Debunking the Wide Shoe Myth – Why Foot Shaped Shoes Are ACTUALLY Good For Wide Feet

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A photo collage of 7 extra wide barefoot shoes next to an extra wide bare foot with the text "shoes for extra wide feet" written over it and "Anya's Reviews" in the corner

Got wide feet? Struggling to find shoes that fit? Well I’ve got news for you – Most shoes available today, even the “wide” ones, are made with a distorted view of width. Your feet aren’t the problem, it’s the shoes that suck!

In this article we’re setting the record straight on width in shoes and sharing the best options that are actually good for wide feet. You and your feet will be forever changed.

Debunking the Wide Shoe Myth

A collage of 3 shoes side by side with a foot superimposed over the top to shoe if it fits inside the shoe. First is a standard shoe, and the pinkie and big toe are hanging off the sides. Second is a wide shoe and the pinkie and big toe are still hanging off the side but there is now a lot more width in the middle of the shoe. 3rd is a foot shaped shoe and the foot fits fully inside the shoe without hanging off at all

There are a variety of shoes out there that offer “wide” as an option for people who don’t fit into “regular” shoes. And indeed they are in some ways wider than their standard counterparts, but not throughout the entire shoe. Suspiciously, the toe box remains pointy in these so called wide shoes.

This leaves me with plenty of space at the ball of my foot and at the heel, but my toes are still pinched together, as if toes just don’t count when it comes to width. But here’s the thing – they really do count, and there’s a good chance the lack of toe space is why most shoes feel horribly uncomfortable for you.

A photo collage showing a bare foot with toes spread and a foot in a foot shaped shoe that still lets the toes spread, versus a bare foot with a rubber band around the toes squishing them together and a foot in a shoe with a pointy toe shape to show how the toes look inside that shoe

Foot Shaped Shoes Are Best For Wide Feet

“Wide” is subjective and open-ended – you can add width to any part of a shoe while other parts remain narrow.

By contrast, “Foot Shaped” suggests the shoe matches a natural anatomical shape that is asymmetrical and leaves space for all the toes. The width in a foot shaped shoe is distributed according to human anatomy.

A collage of 3 shoes side by side. Vans, which are very wide in the middle, Brooks wide which are wide in across the ball of the foot, and Barebarics barefoot sneakers that have an anatomical foot shaped toe box

This is why you should stop looking at shoes marketed as wide, and instead look for foot shaped shoes.

To be sure, not all feet are shaped the same (in fact I wrote a whole article about this) but the majority of the time an unadulterated foot will be widest at the toes. We see it in young children who haven’t started wearing shoes yet, in unshod populations, and I also see it all the time in people who switch to foot shaped shoes and start taking care of their feet. Yes, your feet can change shape depending on what you do with them!

A photo collage showing a bare foot with toes spread and a foot in a foot shaped shoe that still lets the toes spread, versus a bare foot with a rubber band around the toes squishing them together and a foot in a shoe with a pointy toe shape to show how the toes look inside that shoe

So it makes a lot of sense that putting a foot that is widest at the toes into a shoe that is narrowest at the toes would be quite uncomfortable. And it gets worse: Evidence increasingly points to footwear as the cause for the bunion epidemic that rages in industrialized cultures. And yet few people question the pointy shape of most shoes.

It’s time for a new paradigm when it comes to shoes. The best shoes for wide feet are the ones that match the shape of those feet!

If this is a new concept for you and you want to dig deeper into shoes that respect the natural functioning of the foot, take a segue on over to my article on the Benefits of Barefoot Shoes that covers everything you need to know.

Where Do You Need Your Width?

Now that we’ve established that conventional shoes are not serving the needs of our feet, let’s move on to another important width distinction.

To determine which are the best wide shoes for you, take a look at your feet. Where exactly do you need your width?

A photo collage shoes 4 different foot types and examples of barefoot shoes that work well for them: Narrow Straight, Narrow Fan, Wide Straight, Wide Fan

Some people have straight feet that don’t taper in significantly at the arch area. Others have fan shaped feet with a big width difference between their toes and their heel. You can see how what would be good for one would be uncomfortable for the other!

Of course most people will fall somewhere in between these extremes, and that’s perfectly fine. Now you have the language to define your shoe fit woes, and that will make it easier to intentionally select the wide shoes most likely to work for you!

