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Wide shoe sizes are described using a lot of terminology and it’s usually very confusing. There are multiple sizes (Normal, Medium, Wide, Extra Wide), plus letters (M, D, E, etc.), or letters with numbers (2A, 2E, 4E). Keep reading to understand what the different sizes are and how wide shoes fit.
Wide width shoes are variations of normal sized shoes where the overall length is the same, but the toe box and forefoot width is increased to accommodate wider feet. People with wide feet usually have a similar heel width, but have a wider forefoot and wider toes. Wide width shoes may also have greater depth because wide feet are usually taller too.
Just like clothing, shoe width can be incredibly confusing because different brands and styles use different methods of measuring their shoes. There are two different measurement methods, using both a letter system, and a word-based sizing system. Letters are usually paired with sizes, and the table below shows the most common sizing conventions.
An ‘A’ width will typically be labeled a Narrow or Extra Narrow shoe for women and an Extra Narrow shoe for men. As extra “A”s are added (2A, 3A, 4A, etc), the shoes will continue to get narrower. These may also be expressed in pure letter form (2A = AA, 3A = AAA, 4A = AAAA, etc.). To complicate things further, women’s shoes will sometimes be referred to as Slim and Super Slim, which are essentially the same as Narrow and Extra Narrow.
A ‘B’ width is the most common letter size for women and is considered a Normal/Medium/Standard width. For men, it’s considered a Narrow width.
A ‘D’ width is the most common size for men and is considered a Normal/Medium/Standard width. For women, a ‘D’ width is considered Wide.
2E and 4E are two of the most common ‘E’ letter sizes, and similar to ‘A’ letter widths, adding more Es will increase the overall width. For men, a 2E is considered a Wide shoe, while a 4E or larger will be considered Extra Wide. For women, a 2E or larger is considered an Extra Wide shoe. Some shoes are available in sizes larger than 10E, which is more common for diabetic shoes.
For women, ‘A’ letter sizes will be considered Narrow, with anything greater than a 2A considered Extra Narrow. For men, a ‘B’ width will be considered a Narrow shoe, with an ‘A’ width considered Extra Narrow. Narrow/Extra Narrow are sometimes called Slim/Super Slim. The difference between A and 2A is minimal, so manufacturers will typically offer 2A and 4A sizes.
For women, the letter size ‘B’ is considered a Medium/Normal/Standard size, while for men it’s a ‘D’ width. If a shoe doesn’t explicitly note the width, it’s usually safe to assume it’s a Medium.
For women, a men’s Medium (D) is considered a Wide width, while anything E or bigger is Extra Wide. For men, Wide typically starts at E and anything greater than 2E is considered Extra Wide. Not all brands will offer widths in every increment, and 2E/4E are the most common.
If you frequently try on shoes that fit great length-wise but feel cramped in the sides, it’s a pretty clear sign you may need wide width shoes. Moving to a longer length shoe is a common band-aid fix. It will give you a bit of extra width, but it will be a clumsy fit with extra space in either the heel or the toe box. This is bad for a few reasons - it can cause chafing or blisters, alter your gait and even lead to tripping. It’s always best to find a pair of shoes that fit correctly.
Another method of checking your foot width is using the Brannock Device, a tool used to professionally measure feet. While the Brannock Device is most commonly used to measure foot length, it also has a slider to measure foot width.
People who have traditionally worn a normal or medium width shoe may be surprised to find out they should actually be wearing wide width shoes. In a lot of cases, a poor-fitting shoe is blamed on a long break-in process, when it’s really the wrong size. The Cleveland Clinic notes that it’s common for your feet to grow wider as you age, either from weight gain, or normal changes in ligaments and tendons. If you feel like your shoes are tighter than they used to be, considering trying on a pair of wide width shoes.
Samuel Hubbard’s wide width shoes share the same philosophy as our medium width shoes: handcrafted from premium materials for all-day comfort. Shop our wide width men’s shoes today!