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Fast fix for tight shoes.

03/08

The offenders

I recently bought some black leather pumps on sale for $25. Not anything Carrie Bradshaw-worthy — just good, basic shoes with the perfect heel height for some of my business suits.

Both shoes had those annoying theft control devices in the heels, so I didn’t realize they were a tad small until I got them home. Since they were the only pair in the store, I decided I would just suck it up and endure a little pain while I broke them in.

Wrong.

They were simply too tight — and too boring — to warrant that kind of torture. But by the time I’d reached this conclusion, it was two days past the 30-day return policy.

I stashed the unworn offenders in the Goodwill donation bag.

A few days later I saw someone (okay, on the Nate Berkus show — I may have recorded an episode or two) demonstrate how you can stretch shoes by stuffing them with water-filled Ziploc bags and putting them in the freezer.

I was skeptical about putting leather shoes – or any shoes, really — in my freezer, but seeing as I was already planning to give them away, I figured I didn’t have much to lose.

Since I was a bit foggy on the details, I turned to Google and discovered this handy wikiHow article covering not only the freezer method but lots of other ways to stretch new shoes.

As a result, I ended up going with a less invasive solution — one that doesn’t mix water and leather. It ended up working like magic on my shoes.

Magic that involves a blow dryer and thick socks, that is.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Cautionary note: I wouldn’t suggest experimenting with this technique on your Pradas or Louboutins or Manolos. Or really any shoes for which you paid more than $25. Just in case.

Directions

  1. Turn dryer on “high” heat setting and heat the inner toe and heel areas of first shoe.
  2. Put heated shoe on foot over sock. (Keep in mind that this is not an entirely comfortable process, assuming the shoe was already too tight to begin with *before* adding a thick sock. There will likely be some shoving involved.)
  3. Heat outer toe and heel of shoe for 20-30 seconds, bending foot as much as possible inside the shoe.
  4. Repeat entire process with other shoe.
  5. Still wearing the socks (and avoiding contact with anyone likely to not appreciate your unique footwear situation), walk around in the shoes until the leather cools completely (about five minutes, or until you can no longer stand it).
  6. Remove socks and test for size. Once was enough to stretch my shoes nearly a half size. I was actually worried I’d stretched them too much, but after wearing them around for a few minutes without socks, they fit perfectly. You can probably repeat the sock/heat routine if necessary to stretch the shoes even further.
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82 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann M. permalink
    03/08 1:29 PM

    I just discovered your blog through Google and I love it! Really glad I found this post today- I have two pairs of shoes in my closet that I have never worn because they are too tight. I’m going to try this as soon as I get home from work.

    • 03/08 1:33 PM

      Thank, Ann — so happy you found it helpful. Keep me posted on how the shoes turn out!

  2. Joanne permalink
    03/08 1:42 PM

    Just wondering if you can do this with shoes that aren’t real leather. I have some “pleather” ones that need to be stretched.

    • 03/08 1:45 PM

      Joanne — the wikiHow site (where I got the idea) specifies the dry heat method is only for real leather shoes. But it says the freezer method works on fake leather (or ‘pleather’) shoes. Hope this helps. Here’s the link for more info: http://www.wikihow.com/Stretch-New-Shoes

  3. 04/12 5:53 PM

    I am at the moment of need on this blog! I bought adorable cute shoes perfect for work all summer long in Washington, DC. Pants, skirts, flippy doo-dah whatevers, they will be cute at anything. Except they are snug.

    And now, with this blog in mind, I SHALL TRIUMPH!

  4. 04/12 6:46 PM

    Congrats on the acquisition of cute shoes! This technique works like a champ — just be prepared to have hot, uncomfortable feet for a few minutes. Good luck!

  5. 04/14 7:40 PM

    ……..hasn’t worked enough. Going to give it one more try back in DC, and then, sadly, back to the TJMaxx.

    Must.
    Stretch.
    Shoes.

