At work I distinguish between two types of wide feet: feet that are wide because of genetics and feet that are wide because of bunions. Since socks are where I start with everyone I'll mention them here: if your foot is wide a thin sock will take up less room inside of a shoe. Generally I tell people that shoes should be good and comfortable right away however there are special cases where stretching a shoe is appropropriate. A good shoe store will stretch shoes for free. They'll mark the areas that need attention and unless the bunion area needs to be stretched you should get your stretched shoes back looking as they did when you dropped them off.

People with wide feet rarely buy shoes that are too short for them. They may go to the other extreme and buy shoes that are too long so they can get the width their feet need. Soft leathers and fabrics are great choices for people with wide feet. If a shoe does need to stretch softer leather will have more give making that stretch less painful for the wearer. An easy way to tell whether or not a shoe fits is to apply gentle thumb pressure across the top of the shoe. If you can pinch the material the shoe is too wide, if the leather rolls but you can't pinch it the shoe fits and if you can't get the top of the shoe to move at all the shoe is not wide enough.

At the risk of sounding preachy I am going to beg you to consider how much room your foot has inside of a shoe. Wearing shoes that fit properly make your wide feet less obtrusive than shoes that are too narrow. Anyone who has a wide foot has my understanding and support. My foot is wide so I know what it's like to want a cute pair of shoes when all the options out there seem to be manufactured for women whose feet are much narrower than mine. Wearing shoes that do not fit is one of the worst things you can do for your feet. The wrong shoes can absolutely damage your feet so please leave your vanity at home when you go shopping. There are shoes for every type of foot out there. All you have to do is find them.

I heard recently that feet are getting bigger as bigger sizes of shoes have become increasingly popular in the last twenty years. I am not sure myself. Maybe people are more willing to be honest (with themselves) about their real shoe size and buy footwear that fits and doesn't scrunch feet up at the edges.

I have both big calves and wide feet so getting nice footwear is a difficult task. Also you have to be prepared to spend a fair bit to get good shoes. I used to buy the cheap ones for 5 or 10 pounds but they are excrutiatingly painful to wear. It is false economy really. You could have a look at the Duo website as they do some nice shoes for wider feet. I got my boots from there as they have bigger calf sizes. I never even thought that you could get shoes for wider feet - to be honest it did not bother me too much in recent years as I have bought pair after pair of plimsoll or flat type shoes as I cycle a lot around Nottingham. BUT whenever I tried to get smarter footwear for interviews or other special occasions - I could not find anything and would end up spending very little on a pair that I knew I would never wear again as they always hurt so much.

I saw this article when I was hunting for the solution to my problem and it gives some good advice on wide shoes:

I must add that I will never suffer for fashion and value comfort more than anything in clothes. It is especially important to buy shoes that fit as your feet bones will become damaged if you consistently don't.

This comment is in support of and response to the following on Everything2: The Wide Foot

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