how to stretch tight shoes: 5 fails yield one great solution

Having invested in a pair of expensive Jimmy Choo shoes I thought would take me everywhere, I was dismayed to discover, after wearing them out a few times, that they were painfully tight. I went on a quest to stetch them and discovered that much of the accepted wisdom about how to stretch tight shoes DID NOT work. Only ONE technique (below) actually worked, and that came out of left field. The fails, some of which you’ve probably tried yourself, included:

-Buying wooden shoe stretchers, applying “stretching liquid” to the shoes and letting them sit with the stretchers inside for over a week.

-Taking them to my cobbler and having him stretch them.

-Taking them back to the where store I bought them and having their pros stretch them (for free).

-Wearing thick socks and walking around the apartment all day

-Putting ‘stretching solution’ on the shoes and wearing the shoes with thick socks all day

The prospect of having wasted my money on shoes I couldn’t wear was disheartening. I contemplated selling the shoes on Ebay, but held onto them thinking “There MUST be a fix.” Finally, a random google search yielded a solution from Ramshackle Glam, who had learned it from a fashion stylist (they seem to know everything about apparel that our mother’s never taught us). This method will stretch leather shoes a good half-size, both men’s and women’s:

1. Put on several pairs of socks. I tried a really thick pair, then added a second for good measure.

2. Stuff your feet into your shoes.

3. Blast your shoes with hot air from a hair dryer (an amazingly useful tool) for about two minutes while flexing your toes and feet to stretch the tight areas.

4. Keep the socks and shoes on until the leather cools. Test out the shoes without socks, and repeat if necessary until they’re comfortable.

The shoes are now wearable, and I am reminded of the lesson I learn daily: always question the experts and try stuff out for/on yourself. (And always keep a hair dryer on hand.)

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

35 Responses to how to stretch tight shoes: 5 fails yield one great solution

  1. pat b 10.29.2013 at 3:37pm #

    Doing all the above works great as does soaking your socks with plain rubbing alcohol on the places that need a little stretch. Wear the socks and shoes until the alcohol evaporates and the shoes should fit. You might have to do it more than once, but it works like a charm. Guess all the expensive ‘stretching solution’ is really just alcohol.

  2. Sally 10.29.2013 at 7:01pm #

    Glad to have another technique that works for this age-old problem, cause all except the hair-dryer technique didn’t work. Yikes!! Thanks!!

  3. Miranda Carnessale 12.09.2013 at 11:49pm #

    Hey, I work for a high quality shoe company that prides itself in helping customers with stretching shoes to fit individual feet. I consulted with my manager today after reading this entry and he strongly advises that hairdryers are bad for stretching shoes and can result in serious warping.

  4. Sally 12.10.2013 at 9:58am #

    I appreciate your feedback. My thinking is that if I’ve tried everything else, including professional shoe stretching (twice) and I really love the shoes, then I’ve got little to lose by trying this…

  5. Chris Kline 09.15.2014 at 1:56pm #

    I’m a guy and came across this site while just googling if “shoe stretch” spray will damage leather. I have quality, black leather military boots. I have no doubt this worked for you and am glad you found a solution, but would caution others that I wouldn’t use a hairdryer on quality leather shoes or boots. I’m not sure if it would damage it persee’…but i would be really hesitant. I’ve seen many boots ruined using such methods, like putting on shoe polish and melting it with a hairdryer for example.

  6. Chris Kline 09.15.2014 at 2:01pm #

    also…just FYI…rubbing alcohol is really bad for leather because it dries it out

  7. Sally 09.15.2014 at 8:26pm #

    Whatever you feel comfortable with. I was seriously UNcomfortable in t hose Jimmy Choo’s and couldn’t wear them. I could have sold them at a lost but decided to try things out on them. Your call.

  8. Sally 09.15.2014 at 8:29pm #

    Who mentioned rubbing alcohol? (:

  9. Catherine 10.26.2014 at 11:25pm #

    I’ve used this method with good success on a few different pairs of leather shoes, and never had any issues with warping or damage. I just did it on a pair of Seychelles strappy sandals with a metallic leather and it worked great. Shoes fit, no damage to the leather.

  10. Sally 10.27.2014 at 1:38pm #

    Yay, I’m happy to hear it. My Jimmy Choo’s have been just fine…though still a bit tight. Snakeskin…

  11. Susan 10.27.2014 at 1:40pm #

    I’m going to try this. I need my shoes right away. Thanks

  12. Loubiegirl 01.11.2015 at 1:23pm #

    Tried this with my suede louboutin Ron Rons. Worked beautifully and I didn’t have to spend any extra money on stretching shoes that are already expensive.

  13. Sally 01.11.2015 at 7:55pm #

    Yay!!!! Affirmation in the face of the doubters. So glad it worked for you.