  6. Jennifer permalink*
    04/14 7:49 PM

    @Marti — did you try any of the other methods recommended in the wikihow link? http://www.wikihow.com/Stretch-New-Shoes. You might need to try something more drastic like the freezer method. (Just how many sizes do you need to stretch those shoes…?) ;-)

  7. Raquel permalink
    08/12 2:28 PM

    Hi! Just letting you know that I just used this on a pair of shoes made from both leather and suede and it worked like a charm! Thank you so much for posting this!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      08/12 5:33 PM

      So glad it worked for you, Raquel (good to know about suede too) — thanks for letting me know!

  8. Nadia permalink
    02/24 4:02 PM

    Wow! Thank you so much! This worked perfectly!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      02/24 4:29 PM

      Yay, Nadia — happy to hear it!

  9. Debby permalink
    08/11 1:30 AM

    You, my friend are a genius. Immediately that the leather is warm you can feel the difference. My shoes were just rubbing in at the back as the design of the shoe curved in at the top of the heel part. I warmed it, committed several fashion crimes walking round in hubbys socks for a while and voila!
    Many many thanks

    • 09/05 10:19 PM

      I commend you on your bravery to commit fashion crimes, Debby. (I should start collecting photos!) So glad it worked for you.

  10. Judy permalink
    08/17 6:54 AM

    Brilliant! Thank you!

  11. K Compton permalink
    08/25 7:36 AM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  12. Cat permalink
    09/01 8:43 PM

    I was able to stretch out some Steve madden slippers made from a fabric blend and it worked wonders! Thanks!

  13. 09/05 10:21 PM

    Judy, K Compton and Cat — you are all so welcome! Thrilled to hear it’s working — way cheaper than buying new shoes. :-)

  14. Vanessa permalink
    09/22 7:07 AM

    I just did it and works

  15. Vanessa permalink
    09/22 7:21 AM

    It is amazing how fast this works.In minutes I was walking on my leather shoes.Thanks so much.

  16. Shirley permalink
    10/18 4:39 PM

    Amazing! I had my granddaughter, who is the same shoe size as me and loves to try to walk in my heels, get the full experience of the measures we go through! She had a ball (at 10) and I saved my feet! Gee, do you know hard are it is to find cute kid’s glove leather NAVY pumps? Jennifer, I am soooo glad I found this blog!

  17. 11/30 5:17 PM

    this worked amazing well. done successfully in 5 minutes.

    bought lovely suede flats in a sale and was nearly at my wits end walking in their viselike grip – especially with everyone telling me that “oh if they’re suede, they’ll stretch” as if it would happen by itself.

    this method was far more successful and painless (and FREE) than any misguided attempt to walk around “breaking in” shoes. (or pay a shoe mender to stretch them – i’m nearly sure this is what they do, now that i’m thinking about it!)

    thanks a mill.

    • Yvette permalink
      04/21 10:51 AM

      thank you for this infomation..i just bought an adorable pair of suede flats in a euro size that i thought would be equivalent to USA size and they felt a whole size too small, and to make it worse they were sold out of the next size, so I will try this instead of getting a refund, because they are just so cute.

  18. Nicole permalink
    12/14 5:13 PM

    What a fantastic idea! Thank you! It works! I bought an amazing pair of gold shoes in NYC and haven’t been able to wear them since returning to Australia! I’m looking forward to wearing them tonight!

  19. 01/31 4:31 PM

    Just tried this on a pair of suede boots I was getting ready to take back. Love my boots so I did not want to return them. As a last resort I tried this and it worked!!! Jennifer, you are my new best friend!!!!!!!

  20. 02/03 5:51 PM

    I bought a cute pair of leopard print patent leather shoes at the end of last summer and when I tried them on yesterday the left one was so tight it hurt immediately. I tried them on in the morning and evening in case my feet were swollen but they were still too tight. My husband suggested using Google to find an answer and I found your blog. I was sceptical it would work, mainly because I couldn’t see how I’d get them on with thick socks if they were already too tight, but I am very pleased to report your method worked! The left one is a fraction tight near the toe, so I may heat that one again to see if I can loosen it a bit more, but the right one feels great. I’ve got three pair of expensive Italian leather shoes that kill me (I bought them when I wore a size 37.5 and now I take a 38) so I’m going to try this method with them too. I’ve got nothing to lose! Thank you so much for sharing this information!

