5 Easy and Affordable Tips to Stretch Your Leather Shoes for a Comfortable Fit

Found the perfect pair of leather pumps in Living Coral — Pantone’s color of the year — to wear to your best friend’s wedding, but they’re just a tad too tight? No worries. There’s a range of options that can stretch your shoes for a more comfortable fit.

I’m a firm believer in buying shoes that are comfortable in the store without any adjustments. But if you can’t imagine leaving these limited-edition sneakers or sky-high pumps behind for another lucky shopper to snap up, stretching them could be worth a try.

It’s not just women who may find they themselves in need of more room in their shoes. Men, particularly those with bunion issues, could benefit from some extra room.

Now, don’t think you can stretch shoes a full size or width. These tips are meant to give shoes a bit more room without distorting their shape or overall fit.

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The following are at-home methods to stretch your leather shoes.

Do the Walk Test

Walking around in your shoes will naturally help stretch the leather. Since this might be uncomfortable at first, it’s best to start out a few minutes at a time, then build up to longer periods. According to Eduard Shimunov of Leather Express Shoe Repair in New York, not all leather is created equal. Thicker leathers, he warns, are less elastic and harder to stretch.  

Spray and Go

FootFitter, a shoe care company, has a shoe stretch spray that works by penetrating and then relaxing the fibers in the leather for easy stretching. Shimunov suggests making sure the spray saturates the leather as you go and performing multiple applications to keep it moisturized and prevent cracking.

Warm Them Up

Start rummaging through your sock drawer for a clean pair of thick socks.

• Put them on and squeeze into your shoes.

• Next, grab your blowdryer and apply heat for about 30 seconds to the area that needs stretching, bending the shoe in the process.

• Once the shoes have cooled down, try them on for size. Repeat if necessary.

Use a Two-Way Stretcher

One of the easiest methods is a basic shoe stretcher made of either wood or plastic. Plixio has a two-way stretcher that can expand both the width and length of the shoe. Simply insert the stretcher into the shoe, twist the handle and leave in for 24 hours. There are even pressure pods you can add to address pressure relief to specific areas.

Use Ice

This is a quick method and is free.

• Fill a plastic bag halfway with water and squeeze into the narrowest part of the shoe.

• Next, put the shoes in the freezer until the water becomes a giant ice cube.

• Remove from freezer, thaw shoes and repeat if needed.

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