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Tip Tuesday: How to Stretch Out and Break In Shoes

Posted by Alexandra C. | Tuesday May 15, 201235 comments

In this week's Pose Off, I put on my fave shoes of late: my bright pink Doc Martens. Now, if you've ever had a pair of Docs, you know how difficult they are to break in. Of course, Docs aren't the only shoes that are tough to break in. Heels, wedges, sandals...groan. I am secretly convinced there is a very evil shoe designer out there who hates women's feet. I won't show you because it's pretty gross but I have the blisters and scars to prove it. 

If only I had done my research before I used and abused my poor feet. As it turns out, there are a few very simple ways to stretch out and break in your shoes before wearing them.

What you'll need:

Tip # 1: Heat Method

Works on leather or imitation leather shoes. The traditional method involves using a blow dryer to work on your shoes, softening them. I also found this video which suggested putting your shoes in the oven. This is great because it takes very little time. It does however run the risk of becoming a fire hazard though so you'll need to keep close watch. For both methods, at the halfway point, put on a pair of socks and walk for a minute in your shoes, testing out how they feel. This method should take about 5-10 minutes. 

Tip #2: Wet Method 

Fill a ziploc bag with water, about halfway. Close the bag, getting rid of as much air as possible. Put the bag of water in your shoe and stick those shoes in the freezer. As the water turns to ice, it will expand which in turn will stretch out your shoes. The downside is, you'll need to wait for a few hours until water turns to ice. 

Note: With both these methods, usually your shoes will increase about a half a size. 

Tip #3: Good ol' Fashioned Breakin' in 

This was the only trick that worked for my stiff leather Docs. I sat for about 10 minutes and crushed, smushed and creased the shoes with my hands. If your shoes hurt to walk in like mine, but you still need to work them in, try wearing them in an environment where you do little walking for a few hours. I wore mine at work at my desk or even around the house.  

Do you have a tip for breaking in and stretching out a pair of stubborn shoes? Or maybe you're just smart and buy comfy shoes (unlike me), which comfy shoes are your go-to pair?

More by Alexandra C.
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on September 20, 2012  marebear  861 said:

great tips

on May 30, 2012  bubbles77  27,232 said:

Will try to put a couple of these ideas..THANKS..this is one of my pet peeves..new shoe breakage..not easy and not fun..nice to have all that done for you without having to manually face the pain..lol We'll See...

on May 18, 2012  soogood  833 said:

I will try the ziploc trick... Thanks !

on May 17, 2012  midnightsun2288  6,053 said:

I bought Toms online and I had to order guys size and they ended up being a little too small. I literally went outside and started sprinting in them and lo and behold! they stretched out just enough.

on May 17, 2012  MissMoneyPenny  3,006 said:

Great article! I'm definitely testing this out at home.

As tip for if you are suffering from pre-blisters - put hockey tape on the back of your foot. It's not pretty (that's for sure!), but doesn't come off with sweat or water. I was told you can find this same tape re-branded for this very purpose in flesh tone colours at places like Shoppers. It works like a charm!

on May 17, 2012  MizzRobin  13,713 said:

Great ideas, I will definitely try this out next time I need to stretch shoes! I always have the opposite problem, too small feet damn it!

on May 16, 2012  Schmoopie  794 said:

I've tried the wet method but I'd never heard of using a blowdryer. I'm going to give that a try.

on May 16, 2012  Ruth H. said:

These are some fantastic tips--thank you for sharing them with the blog world! I had never heard of putting shoes in the freezer with bags of water--that's pretty amazing! Unfortunately, I have narrow feet and usually have the opposite problem. My pumps usually stretch out too quickly. Do you have any ninja tricks to help that problem? Thanks for your input!

on May 16, 2012  Racenhawk  2,604 said:

thanks for the info, I have wide feet and this will help!

on May 16, 2012  cutie_marlena  2,956 said:

Great tips! I'm shoe obsessed and have tons of pairs that I've NEVER worn simply because I have heels that I've already broken in that I prefer to wear instead of running the risk of wearing new heels and getting blisters. Maybe now I'll finally wear all those shoes that are currently decorations!

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