The shape and contour of your toes can also play a role in how shoes fit. Here we’re just focusing on width, but you can read this article to dig deeper on foot shapes and to find shoes for narrow and average width feet!

What If My Feet Aren’t Widest At The Toes?

If you’ve spent your whole life in tapered footwear, there is a good chance it has affected your feet (feet can change, remember? And it goes both ways). So foot shaped shoes might give you more toe space than you can actually fill! The amazing thing about the human body is that it is adaptable – give your feet space and over time there is a good chance they will fill it. Go for a shoe that fits you comfortably today with enough space for your toes to spread out. As long as the shoe fits securely without flopping, the space around your toes shouldn’t be a problem.

But Are My Feet Actually Wide?

Many people come to me believing they have humongous feet, but then learn that all they need is a foot shaped shoe! Tiny, tapered shoes have really F-ed up our understanding of what’s “normal”. At first it can be hard to know how wide of a shoe you actually need, so expect some trial and error as you shift to this new paradigm.

To help people hone in on the right shoe for their foot, I created The Barefoot Shoe Finder. This is a searchable, filterable database of hundreds of natural footwear brands, plus a quiz to match you up to the right one. This is where to look if you don’t need the extra wide shoes listed below.

The Best Shoes for Wide Feet List

If you do have truly wide feet, the following lists are for you.

To recap, the best shoes for wide feet are:

  1. Anatomically shaped
  2. Wide where YOU need it

Many of these shoes can cross over between both lists, just like many feet cross over into multiple categories. You will never know for sure if a shoe will fit until you try it on, so don’t feel limited by these options. Use this is a stepping stone!

And here’s a reminder that the following are all EXTRA WIDE foot shaped brands. For anything less wide than that, use The Barefoot Shoe Finder.

Shoes for Wide Fan Feet

Here are 12 of the widest shoes that fan at the toes, for fan shaped feet.

*skip to the list for Wide Straight Feet by clicking here*

Pro Tip: If you have narrow heels, you might struggle with heel slippage. These Narrow Heel Fit Hacks can help make your shoes fit better.

Softstar Shoes Switchback, barefoot zero drop hiking boots with an extra wide toe box and rugged Vibram outsole

Softstar Primals (US) – Sizes 5U-15U. Amazing shoes for the widest fan shaped feet. Note that not all Softstar Shoes are shaped like this, you want to look specifically at the Primal line.


Top down view of Peerko Barefoot sneakers in gray metallic.

Peerko (EU) – Sizes EU 37-45. This stylish brand disguises an extra wide toe box for a more mainstream look. The quality is also top notch.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS10 for 10% off the EU shop. Select styles available seasonally at Anya’s Shop.


Top down view of a pair of feet wearing Ahinsa Jaya Black Vegan Barefoot Combat Boots

Ahinsa (EU) – Sizes EU 36-47 – Some models available in extra wide, but all are fan shaped and vegan.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off


shapen Poppy comparison between regular and wide width

Shapen Poppy Wide (EU & US) – Sizes EU 36-43. My favorite dressy women’s shoe for extra wide feet. So pretty! Choose wide width for max toe space, regular is only average width.

Code ANYA5 gets you 5% off the EU shop. And you can find them at Anya’s Shop (US)


Stock photo of blue Luks Shoes Fuego moccasins

Luks Barefoot (EU) – Sizes EU 27-48. These handmade shoes are very soft and leave plenty of toe space for fan shaped feet. They run long, I wear one size smaller than usual (but defer to their size chart).


NoNs Barefoot tall leather custom barefoot handcrafted lace up boots with brogue details

No(N)s (EU) – Sizes 37-44. Really excellent craftsmanship! Some customizations available (I had the ankle and calf of my boots customized to my measurements)


A woman's feet outside on a rock, the left foot is wearing minimalist trail running shoe, the Lone Peak by Altra. The right foot is barefoot.

Altra Running (US & EU) – Sizes US Women’s 1 – Men’s 16. These have a thick cushioned sole, but are still zero drop and have a fan shape.


RealFoot Farmer light brown boot top down and sole shape for wide fan pizza feet

RealFoot (EU Only) – Sizes EU 33-47. These are for extremely fan shaped feet!


