How to Stretch Those Too-Tight Shoes You Love (Really Works)

Five years ago, I wrote about the unexpected, tried-and-true method I learned to stretch too-tight shoes a good half size. I continue to get grateful emails from people thanking me for saving their shoes —and their feet —, a testament, perhaps, to how rampant shoe purchase mistakes are, and how bogus the usual shoe-stretching routines (which I tried).

Figuring that you may have a pair or two of shoes that are too painful to wear languishing in your closet, I’m reposting the method. After all, shoes that make us feel good are essential to our well-being. Wasting things is not.

You can read the original article, all the things that didn’t work and TONS of testimonials (in the Comments section), here. The big lesson: the accepted wisdom is often wrong!

This method will stretch leather shoes a good half-size:

1. Put on several pairs of socks, or a really thick pair topped with an second pair.

2. Stuff your feet into your shoes.

3. Blast your shoes with hot air from a hair dryer 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.

Note: I’ve since learned an additional trick from a friend (who learned it from a fashion stylist): wet the inside of the shoe with rubbing alcohol.



Sally Schneider

9 Responses to How to Stretch Those Too-Tight Shoes You Love (Really Works)

  1. Diane 03.21.2018 at 9:41am #

    I stretched my loafers out by putting a plastic bag in them and filled the shoe with water. Then I put them in the freezer for several days Took them out and let the water thaw. They fit! The frozen water expands and streches out the shoe.

  2. Sally Schneider 03.21.2018 at 10:29am #

    What a remarkable method. Thank you.

  3. Sofia Kefalidou 04.02.2018 at 2:24pm #

    Hi! I ‘ve read both the articles. I really really love my new nude patent leather pumps but they are too tight, although the size with respect to length is seemingly ok. Do you think the hair dryer procedure will work with patent leather?

  4. Sofia Kefalidou 04.02.2018 at 2:26pm #

    *both articles. Excuse my english. I am apparently foreigner.

  5. Sally Schneider 04.02.2018 at 9:07pm #

    Patent leather might be tricky, since it is essential a highly coated leather (IF it is real leather, and not plastic). I have no experience with it. I did see some articles online recommending it, but GENTLY an slowly: limiting heat to 20 seconds.

  6. Sofia Kefalidou 04.03.2018 at 4:28am #

    Ok, thanks. yes it is real leather, not plastic. Anyway,I ‘ve started with the procedure slowly and gradually and it does work, only that it takes a lot of time. Also it helps if you heat it from the inside, provided of course that the shoes are leather lined.

  7. MaryJo 09.06.2019 at 3:31pm #

    It worked! Never one to do things a little bit, I soaked the toe of the heavy socks in rubbing alcohol, stuffed my feet in the shoes (my problem was the toe part was too tight), hit them with the blow drier for 5 min. each foot. Hobbled around, hey these are 6″ heels, for 1 hour. I figured my pedicure was toast, but when I took the socks off everything was fantastic! Great advice, THANK YOU!

  8. MaryJo 09.06.2019 at 3:31pm #

    I did

  9. Sally Schneider 09.09.2019 at 8:16pm #

    I’ve buy big swaths of white Tyvek because it is so versatile, lighy and indestructible. I especially love it as a shower curtain: totally waterproof but looks like cloth. Since FedEx envelopes have to go through serious weather, I’d imagine the would too. But it would be easy to test one.

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