetres and metres but my height is always in feet and inches. However one area that often causes confusion is in measuring feet and shoe size, contrasting UK sizes with the Continental system.

With there being so much more choice and so many excellent brands of kid's footwear produced on the continent, even the outcome of Brexit wont diminish the amount of children's shoes sold in EU sizes. So is converting UK sizes to EU sizes that complicated. Well unfortunately most sizes don't have an automatic equivalent. One UK size does not necessarily have an exact match in the EU system, so is easy conversion even possible? 

To try and get a better understanding of the contrasting styles let's try and understand what they actually mean, although this is far than straightforward.

UK shoes sizes are actually sold in, the delightfully named, Barleycorns. The sizing dates back to at least the middle ages and equates to a third of an inch. Each full size barleycorn is a third of an inch shorter than the last and, therefore, each half size a sixth of an inch shorter. Now since the 1970's schools have been teaching measuring in centimetres so a third of an inch converts to approximately 0.85cm. Now you may have already noticed two things. Firstly, the approximate conversion, which is necessary unless you want to be working to an infinite number of decimal places and, secondly, that we are dealing with very small sizes. One whole UK shoe size difference is a third of an inch or less than a centimetre. This isn't a lot but it can still make a very important difference when fitting shoes, especially children's shoes whose feet are continually growing.

In Europe the continental system uses the Paris Point unit of length, which is defined as two thirds of a centimetre. So each EU size is 0.67cm (again this is rounded up to two decimal places for ease of use) longer than the previous one. So with EU sizes increasing at 0.67cm and UK sizes increasing at 0.85cm (or approximately 0.42cm for half sizes) the chances of getting an exact conversion are minimal. This is why footwer manufacturers and retailers produce conversion tables to try and give an as close as possible match as possible. Children's Shoe Size Conversion TableRemember that we are still dealing with very small units of measurements and, unfortunately, not all shoe size conversion tables agree with each other. So why is that?

Well, again, remember that we are dealing with approximations of small numbers and not all approximations will be worked out the same. However, more importantly each Footwear manufacturer is making shoes not to initially fit feet but to fit shoe lasts. The shoe last is the form that the shoe is created over and each manufacturer may use a different formula and tolerance to ultimately reach the desired end product shoe size. Once this is done there will also be accepted manufacturing tolerances during bulk production of the shoes. All this means that different shoe brands may convert their sizes differently. For example Geox will equate their EU34 to a UK 1.5 whereas Hush Puppies convert a UK 2 to an EU34.

So by all means use shoe conversion charts to get an idea about what size shoes you want for your children but ultimately remember that the best way to ensure you get the best fitting shoes for your kids is to get them fitted professionally. Your children may get measured as one size but this will only ever be a gauge to the size they are and they may end up with a different size of children's shoes depending on what is the best fit for your kid's feet.Children's shoe fitting

Converting shoe sizes can prove to be a complicated issue and fitting is always best left to those with the training and experience, and we've not even begun to consider U.S. Size and different width fittings!