    • 02/12 4:53 AM

      Hi… this sounds like a great way to sort out my new trainers. They fit everywhere really except they’re just a bit narrow… length is fine. Do you think it would work with a pair of leather trainers? Thanks anyway – great blog :)

      • 02/12 7:24 AM

        Don’t know why it wouldn’t work with trainers/athletic shoes, Ed. The great thing is that as long as the heat is applied gradually and to the inside of the shoe, this method is pretty safe to try.

  21. Susan permalink
    02/26 5:37 PM

    Oh hooray ….. I googled and found this too! I just got some amazing Jimmy Chool metallic boots one size too small….. There are none of my size available anywhere. So I must succeed ….there is NO alternative! I need width and a little in length! Wish me luck!,

    • 02/27 8:21 AM

      Good luck, Susan — Jimmy Choos are hard to come by. Let me know how it works out!

    • Anna permalink
      10/23 8:09 AM

      Susan – did this work for you? I bought Jimmy Choos and am having the same issue!

  22. Moni permalink
    02/27 3:32 AM

    Wow.. You have no idea how happy I am to have come across this AWESOME bit of information! I’ve just decided to start wearing heels again after having my baby last year but found that my feet had gone up half a size to a full size so my old heels (& recently purchased) were too tight. I was devastated! But now… oh! You are my new girl crush! Thank you so much!

    • 02/27 8:20 AM

      Happy it worked for you — post-baby feet are strange beasts. (Happy to be your girl crush, too.) :-)

  23. Jennifer chims permalink
    02/27 8:10 AM

    Can i try the drier heat method on my seued shoes! I have it like 3 pairs that are not my size! I ordered a size 8 instead of size 10! Pls i need help cos i love those shoes! All seued

    • 02/27 8:18 AM

      You can certainly try it, Jennifer — that’s the great thing about this method, it’s pretty safe for the shoes. I’m guessing you’ll get *some* give, but two full sizes is a lot to hope for … good luck!

  24. Manda permalink
    03/31 7:44 AM

    So glad I found this! I just purchased an adorable pr of Sperry’s & when I was trying them on in the store, the next half size up was too big & the size I bought was tight across the forefoot. The salesperson assured me they would stretch but after walking around in them all last night & all this morning, I was developing blisters in 2 different places on each foot! This worked like a charm & ended my torture. Just wish I’d discovered it last night instead of this morning!

  25. 04/09 3:51 PM

    I can not believed this actually worked! You saved my feet from enduring a very long and painful night at prom. While I must say the few minutes with the 2 pairs of socks on were almost unbearable, they feel so much better now! Now I’m not even afraid to dance in them… thank you!

    • 04/09 4:28 PM

      Yay, Ivy — thanks for letting me know. Hope you have a blast at your prom!

  26. Bellie permalink
    05/06 6:48 PM

    I just want to thank you! I just tried this with some awesome boots that I love.
    I wore them for about 40 minutes before the stretch and ended up with blisters on my heels and baby toes. They feel good and can’t wait for the blisters to heal to wear them again!👀❤👢

    • 05/06 8:56 PM

      Happy to hear it worked on your boots, Bellie! Hope your feet heal soon. :-)

  27. AMS permalink
    05/09 1:58 PM

    Do you feel that this would work on satin heels I’ve purchased for my wedding?

    • 05/09 2:03 PM

      I haven’t tried this technique on fabric, but it’s probably worth a try. I guess the biggest risk would be tearing the satin, so I’d recommend starting with a thinner sock and lower heat setting at first and see how that works, then gradually increasing the thickness and heat if needed. Good luck — and best wishes on your wedding!

