The aches and pains that come with a new pair of shoes can be excruciating. This is why I’d like to show you how to break in leather shoes (while avoiding pain and blisters!). Pain, no matter what they say, is never fashionable!
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy getting new shoes. And you usually can’t wait to slip them on your feet and show them off to the rest of the world. Wearing that new pair too soon — and for too long — can, however, cause some serious drama on your feet. Ouch.
We will go over a few different methods and tips for breaking in new shoes. Everything from using a potato (yes, really) to plugging in your blow dryer! Doesn’t that sound strange? However, these tips do work to break in shoes and make them more comfortable!
Many methods for breaking in shoes, of course, necessitate some stretching. However, keep in mind that you should not try to expand them more than half the way to full size.
Continue reading to learn how to break in shoes, new shoes, and leather shoes, including boat shoes. I’ll also discuss how long it takes to break in shoes, so make sure to read all the way to the end!
Before breaking in new shoes, check these 3 things:
1. Did you purchase the correct size? If you don’t, your toes may feel pinched no matter how hard you try to break in your new shoes.
2. Are the shoes appropriate for your feet — for your foot shape, foot problems, and so on?
3. Are there any seams inside the shoe that are bothersome? If this is the case, breaking in the shoes will be ineffective. (Unfortunately)
How to Break in Shoes, Especially New Shoes
Some shoes, let’s face it, aren’t meant to be broken in. And some shoes aren’t designed to be comfortable. (Imagine sky-high stilettos.) Or shoes made of a particularly tough material.)
Breaking in new shoes, especially the wrong ones, is no easy task. But it’s well worth it.
How long does it take to break in new shoes or break in old shoes?
To begin with, the time it takes to break in new shoes is determined by a variety of factors. What is the shoe’s quality? What is the material used to make them? Do they already fit well and just need a little stretch?
Remember that the longer you intend to wear the shoes, the more comfortable they will be. And that could mean more time spent breaking them in!
Nothing beats sore, blistered, pinched feet at the end of a long day in the wrong shoes.
Stiff, unbroken-in shoes can also cause heel slips (I have an entire post about this, so click the link to read! ), blistering your feet, and making it difficult to walk.
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How to Breaking in new shoes
1. Wear new shoes around the house to break them in.
You’re in the comfort and safety of your own home. Wear them for as long as you can tolerate it. This way, you can remove them whenever you feel it’s becoming too much to bear.
But don’t go so far as to hobble. There’s no shame in taking your shoes off and finishing the day barefoot at home!
2. Take Care of Your Feet
Blisters, contrary to popular belief, are not unavoidable! There are a few things you can do to avoid them. If not entirely, then at least the truly heinous ones:
You can apply moleskin to areas that you know are prone to blisters.
- Second, if you get blisters on your toes, apply petroleum jelly to them and cover them with a bandage to promote healing. Alternatively, use an anti-friction product like Foot Petals’ Blisstick in areas where your foot is likely to rub against the shoe and blister.
- The latter will unquestionably make heels more comfortable!
3. Break in New Shoes with Thick Socks
The extra padding provided by thick socks will not only protect your feet from blisters, but will also aid in the break-in of new shoes. If your shoes are in need of a good stretch, opt for a pair of chunky knit socks — the kind designed for harsh winters!
In addition, one of the best times to experiment with the sock method is at night. After a long day of walking, our feet are at their largest in the late afternoon or evening.
Putting on thick socks will help your shoes expand even more. No problem if you don’t have thick socks! Simply use two or three pairs of thinner socks.
4. Apply padding to any areas where your feet are rubbing.
Have you ever had a pair of shoes that constantly rubbed the same spot on your foot? With each and every step you take? It’s the absolute worst.
Fortunately, there are pads available to prevent this from happening! If you don’t have specific blister pads, Band-Aids will suffice.
5. To achieve the best results, break in your shoes gradually.
Breaking in new shoes should be done gradually for the best results. Keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race!
You risk damaging new shoes if you try to break them in too quickly. Then they’re useless to anyone.
Another useful tip is to bring a pair of sneakers, folding flats, or other comfortable shoes. That way, if your new shoes start hurting your feet, you’ll have something else to wear. No more anguish!
Beauty, they say, is pain, but who wants to deal with that?
6. Using Ice Bags to Break in Shoes
It seems strange to break in new shoes with ice. What’s stranger still? I’m going to put them in the freezer! But believe me, it works. It’s also one of my top shoe stretching tips!
