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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; So, there was this beautiful pair of shoes that I’d had my eye on for some time. Like, just gorgeous. I kept going back and looking at them, thinking about all of the outfits they’d look so great with, they were haunting my dreams at night. Then, BOOM! They went on sale! It was fate. I bought them, of course. The next day, I got dressed, slipped them on, admired them in the mirror, and skipped out the door to enjoy the day with my perfect new shoes, and life was beautiful.
So, where are these perfect shoes now? Sitting in my closet, with 6 other pairs of perfect shoes that I had to have. I’ve worn them exactly twice… which is about par for the course. The first time, I put them on with naïve confidence and journeyed out into the world. I hobbled home on achy, blistered feet, and slipped the shoes off when I met the sweet, carpeted stairs of my apartment building – limping the four flights up and leaning heavily on the handrail.
After a month or so, they called to me again. I thought maybe… just maybe things would be better this time. And with all the stupidity of taking back an ex, I put the infernal devices on my feet, and headed out for the day, albeit with some trepidation. And rightfully so. Naturally, I had the same results as before. Back to my apartment! Where I would toss them in the closet, flop down on the bed, feeling betrayed, and never speak of them again. Clearly, I could only rely on my trusty old canvas slip ons, that I wore every day. Now I can only think of my perfect shoes with a whimper and a sigh.
Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but does that sound familiar? I’m going to assume you’re slowly and somberly nodding “yes” at this point. Or maybe you, fresh-faced and clever, just got a new pair of beautiful suede boots for the fall, and you’re smarter than me, and want to learn to break in shoes before they break you. Well, either way, thank you for coming to class today. Shall we proceed?
How To Break In Shoes
I’ve been researching and testing out some ways that you, my cherished reader, can break in shoes, rather painlessly. Read through for some tricks to try out so you can start wearing all of those shoes sitting in your closet that you had not dared, until now, to slip on. Or, make sure that the few prized pairs in your capsule wardrobe are as comfy as can be! It will probably take some combination of the tips below to really do the trick, so you may need to try out more than one!
Just A Little Bit
One way to gently break in shoes is to wear them often, for short amounts of time. Put them on in the morning, when your feet are feeling rested, and wear them while you get ready for the day. Or wear them while you’re making dinner, or doing other things around the house. This way, you can take them off at the first sign of discomfort, and save your feet before it’s too late. Do this for a short period of time, every day, and they’ll start to shape up. This is a slow and natural process. If you’re looking to speed things up a bit, read on.
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
If you own a blow dryer, good news! It’s not just for your hair any more! Put it on a low setting, and use it to heat your shoes, keeping it a few inches away at all times. If your shoes are not leather, be extra careful, as some synthetic materials may melt and warp with too much heat. Put on a pair of socks, and then slip on your toasty warm shoes. Heat up the problem areas again, with your feet inside this time, and then keep them on until they are completely cool. Feel free to wiggle your toes and flex your feet while they are cooling down. The heat will help stretch the shoes to conform to your foot. You can also spray a very light mist of water or commercial shoe stretching spray on your shoes before you warm them up (note: I have seen other people recommend spraying alcohol. I did not try this, and I would not recommend it. I worry that alcohol could dry out the leather to some extent, and we don’t want brittle leather, right?)
Do you like my cheesy headlines? I’m sorry and you’re welcome. If you need a little extra room, especially in the toe box, try this out for size (puns, I’ve got ’em). Fill two plastic sandwich bags halfway full of water, squeeze all the air out and close them securely. You’ll probably want to double bag, to avoid water leakage and damage to your shoes. Stick the water-filled bags into your shoes where they need to stretch. You can block off parts of your shoe with tissue paper or newspaper if you need to (for example, if you don’t need to stretch the toes, but the main body or heels). Now stick them in the freezer overnight. It’s a good idea to put the shoes inside a plastic bag (not pictured) to keep moisture or smells from the freezer out. The water will expand as it freezes (science!), and stretch out the shoes it’s in. Try them on and repeat with more water if necessary.
Get Into Your Comfort Zone
It’s important to take good care of your feet while trying to break in shoes. Even if you’re cautiously stretching them out, you still might get wind up with some aches and pains. Here are a few ways to keep your feet healthy and comfortable during the process. (And please, make sure you’re starting with the appropriate size of shoe to begin with. If you got a half-size too small and you’re trying to stretch them up, you’re not doing your feet any favors!)
– Keep your toenails trimmed short, so that you’re not putting extra, unnecessary pressure on sensitive nail beds. Permanent nail damage is no joke (I am telling you this from experience), so protect your toes!
– Cover up any blisters or raw spots with COMPEED® Blister Medium Cushions. These are fantastic for covering blisters completely and act as a breathable second skin for optimum healing conditions. Just stick one on over your blister for instant relief, and you’ll notice that during the day, it will form kind of a gel, to cushion your foot, and protect against water, dirt, and bacteria. Just leave it in place until it naturally starts to detach – it may stay in place for several days! I keep some in my purse with me, just in case I need them. (These are available only at Walgreens, check out the photo at the end of the post to see where to find them!)
– Wear a thick pair of socks, like boot socks, or wear two pairs of thinner socks while you’re breaking your shoes in. This will help reduce rubbing against your bare foot, and provide a little extra cushion. Having a bit of extra bulk inside the shoe will also help it stretch faster. Just don’t go too crazy, no need to layer and layer and layer until you can barely jam your foot into your shoe. Everything in moderation.
– Bring an extra pair of comfy shoes with you when you go out. It’s a good idea to shove a lightweight pair of comfy canvas shoes or foldable ballet flats in your bag or keep some in your car, just for good measure. While you’re trying to break in shoes, you don’t want to be caught in the middle of the day with major foot pain and no recourse. I always pack along some ibuprofen too, it helps reduce swelling, as well as pain.
Here’s where you can pick up some COMPEED® Blister Medium Cushions at Walgreens to keep your feet comfy! They’re in the foot care aisle, which is next to cosmetics and hair care.
Have you tried any of these methods to break in shoes? Please leave a comment and let me know your best tips to break in shoes or boots!