Whether it’s men’s work boots or womens flats shoes, new leather footwear can torture your feet. You may have already considered getting rid of a pair. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. One perk of genuine leather footwear is that they’re usually relatively easy to expand while still maintaining their outstanding appearance.
Heat With a Hairdryer
Heating leather will typically soften and expand it. When you need to stretch your shoes, blowing a hairdryer on them can help, especially if you only need to expand certain areas. Wear your shoes with thick socks. Then, set your hairdryer to medium heat. Place the nozzle on the tighter shoe parts for about 30 seconds. Move your foot and toes around as you’re heating each area.
Pack With Newspapers
You can stuff your shoes with newspapers, either dry or damp, to stretch them. First, roll up some newspapers. Then, place them in the shoes, pressing the papers into the toe box. Do this until the shoes are packed at maximum capacity. Dampening the papers will help expand the shoes, but you’ll need to leave the papers in the shoes until they’re completely dry. Ideally, you’ll leave them in for 24 hours. This method also works with dry or damp sock balls.
The first technique you might want to try is wearing your shoes around the house. Men’s and womens leather boots are notorious for being difficult to break in. If they’re crumpling your feet every time you wear them, you can break them in a little at a time. Put them on at home and go about your household chores and such. If they get too uncomfortable, you can remove them and put them back on later. Try to wear them for at least half an hour each time. Gradually increase the duration each day until they’re comfortable enough to venture out in them for several hours. It shouldn’t be long before you begin noticing your shoes feel more comfortable. To speed up the process, wear one or two pairs of thick socks. These socks will also keep your feet better protected from blistering.
Freezing leather can be just as effective as heating it. Partially fill some no-leak plastic bags with water. Seal them securely. Then, place them in your shoes — double-bag the water to add further protection against leaks. Place your shoes in the freezer. Water expands as it freezes, so the ice will put pressure on various areas of the shoe. This method can increase your shoes’ width by up to a full size. If you want to expand the toe area, use smaller plastic bags and apply them more snugly in the toe box.
Use a Shoe Stretcher
A shoe stretcher is the most expensive method of DIY shoe stretching. However, it’s the most convenient and effective way and the least likely to damage your shoes. These stretchers are explicitly designed to widen leather, so they’re more likely to ensure a uniform appearance.