Finding shoes that fit perfectly can be challenging and, despite being tricky, is essential if you’re shopping for new kicks for a hobby, work, or even an event. Being uncomfortable for hours on end isn’t pleasant, and if you’re wearing badly-sized shoes over time, it can even be bad for your health. But what is all the hubbub about when it comes to sizing, and what does a D-width shoe mean?
D-Width shoes are medium width for men and in the broader side for women. In the USA, D-width shoes will fit feet that measure between three and five inches across the widest part of the foot. Finding a shoe that accommodates width is just as important as finding a shoe that fits length-wise.
So, what does it mean if your foot is measured as a D-width? And does it mean you’ll struggle to find shoes that fit correctly?
What Is Meant By D Width When It Comes To Shoe Sizing?
Finding a shoe that fits is more than just holding the shoe next to your foot and checking if the length looks similar. Shoes are sized specifically to make them fit most comfortably. And in the USA, sizing for length and width is the norm, with width indicated by a variety of letters while the length is shown in numbers.
Ranging from AAA to EEE – from narrowest to widest – the letter D represents slightly more than the middle of the pack for men, while for women, it is much broader. If you’re confused about why width is a factor, here’s what you need to know.
Why Is Width Measurement Different For Men And Women?
Historically speaking, men’s and women’s feet sizes are measured on different scales because men’s and women’s fashion differs so vastly and because of the belief that men generally are just larger and bulkier than women. While many times this may be true, it’s certainly no longer a rule to be considered golden.
Regardless, the basic reasoning is that despite the exact measurement in inches, men and women are allocated different letters and numbers. This means that even though a man’s foot is long enough to fit a size 9, the same foot in inches on a lady will be called a size 11. The same applies to width measurements – where D is considered medium in men, it’s seen as wide for ladies.
A further example is that while D is considered standard for men, a B-width is considered normal for ladies.
So, What Is D Width For Men And For Women?
Looking at the range of letters used to describe the width of a shoe, C falls right in the middle. The letter D is just one step to the right; for men, this is considered a medium width. It’s also the most common size among the gents. For ladies, it’s much wider and sits on the broader end of the spectrum.
D width is generally measured between three and five inches across, with the measurement taken from across the bottom of the ball of the foot, side to side. While this isn’t one single measurement, it generally provides a bit of range in size and varies between men and women.
The width can also change as the length does – for example, a size 10D shoe can be four inches wide, but a size 14D will add another 0.5 inches to account for the extra size, despite still being considered D-width.
It’s also important to remember that your feet will never be a constant size throughout your life; sizes change with growth spurts through childhood into adulthood, but other factors will also have an impact. These include weight changes, hormonal fluctuations, retaining water, injuries to your feet, or pregnancy. Measuring your foot size accurately is, therefore, vital.
How to Measure Your Feet For Length And D Width
The most accurate way to measure your feet is to have it done by a professional. Many stores offer this as a service, but if you’re invested in the health of your feet, a podiatrist assessment is always a good way of learning more about the best type of shoes to wear.
If you’re not keen on having someone measure your feet for you, you can do it easily at home by following these easy steps:
1.Prepare to measure your feet later in the day, preferably after being out and about for a while. Feet tend to swell a little during our regular daily routines, and the best-fitting shoes are those that accommodate this.
2. Wear a pair of socks unless you’re specifically looking for sizing for sandals or something that doesn’t need socks.
3. Take a clean sheet of paper, and step onto it. Trace each foot carefully, ensuring the outline is as clear and close to your actual foot as possible.
4. Take a tape measure, ruler, or measuring band, and measure across the widest part of your foot to get the width in inches.
5. Use the following chart to find your width measurement and the corresponding letter:
For the ladies:
|Shoe Size||Inches – Narrow (A)||Inches – Medium (B)||Inches – Wide (C/D)|
For the gents:
|Shoe Size||Inches – Narrow (C/B)||Inches – Medium (D)||Inches – Wide (E)|
6. It’s worth checking that both feet have the exact measurement as some people tend to have one foot be slightly larger than the other – this is usually quite normal, and the difference wouldn’t be all the big in most situations. But if you have one wider foot – opt for this measurement as the standard for what size shoes you buy.
Why Is Shoe Width Important?
Feet are all different; there are many different shapes and sizes, and it’s not just about how long your foot is. Feet also have varying widths in the toe and upper area – often called the toe box. And, if you’re the owner of a pair of feet that are broader than most, you’ll know how agonizing it is to squeeze your feet into a narrow pair of heels or a sleek loafer without having any space across the broadest part of your foot.
