Does anyone actually miss shopping in stores? There’s a lot of things from the past that I yearn for, but going back to pre-online shopping days is not one of them. Still, one of the annoying consequences of buying things online means you can’t try things on before you buy them—or you might miss your return window because the other two dozen errands on your to-do list came first. I recently snagged a pair of leather loafers on sale that I had been eyeing (and they were available in my size!) but when they arrived, they were, well, snug. Of course, I couldn’t return them so I did what any self-respecting woman with a failed sale purchase would do: I made it work.
Here’s how I stretched out my shoes successfully.
After walking around in them at home only gave me blisters, I grabbed a pair of medium-weight socks and did the same thing. If you can manage to get your foot in with a thicker pair of socks and stand the pressure, that’ll produce the best results. Once they’re in, grab your blow-dryer and blast your feet for 20-30 seconds until the leather starts to heat up, then try to move your feet as much as possible, bending the leather at the same time. This should produce a bit of stretch.
Give Them A Spritz
Like most people, I didn’t have stretching spray on hand—but I did have All-Purpose Cleaner. I sprayed it on my shoes generously (this works better with darker colored shoes), which relaxed the leather a little bit. Then, I put my socks back on and squeezed my feet in. Within minutes they felt much looser. You can repeat this process a few times depending on how much room you need.
Shoe trees are a great way to keep them in great shape, but an even better investment is a shoe stretcher, which looks just like a shoe tree but can extend the length or width of your shoes, too. You can find most of them online at places like Amazon or Target—or you can spend a bit more at a fancy shoe retailer like Foot Fitter or Houndsbay. Spray the part of the shoe you’re stretching (both inside and out!) to avoid splitting the leather. Then you just insert it as you would a shoe tree, then crank the dial to stretch the shoe. Go slowly! Leather can tear. Leave it on the stretcher overnight if possible. If they are still too tight, repeat this process each night, slowly cranking it further until you get the desired stretch.
No matter what, when you’re done stretching out your leather shoes, treat the entire shoe (inside then outside) with Leather Cleaner—which doesn’t just clean, but also protects and prevents stains, cracking, and scuffs. Our silicone-free formula is made with plant and seed oils, so you don’t have to worry about creepy chemicals leeching into your skin if you wear your shoes without socks. Plus, the more you condition them, the more likely they are to loosen up as you wear them.
Realistically, you can’t stretch shoes out an entire size, but this dramatically changed the comfort level for me. Happy stretching!