Shoe width explained: How to measure

May 08, 2023

Shoe width explained: How to measure

Measuring your shoe size when it comes to length is fairly simple. All you need to do is either go to a shoe store or take a piece of paper and trace your feet. 

Measuring your foot width is a bit different. If you have extra wide feet, you may have an inkling of that fact. In order to fully know, you need to measure your foot width. 

Kizik was created to revolutionize footwear. For us to do that, we need to make the essentials in finding shoes accessible. Learn how to measure your width below!

How are shoe sizes measured?

By length, shoe sizes are measured in a variety of ways. The European and American shoe size charts use different measurements but are roughly comparable.

Many shoes, even if they are only specifically listed in one size, feature both EU and US sizes. That’s why you’ll want to check the size guide for the shoe you’re planning on buying. 

Length, of course, uses numbers. When it comes to width, letters are more commonly used. The vast majority of shoes run from size A to size EEE. Like length, men’s shoes are sized as being larger than women’s shoes. 

For the former, a D is medium, whereas, for the latter, a B is considered a medium. Sometimes, half sizes are even measured with further subdivisions.

Unfortunately, you can’t take the width of your foot and apply it to shoe size. Each different size in length means your foot needs to be wider to constitute a wide size.

Having the right width doesn’t mean having enough room so that your big toe doesn’t get squished. Having the right size of shoe can be seriously important for your foot health.

Why does the right shoe size matter?

There’s no such thing as “just a pair of shoes.'' The perfect fit feels comfortable, elevates your style, and can even elevate your day. 

On the other hand, the wrong pair of shoes can go exactly the other direction. They don’t only feel uncomfortable. They can also cause bunions, blisters, and hammertoes. The tighter the fit, the more your toes are scrunched, and your walk is forcefully adjusted. What’s more, the edges of your shoe will unnecessarily rub up against your feet. 

This can be especially problematic when it comes to kids' shoes. Many times, young children don’t have the language and sense developed to communicate when shoes don’t fit properly. Aside from communicating when they are in pain, the signs may be missable. 

If you know what to look for, especially when it comes to width, the signs are extremely visible. Next up, we’ll be explaining how to tell if you need to reexamine your shoe size. After that, we’ll go into how to measure the width of your feet.

Signs you may be wearing the wrong shoe size

Ill-fitting shoes are a menace, but they are a recognizable one. The side effects range from minor and reversible issues to long-term ones, which may require advanced solutions.

One major problem that can appear is neuropathy. This can appear as pain-related symptoms or the loss of sensation in the feet. Studies suggest that, while not everyone wearing the wrong shoe size has neuropathy, the inverse is true. Thus, the majority of people with a history of foot problems wore improperly fitting shoes. 

They can also lead to long-term foot deformities. For example, if you notice that your toes are crushed in your feet, you might need a wide fit. Or, on the other end, if your feet have too much room, you might need a tighter one.

Having too narrow a fit could possibly lead to ingrown toenails or hammertoes. Bruising on your toes or nails can also signify that your shoes are too narrow. A roomy toe box can counteract these issues. 

A small challenge in dealing with these is the fact that your shoe size naturally changes over time. Obviously, as we grow into adulthood, our shoe size changes. However, adjustments in size don’t simply stop there. 

If you suddenly notice pain in other parts of your body, it may have its origins in your toes. Back pain can grow from misalignment caused by improperly sized shoes.

All these problems have two solutions. The ultimate solution is to find better-fitting shoes. In order to do that in the first place, you need to measure your shoes. Doing so at home is what we’ll be describing next.

How to measure your shoe size: At home

Before we get into the ins and outs of measuring feet, check to see if your go-to brand has a printable fit guide, like this size chart for kids’ shoes from Kizik.

Getting an accurate measure of your width at home is relatively simple. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, a measuring device (like a measuring tape), and a hard, flat surface.

Step one: Gather supplies and measure length

Lay your paper down. It’s possibly the simplest step that any list has ever had. To find the length, measure from the heel to the tip of your toes. 

Step two: Trace the outline

Place your foot flat on the paper and trace around it. This will help provide an accurate measurement for future purposes. 

Step three: Measure the outline

Measure the outline of your foot you’ve traced. If you know your shoe size by the number, you can feel free to skip measuring the width. 

Otherwise, you’ll want to first measure your length to find the numerical shoe size. 

Step four: Compare

To find the length, measure from the heel to the tip of your toes. Compare this to a foot measurement chart, and you’ll have your numbered size. 

From there, measure your foot horizontally, starting from the widest point in your foot. The widest part tends to be around the toe-tips or ball of your foot, where your toes meet your forefoot. This measurement will tell you whether your feet are narrow, wide, or standard width. 

This measurement may grow over time. As we age, our arches tend to flatten out, resulting in a wider stance. 

If you want to be even more precise, you can use your measuring device directly on the foot itself. In general, this method is pretty accurate. 

How to measure your shoe size: At the store

At the end of the day, getting accurate door measurements at home is extremely doable. 

If you’re shopping in person, you have other options. Most shoe stores will have devices specifically designed for the precise measurement of shoes. One of the most popular for making such examinations is the Brannock device.

What is the Brannock device?

Brannock devices are adjustable to help improve measurement readings for all ages. They can be a big help when looking for new shoes. 

Some physicians criticize the use of Brannock devices, saying that they prioritize fashion over identifying the actual size of the shoe. 

Alternatives to the Brannock device

They propose an alternative to these devices: Measuring with the insole. In short, if a shoe has a removable insole, one should remove it. Then, you should lay it down and stand on it.

The idea here is that if your foot fits on the insole, the shoe the insole is placed in will fit well. Though less scientific, this takes into account the width of all parts of your feet and even the length. After all, constricting the tips of your toes may cause issues for your longest toe. 

Luckily, there are a few other ways to ensure you get the perfect fit. We’ll go into these factors next.

Other tips for measuring your shoe

There are a couple of additional things to keep in mind when it comes to measuring your feet.

The first is when to measure your feet to find your shoe size. Believe it or not, the time of day actually has a distinct impact on the size of your feet. The longer we stay standing up, the more the muscles in our feet relax and the more our feet splay. 

This means that your feet are going to be at their largest after a long day of work. That’s precisely why this is the ideal time to measure them. When you put on a pair of shoes, they are only going to get tighter throughout the day. If your shoes are already tight in the morning, they are only going to get worse.

Meanwhile, consider how much space you need in your shoes. Your toe box should have around a thumbs width of space at the edge for your toes. Having a slightly longer toe box is better than a slightly shorter one. 

If your toe box is too short, your toes may become misaligned, or your nails may be damaged. If your toe box is too long, however, you may bump into things. 

All that’s left to do is to pick out some new shoes with your newfound knowledge. 

Finding new shoes with Kizik

Finding your right shoe size is just the first step of a larger process: Finding your right shoe. At this point, you know the size you need, whether narrow or wide. All that remains is finding a shoe that meets your standards in both comfort and style. 

Kizik shoes come in both medium and wide sizes, by far the most common ones around. 

As far as the actual shoes themselves: Kiziks are all-purpose casual shoes.

Need something versatile with a leather upper? Maybe something with a sporty canvas look? Do you want laceless footwear that you’ll never have to tie again and can put on totally hands-free? Whatever you need to upgrade your footwear, Kizik can provide.


The Side Effects of Wearing Ill-Fitting Shoes I Very Well Health

Shoes Getting Tight? Why Your Feet Change Size Over Time I Cleveland Clinic

The Correct Way to Find Your Shoe Size with Dr. McClanahan I Healthy Feet Alliance

Written By: Chris Fry

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