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

17 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? (:

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