We have some new ideas on how to break in new shoes! I’m certain that at some stage we have all purchased an amazing looking pair of shoes that just scream “You know you want me” only to find that they aren’t quite so comfy when you get them home.
It’s not uncommon for new shoes to need breaking in. Maybe they’re a little tight around the toes or the back of the shoe sits a little differently than your heel is shaped. It used to be said that you just need to wear them around to get them to stretch so before you know it your feet are sore and more often than not have blisters.
Here are some easy tips on how to do it painlessly and virtually mess free!
- First and foremost try and go for a shoe that has the perfect fit. Always have your foot measured when looking for new shoes and try them on in store. Have a good walk around in them making sure that you move your feet in ways that you would normally. Crouch down, wriggle your toes and hey even do a little dance if you really want to.
- Buy a shoe stretcher. There is such a thing as a shoe stretcher it resembles something that you can imagine being in Geppetto’s workshop alongside Pinocchio. It is made from several pieces of specially shaped timber with spreading bar and screw up handle to the rear of it. You simply place it in the shoe and turn the screw until it opens to full capacity allowed by the shoe then turn it a little more. This is known as ‘dry stretching’ and will take longer than some other methods to stretch your shoes out. However you can isolate the stretch with these by purchasing a particular type to either broaden the shoe or stretch the length a little and if you prefer this old fashioned method but don’t want to be waiting for so long then you can also purchase a spray or oil from the shoe repair store to use with it.
- Now as I mentioned before there is the old ‘wear them in’ trick. Yes this will work but if you want to break in your shoes this way only wear them for around 20 mins at a time. Preferably around home so it’s easier to change into something more comfortable if you need to. If you work at a desk you could slip them on while working and gradually stretch them out that way as well. One thing is for sure though.. have some Band-Aids handy just in case.
- Another handy hint for leather shoes is to put on a pair of thick, damp socks (gross I know but all in the name of comfort right?) Then squeeze those new shoes on. Now grab your trusty old hairdryer and focussing on the tight spots heat them for a good 20-30 seconds whilst wriggling your feet around as much as you can. Remove the heat but leave the shoes on until the socks are dry. Once dry give them a polish to replenish any of the necessary moisture in the leather which may have been removed in the heating process.
- Wet newspaper. That’s right those new shoes might need a few pages from the local times to get them ready. Simply wet some newspaper, scrunch it up and stuff as much as you can into the shoes and leave them to dry. Be sure not to distort the shape of the shoe when using this method. If the shape of the shoe is changed then remove some of the newspaper and try again.
- Alcohol. Now I’m not saying go and have a stiff drink so you don’t feel the discomfort! Make up a 50/50 mix of water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray the INSIDE of the shoe and then wear it around for 20 minutes. The shoes will dry quickly and with the added heat from your feet will help them stretch to the perfect fit for you. Alternatively, rub some of the alcohol straight onto the parts that need stretching and quickly put them on so as the alcohol doesn’t dry before you have a chance to stretch the shoe to your foot.
- Take them to a Professional! It can be well worth the extra cost to have a professional do it for you. Especially for expensive shoes. They know exactly what to do to make them the perfect fit without the risk of damaging them. They will know what methods are best for the materials the shoes are made from.
Be sure to check for any manufacturers notes that state the shoe won’t stretch BEFORE trying these methods.
Be especially careful if heating to stretch shoes as some adhesives used in them are heat based.
Whilst trying different stretching methods always use a cheaper shoe until you get the method right it’d be such a shame to ruin those gorgeous new expensive shoes from making a silly mistake.
NEVER try and stretch out Vintage shoes yourself, please leave that to the professionals.
Written by Belinda Redford