Do You Need Wide Shoes

how to tell if you need wide shoes

If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t given your shoe size much thought since your feet stopped growing as a teenager. But according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, only about a third of people wear the right size shoes. How is this possible? As it turns out, the correct shoe size is just as much about width as it is about length.

Wide feet is a very common foot condition affecting millions of people, and it leads many to wear the wrong size footwear. If you think you may have broad feet, you might be wondering how to tell if you need wide shoes. As seasoned footwear specialists with a passion for delivering the perfect fit, the team at Vionic is well-versed in wide fit shoes. Are you asking yourself, “Do I need wide width shoes?” If so, here’s how to find out.


How to Know If You Need Wide Shoes

If you tend to be uncomfortable in most shoes, there’s a good chance you’re wearing the wrong size. On top of that, if you constantly feel cramped no matter what style you wear, you might have wide feet.

So, how do you tell if you need wide shoes without buying a pair first? Measuring your feet is easy to do, and we’ll cover the steps below.

How to Tell if You Need Wide Shoes by Measuring Your Feet

Pinpointing the cause of broad feet is a crucial part of figuring out your footwear needs. Since some conditions, such as swelling, are more temporary than others, you’ll have a better idea of your long-term needs for wide shoes.

With that said, the best way to determine your correct size is by measuring your feet. Most people have never measured their feet and aren’t sure exactly where to begin, but Vionic has you covered. Here’s the steps to follow:

1. Measure at Night

First off, the time of day is important. You’re probably aware that when you weigh yourself at night, you’ll usually be a pound or two heavier than in the morning. Similarly, your feet expand throughout the day, so expect yours to be ever so slightly larger in the evening. For this reason, we recommend waiting until night to get the best accuracy with your measurement.

2. Get Your Measuring Materials and Ground Your Feet

Grab a pen, a piece of paper, and a tape measure or measuring stick. If you tend to wear thick socks with shoes, we suggest putting some on before you measure your feet. Start by setting the paper on the floor. (If your floors are uneven, try to find the flattest portion, and do your measuring there.)

3. Trace Your Feet

Standing on the paper, trace an outline around the perimeter of each foot. You can use this outline to measure and record the length and width of your feet. To get the width, measure between the broadest part of your foot. The length is measured from your longest toe down to the end of your heel.

4. Don’t Forget Both Feet

It’s essential that you carefully measure both feet, as one is usually slightly longer or wider than the other. For most people, the difference is negligible. However, for some, one foot might be a half-size (or more) larger than the other.

5. Review Your Measurements

Once you’ve recorded your measurements, you can determine if you’re a candidate for wide shoes. Just remember that the need for wide shoes is about more than the width of your foot. It also depends on the length (your numbered shoe size) and whether you’re a man or woman.

For instance, if your foot is 3.75 inches wide and you wear a size 5, you’ll need a wide fit. On the other hand, if you wear a size 8, you can opt for medium-width footwear. Additionally, men’s feet are generally larger than women’s. What’s considered wide for a woman’s shoe isn’t necessarily a wide fit for a man. A size chart can tell you whether you need wide shoes based on your measurements.


What Causes Wide Feet?

Now that you know how to tell if you need wide shoes, it’s important to understand the causes of wide feet. You may find that this is a temporary issue versus a permanent problem that may require an entire new closet of wide width shoes. Below, we’ve outlined the various temporary and permanent causes of wide feet.


If wide feet run in your family, the condition can be attributed to genetics. With a genetic disposition, you could be born with wide feet or experience broadening with age. As you get older, your ligaments begin to loosen. Over time, this can lead to larger feet. If you have flat feet, which is also genetic, you’re more likely to have wide feet than those with natural arches.

Aging or Health Issues

Keep in mind that although widening feet might be a side effect of aging, it could also be the result of another health issue. For example, medical conditions like diabetes, heart problems, and kidney disease often lead to edema (swelling), which may widen your feet. Injuries, certain medications, low humidity levels, and pregnancy can also cause fluid retention, which may impact how your shoes fit.


Speaking of pregnancy, a lot of women end up with larger feet both during and after the gestation period. Much like how the aging process causes ligaments to loosen, the hormone relaxin has a similar effect in pregnant women. In some instances, this means temporarily needing a wider or longer shoe size, but for many women, it’s permanent.

Foot Deformities

Another reason people need wider shoes is that they have foot deformities. These conditions may be congenital (present from the time someone’s born) or developed later on. Common foot deformities include club foot, hammertoe, claw toe, crossover toe, calluses, and bunions. While acquired deformities can result in the need for wide fit shoes, cramming broad feet into ill-fitting shoes can also lead to deformities. The only way to avoid developing wide feet problems and deformities is to find the right fitting shoes.


If the Shoe Fits: Finding the Perfect Footwear

Once you’ve measured your feet and determined if you need wide width shoes, you’ll need to find the perfect footwear. At Vionic, we believe comfortable, properly fitting shoes are essential to health and happiness. If you’ve got wide feet and have been walking around in standard shoes for some time, wide footwear will be a major relief.

When it comes to a pair of shoes, the right fit is critical. Just like Cinderella with her glass slipper, the perfect fit can be life-changing. And you can take it a step further than simply measuring the length and width of your feet. Here’s our best advice for finding ideal footwear:

  1. Consider your toes. Are yours long or relatively short? Are they close together or more spread out. The length, shape, and configuration of your toes have a lot to do with how shoes feel on your feet. For example, pointed styles feel great on some people and excruciatingly uncomfortable on others because of how they wrap around the toes.
  2. Avoid shoes that are too loose. Do your shoes touch the perimeter of your entire foot? If not, they could be too wide or long. While your toes should have a little wiggle room, your feet shouldn’t be sliding around. If your heel lifts out of your shoe when you walk, your shoes don’t fit.
  3. Opt for supportive footwear. With orthotic shoes, you’ll experience elevated comfort and support with every step you take. The right support can also correct alignment issues, alleviate foot pain and discomfort, and prevent various foot conditions.
  4. Never buy an uncomfortable pair of shoes. Yes, even in the name of fashion! Although many assume squeezing into narrow shoes will create the appearance of slimmer feet, it can have the opposite effect. Not only that, but when your feet are cramped, you might end up with painful blisters or some of the deformities mentioned above. Aside from that, you could get plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, heel spurs, or another severe and highly painful foot condition.

If you’re a serious athlete, lead an active lifestyle, or have a job that requires you to be standing all day, you must prioritize properly fitting shoes. Otherwise, you could do irreversible damage to your feet.


Wide and Supportive Footwear for Men and Women from Vionic

Realizing you need wide shoes might make you panic with the thought of limited choice. But with Vionic’s wide shoe collection, you’ll have plenty of comfortable and stylish options to choose from. We carry numerous styles of casual footwear, dress shoes, and everything in between. Now you may be wondering, heels for wide feet? Our answer is yes! Vionic has a variety of the most comfortable heels for wide feet.

Browse our extensive collection of wide shoes today, or learn more about the benefits of supportive footwear.

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