What Does Y Mean In Shoe Size?

What Does Y Mean In Shoe Size?

When shopping for shoes, you might have come across different shoe sizes that include numbers and letters. The letters used in shoe sizes add an entirely new level of complication to this task. 

One letter that has left many people confused is the letter Y. So, what does Y mean in shoe size? In this post, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about this letter when it comes to buying shoes.

This Is What Y Mean In Shoe Size

The letter Y is usually used in men’s or women’s shoe sizes to represent a youth size. This is often where confusion arises, as many people assume that Y is the same as a child’s shoe size, but that’s not entirely accurate. Youth sizes are generally designed for pre-teens and teenagers, so they’re a bit bigger than kids’ sizes but smaller than adult sizes. Essentially, this means that youth sizes are appropriate for anyone who falls into that general age range.

But how are youth sizes different from adult sizes? It all boils down to shoe length. A youth size shoe may have the same length as an adult size but it will be narrower and have a lower vamp height and heel height. And because youth shoes are designed to accommodate smaller feet, they may have less cushioning and support compared to adult shoes. 

It’s important to keep in mind that youth sizes are not always equivalent to adult sizes. While some brands may use the same sizing system for both adult and youth, others may have slight variations between the two. For example, a size 6 youth may not be the same as a size 6 adult, so it’s essential to double-check the sizing chart before making a purchase. 

When it comes to finding the perfect shoe size for a child or teenager, it’s critical to pay attention to their growth and development. Young people’s feet are still growing and, therefore, require more space to accommodate changes. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to leave about half an inch of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe, so that the feet have room to grow and breathe. 

Are Y Sizes The Same As Normal Sizes?

As we mentioned earlier, Y sizes are equivalent to regular-sized shoes, but most Y sizes of the same number tend to be noticeably shorter and smaller compared to their adult counterparts. It is important to note that the distinction between men’s and women’s shoes should not be underestimated, especially since Y sizes are closer to women’s sizes.

It is worth mentioning that women with smaller feet often prefer to purchase the largest Y-sized shoes as they tend to fit more comfortably than the more commonly available shoe sizes for women. This preference is influenced by a combination of average shoe sizes and how shoe stores stock their inventory based on anticipated demand.

On the other hand, boys typically transition to wearing adult-sized shoes at an earlier stage compared to most girls. Interestingly, we have observed instances where girls with larger feet outgrow youth sizing relatively quickly. To ensure comfortable footwear, we recommend getting both your own and your children’s feet measured every few months. This will help ensure a proper fit.

What Sizes Are Y Sizes?

When browsing through the internet shops or walking through the shoe stores, any size with a Y in front of the size or after it is considered youth. It should be noted that the Y must appear within the sizing circle that shoes have and not be outside of it. This distinction is important because some brands incorporate Y as part of their naming convention for shoes, typically placed in front of or after the shoe size.

Many people get confused when they buy shoes with the Y symbol outside, only to find that the shoes they bought are too large. To avoid this confusion, it is recommended to check the manufacturer’s website or locate the label found on all shoes that indicates the size in centimeters. This label is commonly positioned on the flap under the shoelaces, providing you with an accurate measure of the shoe size. Taking these additional steps will ensure that you make the right choice when purchasing shoes.

Until What Age Do Y Sizes Go?

The youth label starts at 1Y and goes through to 6Y, which correlates to the ages of seven to 12, giving most children five years of shoes that will fit them. At 11 or 12, most children switch to adult sizes as their feet may grow unexpectedly during these ages.

It should be noted that some taller children can also move over to adult sizes at a younger age, while shorter children may move over owing to their bridge sizes. Moving over to adult sizes at an earlier age is never bad and may only mean that the shape of the shoes is not right for your children.

Furthermore, it is worth considering the area and country you are living in, as some countries have smaller overall sizes for shoes than others. Additionally, certain genealogies may result in more defined bridges, causing feet to be larger at a much younger age than the worldwide average. Taking these factors into account is important when selecting the right shoe size for your child.

What Are The Different Sizes In Y?

Now that we understand what Y sizes are and how they may differ for each child, we need to take a quick look at what the actual sizes will be. Many people have noted that it is easier to understand youth shoe sizes compared to the adult-sized equivalent.

It should be noted that the most common shoe sizes that overlap with the youth category are those worn by women. With more overall sizes available, these two shoe sizes usually only differ a few centimeters, while men’s adult shoes are much larger than any youth-sized shoe.

