We’ve all been there – you find the most perfect pair of shoes on earth, you go to try them only to instantly feel like one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters trying on the glass slipper.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the width of shoes, no amount of cramming or telling yourself they’ll stretch is ever going to make them fit properly… and trying to certainly won’t do your feet any favours either.
Ensuring the footwear you buy is the right width for you can be confusing, there’s no doubt about it. There are an array of width fittings and these vary between men, women and children too. The style of footwear can also play a big role, so what may apply to one style may not apply to another. The shape of your feet can also impact how a pair of shoes fit; broad feet would need a broad shoe and a high arch would need flexible fastenings.
Here we’re going to take a look at what different shoe widths are and what they mean, as well as how to get the right fit for you and your family.
What Do Shoe Widths Mean?
No two people have the same size feet or the same width, because of this, varying shoe widths are often offered to allow a larger variety of people to enjoy a particular style.
Different shoe widths mean that the tread on the sole of the shoes is wider than standard and the toe box is deeper. The standard width fitting in the UK for women is noted as “D”, this standard fitting is unlikely to be noted when buying. Women’s shoes come in a variety of widths, the most common of which are usually noted as the following:
- C = Narrow Fitting
- D = Standard Fitting
- E = Wide Fitting
- EE = Extra Wide Fitting
- EEE = Ultra Wide Fitting
These are the most common widths for women’s shoes in the UK, though some specialists will manufacture some styles in EEEE width and beyond. If you’re unsure about the width of your feet, our women’s shoe fitting guide should help.
Men’s shoe width fittings work in much the same way as women’s, however the letters that represent them differ slightly:
- E = Narrow Fitting
- F = Standard Fitting
- G = Wide Fitting
- H = Extra Wide Fitting
Children’s shoes follow the same trend as men’s shoes in terms of width, with D being the narrowest and H being the widest fit. An F fitting is often referred to as standard fit and the most common. Be sure to measure children’s feet regularly as they grow, if you’re not comfortable measuring them yourself, most shoe stores will offer this service free of charge.
All of these widths are commonly accepted as being industry standard, but it’s important to note that they may vary from one shoe manufacturer to another. Because of this, we would always recommend that you try before you buy if you can.
How Shoe Width Is Measured
Getting the width right for you is vital when it comes to foot health, shoes that are too narrow can cause sores, cramps and bunions. Shoes that are too narrow are likely to be tight, therefore your feet can’t breathe, increasing the chance of sweating and ultimately increasing the risk of bacterial infections.
On the flip side, shoes that are too wide won’t secure your feet properly, allowing them to move around in the shoe; this causes friction when walking, which can lead to sores and blisters. It’s likely there will also be a need to grip with your toes in order to walk properly, this can lead to issues such as hammer toe and nail problems.
So how do you go about measuring your feet to ensure you’re wearing the correct width shoe?
- Step 1 – Take a soft tape measure and wrap it around the widest part of your foot (not too tightly) and then place your foot on the ground so that your weight is distributed as it would be if you were standing normally.
- Step 2 – Mark on the tape measure in millimeters what the width of your foot is.
- Step 3 – The measurement taken can then be used to determine the width you need. The width required does however depend on the size of shoe you need. So for example, someone that is a UK size 3 might need the same extra wide fitting as someone that’s a UK size 8, even if the measurement in millimeters is lower.
This foot width measurement chart from Shoesize.com should give you a good idea of the shoe width you require.
TOP TIP: If you’re measuring for a particular pair of shoes, measure your foot wearing any socks or hosiery.
Does Shoe Width Increase With Size?
The short answer would be yes… sort of. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have slim or narrow feet if they’re larger though. It does however mean that the standard width fitting for someone with larger feet is greater in measurement compared to someone with smaller feet. Shoe width doesn’t just apply to the distance between between the widest part of the shoe, it comes down to how deep they are too.
Shoe size and shoe width tend to be proportional in standard sizing so will run a little wider, however we would advise against opting for a larger shoe size solely for the purpose of getting a wider fit as this could cause a trip hazard.
TOP TIP: If your feet are prone to swelling, opt for a pair of wider fit shoes with a variable fastening such as laces or velcro, this will allow you to adjust them as needed.
Choosing the right shoes for you and your family, with the correct width fitting, can seem like a minefield at times as not all shoes are exactly the same. Ensuring feet are measured regularly (it’s recommended this is done at every 6 months with children and more regularly with infants and toddlers), will mean that any potential problems are kept to a minimum and happy, healthy feet will continue to support you as they should!