ASK THE EXPERT
BUYING SHOES FOR WIDE FEET
When it comes to buying shoes for wide feet, finding the right balance between comfort and style can leave us feeling frustrated, deflated and a little confused.
If your feet are a little (or a lot) wider than average, it’s not uncommon for discomfort to just become part of the day-to-day. To prove that finding shoes that work for wide feet doesn’t need to be a struggle, we sat down with our in-house foot expert, Amanda Lau, to find out exactly you should be looking for when it comes to buying shoes for wide feet.
What are the best shoes for wide feet?
- Finding the best wide fit shoes really depends on exactly how wide your foot is, so getting measured can be helpful if you know the width or approximate width that the brands you are buying from cater for. If you find a brand that consistently fits your measurements, it becomes so much easier to shop online without needing to try everything on in-store first. If you’re not sure how to measure your feet, simply use the Each x Every foot measurement guide.
- Try to find brands that fit both the length and width of your feet as it’s not a good idea to compromise one for the other. Getting both of these dimensions right can be tricky but brands like Each x Every that offer multiple width fittings and half sizes should have you covered. If the brand has a sizing chart to help you convert your foot width and length to size that’s a bonus as you’ll be confident that you’ve bought the right size before trying them on (see Each x Every’s sizing guide).
- Buying shoes made from higher-quality materials, such as premium leather, not only give you greater flexibility as you walk, but should soften and mould to the foot the more you wear it.
- Consider heeled shoes and sandals with flexible openings like laces or buckle-ups where you can create more room across the band of your foot if you need it.
- Square toes in boots and heels are great for creating more room at the front of the show which will give the joint of your feet more room to play with.
- For ease of entry, a lace-up boot is better to get your foot in. Alternatively, look for boots that have an opening as close to the midfoot as possible.
- Loafers are great for wide feet in a professional context as the upper comes further up the foot (vs. a ballet flat), just make sure the silhouette of the loafer will accommodate wide feet as often they are designed rather slim and the upper materials have a bit a give (like a soft leather).
- Trainers are often the most comfortable for wide feet as the materials have a little give and you can adjust the opening. However, some trainer brands are notoriously uncomfortable so it’s not a golden rule.
ASK THE EXPERT
Amanda is a Specialist Musculoskeletal and Sports Podiatrist who’s worked with the likes of Nike and the RAF. After treating everyone from professional athletes to busy working mums, she knows first hand how crucial your footwear is for avoiding daily discomfort or even damage to your feet.
How do I know if I have wide feet?
Most of the clients that come through my door have no idea whether they have a wide foot or not. Often trying to find shoes for wide feet, across everything from everyday heels and flats to ski boots and climbing shoes, without compromising on design is what’s brought them to me.
It’s the discomfort of constantly trying to fit your foot into a shoe that’s too narrow for it that becomes problematic. Measuring your foot width is the first step to understanding how to buy the best shoes for wide feet so it’s important to start there.
Your foot width is measured across the band of your foot (the widest part), where the metatarsals, the bones that run all the way to your toes, bend (for a complete guide on how to measure your feet, check out ExE’s foot measurement guide). Once you know your measurements you can then look at shoe widths that would be appropriate for you.
Unfortunately however, determining whether you are a wide fit depends on the brands and styles of shoes that you like to wear. For instance, there are numerous shoe width conventions used all over the globe so there is no set standard that all brands abide by. What is even more confusing is that different brands treat some of the conventions differently from one another, some brands use more than one convention in their range and some brands do not use any convention at all. As a customer, you will have noticed which brands seem to fit you better based on your foot shape so much of what you know about your feet has come from trial and error.
A recent study actually found that 63-72% of participants were wearing shoes that didn’t fit properly.
There are a few brands, like Each x Every, that are taking a more scientific approach to shoe widths and are matching foot widths to the choice of width fittings so you’ll know which width fitting you are across their entire range (see more on the Each x Every width fitting guide) but if the brands you are buying from do not offer that information it’s likely that you’ll need to try them on first if you’ve not bought from them before.
If you do not fit into the shoes that you want to fit into it can be tempting to squeeze into shoes that are too narrow to get the look you want. A recent study actually found that 63-72% of participants were wearing shoes that didn’t fit properly, both in terms of length and width. But so many different foot conditions, from toe deformities like bunions and hammertoes to corns and callouses, can be formed by wearing shoes that aren’t wide enough for your feet so it is really important that you get the right width shoe for your feet.
What to look out for when trying on wide fit shoes?
When you’re trying a new pair on, brush your hands around the edges of the shoe. If you can feel your toes bulging at the sides, it’s likely that you need a wider fit. If they’re peeking out over the edge of the sole, it’s not a perfect fit. It’s common for people to assume that if a shoe feels tight, it’s because it’s too small and they need to go a size up.
However, overcompensating an issue with your foot width by sizing up isn’t going to make the shoe any more comfortable. The best shoes for wide feet should fit you correctly across both width and length so once you’ve found a width that works, check the length is correct by standing up with your full weight on your feet and place your thumb at the top of your longest toe. If you’ve got any more space than your thumb width, you’ll likely need to size down with a wider fit.
It’s important to get this right - constantly gripping your toes to keep your foot secure, or moving about too much in the shoe could cause an awkward gait. This is when you change the way you walk to compensate for the shoes not fitting correctly and it can lead to pain elsewhere in the body (most commonly in the knees, hips and lower back).