7 Things to Know When Shopping for a Wide-Width Shoe

Just as our waistlines can change over time, so can the size and width of our feet due to aging, shifts in weight, pregnancy and medical conditions such as diabetes. Shoes should fit comfortably in the width as well as the length, but too often, we make up for a narrow fit by buying footwear that’s a half or even full size larger. This is simply putting a Band-Aid on problem, rather than finding a solution.

Comfort-shoe retailer Alan Miklofsky, president of Alan’s Shoes in Tucson, Ariz., explained that not all shoes fit alike, including wide-width styles. So it’s up to the individual to find the brand and style that fits most comfortably.

Below is a guide to help you find a properly fitting wide-width shoe.

Get Your Feet Measured

For starters, have your feet measured. Begin by locating a sit-and-fit retailer in your area — those old-fashioned stores with a seasoned sales staff that can accurately measure your foot. If you do need a wide width, there are lots of fashionable options today, ranging from casual looks to evening styles.

Know Your Terms

Since there’s no industry standard for labeling widths today, finding the right one for your foot may be a case of trial and error. While some brands use the more traditional letter system — a ‘D’ is considered a wide width for women and an ‘E’ for men —many opt for simply labeling shoes medium, wide and extra-wide.

Take Into Account the Entire Foot

Now, don’t think the width of the foot is limited to the toe span. It can also take into account the entire foot, including the heel. Wide-width shoes are designed to address all these areas. A note of caution when shopping for wider fits: Some brands are known to cut corners by simply adding a wider upper to a medium-width outsole. If this is the case, feet may spill over the sides of the sole, causing discomfort. It’s best to seek the advice of a trained sales associate who can often identify these brands.

Try It On

See a shoe you like, but it doesn’t come in a wide? Even though shoes may not be labeled wide, they could be worth trying, especially if they are more casual or athletic-inspired styles that have a more relaxed fit. Many Euro-comfort brands today design their shoes with a more generous toe shape that’s naturally wider, so these might be options worth considering.

Read Reviews

While it is advisable to do your first round of shopping at a dedicated comfort shoe store that specializes in Euro-comfort looks and sizes and widths, the largest variety of styles can be found online. Since fit varies from style to style, even within the same manufacturer, find a website that provides free shipping and returns so you can try multiple pairs. Reading customer reviews can also help guide your purchase as well as chatting with online customer service representatives.

Avoid Pointed Toes

For anyone thinking a pair of pointed-toe pumps will be more comfortable if ordered in a wide width, think again. While the toe will be roomier, the shape can still be constricting, so it might be better to go with a rounder toe for a more comfortable fit.

Consider These Brands

For newcomers to the wide-width market, here are some brands to consider. For men, there’s Johnston & Murphy, Samuel Hubbard, Rockport and Timberland. For women, try Easy Spirit, Walking Cradles, Naturalizer, Aetrex and Aerosoles. Anyone looking for moderately priced footwear should check out Target, which is introducing wide-width styles.

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