How to Tell If You Need Wide or Medium Width Shoes

Your foxy heels might pinch, but do they have to? A wider width may help.

Photo: Jupiterimages/ Images

It's poetic to suffer for fashion, and that often means wearing a shoe that's too wide or narrow for comfort. At those crucial times when only one pair of Sigerson Morrison pumps remain on clearance, the prudent fashionista has to decide whether the possible pinch of restrictive footwear is worth it. If you have an average foot and try to wear a wide shoe, blisters develop; a wide foot, squeezed into a narrow shoe, means pain and suffering with every step. When it comes down to sizing, be smart and know your foot width to avoid the pain of cramped kicks.

Spotting Shoe Width Issues


Try on an average width shoe to see if there's a potential sizing problem. Put on the B width shoe and place your whole weight on that foot. If you can feel the side of your foot pushing against the walls of the shoe, or your foot is making the shape of the shoe bulge, a wide width may be a good idea. Toes may also seem cramped and squished on top of one another.


Shake the foot from side to side. If the shoe is loose enough on the sides that it jiggles, a more narrow width is required. Extra space translates into a shoe that rubs on the side of the foot, creating wonderful, lovely blisters. Ouch.


Try to push your fingertip into the side of the shoe. A finger that slides easily into the space means that the shoe is too wide. No room for a finger at all means that the shoe probably skews too narrow.

Measuring Shoe Width


Place a piece of paper on the floor and step on it, placing your weight on the foot as if you're taking a normal step.


Trace around the foot with a pencil or pen. If this step is cumbersome, get a good friend to do your artwork. Thank them profusely for their close and personal contact with your tootsies.


Measure the drawing at the widest width of the foot, which will usually be around the ball area right underneath the toes. Reduce the measurement by a half inch to get your foot width measurement. Widths usually vary by .2" per class. For instance, an A, or narrow width, for a women's size 9 is 3.1", B width is 3.3" and D, or wide, is 3.5". Use the width chart in Resources for detailed width sizing.

Things You'll Need


1.B width shoe

3.Pen or pencil

5.Measuring tape

2.Blank paper

4.Friend (optional)


Tips & Tricks


Measure your foot at the end of the day or in the early evening. At this point, your foot is at its widest and most swollen for the day, so your results will render the most comfy fit.


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