Jenon Leather Barefoot Premium handcrafted sneakers in white leather for wide toe splay

Jenon Leather (EU) – Sizes EU 36-48. This brand just recently started shipping to the USA!


zlatush barefoot barefoot ballet flats cognac t-strap close up

ZlaTush (EU) – Sizes EU 36-46. Really soft leather, and one of my favorite shoe styles (t-strap). She makes a whole range of shoe styles in addition to feminine dress shoes.


A top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing black vegan Tikki Shoes barefoot sandals - Vibe model

Tikki Sandals (EU & US) – Sizes EU 36-43. The lightest sandals for wide feet you’ll try! Vegan options as well.

Also available at Anya’s Shop (USA)


Toetem sandals, made in the USA, in red being worn by a woman.

Toetem Sandals (US) – Sizes US W6-M13. These all have an extra wide forefoot for really fan-shaped feet.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off


A pair of feet wearing Shamma barefoot sandals, left foot is wearing the Trail Stars and right foot is wear the Warriors

Shamma Sandals (US) – Unique Sizes 4-14. Read my Shamma Reviews here! My personal favorite all purpose sandal brand – they fit a wide variety of foot types.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off


Goes Both Ways

These 8 shoe brands fit nicely in both categories – they provide ample space for fan shaped feet and the stay wide in the middle for straight feet.

Tired of scrolling? Skip to the list for Wide Straight Feet by clicking here.

Top Down view of a woman wearing Be Lenka Brooklyn barefoot sneakers with an extra wide toe box, leather uppers, and flexible foot shaped zero drop sole.

Be Lenka (EU & US) – Sizes EU 36-47. Read all my Be Lenka Reviews here! Be Lenka has so many practical everyday shoes, as well as dressy/stylish options. All in an extra wide shape (works for straight feet as well).

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off directly from Be Lenka (EU), or find many models at Anya’s Shop (USA)


Side by Side of Bohempia Regular and Wide cool converse style barefoot hemp sneakers

Bohempia Wide (EU & US) – Bohempia barefoot shoes come regular and wide. Choose wide if you have extra wide feet. They’re the coolest foot-shaped sneakers available! Works for straight feet as well.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 10% of Bohempia EU. Select models are available at Anya’s Shop (USA) for easier access.


Freet Barefoot (UK) – Sizes EU 30-49. Read my Freet Reviews here! A super practical brand for athletic use.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS-10 for 10% off


Top down view of Angles Fashion Artemis barefoot chelsea boots

Angles Fashion (EU & US) – Sizes 35-46+. Lots of great everyday/dressy styles. Read my Angles Fashion review here. Works for straight feet as well.

Use code ANYA for 5% off directly from Angles, or find select styles in Anya’s Shop (USA)


Top down view of Wildling Elderberry barefoot boots

Wildling Shoes (EU) – Sizes EU 36-48. Certain models have an extra wide shape to them, and others do not. This changes seasonally so read each product description and my Wildling Reviews.


A front view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing Vibram Five Fingers KSO barefoot running shoes in black with one foot pointed

Vibram 5 Fingers (US & Worldwide) – Sizes EU 34-50. They’re basically gloves, so highly adaptable to different foot shapes.


A top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing black Laboo Leather barefoot sandals

Laboo Leather (US & EU) – Sizes EU 35-45. Run a teensy bit small, but amazing quality.

Also available from the Laboo Leather Etsy shop which ships from Hungary and offers custom shapes!


Lems Boulder Boot Top Down and Sole Shape

Lems (US) – US Sizes W4.5-11.5 & M3-14. All Lems have a stack height around 8-14mm, and not all are zero drop or foot shaped, so read product descriptions.

Read all my Lems reviews here.

Select Lems styles also available at EU retailer Mugavik Barefoot – Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off


Shoes for Wide Straight Feet

Now let’s move on to the best shoes for wide straight feet. Here are 8 extra wide shoe brands that have work well for feet that are wide through the middle.

A top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing the Xero Shoes Kelso barefoot sneaker made of pink leather

Xero Shoes (US) – Sizes W5-11 & M6.5-15. Read all my Xero Shoes Review here! Excellent brand for the straightest feet out there.