As you start buying youth-sized shoes, you will learn what they are comparable to and how to get the best out of them. We always recommend that you take a moment to ensure that the shoes you have will fit and that you can get a pair of shoes that will fit the smaller feet in your family.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the quality and durability of the youth-sized shoes you purchase. Look for features like reinforced soles, cushioning, and breathable materials to ensure comfort and longevity. Taking proper care of the shoes, such as regular cleaning and storage in a dry place, can also extend their lifespan.

Furthermore, it might be helpful to consult size charts provided by manufacturers or retailers to determine the most accurate conversion between adult and youth sizes. Keep in mind that different brands may have slight variations in their sizing, so it’s advisable to measure the child’s feet and refer to specific brand guidelines whenever possible.

By considering these factors and being proactive in finding the right fit, you can ensure that the youth-sized shoes you buy not only fit well but also provide the necessary support and comfort for the younger ones in your family.

Sizing Chart

Here is a Y shoe size chart that you can use when measuring your child’s feet. For UK sizing, please refer to the following information:

AgeUS SizeFoot Length (inches)
71Y7 5/8
93Y8 3/8
104Y8 5/8
126Y9 3/4

In general, youth or Y-sized shoes start at age one or seven years old. However, when measured, the shoes actually start at 20.1 cm heel to toe, which corresponds to a UK size 1. These shoes go up to 7Y, which is suitable for children up to the age of 12, and they measure 24.6 cm at this size. In UK sizing, a 7Y is equivalent to a UK size 6.5, which makes them ideal for those with smaller feet.

It’s important to note that Y sizing is not always used universally. The UK sizing chart, for example, starts from 13.5 C for children and goes up to a UK size 1. From size UK 1 and upwards, the shoes are considered adult sizes. On the other hand, European sizes are only numbered, with a 1Y being equivalent to size 32.

Compared To Adult Sizes

Compared to adult shoe sizes, it becomes a bit more muddled as the only comparable adult shoe sizes are those of women. Many accept that a 7Y would be a women’s 8.5 or 9, making it possible for many girls to switch to adult shoe sizes at a much younger age than boys. 

This is because adult men’s shoe sizes are significantly larger and often wider than the shoes worn by women, with less bridge support than many think. As a result, girls may find it easier to transition to adult shoe sizes earlier than boys, as their shoe sizes are more aligned with those of adult women. 

For example, your 12-year-old son may wear a 7Y while your daughter may have already transitioned to adult shoe sizes at a much younger age.

Compared To C Sizes

When comparing youth sizes to child sizes, you may notice that they never overlap in the US or Europe. This means that once you move onto youth sizes, you won’t need to worry about overlapping. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that in the UK, youth and child sizes only overlap in sizes of 1Y in the US and 13.5C in the UK. This information is crucial when purchasing shoes for your children, as they may still need to have child-sized shoes for another few months. 

Many people assume that youth and child shoes are similar, but in reality, youth shoes can be too large for younger children who may need child-sized shoes. Taking this into consideration will ensure the proper fit and comfort for your child’s feet.

At What Age Does Y Start?

The youth shoe size chart typically starts at age seven and extends up to age 12. However, it’s important for parents to be aware that children’s feet can grow faster than expected. In fact, some children as young as six or even five may begin wearing youth-sized shoes due to their larger-than-anticipated foot size.

Moreover, it is worth noting that children who frequently go without shoes may experience faster growth and may need to transition to larger-sized shoes sooner compared to others. This is because, as they engage in activities like running, playing, walking, and having fun, their feet tend to flatten out and become wider around the toes, in contrast to children who wear shoes more regularly.

In view of this foot width expansion, it is advisable to opt for a shoe size slightly larger than their current size. This helps prevent any discomfort or chafing on the sides of their feet and ensures that they can wear the shoes for an extended period without feeling uneasy.

Are Brands Sizes Different For Y?

As the youth size for shoes is predominantly used in the US, the sizes are always the same across brands due to the use of a standardized sizing chart. This means that even if you come across an unfamiliar brand, you can rest assured that the shoe size will be consistent with the shoes you have previously bought.

Furthermore, these shoe sizes are often regulated, which means that brands must adhere to specific dimensions in their sizing. Consequently, you may find that even in other countries, it is easier to find shoes that fit both you and your children, compared to finding a fitting t-shirt.

Considering this, we recommend you to keep in mind the correlation between youth-size shoe charts and the shape of your children’s feet. It is worth noting that we have frequently observed that half sizes in the UK tend to provide a more comfortable fit compared to rigid shoe sizes that are whole numbers.

Why Are Shoes Sized With Y?

The youth category of shoes was brought in to determine the half sizes of shoes many youths wore before they turned into teenagers. During this period, typically pre-puberty, when hormonal changes are minimal, the shape and size of feet tend to be relatively similar, allowing for the use of the same sizes.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that having the same pair of shoes available in different sections of the store, with varying colors, simplifies the process for parents, families, and children when it comes to finding the right shoes. This convenient arrangement not only benefits consumers but also aids manufacturers in meeting the demand.

