Shoe Widths 101

Feb 18th, 2011 by John Almodovar | 7 Comments So Far

Shoe widths comic - 2E or 4E?

Shoe Widths: AA, C, B, D, CD, E?

For some, shoe sizes can be a confusing thing – especially with all those darn widths.  But shoe widths are available for a reason.  They’re available because believe or not, some feet are wider than others; and at the same time, some people may suffer with certain foot conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, diabetes and edema, which wide sized shoes can accommodate.

But probably the biggest misconception people have about shoe sizing is the assumption that all they have to do is go up one size to accommodate their wide feet.

Wide FootFor example, let’s say that someone purchased a size 8 in women’s dress shoes, but after trying them on for a second time, it was decided that the shoe is too narrow but the length is perfect.  At this point, this person should consider exchanging the size 8 to an 8-wide; but what tends to happen is the person will try to exchange the size 8 to the next whole size up, which would be size 9.  Unfortunately, all this does is make the shoe longer and the shoe will most likely still have a narrow fit.  Don’t do that.  Like I mentioned above, there’s a reason why shoe manufacturers make wide sizes.  Think about it, if there was no need for wide sizes, why would shoe manufacturers make them?  Wouldn’t they just produce more of the same shoe sizes?

Another misconception that people have about wearing wide shoes is the belief that they’ll look clunky or boxy on their feet.  What people don’t realize is that the difference between widths is only 1/8″ – so by wearing wide sized shoes, style and fashion will not be sacrificed.

To give you a better understanding of width sizing, we listed the common widths below.

Women’s Narrow or AA / Men’s Narrow or C

  • Narrow shoes will accommodate feet that are thin, have high arches and have narrow heels.

Women’s Average (medium) or B / Men’s Average (medium) or D

  • Medium shoes are usually always in stock since they make up most of the manufacturer’s inventory.  If the shoe does not have a width associated with the size – it’s most likely a medium width.

Women’s Wide or C/D / Men’s Wide or E

  • Wide shoes are ideal for those with wide feet, flat feet (flatter feet = wider sizes) or for wearers with certain foot problems such as bunions and hammertoes.

Women’s Extra-Wide or E / Men’s Extra-Wide or EE (the more E’s the wider)

  • Extra wide shoes are good for those who have wider feet or swollen feet due to certain conditions such as diabetes or edema.  These shoes also tend to have more depth to accommodate removable insoles.

For more details, visit our Width Sizing Chart.

Shoes In Even Wider Sizes

At, we carry a grand selection of shoes that are offered in even wider sizes such as 14E.  Please note that each shoe brand classifies their widths differently – there isn’t a standardized naming convention – so a 2E in brand A may be a 3E in brand B.  Again, not all brands name their widths the same.  Also, as you probably guessed already, the more E’s you add to the width, the wider the shoe will be.  These types of shoes are typically recommended by foot health professionals since wearers of these shoes need the extra room to accommodate certain foot conditions.

If you need wide shoes, please visit: Women’s Wide Shoes and Men’s Wide Shoes to see our entire selection.


About Author 

I'm a multimedia production specialist and web editor for I write about foot care and footwear related subjects to promote health from the feet the up.

7 Comments on “Shoe Widths 101”

  1. Vicki said:

    This was a great post as I know of people who do exactly what you stated and that is by buying a size larger without increasing the width. I already know I’m a 4 extra-wide and I usually buy men’s shoes, but I noticed from your shoe sizing chart that I might be better off buying a women’s extra-wide shoe instead. Again, thanks for the valuable information.

  2. Daniel said:

    Great post and explanation about different width sizes. Although sizing up may provide a small amount of extra width, it is not the correct path to go. As you said, manufacturers make different shoe widths to accommodate for people with wider feet!

  3. Kara said:

    This is a fab post and really detailed in explaining the sizes. I am a 7W but I have also been told I am a 6W so I get a little confused but 7W seems to fit me better so I agree with buying a larger size without increasing the width. When looking for shoes I tend to get a lot of my shoes from Wider Fit Shoes – being a female with wide feet is very daunting but they are a real help.

  4. JennaG said:

    Thanks Kara!

  5. Marie said:

    I have gone up a whole size (or two) many times, not because I think its right, or even comfortable, but because even though manufacturers create different widths, they are VERY rare in any retail store. The most I have ever seen in a retail store is W or D – but I think I need 2E or 4E.

    Thanks for this blog, I’m glad I found it!

  6. Jenna Goldberg said:

    Awesome! Thank you for the comment Marie!

  7. Gilbert Ercanbrack said:

    The thing that really upsets me is the fact that people with wide feet are being hurt because shoe manufactures don’t seem to notice they’re real people too. Every time I look at shoes that are somewhat stylish, I never find them in wide widths, E-EEEE. I take a 3E sometimes 4E. When I go into size selection all the wide shoes are already sold. OH, but PLENTY of all the other sizes, so the BS about they don’t sell as well is a downright lie. About half the shoe makers don’t even offer wide widths. Seems to me people with wide feet are seriously discriminated against and that’s just wrong. So, just a word to the shoe manufacturers, wake the hell up and start producing more wide and extra wide shoes. they will sell. Just stop acting like a bunch of jerks. I’d really like to see more people with duck feet start complaining to NIKE, ASICS, and the rest of them. Just my 2 cents worth.