The more “A” letters the size has, the narrower it is. The more “E” letters it has, the wider it is. However, the “E” shoes are extra-wide for women, with “D” being wide. But, for men, “D” is medium.
Yep, this is confusing, so we need to dig further as to what does shoe width letters mean.
You probably know your shoe size, and maybe you take a different size in some shoes. Maybe in some, you select the wide option when shopping online.
But what about the letters? Let’s find out…
What Are the Different Shoe Widths?
The main letters in shoe widths are A and E.
Using these letters doesn’t make much sense to many, but there’s an easy trick to remember their meanings: small to big.
The closer the letter is to the start of the alphabet, the narrower the shoe. If you’re a woman, think of it like bra sizes.
But, it’s not always so simple, as As and Es can stack and mean different things for men and women:
- A or AA: Extra-narrow for men, narrow for women
- AAAA or 4A: Super-slim for women.
- E or EE: Wide for men, extra-wide for women.
- EEE (3E) or EEEE (4E): Extra-wide for men.
Still with us? There’s more to come!
What Does B Stand for in Shoe Width?
The confusion doesn’t end with As and Es. B is actually a very common width letter in shoe sizing for women. It’s just normal, regular or average width and not always noted.
Alas, for men, B means narrow width.
What Does C Mean in Shoe Width?
The letter C in shoe width is seen less often. However, it’s usually classified as a wide width for women, but narrow for men.
What Is the Difference Between M and D in Shoe Width?
For men, D width means medium, regular or standard width. For women, it’s a wide width.
In women’s shoes, M and D aren’t the same. M is just medium and means the same thing as B.
D can also be called M in shoe sizing. The M is far easier to understand as “medium.” There’s no difference between the letters in men’s shoes.
Where To Find the Shoe Width on the Shoe
With these letters in mind, you may wonder where you’ll spot them if double-checking the label’s accuracy.
Look at the insole or the tongue’s underside. You may find a “D” or “B” to confirm the shoe’s sizing.
Shoe Width Size Chart
Getting your head around shoe sizing width can easily be a headache. To make it simpler and more specific, check out the charts below.
Women’s Width Chart
AAA or AAAA sizes aren’t as common as other width letters, so we’ve excluded them from the chart.
If your feet measure anything less than our A/AA sizing guidelines, you’re likely a 4A/super-slim sizing.
We’ve also excluded the often-ignored C in favor of these more common sizes.
|Size (US)||Narrow/A/AA (inches)||Medium/M/B (inches)||Wide/D (inches)||Extra-Wide/EE/EEE (inches)|
Men’s Width Chart
For men, we’ve excluded the extra-narrow (A) width because they’re uncommon. We’ve also stopped the E sizes at 4E, but you can get a larger width than that.
For example, we’d be starting 6E’s size 6 measurements at 4.063 inches.
Shoe width sizes go up as high as 10E in some cases, so we’ve kept it at a reasonable 4E in width.
|Size (US)||Narrow/A/AA (inches)||Medium/M/D (inches)||Wide/E/EE (inches)||Extra-Wide/EEE/EEEE (inches)|
To make it even more difficult, you’ll find letter combinations of your shoe size, like C/D. This means that the shoe comes in two widths.
The ball of the foot is the larger width. In this case, D. You can use the charts above to figure out what D means in your size.
C is your foot and shoe’s heel width. As C isn’t quite as common as other shoe width sizes, it’s not on the chart. So, the best thing to do is try on the shoe and see if the heel width fits.
More combinations you may come across are:
- E/C—wide-medium for men, extra-wide-medium for women.
- D/B—narrow medium for men, medium-wide for women.
- C/A—narrow and extra-narrow for men, medium-narrow for women.
There are more combinations out there, too, for wide-extra-wide and super-slim sizes. But, it will depend on the shoe brand and shoe size.
Men’s vs. Women’s Widths
There’s not a huge difference between men and women’s widths as far as increments go. They increase in size in the same way.
However, women’s widths don’t go as wide as men’s. This is because men generally have wider and larger feet.
This is why you’re unlikely to see any “A” numbers in men’s sizing. You also won’t see much beyond “E/EE” for women. Some brands are changing to include more widths for women, though.
Besides the letter-differences, the main difference you’ll see in men’s vs. women’s widths is that men have wider widths for the same shoe size. For example, a women’s 6 medium is 3.313 inches in width. Men’s 6 medium is 3.5 inches in width.
So, if you prefer the opposite gender’s shoes, be wary of this difference. Cross-check the charts when making a purchase.
Why Width Matters
Everyone talks about the importance of finding the right shoe length. So, why is width important? It’s largely for the same reasons.
Narrow shoes, such as narrow and narrow medium, can rub and cause friction blisters.
Besides that, they’re just uncomfortable. Walking with your feet squished is no pleasant task, and will further irritate any open sores.
Add the fact that narrow shoes won’t likely be breathable enough for your feet. That means your sweat, full of bacteria, will be trapped in the shoes, ready to enter open wounds. That’s a breeding ground for an infection.
A wide-width shoe will not only be clunky, but your feet will move side to side and up and down. This is another way to get friction blisters, despite the large shoe width.
And, in wide shoes, your feet go unsecured. This is an accident waiting to happen if you decide to walk quickly or run in ill-fitting shoes. There’s tons of room inside for your feet to move, making the shoes unsteady and causing a fall or an ankle roll.
Luckily, there are ways to wear shoes that are too big.
But, next time, make sure you pay attention to the letters and avoid a wide shoe. You need a pair of shoes with a shoe width that’s right for you.
How to Measure Your Width?
Almost every shoe store lets you measure your size, but what about your width?
It’s simple to measure your foot or shoe width at home:
- Stand on a piece of paper on a flat surface, like wood or tile.
- Draw a straight line down the middle of the page.
- Stand with the widest part of your foot on the line.
- Draw a dot either side of your foot
- Measure the distance between the dots.
- Repeat for the next widest part of the foot for combination (C/D) width sizes.
You could also trace your foot or shoe and do the width measurements that way.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Bigger Is a Wide Shoe?
A wide shoe is not that much bigger than a regular one. Shoe widths usually go up in close to 0.25-inch increments, but this varies by brand and isn’t always exact. Sometimes, the increase is smaller, at 0.188 inches.
What Is a Normal Shoe Width?
A normal shoe width is B for women and D for men. Normal-width shoe sizes won’t have letters in the sizes, though.
Can You Correct Wide Feet?
Yes, you can correct wide feet via surgery. The surgery is usually only performed on people with “abnormally” wide feet or toe abnormalities, such as hammertoes. During the surgery, the team narrows the sides of the feet by shaving bones or bunions. They may also shorten the toes. The surgery is called “Cinderella surgery.”
Are Wide Feet Bad?
Wide feet aren’t bad, if you can memorize shoe width letters!. You just need to be doubly sure of your shoe size and shoe width, but that’s the only downside. However, if your large width is accompanied by flat feet, it’s more of an issue.
The Closing Letter
By now, you’ll have figured out what does shoe width letters mean.
So, take your shoe size and shoe width, and go buy a pair of shoes! Make sure you get a wide width shoe or a narrow shoe where needed.
Hopefully, this guide helped get you into a shoe width right for your feet. Share it with someone you think is walking funny because of the wrong shoe size or shoe width. And, please drop us any comments or questions on shoe width below.