Forcing your feet into too-tight shoes leads to more than just blisters. Forget about feeling uncomfortable, hobbling around like a newborn gazelle, or having to ditch your shoes altogether for the pain. There are actually severe consequences to wearing the wrong shoe size over time. Here are some that are particularly impacted by shoes that are too tight across their width:
- Corns and calluses: Thick, hard layers of skin form where there is the most pressure and rubbing between your foot and the shoes, and these are common on your feet and toes if you wear too narrow shoes for a long time.
- Bunions: A genuinely serious condition, bunions result from wearing shoes that are too tight across the widest part of your foot. The condition occurs when the bones and tissue around the big toe’s main joint enlarge, causing the big toe to be pushed inwards against the other toe.
- Some of your smaller toes may even be forced to overlap – the resulting pain and swelling are intense and may require surgery to repair.
- Hammer toe: Too-tight shoes can also force your toes into awkward, bent positions, and hammer toe is a deformity that results from such scenarios. Here the toes bend at the middle joint, usually the second and middle tie. Very often, this goes hand in hand with corns and calluses. Surgery may be required if the toes lose flexion and can no longer bend.
- Ingrown toenails: This seemingly benign condition is caused by too-tight shoes and occurs when the corner or side of the nail grows into the nail bed and surrounding flesh. It leads to pain, swelling, and often infections that need medical intervention to be cut free and antibiotics to remedy the inflammation.
- Bad circulation: If you’re habitually wearing shoes that are too tight, you may also suffer from poor blood circulation. This can be especially severe for those on their feet for most of their day. Symptoms include losing feeling in toes, pins, and needles, and feeling pain when removing your shoes.
Proper Fitting Of Your Shoes
Having shoes that fit correctly is not just about avoiding blisters. For those on their feet for large portions of the day, shoes can mean the difference between fatigue and pain in various joints.
If your shoes don’t fit properly, it can lead to extreme tiredness and aching in your legs, and lower back – ill-fitting shoes often result in the wearer compensating for pain or pressure by changing their stance or posture, which, over time, hurts your joints.
Fitting shoes is essential as you age because even if you’ve stopped growing, the way your body changes and the fluctuation in hormones and bodily processes means that sometimes your feet may be more swollen than others. Weight gain and water retention are also often cited for changes in shoe size.
There is also more to accurate shoe sizing than concerns for your health. In the modern age, where online shopping is not just convenient but often gives you access to unique merchandise and reasonable pricing, buying shoes that you can’t physically try on is quite common. Knowing your exact shoe size will make this more accessible – and you’re less likely to have to return an incorrectly sized pair of shoes.
Advice For Finding And Fitting Shoes
Now that you know why it’s so crucial to get your shoe size right, here are some essential tips and tricks to remember when you’re out shopping for new kicks:
- Try on various types of shoes and different styles. Regardless of whether they are marked as the same size across brands and designs, they will most likely fit very differently. Some styles place more pressure on specific areas of your feet, so trying a few styles is essential.
- When trying on shoes, don’t just slip them on and off – lace them up, buckle them, and put them on as though you were going to wear them out right at that moment. Then take a walk around the store and pay attention to how it feels. Shoes should feel snug and supported but never tight or squeezed. There should be breathing space but not so much that your foot moves about inside the shoe.
- Measuring your feet is always recommended. Many shoe stores offer this as a free service, but you may want to identify your size before you hit the store. Having a good understanding of what size your feet are will also help you narrow down your search. Read below on how to measure your feet accurately by yourself if you don’t want to have it done professionally.
- Research is essential, especially if you know your feet are outliers in size. If you struggle to find the right size whenever you shop, check online and on forums for tips and tricks on where to find the ideal shoes.
- Avoid buying shoes that feel too tight under the impression that they will stretch over time. You should only buy shoes that feel comfortable right off the bat.
How Easily Can You Find D-Width Shoes In The USA?
Considering that D-width shoes for men are considered medium, you wouldn’t be far off to assume that there are many brands with shoes in this width. However, not all brands offer shoes with a D-width – some because they measure and size things differently, which is a common issue with European shoe manufacturers. Additionally, many companies in the States only make standard or medium-width shoes.
More recently, famous brands, including ASICS and New Balance, have started providing more and more size options across their products. And with the advent of online shopping and ordering your exact needs over the internet, it’s easier than ever to find the perfect size and have them shipped straight to you.
Shopping for shoes can be confusing, even more so when you’re doing it online without the option of trying anything on. Knowing your shoe size accurately is very important, not just in length but also in width. A d-width shoe size implies that you have a medium or standard-width foot if you’re male, and if you’re female, it traditionally means you have a slightly broader foot.
With so much variance in sizing between brands and manufacturers – not to mention the differences between European and American companies – it is advisable to have your feet professionally measured and to try on various shoe styles and sizes when you can to build a frame of reference. Remember never to buy too-small shoes hoping they will stretch.
For more shoe sizing guides, check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).