How To Stretch Leather Shoes
If your shoes are too tight, it may be time to stretch them. Read this guide to find out how to properly stretch leather shoes.
There are many reasons why you would want to stretch out your shoes. Perhaps you may have gotten them as a gift or really want to try them on, but cannot quite get your foot inside. Perhaps you wish to wear them to a festive occasion but can’t see how you would manage to fit inside them. Or maybe your shoes just don’t fit you like they used to.
Getting Started: The Best Solution is to Walk Around
The best solution to stretching leather shoes (about ½ a size smaller than usual) is to wear them while walking around at home. Do so in your leisure hours as you are doing chores, or relaxing around the living room. Your shoes will naturally stretch. You may feel silly wearing a pair of leather dress shoes around the home, especially if you need to get the door, but trust us when we say that this method is one of the best ways to stretch out leather shoes.
By taking shoes for a spin around the home, you expand the fibers in the materials, including the quarter, topline and heel cap. This technique can be particularly effective for newly purchased shoes. Don’t want to feel constrained on the job in a fresh pair of boots? Wear them around the house for a few hours each day and they should become supple.
To speed up the process wear a thick pair of socks before you put the shoes on your feet. When the shoes hurt, just take them off and try again tomorrow.
Okay, but what about when they're MORE than ½ size smaller?
Use Shoe Stretching Tools
Shoe stretching tools may need to be called in for tighter fitting shoes. Walking around may be useful when shoes are ½ a size smaller, but when they are too tight, such as a full size smaller, a shoe stretching tool may be needed. Such tools include shoe stretchers and shoe stretcher spray.
Shoe stretchers expand the shoe in all directions. These tools stretch the shoe from east-to-west, north-to-south, front-to-back, and all around.
☝️ these tools expands the shoe horizontally
Instructions for Use: By turning the handles the stretcher will expand. Leave overnight so that the tension caused by the shoe stretcher cause the material to expand.
☝️ these tools expands the shoe vertically
☝️ this tool expands the shoe vertically and horizontally [meaning side to side, and front to back]
☝️ this tool expands the diameter of boots, opening space around the boot instep and shaft
☝️ this tool is good for stretching shoes in a particular pressure points; recommended for use by people that have corns, hammertoes, and bunions
Overall, these tools help free up space in your shoes.
Gradually stretches the area and relieves tightness around the foot and calf.
Pro tip: When purchasing a shoe stretcher, remember not to get the shoe too loose. A way to facilitate this is through the purchase of shoe stretcher spray.
Shoe Stretcher Spray
Leather is just like your skin; it responds well to moisturizer. Shoe stretcher spray functions as a moisturizer and conditioner that works with leather in order to soften it and make it more supple. When applying this lubricating agent, make sure it works on your particular type of leather. Some sprays are only good for certain types of leather, and may exclude suede, nubuck, canvas, linens, and vinyl.
Take Them To A Cobbler
If walking around, shoe stretchers and shoe sprays did not solve your tight leather shoes, it may be time to go to a cobbler. A cobbler, or professional shoe repair person, will know the techniques necessary in order to get those pesky shoes on your feet. Their methods will involve much of the same techniques used here, but you may be lucky and find a cobbler who owns a shoe stretching machine.
To Heat or Not To Heat?
Some articles on the internet recommend heating leather shoes with artificial heat in order to stretch the leather material. Once leather is stretched it is less likely to go back to its original size. Therefore we don’t recommend using this means to go about fixing this problem. Heating leather by a blow-dryer can cause the leather to wrinkle or degrade. Wrinkled leather can be a sign that the material your shoe is made from does not respond well to heat.
There you have it. The best way to stretch a leather shoe is to walk around in it. If you’re still having trouble purchase a shoe tree or stretch the leather material with stretcher spray. If professional help is needed, see your local cobbler. We strongly recommend you don’t heat your leather, using instead the previously mentioned methods.
Popular Question: Can shoe trees stretch out shoes?
No. Shoe trees, unlike stretchers, are NOT used to expand the shoe's surface area. Shoe trees DO smooth out the lining of the leather, helping to remove creases on the exterior. Shoe trees help shoes keep their form and prevent shoes from "caving in" over time.
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- Alex Pop