When most of us go shopping for new shoes, all we care about in terms of shoe size is the length of the shoes. Oftentimes, as soon as we find shoes that match our feet’s length, but are too narrow or too wide, we think that they’ll loosen up, or that we can tighten them up with the soles. However, that’s not always the case, which leaves many people with shoes that are uncomfortable and in some cases, shoes that can cause deformities. And since there isn’t a standard width system used by shoe manufacturers to measure the fit of wide, average and narrow shoes, you have to know which category of width your feet fall into before shopping for new shoes, and insisting on getting models that match that width.
Ideally, you should have someone help measure your foot, compare them to a foot width size chart and use that information when shopping. Most sports brands carry wide, average and narrow models, and this is assisted by the fact that they have fastenings that allow for greater adjustability. Some brands can cater to the full spectrum of foot width due to their footbeds being completely customisable. And luckily, there are many brands of shoes that offer women’s and men’s wide shoes, so you should also look for those brands before buying. Conversely, some brands offer women’s and men’s narrow shoes, and the same rules apply if you fall into this category of buyers. The research you’ll do beforehand will be worthwhile, and your feet will thank you.
What many people don’t know is that if a shoe is too tight on the arch, you don’t need a size-up, but instead a wider fit. The most reliable way to tell if you’ve got the right width fitting is when the edges of your feet align and meet flush with the edges of the shoe’s footbed, and aren’t narrower nor overlapping. The heel of the shoe should sit snuggle on the heel cup, and you need to have a comfortable general feel without fastening or lacing up the shoe, while not being too restrictive at the same time.
Most medical and orthopedic footwear brands usually run wider than average commercial shoes, but let’s be real for a moment – the aesthetic of medical and orthopedic shoes is rather bland on most of them. If your feet are wider than average, it’s worth taking the time to find the perfect pair of women’s and men’s wide shoes instead of going for a style that you won’t wear as much because it doesn’t go well with most of your closet. However, if you are shopping at a specialty health footwear store, ask for shoes with extra depth, as these can be helpful when your required width and size are a bit too tight across the instep.
For people with narrow feet, one way to ensure their shoes fit properly is buying shoes that have a T-bar/ankle strap or that lace up, since these type of shoes can be fastened easily and snugly to ensure a proper fit. Further, they compliment narrow feet simply because they put emphasise on the curve of the arch. Loafer style shoes, for example, stretch upward over the arch of your foot are ideal for narrow-footed people. Buying shoes half a size smaller won’t help as that can easily end up with you pinching your toes. Instead, buy your actual size and put on orthopedic insoles to make the shoe a little bit smaller on the inside.
People with wide feet have to face the biggest challenge. They need to find women’s and men’s wide shoes that are comfortable but don’t look boat-like or matronly. Most people with wide feet resort to wearing sneakers, as they’re almost always the go-to solution. However, recently, there’s been an increase of brands that offer ultra-wide options, including Keen, Clarks, Merrel, etc. Barefoot shoes are also an option as they mimic the shape of your foot. The only disadvantage of wearing barefoot shoes on wide feet is that they tend to wear out faster, so the lifespan of the shoes will be significantly reduced. Avoid buying flat shoes, as they don’t offer any support for your feet.
And people with medium-width feet have it easy. Pretty much any shoes can work well for them, as medium feet are considered the default and most manufacturers make shoes for them.
So to sum it up, you should measure the width of your feet with the help of the aforementioned chart, and shop for shoes that are made specifically for your feet’s width. You’re going to spend a lot of time on your feet wearing those shoes, so you need to make absolutely sure that they’re as comfortable as possible. Luckily, the internet gives you access to multiple online stores that sell boots suitable for all types of feet, so you don’t have to waste time going from retail store to retail store searching for the ideal pair.