How to break in shoes

We’ve all been there.

You spot the best pair of shoes (ever), perhaps even a little sale going on, and you want them 100%, badly. But they don’t quite fit and the size up is way too big. Then you start asking yourself, is it my sock? Are my feet swollen? How can I morph my body to fit into these? What am I doing wrong to not fit into these shoes? Nothing, my dear. Nothing. Your foot won’t grow to a perfect size 8. And what’s worse is mentally preparing yourself for the dreaded ‘break in’ period. I know those all too well. How many shoes have I purchased only to tell myself I’d just need to ease through the break-in period. Oy. Blisters, limping, hidden bandages, and sore, throbbing feet at the end of the day.

You deserve better than that. Plus, wearing a shoe that is too tight is really bad for your feet; just ask your local chiropodist (they handle feet for a living). Ill-fitting shoes can create pressure on your toenails and crack and discolor them, create sensitive spots on your toes, give way to blisters, and frankly, a host of other foot issues that are not pretty nor fun to deal with. Fun fact, I visited a chiropodist once and wore four inch heels to the appointment. He gave me a very, very dirty look. Anyway. Thankfully, there’s a fix for slightly too-tight shoes. This only works with leather, and if that’s what you’ve got, you’re going to love this.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Sock time

    Put on your regular socks. Put on a pair of thicker socks on top – plain tube socks for a somewhat stretch, and winter wooly socks if you really need some room. Start small and work your way up. Do this one foot at a time.

  2. Wear the shoes

    Then, put your shoe on – yes, it will be tight – you’ll survive. Stay with me.

  3. Blow dryer

    Crank your blow dryer up to the hottest setting. Run the hair dryer over the tight spots of the shoe – the area that you know is the uncomfortable spot for your foot. Stand up and pay attention to your foot; find the tightest spots and focus there. If you have skinny ankles and wide feet like me, keep the heat away from the ankles and focus on the widest part of the foot. Hold the hair dryer about 6 inches away from the shoe, not directly on the leather, and move slowly back and forth for about 30 seconds.

  4. Take a walk

    Stop the blow dryer and walk around for a minute or so until the leather cools. Move your foot around while walking to really help form that leather. While hot, the leather is pliable so your walking is actually helping to shape the leather to your foot. By the time it cools a few minutes later, it should be re-shaped.

  5. Repeat for the other shoe

    You don’t need instructions for this one. You got this.

Good work! Now, take off the thick socks and just wear your regular sock (or go barefoot, if the shoe calls for it). Go on a strut and see how everything feels – is it more comfortable? You can repeat if necessary.

I love this trick, it has made a few of my beloved leather shoes that much more comfortable and easy to wear. When I was younger, I had no regard for foot comfort (the shoes looking hot were priority #1. Screw the feet.). Now, in my thirties, I respect the foot. I want my shoes to be comfortable. I deserve it!

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