Shop Xero Shoes EU if you live within the EU


a top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete wearing black oxfords with brogue detailing in a natural foot shape

FeelBarefoot (Turkey) – Sizes US women’s 3.5 – US Men’s 15. This is one of the more affordable places to get nice barefoot shoes. Read my full FeelBarefoot Review here.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS30 for an additional 5-10% discount


Top down view of Shapen Ivy barefoot ankle boots in Bordeaux being worn by a woman in denim.

Shapen Barefoot Ivy, Tulip Wide, Calla, Jasmine, Mai, & Daisy (EU) – Size EU 36-43. Read my in-depth Shapen Review here!

Code ANYA5 gets you 5% off the EU shop. And you can find them seasonally at Anya’s Shop (US)


A top down view of a pair of feet wearing Tadeevo bliss barefoot running sneakers in grey

Tadeevo (EU) – Sizes EU 35-53. Read all my Tadeevo reviews here! The Bliss is one of the all time best barefoot running shoes.

Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off


Top view of a woman's feet in Magical Alaskan barefoot winter boots in brown leather

Magical Shoes (EU) – Sizes EU 18-47. This brand is very soft and flexible, great for thick straight feet. Just be aware that the adult models run small so sizing up is advised.

Use code ANYA for 10% off


Top Down view of Sole Runner Hati extra wide warm barefoot boots for wide straight feet

Sole Runner (EU) – Sizes EU 25-49. Most Sole Runner shoes are wide, but read the product descriptions to find the extra wide options.


A top down view of a person wearing a pair of Feelmax Kuuva black barefoot waterproof hiking boots standing on snowy grass

Feelmax (EU) – Sizes EU 35-48. Shoes come in and out of stock, so ordering can be a bit tricky.


A pair of strappy barefoot huarache sandals each one shown with different tying options shown on a pair of feet against a tan wall

La Mexa (Mexico) – Sizes 23-28cm. Prices are in Pesos! These are your basic huarache sandal, but with a straight cut sole.


And don’t forget custom options! There are a surprising number of custom shoemakers out there and it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. This is a great way to cut to the chase and get a perfect fitting shoe. Check out the following guide to ordering custom barefoot shoes if this interests you.

Healthy Feet Are Happy Feet

Feet are a seriously underrated part of our body. Considering that they are our one point of contact with the ground whenever we are standing, walking, or running, it makes sense that unhappy feet would affect our entire well being. Making the switch to shoes that allow your toes to spread out can pay dividends in your life.

Got super wide feet? Now you know what the best shoes for wide feet actually are.

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25 thoughts on “Debunking the Wide Shoe Myth – Why Foot Shaped Shoes Are ACTUALLY Good For Wide Feet”

  1. Most wide shoes are only wider at the metatarsal joints.
    My feet are wide at the toes. My toes are almost all the same size.
    It’s my 4th toe that gets beat up in most shoes, because of the rounded angle of most regular and wide shoes.
    The feet in the photos are not like mine at all. Their toes are smaller and shorter.
    The shoes accommodate them. But they are far too curved for me.
    If mine were like that, I could wear normal wide shoes.
    I can’t wear Altras, they are like the “wide” shoes you show in the photos. Your toes have to be progressively shorter and smaller.
    I’ve had to take Crocs and stretch them at the top with shoe stretchers. The only other shoes I can sort of wear are Lems.

  2. Great post! I’ve so far struggled to find a foot shaped shoe that fits me well. I’ve tried vivobarefoot, altra, bohempia and freet. I currently have a pair of altra lone peaks I wear pretty much everyday for work (I run my own handyman business), a pair of vivobarefoot Addis and a new pair of bohempia zerlik. They’re all OK but if I take the insoles out and stand on them my outer toes all hang over the edge. So I think I have straight feet! The bohempia I got in the wide fit and they’re a bit loose unless I wear thick ish socks (bridgedale as that’s all I’ve got-still working on a decent foot shaped sock injinji don’t work for me they’re too tight). I’ll have a look at brands for straight feet as my altras are getting tired now.

    1. For some reason the foot-shaped concept hasn’t caught on with mainstream brands. I personally believe flat shoes are best, but you can always swap out the insole and add your own orthotic or arch support if you want a more traditional shoe. Some brands that have a thick cushioned sole but are still foot shaped are Lems Shoes and Altra. You also might like Birkenstock, Duck Feet, and Vibae.

