I have to admit that I went a little crazy over this past Black Friday and indulged in quite a few pairs of Birkenstocks. The sales were that good! And, as my feet age, I am finding that I need a more supportive shoe.
However, when it came time to place my order I found the sizing options to be a bit confusing. First, Birkenstocks use European sizing but some sites convert this to US sizing. And second, many of the women’s styles are actually available in two different widths as described here on the Birkenstock website:
- narrow (American width equivalent A/B), and
- regular (American width equivalent C/D).
But in my experience, I would consider a women’s B width to be medium in US sizing (which I would also refer to as “regular” and a C/D width to be wide in US sizing. So the fit given the Birkenstock width descriptions were hard to visualize for me.
Like I said – confusing! And when you are ordering online, you obviously cannot try the shoe or sandals on to see what fits best.
In this article I outline what I did to find my best “guess” at my shoe size in Birkenstocks.
I also ordered a whole pile of Birkenstocks to try on in a mix of both widths, and I am doing a series of articles on the fit and which styles I will be keeping and which ones will be going back.
The Best Place to Start – An Old Pair
When buying a new pair of Birkenstocks, the best place to start is with an old pair.
If you happen to have an old pair of Birks lying around, dig them out, try them on, and assess the fit.
If these are a perfect fit and were always comfortable for you – then you have your size.
But, if you don’t have an old pair – see if someone else in your family does. It’s not ideal, but if a family member or roommate with a similar shoe size has a pair, then you can try those on too.
You are just doing this to find your starting point.
I tried on my daughter’s old pair of the Arizona style with the Soft Footbed (which were once mine many, many years ago). My recollection was that this pair was not wide enough because my third and fourth toes would keep hitting against the rim where the edge turns up.
This was good information to have when figuring out which Birkenstock size would be right for me.
Just an fyi – these old Birkenstocks were an EU size 39 (which translates to 8-8.5 US).
For reference, I typically wear a US size 8 shoe with a medium width in most brands.
Next: Use the Printable Sizing Chart
Regardless of whether you have an old pair of Birkenstocks or not – it is a good idea to print out sizing chart from the Birkenstock website and trace your foot on it to measure.
Make sure you follow the printing instructions exactly so that your printout is 100 percent to scale.
It actually prints out on two pages but there are arrows where you align the pages and can tape them together. You will only need the second page if your foot is on the larger side – I wear a size US8 and all my sizing fell on the first page.
Interestingly, the Birkenstock size chart is also printed on the inside of the lid of the blue Birkenstock shoeboxes (but not the boxes for the Papillio styles). However, measuring your foot after you receive your shoe order is a little too late. But you can save that chart for a family member or a future purchase.
This Birkenstock sizing chart will not only give you the correct shoe size but will also measure the width of your foot.
By using this chart, I discovered that my foot fell into the wide zone because of my third and fourth toes – which is probably why I recall my old Birks being slightly uncomfortable.
What Size is Right for You?
Before I ordered my Birkenstocks, I read some online reviews and comments that said that Birkenstocks tend to run large.
In my experience, I do NOT agree with this for all styles.
I wore an EU 39 in my old Birkenstocks, my foot measured as an EU39 on the Birkenstock sizing chart, and I wear the equivalent size (a US size 8) in most other brands of shoes. So, I ordered all of new Birkenstocks in a EU 39. And I have to say, that lengthwise, most of them fit me perfectly.
The thing to remember here is that “perfect fit” is always a matter of personal preference.
Some people will prefer a more snug fit and may choose to size down, while others (like me) find the sizing to be just right.
So, finding the right length wasn’t an issue for me – but finding the right width in Birkenstocks was an entirely different story.
What Width in Birkenstocks is Right for You?
Many of the Birkenstock women’s styles come in a choice of two widths.
According to the Birkenstock Fit Guide, these are as follows:
- Narrow: American width equivalent A-B or
- Regular: American width equivalent C-D
However, if you navigate to a listing for a shoe like these in the Mayari style – you will see the widths listed as
- “Regular/Wide” or
And to make it even trickier, if you go to a similar pair on Zappos – the width is simply listed as “regular”.
On sites like Nordstrom – the width is listed as “B” or “D” – but the choice is not offered on all styles. So it would be unclear if the style is available in different widths but the store does not have inventory, or if the style is only offered in one width.
Based on the sizing charts and the fit of my old Birkenstocks I was leaning towards going with the “Regular/Wide” width. But, some of the styles that I was interested in were only offered in the “Medium/Narrow” or only had stock in this width.
So, I ended up ordering a mix of both widths in a variety of styles.
What Did I Order and How Was the Sizing?
So, how did it all turn out?
I did go a bit Birkenstock crazy and ordered far too many styles, with the knowledge that some would be going back.
These are the shoes that I ordered and a quick summary of the fit. You can follow the below links to read my full review on each style.
Which Ones Will I Keep?
Deciding which Birkenstocks to keep is tough.
For sure I will return the Glenda style because they are too wide for my foot.
And I will be keeping the Gizeh sandals – they fit beautifully, all 3 of the wedge sandals, and both of the EVA styles.
Everything else I haven’t yet decided on.
Conclusions as to Birkenstock Sizing
Finding the right size for you in Birkenstocks may take some trial and error.
See if you can find an old pair to try on and make good use of the online sizing chart.
You can even (gasp!) go to a bricks and mortar shoe store if there is one that carries Birkenstock in your area.
I found the length sizing to be spot on with my normal shoe size.
But I did find the width sizing to vary between styles and my own feet seem to hover between the two widths – not falling solidly in one or the other.
What is your experience with Birkenstock sizes? Let me know in the comments below.