What Do Shoe Width Letters Mean?

You are probably used to the shoe length sizes, by which we buy most of our footwear. However, the shoe width is also a consideration for a lot of people with a wide foot. The right width matters just as much as the length and can be the difference between hours of comfortable wear or a short period that’s painful. Let’s take a look at how to read shoe width letters.

Shoe Width Letters

Shoe width letters vary from children’s shoes to men’s footwear.


What do B, D, and E shoe width letters mean for children? Let’s take a look.

  • B – Regular
  • D – Wider
  • E – Extra wide


For women, there is a wider classification for shoe width ranging from super slim to extra wide.

What does AAA, A/AA, B, C, D, and EE mean?

  • AAA/AAAA – Extra slim
  • A/AA – Narrow
  • B – Average
  • C – Slightly wide
  • D – Wide
  • EE – Extra wide


What does A, B, C, D, E/EE, and EEE/EEEE mean for men’s shoes?

  • A – Extra narrow
  • B- Narrow
  • C – Regular
  • D- Slightly wide
  • E/EE – Wide
  • EEE/EEEE – Extra wide

What is the Average Shoe Width?

What is the Average Shoe WidthIf you feel your foot is average width, then you would be looking at B for women and C or D for men depending on the type of shoe. The width will vary depending on your shoe size, but if your shoe isn’t marked with a width, then it’s more than likely it falls into the average category.

How to Find the Right Width? 

Find the Right Shoes WidthIf shoe width is available, it’s incredibly important to find the right width as well as the right length. However, not many of us are familiar with shoe width letters and how to find the right size. In fact, over 60% of people are sporting the wrong-sized footwear.

How do you find the right width? Start by doing the following:

Measure your Feet

Of course, the first thing you should to do make sure you have the right width is to measure your feet. Measure every time you buy a new pair of shoes because foot width can change, and different types of shoes will have different width measurements. So to be sure you’re getting the right size, measure your dogs every time.

Find the Right Shoes WidthThe best way to measure your foot is to sit or stand with your foot flat on the floor and use a measuring tape to wrap around the widest part, which is usually around your knuckles.

Just like our height and fingers, our foot width will fluctuate throughout the day. The best time to measure your foot is when it’s at its widest and not the narrowest. That way, you will always guarantee a comfortable fit even when your feet swell. To do this, measure your feet at the end of the day.

Accommodate your Larger Foot

Most people have one foot larger than the other because no one is perfectly balanced on either side. The difference can vary, but the discrepancy usually isn’t too great. However, some may be able to feel the difference in tighter-fitting shoe size and width on their larger foot.

To make sure you always have a comfortable fit, accommodate your larger foot. What we mean by this is to go for a shoe width that feels comfortable on your larger foot and prioritize it. There are always ways to make a large shoe or boot fit better, but making a smaller shoe larger proves to be more difficult.

It’s not a Universal Measurement

Feet change and sizes vary. Just because you have always worn one size and one width with a particular brand, it doesn’t mean that size will be the best fit in another brand. The best way to guarantee the right fit is to measure your foot every time or use the measurement you already have after you have measured your foot at the end of the day.

Make Sure they Fit from the Get-Go

You may not always go shoe shopping when your feet are at their widest, so you do have to give yourself more room. However, rarely do our feet swell at the end of the day to warrant an entirely different shoe width letter.

One thing to keep in mind when trying on the shoes is to make sure they fit well right off the bat. Don’t bank on them stretching out or the cushion collapsing over time to fit you well. However, this also depends on the shoe. For example, if you are purchasing real leather espadrilles, you need to go for a tighter fit in the beginning because the leather will stretch out.

When trying on the shoes in-store, make sure you don’t just stand and admire the footwear in the mirror. Get up, walk around, skip, hop, jump, do squats, whatever you can to get a feel of how the shoe holds up during different activities. This way, you will get a better idea of which shoe width size is best.

Do I Need a Wider or Narrower Fit?

It’s usually pretty straightforward to tell if you should adjust the width of your shoe. If you experience a lot of loose space surrounding your foot, then you will need a tighter shoe. Conversely, if the fit is tight and restricting, then you will need a wider fit.

The Detriments of the Wrong Width

Like we mentioned before, a staggering percentage of the population is sporting the wrong sized footwear in terms of width. You might experience a host of issues that can be long-lasting and sometimes even painful.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown ToenailOne of the most commonly experienced issues is an ingrown toenail. This is when the side of your toenail, usually the top left or right corners starts growing into the surrounding flesh. This usually happens with the big toe and it can be very painful to rectify. Not only will this hurt, but the penetrated flesh can also become infected and pus up.


Calluses can happen anywhere on your body, it’s just a point of contact between your skin and an external object and is caused by excessive friction. They don’t really have many hindrances on your movement, but they will get you to think twice before wearing open-toed shoes and showing off your feet.

Calluses and corns are a protective measure that prevents blisters, and other than being rather unsightly, they won’t cause pain as ingrown toenails would.


Another issue you might face is bunions. This is where the joint on your toes is enlarged. This is also often seen on the largest knuckle on your big toe, along the base. Bunions can be painful and they can also swell, but for the most part, they are just not aesthetically pleasing.

Hammer Toes

Hammer toes are deformities on your toe that are caused by irregular bending and squishing due to wearing tight shoes.

As you can see, most of these issues are caused by shoes that are too tight. However, wearing shoes that are too wide will require you to walk unnaturally and put undue strain on your arches.

What Can I Do About the Pain?

What Can I Do About the PainIf you suffer from bunions and hammer toes until the point of discomfort or even pain, then you might need to see a doctor. Infection, irregular swelling, and persistent pain are all indicators that it’s time to give the doctor’s office a visit.

However, if you don’t see advanced stages of any of the above issues and just have some minor foot pain, then there are some home remedies that can mediate the injury.

Sometimes the cause of calluses, corns, and blisters isn’t necessarily due to the wrong width or size, but the cause is actually shoes that haven’t been broken in or are made from rigid materials. In this case, you can look into insoles or extra padding.

A lot of us have calluses on our feet, and a pumice stone or foot file can eliminate them, but the extra rubbing could trigger your body to bring back the calluses over time. Remember to soften the skin by soaking your feet in warm water so the hard skin is easier to remove, doing it in the shower is the best time.

After the calluses have been filed down, coat your feet in a thick layer of moisturizer and wear socks over them until they are fully absorbed.

A good massage at the end of the day can also help alleviate short-term foot pain. This can be done professionally if the pain persists or a quick rub on your own can help temporary issues.

If the shoes in question are continuously causing you pain, then it’s time to throw them out and buy shoes that fit well. Remedies and doctor’s visits won’t help if you keep on wearing ill-fitting shoes.


The bottom line is to always get shoes that fit right. Without the right fit, there are a host of foot problems that you could face, which may take more money and effort to fix than to just change your shoes.

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