How To Tell If You Have Wide Feet

Do you make jokes about having ‘fat feet’? Do your shoes pinch the sides of your feet. This could indicate that you have wide feet.

Having wide feet isn’t a birth defect or abnormal. Millions of Americans have wide feet but how do you know if you’re one of them?

Do You Have Wide Feet

Wide Width Sandals for Women - 2016 EditionYou might be used to wearing tight shoes but it can also be causing foot problems. Blisters, calluses, and bunions are some of the issues that often occur.

While you probably know your shoe size this doesn’t always help. There is a reason why a shoe store employee measures both the length and width of your feet. You may be a size 6 in length but the pair you choose might be to narrow to comfortably wear.

If you don’t have time to stop into a shoe store and have a salesperson measure your feet, you can do it at home. You will need two pieces of plain paper, a marker, and possibly an assistant.

  1. Tape the two pieces of paper to the floor. You don’t want the papers moving around.
  2. Wearing a pair of thin socks, a pair of trouser style ones work great. Place each foot on a piece of paper and use the marker to carefully draw an outline of each foot, including the toes. This is when it helps to have an assistant draw the outlines. If you don’t have any help, trace the outline one foot at a time.
  3. Once the outlines are finished measure the widest part of the foot.
  4. Using the measurements from your feet, subtract the number by 1/8. This will give you the width of each foot.
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Knowing the width of your feet, along with length, will make it easier for you to find shoes that fit comfortably even if you’re shopping online.

5 Signs You Need Wider Shoes

Even if you haven’t measured the width of your feet some signs can indicate your shoes are too narrow.

Corns and Calluses

Calluses and corns might not be too painful but your feet will look less attractive. The hard patches of skin appear when there’s friction between the skin and your shoes. You could spend hours filing the rough patches away, only to have them reappear after a few days.

Painful Bunions

Bunions are not just a problem for the elderly, it can happen to anyone that wears shoes that are too tight. A bunion is a large bump that often forms on the big toe. While bunions might not give you excruciating pain every time you take a step, the bumps are uncomfortable.

Hammer Toes Develop

The term for this condition might sound humorous but if you have it, you’re probably not laughing. It occurs when the toes are constantly forced into a claw-like shape due to the constant wearing of narrow shoes. Over time, your toes can form into this shape throwing off your balance and gait.


You might not think blisters are a huge concern. You simply ‘pop’ the blister and put a bandage over it while it heals. If you frequently get blisters on your feet you know how painful they can be. There is also the risk of an infection developing. Blisters are commonly caused by the shoe rubbing against your feet.

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One or More Toes Are Discolored

The color on top of your toes can become discolored over time if your shoes are not wide enough. The discoloration is generally caused by the top of the toes rubbing against the shoe’s material. However, the discoloration can also be a sign of a more serious problem. It can be due to a lack of circulation. This can be serious since overtime lack of circulation can result in dead skin cells and nerve loss.

If you experience any of these signs, it is recommended that you measure the width of your feet so you’ll know exactly what pair will fit.

Shoe Buying Guide for Wide Feet

There are a few factors to consider when you’re shopping for wider width shoes. These factors apply to everyone, regardless of age and gender.

Know Your Shoe Size

To find a pair of shoes that fit comfortably you need to know your ‘true’ shoe size. This includes both the length and width. Whether your shopping in-store or online there should be a standard shoe size measuring table listed for easy reference. Compare your size with the table to find footwear that won’t rub or chafe your feet.

Leave Extra Room

Perfect fitting shoes usually leave a little wiggle room for your toes and on the sides. Not only does this allow you to wear thicker socks if the weather or occasion calls for it, but it’s healthier for your feet than shoes that are too tight.

Some shoe materials also shrink over time and if it’s a little large the footwear will still fit comfortably.

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Look for Soft Materials

Shoes constructed from suede or denim are a great option for people with wider feet. The soft fabrics will stretch with your feet, unlike harder ones.

Consider Custom-made Shoes

Custom-made shoes are more expensive but they’re also more comfortable. The shoes are designed specifically for your feet. You simply send your measurements to the manufacturer. If your sizing is off, the cobbler can easily make the necessary adjustments.


If you are buying the right size shoes in length but your feet still feel like they’re being pinched, consider measuring the width. Wider feet aren’t uncommon and shoe manufacturers know this. There are plenty of wide width shoes in all of the popular styles.

Continuing to wear shoes that are too narrow, only invites foot problems at some point. Take a minute to measure your foot width and find a pair of shoes that make your feet happy.