Shopping for Narrow and Wide Shoes

Shoes made in a width other than medium are becoming harder to find. For those that have wider or more narrow feet there are ways to make the medium shoes work.

In a time where shoe stores thrive by setting out boxes of low-price shoes and leaving the customer to wander about, it's difficult to find shoes if you don't have "average" feet.

The days when you could get a 2A shoe with a 4A heel are gone. Companies no longer make many different sizes in specialty shoes that will only work for a few customers but rather general sizes that will work for many customers.

Companies no longer make shoes in every width on the Brannock device (foot measurer) like 4A, 3A, 2A, A, B, C, D, E, 2E. There are now only slims (4A), narrows (2A), mediums (B), wides (D), extra wides (2E). Although, extra wides are hard to find and slims are even harder.

When a shoe shopper with a hard to find foot has trouble finding the exact sizes they need here are some tips to help easy to find sizes work better.

For narrow wearers who have to settle on mediums, here's what to look for and what to avoid.

People that wear narrows should avoid slip-ons because there is nothing to hold your foot in. Slip-ons that come up high on the instep can work better but there is still nothing holding a narrow heel into a medium width shoe.

European brands are also another thing to avoid. They often only come in one width, which is usually wider than a US medium.

Those that need narrows but have trouble finding them can look for shoes with straps and laces to hold their foot into the shoe.

Another option is taking up the extra space in a shoe. Sometimes a full-length insert can take up the room depending on the style of the shoe. Pads that go around the back of the heel can take up some space. Also try metatarsal pads that go under the ball of the foot and keep the foot from sliding forward in the shoe by pushing it back.

For those that need wide shoes but can only find mediums, here are a few types that might make mediums work.

Wide shoe wearers can look for European shoe brands. They tend to run wider than US brands.

Another option is leather shoes. They can be stretched to if they are too tight while man-made materials usually cannot.

Also try to avoid shoes that have a pointed or more tapered toe. Look for more rounded or square toe boxes that offer more room.

Other factors that can effect how shoes fit are high insteps (the top of a foot) this part is not measured on a standard Brannock device but it can make a difference. If a high instep is a problem, avoid slip on shoes and look for shoes that open up over the top with laces, or straps. Also elastic or gore on the sides can help the shoe open up more.

Another problem can be bunions, which make the front of the foot significantly wider than the heel. Slip-on shoes that fit can be hard to find. If the front is wide enough to accommodate the bunions then the heel often slips. Leather shoes that can be stretched in the bunion area and shoes with laces that can be tightened to hold the foot in can help the situation.

Going to a knowledgeable shoe store that provides individual customer service is always a good idea. They know should no what works for certain types of feet.