  28. Benny permalink
    05/18 3:33 AM

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

  29. Sheree Gladden permalink
    05/21 9:07 AM

    Hi, just wanted to mention, I loved this post. And it worked on my shoes. Keep on posting!

  30. Ady permalink
    05/23 4:38 AM

    Just tried the hair dryer thing on a pair of Adidas Predator soccer boots — like u said they stretched a half size up! I was reluctant at $160 but it’s worked. Thank u.

  31. Meghan permalink
    05/24 9:34 PM

    Thank the dear Lord I found this! I was just about to throw away the cutest pair of pumps I own because they were way too tight. This worked like a charm! They are now my favourite pair of shoes!

  32. Isabel permalink
    05/25 10:59 PM

    Thank you so much for this info!!! You saved my toes from pain! This worked so beautifully !

  33. Newton permalink
    05/31 1:24 AM

    Hey there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  34. Shelli permalink
    06/02 5:31 PM

    This worked great! Thanks so much.

  35. Valencia Lance permalink
    06/17 5:59 PM

    Great website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics discussed in
    this article? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

  36. Josefina permalink
    06/18 10:29 AM

    Very soon this web page will be famous amid all blogging users. It really works!

  37. Ann Marie Seitz permalink
    06/20 8:18 AM

    I think that this is exactly the information I needed! And i’m satisfied studying your article — I’m going to try it tonight! Thanks. Just right process, cheers

  38. Bridgette Ramirez permalink
    06/25 4:17 PM

    Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual appeal. I must say you have done a fantastic job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very fast for me on Internet explorer. Outstanding Blog and really great tips!

  39. Rhys Melton permalink
    06/30 3:29 PM

    Good post. I learn something totally new and informative on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis — thank you for helping me fit into my new shoes!

  40. Gene McClinton permalink
    06/30 7:02 PM

    I wanted to thank you for this very good read! I was able to fix three pairs of shoes this way. I have got you bookmarked to look at new things you post…

  41. Leonida Niles permalink
    07/01 5:28 AM

    Hi, this is a great site. I stumbledupon it ;) I’m going to return once again since i have book marked it. May you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  42. Miranda permalink
    07/05 7:49 PM

    OMG thank you so much, I spent 4 last night torturing my feet in a georgeous pair of heels half a size to small attempting to wear them in, I can’t wait to try this trick on them along with a few other pairs of hard to wear in heels.

  43. Leandro Veal permalink
    07/12 6:47 PM

    Hurrah, that’s what I was looking for existing here at this web site! Thanks edit by design!

  44. 07/19 7:57 PM

    O M G!!! This absolutely works! I’m a flight attendant and my patent leather heels I purchased today pinches the side of my little toe. I was nervous to use a blow dryer on them but to my amazement it worked like a charm. I put on 2 pair of tube socks (didn’t have thick socks around) and after heating the inside of the shoe I stuffed my little piggies in the shoes and then briefly heated the outside of the shoe, walked around for 60-seconds and repeated this twice. They are no longer pinch my toes and I even have some wiggle space now.
    Thanks a bunch!

    • 07/19 9:26 PM

      You are so welcome! Really happy it worked (especially if your feet swell when you fly — like mine do).

  45. 07/19 8:03 PM

    O M G!!! This absolutely works! My new patent leather heels fit my foot but were pinching my small toes pretty badly. I was nervous at first, not wanting to damage my $350 heels so I only heated the outside about 30-seconds after heating the inside of shoe for about 60-seconds. I stuffed 2-pair of tube socks on each foot and walked around for 90-seconds. I repeated the process twice and to my wonderment I now even have wiggle room in the toe area of the shoe.
    Thanks a bunch!

