We’ve all been in those shoes – you know, the ones that absolutely destroy your feet to a point where you can’t even wear them past the breaking-in stage. Yeah, those. The ones we usually spend obscene amounts of money on just to have them never quite fully break in and rip apart our poor little footsies in the process.
Before you give up on those bad boys (and trust me, I know how tempting it is to give up on them and just adore them from afar in your shoe closet), try some more creative ways of breaking them in without completely totaling your feet. Don’t worry – here are 5 ultimate tips to help you in your process.
Stretch ‘em Out, Moleskin Style
Many of the problems associated with new shoes come in the form of tightness and pinching in super uncomfortable areas that make your feet ache all day long. You may have heard the trick of putting a piece of moleskin over the part of your foot that’s being pinched, but this tip takes it one step further.
Place the moleskin on your foot where it is being pinched, then soak your foot in water, with the moleskin on (the sticky stuff on moleskin is pretty waterproof). Once your foot is dry, slip it into the shoe that’s causing the pain and wear the shoe around for a bit. Since the moleskin has been soaked in water, it’s expanded, and can therefore help expand the exact parts of the shoe that are pinching in the first place.
It’s an easier way to stretch out just the right areas of the shoes that are hurting you without having to resort to your big-foot friend wearing the shoes around for you to stretch them out on your behalf (talk about a ruined pair of shoes!).
Water isn’t exactly the best thing you can put a new pair of leather shoes into contact with, but, when used properly, it can really help to stretch out your shoes in just the right way.
First, make sure you thoroughly waterproof a new pair of leather shoes with some sort of waterproofing agent or spray. Once you’re sure the agent is dry and the shoes are waterproof, just dunk them into a big pot of water and hold them down for about 2 minutes.
After you pull them out of the water, put a pair of heavy white socks on your feet, and put on your wet shoes. Just walk around in them for a bit until they dry, and the water will help mold the leather to the exact size and shape of your foot. Voila – a custom-fitted pair of shoes!
Freezing your shoes is another method to help stretch out painful areas of the shoes that are a bit too tight and pinching on your skin. All you need is a small Ziplock bag for each shoe you’re working to stretch. Fill each bag about 1/4 of the way with water.
Seal the bag, then stuff the water-filled end into the part of the shoe that you’re hoping to stretch. Then, throw the shoes in the freezer. Wait until all of the water in the bag is fully frozen, then pull the shoes out of the freezer. Let the ice thaw completely on a counter top or table while it’s still stuffed into the shoe.
Dry off the shoes (they should only be slightly wet, not soaking – if they’re soaking, your bag probably popped a hole at some point during the freezing process) with a paper towel. Then, try them on. Rumor has it this method can help you stretch a too-small pair of shoes by 1/2 or up to a full size!
Blow Dry ‘em
One of the fastest methods for breaking in a new pair of shoes can be to take a hair dryer to them much like you would to your hair while it’s wet. Cover your feet with a few pairs of socks (as many as you can manage to stuff into the shoes themselves), then take your hair dryer to the spots of the shoes that are too tight.
While you’re blasting the heat at the sore spots, wiggle your feet around as much as you can. Use the heat long enough to heat the actual material of the shoe, then turn the hair dryer off. Walk around in the shoes while they cool if you can manage the pain (the socks should help ease it a bit).
Again, wearing them as they cool can help mold the material to fit the exact size and shape of your foot for a much more custom fit that won’t hurt your footsies!
Feed ‘em Some Starch
Believe it or not, potatoes can be a great tool to help you in stretching out your shoes quickly and efficiently. Peel a potato, stuff it into your shoe where you’re hoping to stretch it out, leave it overnight, then remove in the morning!
There’s something about the wetness and the starch in a peeled potato that, when absorbed into the material of your new shoes, can help it stretch out gradually. Then, with the size of the potato in the shoes, the material stretches to accommodate the bulk.
Surprisingly enough, banana peels are rumored to work in a similar way, so don’t be afraid to just stuff some food in the parts of your shoes that are too tight! It sounds a little weird, but if it works, it’s worth a try, right?
- License: Creative Commons image source
Ashley Dean is a freelance writer who buys all of her leather shoes and work boots from Family Footwear Center, a large online shoe retailer. Every time she buys a new pair, she goes through the process of breaking them in as quickly as she can so she can get to enjoying her shoes!