  14. Deirdre 03.11.2015 at 5:38pm #

    My toes also thank you. I tried this last night and was pretty surprised to feel a noticeable difference right away. I especially like that I didn’t need to apply any product to my shoes.

  15. Janice 03.15.2015 at 3:57pm #

    SALLY YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!!!! I have three pair of shoes I love and can now where them all day without any problems!

  16. Sally 03.16.2015 at 11:14am #

    THREE pairs rescued. That is most gratifying.

  17. Sally 03.20.2015 at 10:48am #

    …maybe the patron saint of tight shoes? (:

  18. Samantha Wilber 04.23.2015 at 11:13pm #

    Hi :)
    I just bought a pair of Jimmy Choos for my prima and they fit like a glove everywhere Besides my toes and I’m going to be standing in these things for Hours!
    Do you think this technique will work on All types of shoes?
    I don’t think I’ll be able to fit my foot in the shoe with socks on its so tight on them and I don’t even have wide feet!!!!

    And if so should I do this a few times?

  19. Sally 04.23.2015 at 11:33pm #

    Hi, The snakeskin shoes I tried it on are Jimmy Choos. Perhaps you should cut a sock so you can just put it on the toe area. Then try it once, and repeat as necessary. You want to stretch them slowly so you don’t overdo and wreck the v. expensive shoes.

  20. MJ 06.09.2015 at 9:08pm #

    This totally worked! I thought it was a long shot. Thanks!!

  21. Sally 06.13.2015 at 12:22pm #

    Another YAY.

  22. dtrina 07.18.2015 at 9:21am #

    I have some Sergio Rossi snake skin shoes that I will try this on and I will post results..I went to a shoe shop to have them stretched and the girl wouldn’t touch them but she gave me the blow dryer idea, minus the socks lol.

  23. Sally 07.18.2015 at 10:09am #

    Best to go slowly on snakeskin. Let them ease….

  24. blinkgs 07.29.2015 at 2:25pm #

    Thanks for the tips, I’m sure going to try it, but is it just applicable to leather shoes?

  25. Sally 07.30.2015 at 9:58am #

    What other kind of shoes are you thinking of? It would likely work with suede but the water might stain it. Synthetic of course, won’t absorb the water. Perhaps do more research on the internet.

  26. blinkgs 07.30.2015 at 11:29am #

    Thanks a lot.

  27. margaret 08.07.2015 at 8:23am #

    Just a thought ladies…maybe you,re not using the golden rule…if the shoe isnt comfy don,t buy it.

  28. Missemanuelb 08.07.2015 at 9:45pm #

    I am literally reading this post right now whilst doing the above with a hairdryer… I kept it for a little longer than two minutes, but my leather boots finally fit. I would definitely recommend this as a quick fix!!!

  29. GTL 08.11.2015 at 2:33pm #

    My new Weitzmans just went from “unwearable” to “holy crap my new favourite shoes”. Bless your heart.
    p.s. beware– i got the dryer a little too close to some glued on bling and it fell off. Careful not to get the heat anywhere near ornaments, buckles, etc.

  30. Sally 08.12.2015 at 12:19pm #

    YAY. That is so great!!!!

  31. NQ 09.04.2015 at 1:00am #

    I’ve just tried this tip on my new Tory Burch leather Calyca 5″ heel sandals and it does work. I bought the pair with my size 7.5 but the braided parts on the top were very tight and made my pinkies hurt very bad. I read reviews about this style and saw a lot of customers complained about this issue and returned them. I intended to return them too but felt reluctantly because I bought them with a good discount price from Nordstrom Rack ($180 when the original price was $295). Therefore I searched online to find a way and saw this… They are perfectly comfortable now after about 10 minutes of heating with a hair dryer and 2 socks… Thanks a bunch for posting this helpful tip. I rarely wrote a comment on other postings but thought I should this time to confirm “This tip really works on leather sandals”.

  32. Sally 09.08.2015 at 11:36am #

    Thanks so much for your feedback and SUCCESS. I’ve just dug out some beautiful shoes that are too tight now that my feet seem to have grown larger (Yikes…age!), and hope to save them with this technique.

  33. Melissa 09.30.2015 at 11:09am #

    This works! I tried it on a pair of Clarks ankle boots. I wasn’t so much worried about ruining the leather; I was more worried about being able to get my left foot back out after literally stuffing it in the shoe, but this worked beautifully. Will do it one more time just for the extra wiggle room.

  34. Megan 10.02.2015 at 10:58am #

    Tried this this morning with a pair of clearance suede heels bought online. Worked great. Would probably use another once over, but they are already tolerable in a way they weren’t before!

  35. S 10.02.2015 at 11:23am #

    Thanks so much. Tried the hairdryer method with thick walking socks and it worked first time so don’t have to return my first Jimmy Choos that were a gift from my sisters.

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