Shoe Widths Explained

You probably at one time bought a new pair of shoes and found them not to fit. The length was right. So, what is the problem? Feet come in giant varieties of sizes and shapes. The good news is that shoes come in various sizes and shapes.

This article is going to help you learn about your shoe width. And during your next shopping, you will get shoes that are of the best fit. Stay tuned. You will find the following:

  • Shoes Width Charts with Women and Men
  • Precise Way to Measure Your Needed Shoe Width

Let’s dive in and learn all about shoe widths.

wide width shoes

Does Shoe Width Matter?

Shoe width matters a lot just like shoe size. Walking is not easy when in the wrong shoe size. The way you need shoes that fit your foot length is the same way you need shoes that fit your foot width. Having the correct shoe width is important for the health of your feet. Sounds confusing, right?

Having shoes that are too narrow will result in cramps, sores, and bumps. Furthermore, narrow shoes tend to be very tight on your feet. This increases the probabilities of sweating and a resulting risk of bacterial infection. You do not want people to start leaving a room because of your smelly feet, do you?

More still, you do not want to wear shoes that are very wide as these will not secure your feet well.

Friction is the most probable result when you walk in these shoes. This will resultantly lead to sores and blisters on your feet.

To walk properly the feet need to be well gripped. Failure will cause problems such as nail problems and hammered toes.

So, shoe width matters a great deal.


Why Do Shoes Come in Different Widths?

It is uncommon for two people to have the same foot shape and size. This is the reason why manufacturers produce varying widths to allow people with different feet widths to wear a particular style of shoes.

It is very important to purchase shoes that fit, not too narrow, and not too wide. Additionally, it is necessary to buy flexible shoes.

What does this mean?

This means that the sole can be bent to allow the toe and heel to move closer together. Different shoe widths mean that the tread on the sole of shoes varies from one size to the next.

An interesting fact about foot shape is that it is homogenous. If you have wide feet, your generation will likely have wide feet too. For this reason, shoes have to come in different widths to accommodate all feet widths. This will allow you to remain comfortable the whole day without straining your feet.


Understanding the Shoe Widths

wide width sandals

The widths of shoes are defined using many terms and they are very confusing to most people. In the shoe industry, there are numerous sizes: Normal, Medium, Wide, Extra wide. There are letters: D, E, M, and many more. Additionally, there are letters with numbers: 4A, 4E, 2A, 2E.

You and your friend may have the same foot size but cannot wear the same sized shoe. This is because your feet are wide compared to his. In the wide-width shoe, the length of the shoe remains the same. The only thing that changes is the toe box and the forefoot width. This is increased to cater for wide feet. Persons with wide feet have the same heel length. The only different thing is that they have wider forefoot and wider toes.

Just like shoe sizes, the shoe width is very much confusing. Why? Different manufacturers have different methods of measuring their shoe widths. There are two dissimilar measuring methods in use, using a letter method and a word-based sizing method. Let us put this on a table to help you understand better.

Shoe Widths Size Chart

Letter Width Men’s shoe width Women’s shoe width
4A Extra narrow
A/2A Extra narrow Narrow
B Narrow Medium/normal/standard
D Medium/normal/standard Wide
E/2E Wide Extra-wide
4E+ Extra-wide


  • Shoe widths by letter

Shoe width can be explained by letters:

– A/2A/4A widths

A shoe labeled ‘A’ indicates the shoe is Extra narrow for men and narrow or Extra narrow for women. When numbers are added to letters like 2A, 3A, 4A, these show that the shoe keeps getting narrower and narrower.

Other manufacturers do not add numbers to letters. Some use pure letters such as AA, AAA, AAA, or AAAA. To add more confusion other manufacturers will use words such as slim and super slim on women’s shoes. These just mean Narrow and Extra narrow.


– B Widths

This is the most common letter size for most women. It is said to be Medium or Normal or Standard for women. For men, it is said to be Narrow width.


– D widths

This is the most common size for most men. It is considered Normal or Medium or Standard. In women, this width size is said to be Wide.


– E/2E/4E Widths

2E and 4E are the commonly used letter sizes. Just like ‘A’, adding more letters increases the width. In women’s shoes, 2E or larger is said to be Extra wide. In men’s shoes, the letter 2E is considered a Wide shoe while 4E or larger is considered an Extra-wide shoe.

Please note that some shoes are available in sizes larger than 10E. This is a common diabetic shoe.


  • Shoe widths by size

Show widths can also be categorized in terms of sizes as narrow, medium, or wide.

– Narrow/ Extra narrow

In women’s shoes, the letter ‘A’ is considered to be Narrow. When a woman’s shoe is labeled using more 2A, 3A, or 4A it is considered to be Extra narrow.

When you visit a men’s shoe store and find shoes indicated with the letter ‘B’, this indicates the shoe is Narrow, when you come across an ‘A’ letter this shoe is considered as Extra narrow.

Some manufacturers do not use Narrow and Extra narrow, they use Slim and Super Slim. These should not confuse you, as they are just the same thing.


