You’ve found a new pair of shoes you love, you’ve brought them home, you’re trying them on again and oh, wait, are they pinching a little?! Your heart sinks. In your excitement, you may have gotten a little carried away and not noticed that those shoes were a little too snug. Or you may have ordered them online and now don’t want the hassle of returning them. Either way, we’re here to help with that.
But before we jump in, do keep in mind that stretching only works when the shoe is just a touch too tight, not when it’s the wrong size entirely. While trying the new shoes on in-store, you’ll also want to make sure you’re trying them on with the type of socks you’re planning on wearing them with. Also, remember that most shoes will stretch with time anyway but if you were looking to give the process a little nudge, you’re in the right place.
1- Freezing water
This works best on non-leather shoes. Grab a zip-lock bag, fill it halfway with water and place it inside your shoe, rearranging it to make sure it’s sitting in those tight spots. Now place the shoes in the freezer (in a plastic bag for hygiene purposes, of course).
2- Blow dryer and socks
Grab your thickest pair of socks and a blow dryer. Fasten your shoes up comfortably. Apply the blow dryer to any areas that feel tight for 20-30 seconds using medium heat only, keeping the blow dryer 30cm away from your shoes. Make sure you keep it in motion as well to ensure you don’t overexpose the leather to heat. Finish up by applying a good leather conditioner to your shoes.
3- Wearing them in with thick socks around the house
There are a few tricks to keep in mind with this one. Make sure you’re doing this over a carpeted surface so as not to damage the soles of your shoes in case you want to return them. Also, make sure you’re doing this in the evening when your feet are most swollen. And finally, opt for the thickest socks you own (layer if need be). Bonus - this will help reduce blisters.
4- Shoe stretchers
Like most things these days you can buy a range of adjustable shoe trees online that will stretch your shoes a little in both length and width. You’ll have to turn the adjustment handle every 8-12 hours until you get the perfect stretch. You can combine this with a range of speciality liquids and sprays designed to stretch leather, fabric and vinyl shoes.
If you’re unsure of anything or simply don’t want to take any chances, your best bet will always be your trusted local shoe repair shop. They have the tools and know-how to get the job done.
6- Potato hack
We’re throwing this one in for fun, we’re not sure how effective it is but legend has it that it works. Peel a potato and mould it to the shape of your shoe’s toe box. Wipe the potato dry with a paper towel and leave it in your shoe overnight.
7- Newspaper stuffing
Many of us are in the habit of stuffing our shoes with newspapers to help them keep their shape. But you can take this a step further by making sure the newspapers are slightly wet (but not soaking as that could damage your shoes) so that it takes the shape of your shoes. Leave them in for a day at least to dry and remove the paper before your next wear!
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