That’s because stretching new shoes is a simple process that relies on the healing powers of water.
Get two Ziploc bags and fill them halfway with water. Then, put them in your shoes and place them in the freezer (best with a bag to prevent anything from solidifying inside!).
When the water freezes, it expands, causing your shoes to expand as well. Leave them overnight for the best results. Excellent for slowly and hands-off breaking in shoes.
Make sure the baggies are tightly sealed so they don’t leak and ruin your beautiful shoes!
7. Using a Blow Dryer to Break in Shoes
This is a quick way to break in your shoes! In just a few minutes, you can use a blow dryer to stretch out your shoes! The heat from the blow dryer softens leather in particular, making breaking them in much easier.
Put on a pair of thick socks, then your shoes, and then turn on the blow dryer for the best results!
Heat up the areas that are particularly tight, but don’t get too close with the hairdryer. You could burn your shoe and/or yourself if you don’t!
Once the material is nice and toasty, walk around for at least 15 minutes in the shoes. If the shoes require more breaking in, repeat the process and wear thicker socks.
The Potato Method is number eight. Yes, a potato can be used!
This may sound strange, but it works. For a small amount of stretch, at least. Peel a potato, shape it to fit the toe bed of your shoe, pat it dry with paper towels, and then stuff it inside.
Leave it overnight, and you should have a little more space than when you started.
Just don’t ask me to explain the science behind it!
To Avoid Slipping, Learn How to “Break in” Shoe Outsoles
Slipping is something you definitely want to avoid with new shoes.
Ouch. Unfortunately, even with a brand-new pair, this can be an issue. Wearing the shoes is one of the best ways to break in the insoles. The greater the number of scuffs, the greater the traction.
If you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the process by using sandpaper. Just be careful not to put too much pressure on your soles!
Finally, you could add grip pads or rubber patches to the bottoms of your shoes for a more stable stride. More information on how to make shoes less slippery can be found in my dedicated post!
How to Break in Leather Shoes, Specifically
Leather shoes are widely regarded as the most comfortable type of footwear. That is, once you’ve broken them in. They can be quite tough at first, depending on the type of leather.
The goal of leather shoes, on the other hand, is for them to mold to your foot and become the most comfortable option possible.
So, how do you break in your leather shoes? Because leather is a natural material, you should be extra cautious when breaking it in. When going through the process, give your shoes a little extra TLC.
3 Ways to Break in Leather Shoes:
- Wear them in stages, for short periods of time at a time. Begin at home.
Put on thick socks! In addition, use extra padding in sensitive areas.
- Use a cedar shoe tree to stretch them out. More information on how to stretch shoes with a shoe stretcher can be found here!
- Use one of the nine methods listed above, but proceed with caution because leather shoes stretch out more easily and quickly than other shoe materials.
How long do leather shoes take to break in?
Although leather shoes can be broken in quickly, I always recommend taking your time to avoid destroying or tearing your leather shoes.
It can take anywhere from 3-4 wears — or 1-4 weeks — to feel like your leather shoes are properly fitting. Just keep in mind that you should only wear them for short periods of time!
How to Break in Leather Leather Boat Shoes
Do you want to know how to break in leather boat shoes? It’s simple! Fill a bucket halfway with warm water. If you want a more weathered look, sprinkle with salt. After that, soak your leather boat shoes in water for 12-24 hours.
Wear them while they’re still wet, then towel-dry them and walk around in them until they’re completely dry. They’ll mold to your feet for a comfortable fit, preventing blisters and other pain.
How to Break in Patent Leather Shoes
The patent leather shoes look fantastic. However, that beauty comes at a cost. They’re fairly rigid and difficult to extend due to their lustrous finish.
So, when selecting a patent pair, make sure you get the right fit from the start. This will make life a lot easier! Of course, if your patent leather shoes are too small, you can take the following precautions:
- Begin by gradually wearing your patent leather shoes at home.
- Wear socks that are comfortable and will protect your feet from blisters.
- If blisters are unavoidable, make sure to keep Band-Aids on hand.
- Heat the leather gently with a blow dryer.
I hope this post on how to break in shoes gave you a lot of ideas. Included is information on how to break in new shoes of all types, including leather, patent leather, and boat shoes!
There are numerous methods, and I’d love to hear which ones you prefer. I always wear them at home for a while, then with socks if they need a little extra softening! See more useful article at my website shoestorenyc.com