– Medium width

Some manufacturers often use other terms like Standard and Normal. For men’s shoes, a medium is denoted by the letter ‘D’ and for women, a standard, medium, or normal width shoe is indicated by the letter ‘B’. If a shoe does not indicate the width size, it is safe to assume it is a standard width.


– Wide and Extra wide

Women’s feet are not the same as men’s feet. Letter ‘D’ for men is a normal shoe. A woman’s shoe that is denoted by the letter ‘D’ shows that it is wide. A woman’s shoe indicated with the letter ‘E’ or bigger is considered an Extra-wide.

In men’s shoe letter ‘E’ tells you the shoe is wide while anything greater than E, that is 2E and 4E are said to be Extra-wide.


  • Shoe widths by usages

– For women

It is common for a woman to have more than one pair of shoes when traveling or going to work. A woman can have both narrow and extra narrow pairs of shoes fitting her feet nicely without making her uncomfortable.


– For men

The same is true for men. The width you require when dressing casually may not be the same as the one you need when working. Worker boots tend to have more width giving your feet enough room to make them comfortable.


– For kids

Kids’ shoe width sizes are more complicated than adult sizes. Kids’ bones fully mature when they are 18 years.

Below this time, a wrong width may cause harm to your child’s feet. Therefore, the kid needs the correct kind of width to fit properly to make them comfortable when they play around. Different companies use different letters to denote the width of kids’ shoes.

For instance some use:

D = very narrow

F = standard fitting

G = wide feet

H = extra wide feet


Does Shoe Width Increase with Shoe Size?

From a general point of view, the bigger your foot the wider it is. Shoe width not only applies to the distance between the extreme toes but also the distance between the heel and the large foot.

In standard sizing, shoe size and shoe width are related. Large shoes tend to be a little wider than needed if you have a long but narrow foot.

Generally, as your feet grow longer they also grow wider. And as you go from one size to the next, your feet need an additional width to keep them comfortable.

Having shoes with the right width is important for your feet. If the width is too narrow for your feet, then the shoes compress the bones in your feet and they will not move the way they are supposed to.

When you purchase shoes, you need your feet to be comfortable with the right toe and arc length, and the ideal width in the forefoot.


How to Measure My Shoe Width?

Shoe width along with shoe size influences the comfort level of your feet. So, you need to have shoes of the right width. Also, show width may be different for the right and left foot.

Left-handed people have a wider left foot and the same is true for right-handed people. As a result, you need to measure your feet to find out the correct width of shoes you need. The wider foot will determine the shoe width you should buy.

These simple steps will help you measure your shoe width.

measure shoe width

Step #1

Use a tape measure to measure the widest part of your feet. (This should be done barefoot). Alternatively, you can use a shoelace or string and measure it against a ruler if you do not have a measuring tape.

Step #2

Place your foot on the ground while standing normally.

Step #3

Mark the width of the foot on the measuring tape. If you are using a string or shoelace, tie a knot at the point where your foot ends. (It works better if you tie two knots on each end. This will guide you easily.) Remember to take the measurement twice to be sure

Step #4

Use the measurement found to determine your shoe width.


Do this exercise in the evening, as your feet are more relaxed during this time. During the day, you are involved in many activities, which involve movement. This increases the blood flow to your feet as a result they increase in size. Measurements taken during this time might mislead you into buying the wrong shoe width.

Also for accuracy, consider having your friend measure the width of your feet. Additionally, it is practically impossible to measure your foot width while standing normally.


How to Find Shoes with the Correct Width?

Wearing shoes has two impacts on your feet, either help alleviate foot problems or make them worse. You need to shop for shoes with the correct width for you to be comfortable. To find the correct width you need to:

  • Measure the size of your foot width.


  • Do not pay too much attention to the size of the shoe. There exists a big difference in shoe size between shoe companies. A size 7 New Balance will not fit the same way as a size 7 Nike Air shoe. Conversely, a size 7 Moccasin will not fit like a size 7 worker boot.


  • Fit shoes to the larger foot. Have you ever wondered why your shoes fit nicely on one foot but not the other? If you are right-handed, your right foot is slightly larger than the left foot. The same is true for left-handed people. When in a shoe store pick shoes that fit all the feet comfortably without stressing the other. Fit shoes to the larger foot.



#1. Do all brands come in widths?

Not all shoe brands come in widths. Some like the European brands come in standard widths only. The same can be said about US shoe brands also. This has been problematic to most people and has resulted in many shoe-related problems. Most people have suffered swollen feet, sores, blisters, and odor because of putting on shoes that compress their feet.

Over the years, many manufacturers have embraced multi-width sizing to try to make shoes for every foot width. Top brands in the shoe industry like Clarks, Munro, New Balance, and many more provide a wide selection of widths.


#2. What is the difference between men’s and women’s widths?

Men have wider feet than women. Therefore, a man and a woman cannot wear the same shoe widths. A man’s normal width is ‘D’ whereas a woman’s standard width is ‘B’. The standard width for a man is wide to a woman.



Shoe width and shoe size all determine the comfort level of a shoe. Do not put too much emphasis on shoe size because different companies have different ways of making their shoes. Therefore, ensure your foot width is accurate to make your feet comfortable when in your favorite shoes. Now, you can go and get your favorite brand shoe having known your shoe width.

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