  46. Rosella Thomsen permalink
    07/22 1:09 PM

    This design is spectacular! You most certainly know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your wisdom, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say,and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  47. Mario permalink
    07/23 8:59 AM

    Omg you are a genius I tried this on my suede 260 Jordan’s and it worked like a charm so happy I found this really appreciate it u saved my life with this 1 ^__^

  48. Cinda Roden permalink
    07/25 3:40 PM

    Hi! This post is in fact awesome — totally fixed my shoes! Keep up the nice work!

  49. Bernice Worsham permalink
    08/05 3:12 AM

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog about fashion how-to’s and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

  50. Tammy Stevens permalink
    08/06 4:38 PM

    I have some faux suede mocossin boots and the toes are too tight, will this method of freezing the water really work and will it mess the boot up by freezing them?

    • 08/07 11:42 AM

      Hi Tammy — I don’t know, since I’ve not used the freezer method before. I would definitely try the socks/blow dryer method I describe first, since it really doesn’t seem to hurt most shoes. Then try something more drastic if that doesn’t work. Good luck!

  51. Alison permalink
    09/04 11:17 AM

    I just tried this on a pair of brand new cole haan suede wedges. It worked perfectly and I honestly was skeptical. I thought I was gonna have to donate a brand new pair of wedges to goodwill. But now I can wear them whenever I want. Thanks!

  52. Claudio Fizelle permalink
    11/01 6:25 AM

    Hi there, You’ve done a fantastic job on this post. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from how to stretch shoes that are too tight!

  53. Wanda permalink
    12/15 6:08 PM

    I was running out to an event and forgot that the shoes I planned to wear were a tad too tight. I needed a quick fix and googled my problem and found your solution. (Keep in mind that I was leaving out the door in ten minutes!) In six minutes this remedy worked!!! I wore my shoes all day…5 1/2 hours…with no problems. THANKS SO MUCH !!!

  54. Moses Hedley permalink
    04/14 6:43 AM

    What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It positively helpful and it has aided me out loads. Great job.

  55. Deborah permalink
    04/16 10:58 AM

    Hello ! I recently bought a pair of patent leather Alegria clogs and after wearing them for couple of 12 shifts, I realized they were a bit too tight and my big toes were hurting ….. It got worse when I found out that I could not return them !! So after some Google searching I found this site on how to stretch shoes and IT WORKED !!! Thanks for helping me not having to throw $119.00 down the drain :)

  56. Yvette permalink
    04/21 10:46 AM

    does this work on suede

  57. suz permalink
    04/22 4:24 AM

    Bought a new pair of boots which I loved but they were a bit on the tight side. . . followed your tip and it worked a treat!! delighted. . . . thank you for sharing!

  58. Alex permalink
    05/23 8:57 AM

    I tried this trick on a pair of suede leather flats and it worked like a charm without any damage to my shoes

  59. suesalmonuk@yahoo.co.uk permalink
    05/24 6:47 AM

    Brilliant, just stretched a pair of suede peep toe shoes that were too tight – fantastic they now fit perfect. Thank you very much for sharing this tip!

  60. DeeDee permalink
    07/03 1:21 PM

    You are a LIFESAVER!!! I completely fell for a pair of these –>
    http://www.neimanmarcus.com/Prada-Floral-Applique-Lace-Up-Pump/prod148550038/p.prod<– I searched and searched but no one had them and then finally I found a pair in my size (US 7/ EUR 37) online from Bluefly (LAST PAIR!!!). I received a bonus at work and decided to make a first time and last time extravagant purchase for myself. I received them. They are absolutely gorgeous!!!! I put them on and nearly died!!!! They were so tight i could barely walk. I found your site and followed directions (even though you state that you wouldn't try it on a pair of Prada's, I had no choice and went for it) and literally 7 minutes later HEAVEN. They fit perfectly!!!! Thank you so much!!! Sheer lifesaver!!!!

  61. 07/29 8:15 PM

    Reblogged this on Onnyx Bei and commented:
    instead of sticking your foot inside, try a shoe tree

  62. Gal permalink
    08/07 3:44 AM

    I just tried this on faux leather shoes, it worked! Didnt do any damage

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