Do You Need Wide, Narrow,
or Standard Shoes?

Whether you need wide or narrow shoes, or standard fitting shoes, depends on the width of your feet.

I’ve been told that I have a wide foot.  I sometimes buy a wide style of dress shoe, but rarely do I need to do that in an athletic shoe.  That being said, some brands of athletic shoe seem wider than others. 

I’ve never been able to fit comfortably in Nike shoes no matter what type I try – running shoes, cross trainers, walking shoes, etc.  Nikes just seem very narrow with less room, especially in the toe area.  My daughter, on the other hand, has been told she has narrow feet.  But believe it or not, she isn’t comfortable in Nikes either! 

I feel most comfortable in Adidas, and she likes New Balance best.  Both of these brands just seem roomier.  But these are just our experiences, and you may find other brands to be a better fit depending on your own foot width.

You can buy wide and narrow athletic shoes as well as standard width.The "W" indicates this is a wide shoe.

Foot Width Facts

Here are some general facts about foot width and wide and narrow shoes that should give you a better idea of where you fall in this spectrum:

  • Some shoe companies don’t make shoes with different widths because it’s more expensive to make a greater variety.  So people with wide or narrow feet may have fewer options.

  • There is no universal standard for shoe sizes or shoe widths.  The Brannock device used to measure your feet in a store converts the measurement directly to a size rather than measuring by inches or centimeters.  But different brands may use different measurements for their sizes.
  • Just like foot size, width can also change over your lifetime due to similar factors such as age, weight gain, fluid retention, pregnancy, and more.
  • It can be most helpful to measure your own feet at home using inches or centimeters.  Measure length as well as width, and you can take this information with you to stores or use it when shopping online to help you get the best fit.

Tracing your foot to help determine width
Measuring the width of your foot
  • Width of the foot is measured across the widest part of your foot.  The best way to do this is to trace your foot on a piece of paper and then measure it in inches or centimeters.  You should subtract about ¼ inch or ½ centimeter from your measurement to account for the width of your pencil.

  • Always measure the width of both feet, not just one, because they could actually be different.  Use the larger of the two measurements as your width when shoe shopping.
  • You can measure the width of your feet and check charts at a variety of online sites to see if you are considered wide, narrow, or standard.  Just do a search for a foot width chart.
  • Shoes are generally available in narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide widths.  Some athletic shoes also have extra narrow widths.
  • Generally in a wide shoe, it’s the upper material in the forefoot that is wider than in a standard width shoe, but the platform of the shoe is the same.  But in an extra wide shoe, the upper is wider and the platform is wider as well.
  • Similarly, in a narrow shoe, it’s the upper material of the shoe’s forefoot that is narrower than that of a standard width shoe while the platform is the same.  But both the upper and the platform are narrower in an extra narrow shoe.
  • Some shoes even come with extra depth, not just width.  It might help to look for this if you’ve tried on the widest shoe possible and your foot still does not feel like it has enough space.

Wide and Narrow Shoes

Wide athletic shoes

As I researched all the different athletic shoe brands for this website, I found many that offer shoes for wide and narrow feet.  If you’ve determined that you fit into one of these categories, please check the descriptions of each brand on this website and/or use the links I’ve provided to the shoes’ websites for more details.

  1. Athletic Shoe Review
  2. Choosing the Right Shoes
  3. Wide and Narrow Shoes