Moreover, the consistent size and shape of youth feet allows for a broader range of colors to be produced for each type of shoe. This explains the abundance of vibrant options available in the youth section, irrespective of gender, while the overall shoe design remains consistent across genders.

How Often Should You Replace Shoes That Are Y-Sized?

In a perfect world, we recommend only replacing shoes with the appropriate size (Y size) once a year as your children continue to grow. However, we also recommend checking their shoe size every four to six months to see if they need to move up a size. Children grow surprisingly fast, and their feet often require new shoes as they continue to grow. It’s not uncommon for them to need multiple pairs of shoes in a year.

However, it’s important to note that while your child may go through several pairs of shoes in one year, the following year they may experience a growth spurt in height while their feet stay the same size. This can result in your child going from being the shortest in the class to the tallest, all while still wearing the same pair of shoes.

Can You Buy Shoes That Are Not Y-Sized For Youths?

The youth size for shoes is only used in the US and New Zealand, which has meant that in most other countries, youths start wearing normal shoe sizes. This is often when you can find shoes in the wider category available to everyone shopping at the store.

If you are worried, the best way to find a shoe size that will fit your child is to have their feet measured. Once you know their size, you can search the size chart for normal shoes and use it to determine what shoes they should be getting, often starting at a UK size five or six. It’s important to note that different shoe brands may have slight variations in sizing, so it’s always a good idea to try on different pairs or consult customer reviews to ensure the best fit.

We recommend considering this owing to the consistency many find with the UK size charts. Shoes have sizing charts that will tell you what size they are in the UK, US, Europe, and even China, allowing you to learn what shoes will fit your children quickly. By taking these additional steps, you can ensure that your child’s shoes fit them comfortably and correctly, reducing the risk of discomfort or potential foot problems.

How Do You Know If Shoes Are Y-Sized?

All shoes that are Y, or youth, size will have a Y after the number that denotes the size of the shoe, usually only in the US. This is to distinguish youth-sized shoes from adult sizes. When looking for shoes outside of the US, the size chart on the flap inside the shoe may have a Y in front of or after the US shoe size indicator.

Often, people find that the symbol for youth-sized shoes can be easily overlooked when quickly browsing shoes in a store. This can lead them to mistakenly believe that a shoe is Y-sized when, in reality, it is just a regular-sized shoe, usually much too large for children.

Therefore, we always recommend taking a moment to consider the section of the store you are in or whether the store even has a dedicated youth section. We have seen many people grab a pair of what they think are Y-sized shoes, only to realize later that they are actually normal adult-sized shoes. It’s important to pay attention to these details to ensure you find the right fit for your needs.

How Many Y Sizes Are There?

There are seven Y sizes for shoes, ranging from one to seven, with each size increment being half of a standard size. Y-sized shoes do not come in half sizes because they already represent half sizes in comparison to UK or adult US sizes.

Parents often face frustration when searching for the perfect fit for Y-sized shoes for their children. However, we recommend buying slightly larger shoes to allow for longer wear and comfort.

It is important to note that children grow quickly, so if a shoe is slightly too large for them and they are under the age of 16, they will eventually grow into it. As long as you avoid forcing your child’s feet into shoes that are too small, it is acceptable to purchase a pair of shoes that are not a perfect fit. Adding a bit of extra information can help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable shoe experience for your child.

Is Buying Y-Sized Shoes Worth It?

When you are buying shoes for your children, it should be noted that choosing the right type of shoes for the intended purpose is crucial. If you are looking for casual shoes, you may find that they are more commonly available in Y sizes. 

On the other hand, sports shoes are usually more precisely sized, providing specific measurements for the bridge’s height, the width of the toes, and the overall length of the shoes.

To ensure accuracy, it is advisable to use adult sizes or even consider European shoe sizes instead of US shoe sizes. Additionally, it is important to consider the intended use of the shoes. 

Casual shoes generally do not require the same durability and support as sports shoes that are designed for activities such as running. Therefore, Y size shoes may be more suitable for non-sporting purposes, providing comfort and protection to your child’s feet.


The letter Y in shoe size is an indicator for youth sizes and is used to differentiate kids’ shoe sizes from adult shoe sizes. When buying shoes in youth sizes, ensure that you pay attention to both the number indicating the shoe size and the letter Y. 

It’s also crucial to measure your child’s foot regularly, try on shoes before buying them, and keep a thumb’s width of space between their toe and the shoe. With these tips, you can ensure that your child is always wearing comfortable and fitting shoes.

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