Shoe widths explained

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Sometimes, shoes are worn only once because they're uncomfortable or they give the shoe wearer a blister. When trying on shoes, measure your foot to indicate exactly what size you wear. Length is not all that should be considered. Shoe widths should always be considered when buying a pair to get the perfect fit.

Shoe Widths Indicated by Letters

Shoe widths are indicated by letters from the alphabet. In men's shoes, letters most commonly used are C, D and E. In women's shoes, the most common letters are AA and B. There are other letters used for extreme sizes, but they're harder to find.

Narrow Width Size

Narrow widths in shoes are for people who have a narrower-than-average foot. In men, a narrow shoe width is defined by the letter B; in women's shoes, it's indicated by AA.

Medium Shoe Width

Medium shoe widths are the most common size and considered the average or standard in the shoe industry. In men's shoes, the letter used is a D; for women, it's B.

Wide-Width Shoe

Wide-width shoes are for people who have a foot that is wider than the average foot. When trying on a shoe, if the shoe size seems to fit but feels tight around the sides and even the toes, try a wide-width shoe. Wide width in men's shoes is indicated by the letter EE, in women's shoes a D.

Uncommon Foot Widths

Most people wear an average, narrow or regular wide-width shoe. Less common widths are extra wide. These shoes are usually harder to find, and some people have to buy a large shoe size just to have the width fit comfortably. The extra-wide width shoes in men's sizes are indicated by an EEEE, and in women's an EE.

Measuring Your Size

To measure your shoe size, place your foot on a piece of paper and draw around it. Measure the widest part of your foot width, then the length. Subtract .02 inch from each, and this will give you your foot size. Shoe widths range from 2.1 inches to 5.6 inches. The width widens as the shoe length size increases (see References for specific width charts).