    2. EXACTLY! That is so frustrating to me. I wish there were more stacked heel /flatform type shoes that are foot shaped. I don’t love super flat shoes.

  3. I love your review page, but for most of us with wide feet I think the best answer is to buy and try!

    I notice the Shapen Poppy is on your list for “extra wide” but if I compare my foot measurements to the shoe’s internal measurements even their wide size is too narrow.

    1. It’s true, it’s highly individual! Also, it’s really common for people to get mixed up by width measurements on size charts. Oftentimes people measure from a foot tracing which adds some millimeters to the actual width. And a lot of brands use the insole measurements as their width, which sits at the bottom of the shoe and does not accurately reflect the usable internal width. That’s why a lot of brands opt to leave width off the size chart, people complain the shoes are so narrow when they’re really wider than you think! That’s another reason sometimes you just have to try the shoes on before you really know.

      1. This is so good to know!! My feet measure a little wider than the widest shoes I’ve found measurements for. I thought I just had abnormally large flipper feet.

  4. I have high volume, straight extra wide feet (lymphedema). So far one model (only) of Five Fingers has been my best option. Any recommendations?

  5. I have very wide fan, bean shaped feet (with the width on the inside) with a very big toe, big toe joint. Be lenka has so far been my best fit but my toes still feel squished. The big toe does not have enough room at the toe joint and there isn’t enough room lengthwise for my fourth and fifth toes to fully splay. If I go up a size the forefoot is perfect but I have a gap at the heel and my foot slides around. What would you suggest?

    1. I think Softstar Primals will be your brands – they have the widest fan shape of all the brands, with plenty of space for a bean shape and an outer toe splay. You might also like Nons shoes, Ahinsa, and Luks. They have a shape similar to what you’re describing and stay narrow through the heel so you don’t slide around.

  6. Hi, Anya.

    Thanks to you, in only one month of barefoot shoes and doing your foot exercises I now have arches! I’ve cured my flat feet, plantar fasciitis and heel pain! Now my cousin wants to try barefoot shoes to see if it will help her bunion but she has trouble finding shoes for her VERY long, narrow feet. She wears a US Womens size 10.5 AAAA in the heel and midfoot, with A width across the toes due to her bunion. I’ve sent her links from your site but she is simply overwhelmed by all the different shoes. She says she can handle a wide toe box if the heel isn’t too sloppy. I’ve suggested heel spacers for that but she is still overwhelmed about selecting a shoe to start. Just a shoe to wear around the house for now. Can you make some suggestions to help “narrow” down her choices? (sorry, bad pun!)

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Joy! Thanks for the kind words. I would definitely start with a lace up shoe as they are much easier to secure over the midfoot to prevent flopping. If she just wants something to try with low risk for around the house the Whitin Trail Runners are a good place to start – they go up close around the ankle and have an extra strap you can tighten for even more security. I talk about them in this article (the “Wide Barefoot casual shoes might be too much, the Trail Runners should be good).
      https://anyasreviews.com/the-10-best-affordable-barefoot-shoes-for-adults/#whitin-barefoot-shoes

  7. Hi,
    It is hard for me to find shoes that fit, and enjoy reading your reviews. Are you planning on reviewing the Leather Softstar Switchback? I tried the Superfabric switchback but it was a bit tight, and I read that the superfabric does not stretch. I am thinking the all leather version might be a perfect fit after it stretched out a bit.
    Thanks,
    Chris.

    1. I don’t currently have plans to test out the all leather switchback, but I think that is a reasonable expectation (that they’ll stretch more than the Superfabric option)

  8. Hi Anya, Many thanks to your website. Very useful to me. Question- which one is wider in the toe box? -> Barebarics or Lems widest category (e.g primal zen and primal 2).

    1. I would say they are close to the same. Barebarics shoes are lower volume over the top, but also a little wider on the sides. Ultimately they feel pretty similar to me, but if you like vertical space over your toes you might like Lems Primal 2 or Chelsea better.

  9. Hi Can you tell me which shoes are shown in the 5th set of images, it is a black suede slip on which I am looking for.
    Thanks
    Sheela

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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