I Have Wide Feet, so I Always Avoid These Shoe Styles

I have size-four feet that are wide and flat. It’s a fashion curse I’ve had to adjust to during my tenure as an editor, and at times—particularly before trainers and ugly sandals received the official stamp of approval—it’s been incredibly frustrating. As someone who loves shoes more than all other accessories, and maybe even clothes, I’ve had limited choices over the years. Getting creative with footwear options that feel current but are comfortable and practical has become a speciality of mine. I’ve suffered through multiple foot injuries due to some poor shoe purchases over the years. Take this as a prime example: Faux Birkenstocks cherry-picked to Interrail through Europe with a heavy backpack resulted in a stress fracture, an early flight home, lots of tears and years of effort to recover. I was told as a child that I had "no bounce” in gymnastics class, and through many podiatrist appointments later on in life, I discovered it was the structure of my wide feet that created the problem. The specialist’s advice? Gorgeous orthotics that only fit into the clumpiest of shoes for the rest of time. It simply wasn’t a decent option for me as a fashion assistant, and it certainly isn’t a great solution now, so over time, I have developed a list of footwear no-nos to avoid at all costs.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

You may not suffer with the same flat-footedness, but if you landed on this article, it’s highly likely you do have wide feet and feel underserved by the current wide-fit options available—many of which appear to be quite cheap-looking (what is it with fake patent leather and wide-fit shoes?) or completely outmoded. I will feature some of the stronger options below, but I’m also here to give some pointers on general silhouettes, trends and finishes to look out for. Some are very obvious. For instance, pointed toes are an instant red flag, and I’m sure that even people with slimmer feet struggle with a pointed-toe style with a very high heel—the pressure this puts on your toes is not worth any amount of trending credentials, in my opinion. We only get one pair of feet, and they carry us through life, taking a battering every damn day (especially if you’re keeping that step count up!), so without further ado, let’s take a look at the best shoes for wide feet, along with the worst styles to steer clear of. 

Avoid: Pointed Toes

Wear Instead: Almond, Round or Square Toes

It really doesn’t take a doctorate in podiatry to decipher that pointed-toe shoes are not great companions to wide feet. They pinch and rub and will cause bunions over time and discomfort almost instantly. Fortunately, there is no one toe shape that is in fashion these days, and you can have your pick of all of the wider cuts, such as almond, rounded or square. (Although, look out for the latter being quite slim and long at times.) The ongoing trend for chunky, utilitarian ankle boots provides very roomy shapes for an autumn/winter solution. For closed-toe shoes, a softer almond edge will still be flattering and leg-lengthening. Even if a pointed-toe shoe came in a wide fit, I would still avoid it unless it felt truly comfortable and were rendered from soft, supple leather.

Avoid: Unadjustable Straps

Wear Instead: Tie-Up, Knotted, Buckled or Other Adjustable Styles

As darling as strappy sandals are, they are often quite unforgiving for wide feet, and it would take a LOT of wearing-in to make a pair comfortable. There are some wide-fit options out there via the likes of ASOS, M&S and New Look, but the designer options are few and far between. That’s why I now look out for lace-up, buckle-up and other adjustable fixtures that allow strappier shoe styles to give a bit of room. Rope-style lace-ups, particularly in suede or fabrics, will be suppler than straps that have front-and-back layers sewn together, and if you’re looking at styles that feature buckles, make sure the backs of the hardware are well-finished and not going to dig into your feet.

Avoid: Extra-High Stilettos

Wear Instead: Lower or Chunkier Heels

It's just gravity! The less of an angle your foot is having to be positioned in, the less squished the front of your wide feet will be. It's also the same kind of theory for stiletto heels versus chunky ones. Chunkier styles allow weight to be distributed more evenly.

Avoid: Patent Leather

Wear Instead: Plain Leather or Suede

By default, the lacquer of a patent finish makes the leather stiffer, even with the most premium of designer shoes. I’ve tried my best with patent shoes in the past, but the truth is they are difficult to wear in, and wide feet need an easy, comfortable fit. Wherever possible, I try to find suede versions of the shoes that I want, particularly when it comes to closed-toe styles like boots, brogues or loafers. You will need to be prepared to defend their lifespan with suede protector sprays, but they will be kinder to your feet from the off. If suede isn’t an option, your next best move is for real leather and good-quality leather at that. Although synthetic or vegan leathers are quite soft in design, they aren’t as good in terms of breathability and general wear and tear—I find that non-leather shoes tend to scuff and tire out quicker than real leather shoes.

Avoid: Single-Strap Sandals

Wear Instead: Crossover Sandals

One thicker strap at the front of a pair of sandals will be cut to an average foot-width dimension, so I often look for crossover styles instead. They have a little more fabric in them and can be more readily manipulated to suit your foot style. Soft leather sandals that have a knotted and twisted front are something that I’ve come to rely upon time and again, and they are quite present across the high street in regular fits. 

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and MatchesFashion.com, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.