Shoe shopping is just about the most fun a gal can have, but those women with extra narrow or wide feet may not enjoy it quite so much. If the width of your feet falls outside the norm, you know that finding well-fitting shoes can be a real challenge. If standard width shoes are too wide for you, your feet can move around inside them when running or walking. The constant friction produced by this rubbing will cause painful blisters to form, and without a secure fit you may find yourself losing a shoe if you're not careful. On the other hand, if standard shoes are not wide enough, you will have to deal with cramped toes, and constant foot pain as you go about your day. Finding great-fitting shoes for narrow and wide feet isn't easy, but you can put the fun back in shoe shopping by following a few simple tips.
The first step to better-fitting women's shoes is understanding sizing. You may not be able to find shoes in your size in local stores, meaning you'll have to buy sight unseen from an online seller. The makes knowing how to measure your shoe size especially important. Tape a piece of paper on the ground and trace an outline of your foot onto it, making sure to have on the socks you'll wear with your new shoes. Since your feet get larger the longer you're on them, do this measurement at the end of the day. Measure at the longest and widest parts of the outline to get your foot measurements, and you can convert them into length and width sizes using the shoe maker's sizing guide. From narrowest to widest, shoe width sizes come in AA, A, B, C, D, E, EE and EEEE. Since every maker uses a slightly different sizing standard, you should avoid using universal size guides.
Once you have your size measurements, it's time to go shoe shopping. If you have narrow feet, it's best to avoid slip-ons because there isn't much holding them on your feet. If they are even slightly oversized you'll have a hard time not stepping out of them when you're running. Instead, stick with lace-ups or strapped shoes. If you just have to have that cute pair of shoes that don't come in narrow size, there are a few tricks you can try for a better fit. Wearing multiple pairs of socks can help loose shoes fit better. If you want a more permanent solution, you can take up extra space in the heel, toe and sides of the shoes with a specially shaped insoles.
Finding the right shoe size for wide feet has its own challenges. A good starting point is to first look at European brands and designers, because European shoes tend to run wider for any given size. Remember that wide shoes for women also tend to be taller from sole to upper, which is something to watch for if your feet are flat as well as wide. If you prefer a do-it-yourself method, stick with leather shoes, because leather can be stretched to accommodate wider feet whereas synthetics cannot. An easy way to stretch out leather shoes is to warm the shoes with a hair dryer, put on a few thick pairs of socks and walk around the block a few times. When you're finished, the shoes will shrink back a bit but will still be wider than when you started. If you don't have time for that, soak a few kitchen towels in water and stuff them into your shoes. Put the shoes in the freezer and leave them overnight. The water in the towels will expands when it freezes, expanding the interior of the shoe.
Shopping for shoes for narrow and wide feet doesn't have to be a chore. With a few shopping guidelines and do-it-yourself tricks, it's easy to find a pair of cute sandals, dressy flats or elegant women's pumps to fit your feet. Shop the online shoe store at Sears to find the right size shoes for every outfit.