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Dance Shoes for Wide or Narrow Feet

  • Joined 11/29/03
  • 118
  • Featured > News
  • Posted Monday, November 28, 2011
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Dance Shoes for Wide or Narrow Feet

If the shoe fits...

If there's one thing we need to wear as dancers, it's appropriate and comfortable footwear. Shoes that fit you well can make a positive difference in your dancing; conversely, shoes that are ill-fitting can negatively impact your dancing and potentially cause health problems. So what do you do when you can't find a pair of shoes that fits because of the width or shape of your foot?

I've had a couple of requests about dance shoes for irregular feet widths, specifically dance Keds and Balboa shoes. While I wear a regular width shoe, I just barely missed the genetic gift of narrow feet from my father and paternal grandmother, who both have very narrow feet (Granny wears a AAAA). Finding narrow shoes in retail stores seems to be an extinct possibility for them, so both of them have had to order shoes from catalogs that offer narrow and wide width shoes. This can get pretty expensive, considering my dad had to wear a suit and dress shoes every day to work and my grandmother loves to dress up.

However, these shoes do exist! I'll start with the Keds, because that is easy. Keds makes narrow and wide widths of their Champion Oxford, the quintessential Lindy Hop shoe of the past few years. Keds makes them in AAAA (super narrow), AA (narrow), B (medium), D (wide), and EE (extra wide) widths. You are a bit limited in the colors available, but the classic white and black are there, as well as navy, blue, red and tan.

The process to transform them into dance shoes is the same - buy Keds and either glue the suede/leather sole them yourself or take them to a cobbler to be sueded/leathered.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: see 50nights now infamous guide to chroming your own shoes on Yehoodi here.]

You can buy the different widths from the Keds website, but I found that finding the different widths was easier and they were cheaper on the Maryland Square website (which is the catalog my Granny uses). Also, the EE width did not appear to be available on either website, but was available in the paper catalog, so if you are looking for this width you will probably need to place a phone order with Maryland Square.

My suggestion for different widths of Balboa shoes and for men looking for an oxford for dancing is to buy a custom pair of tango shoes. Tango shoe makers tend to offer vintage-inspired styles of shoes and will create a custom pair for your feet using actual measurements of your feet. The cost is more than a pair of Aris Allens, but generally less than a pair of Re-Mix Vintage Shoes.

I ordered a custom pair from Mr. Tango Shoes a few years ago and had a very positive experience. The fit of my custom shoes was unparalleled. On top of the width/shape, you can also customize the colors in both two-tone and mono-tone, the heel height and width/shape, the type of sole, the arch support, cushioning at the ball of the foot, and whether or not you want a platform. Another friend has had a good experience ordering custom shoes from Guaranteed Fit Tango Shoes.

If you have narrow feet, the vintage shoe world is your oyster. I would encourage you to look for vintage shoes on eBay and in vintage stores. Always ask whoever is working in the vintage store if they have narrow shoes because they don't always put them out, and ask your local vintage store to be on the lookout for your size - often, stores will turn down shoes that are narrow because they don't believe they will sell. Let them know you are the person who will buy these shoes!

Also, if you have wide or narrow feet and have found something that works for you, please feel free to share your experience or source here - I know there are others who would like to have this information. :)

EDITORIAL NOTE: Miss Laura Windley, aka caab aka Lindy Shopper, writes about vintage clothing and shopping on Yehoodi and on her excellent blog Laura encourages you to send her fashion and clothing questions and suggestions to

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(11 items total, 30 per page)

  • Joined 1/20/99
  • 14884
  • Post #1
  • Originally posted Monday, November 28, 2011 (5 years ago)

As someone with wide feet, this was good intel!

Any advice on stretching shoes that are a bit too narrow, like vintage shoes?

  • Joined 11/29/03
  • 118
  • Post #2
  • Originally posted Monday, November 28, 2011 (5 years ago)
Response to rikomatic in post #1 Show

My advice would be to not buy shoes that are too narrow for you. I know that Heidi Rosenau has had some luck stretching vintage shoes with a wooden shoe stretcher purchased on eBay (that also comes with bunion attachments), but I find that the leather is not as pliable and I have broken a couple of pairs of shoes attempting to stretch them in this manner. If you wanted to try stretching the shoes, I would recommend taking them to a cobbler, with the understanding that the shoes may not make it through the stretching process.

  • Joined 4/26/11
  • 33
  • Post #3
  • Originally posted Monday, November 28, 2011 (5 years ago)

I also have somewhat wide feet and have used this pair of Vans E-street shoes without issues for the past year. They are super comfortable, light, and great on pretty much any surface.

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  • Joined 8/20/07
  • 438
  • Post #4
  • Originally posted Monday, November 28, 2011 (5 years ago)
  1. Guys- If your feet are EEE or wider, check out

  2. With some (and sometimes considerable) effort I have found New Balance shoes with flat enough bottoms to have sueded.

  3. What are "Balboa shoes"? For the evening dances at Balboa events I often wear a pair of dress shoes (that aren't worn outside) and have a smooth leather sole. They are heavier than dance shoes, but when the sole is new, they are slick.

  • Joined 11/29/03
  • 118
  • Post #5
  • Originally posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011 (5 years ago)
Response to Wino in post #4 Show

If the shoes are not quite flat enough to suede, a cobbler can grind them down to be smooth enough to apply suede.

Balboa shoes - the initial question about different width shoes was asked by a female who was looking for a suitable pair of heels for Balboa.

  • Joined 6/3/07
  • 212
  • Post #6
  • Originally posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011 (5 years ago)

Would you have any recommendations for women with wide feet who don't want to wear keds? My additional challenge is if I find a shoe that runs wide, it's a 2 inch heel and I hate dancing lindy hop in heels.

Thanks for the resources above!

  • Joined 9/5/01
  • 1362
  • Post #7
  • Originally posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011 (5 years ago)
  • Edited on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 7:29 pm (5 years ago)

If stretching leather shoes use shoe cream. It will moisturize and soften the leather like hand-lotion for skin which should in turn make the leather a little more pliable. It's good even if you're not stretching to keep the leather soft and in good condition. Neutral doesn't contain polish so it's your best bet but you can choose the other colors if you want to polish and condition.

  • Joined 7/13/99
  • 1159
  • Post #8
  • Originally posted Wednesday, November 30, 2011 (5 years ago)
  • Edited on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 11:17 am (5 years ago)!&id=526531

  • Joined 3/5/99
  • 313
  • Post #9
  • Originally posted Thursday, December 1, 2011 (5 years ago)

Another suggestion for wide feet is to look for square dance shoes. There are many sites online that sell them. As square dancing attracts an older crowd, they tend to offer a selection of shoes in wide width for women. Some of them would work with vintage. And their prices are reasonable.

  • Joined 1/20/99
  • 14884
  • Post #10
  • Originally posted Thursday, December 1, 2011 (5 years ago)
Response to Caledonia in post #9 Show

Lol, I totally read that as "dance shoes that are square."

  • Joined 11/29/03
  • 118
  • Post #11
  • Originally posted Friday, December 2, 2011 (5 years ago)
Response to EileenO in post #6 Show

There's always the option of sueding street shoes that you love. Also, I used to have a pair of Tic Tac Toe "Shag" shoes, which come in AA and D widths, in 46 different colors. You can have a pair to match every outfit!

(11 items total, 30 per page)