How to stretch high heels

How to stretch high heels

Photo: Heather Hazzan. Wardrobe styling by Yuiko Ikebata. Hair by Jerome Cultrera. Makeup by Ingeborg.

You know the story: You splurge on an amazing pair of shoes online. They arrive after weeks of anticipation, and then . . . they’re too tight (damn you, size chart!!). Or maybe your feet are naturally two different sizes. Or perhaps you just HAD to have those heels from the clearance rack even though they’re a half-size too small. Typically shoes loosen up naturally as you wear them from place to place, but that entire process could take weeks of tiptoeing around with crunched toes and blooming blisters.

But walking in shoes that pinch is something you can totally avoid. If you did buy shoes that are too snug, there are some at-home tips you can follow to stretch shoes for a more comfortable fit. In general, stretching your shoes can add a quarter- to a half-size in space, David Mesquita, owner of The Leather Spa, a leather repair boutique in New York City, tells SELF. The stretching process also typically happens in width, not length, as the outsole (or the bottommost part of a shoe that comes in direct contact with the ground) can’t be stretched that much—so please don’t buy those Jimmy Choo pointy stilettos in a size 7 if you’re really a size 8. (That is, unless one foot is larger than the other—in that case, experts advise to fit for the larger foot and then add an insert!)

Don’t worry about creasing the skin of your new shoes, either. Mesquita says this is a normal byproduct of the stretching process—something that would happen regardless of when you start to break in your new shoes. If the lining is synthetic, the shoe stretcher can stick and leave a mark. Leather-lined shoes will give a more supple finish, he adds.

Convinced you can DIY this? Here are a few quick—and painless—ways to stretch shoes at home.

Method 1: Stretch with a blowdryer.

You can speed up the stretching process for leather shoes using thick socks and a blowdryer. The heat loosens up the leather, so it can mold to your foot.

Instructions:

Cover your feet with one or two pair of socks (The thicker, the better!)

Then put on your shoes and blast them on medium heat for 30 seconds—you want to move the nozzle to different spots on your shoes to avoid overheating any particular area and cracking the leather. Repeat this process until your feet slip in comfortably.

I tested this on a pair of suede booties that were a little tight around the balls of my feet. After rotating the dryer around the front of the shoe for about two minutes, there was definitely more room. I was able to walk in them easily with just one pair of socks—success! Make sure to apply a leather or suede conditioner afterwards, as the heat can dry out leather.

Best for: Leather or suede oxfords and boots

Method 2: Use the freezer method.

Put your shoes in the freezer? Yes, really! (Quick science lesson: When water turns to ice, it expands. This is what stretches your shoes slightly.)

Instructions:

Fill a sandwich-size Ziploc bag one-third of the way with water. Secure tightly, leaving a little room at the top. Squeeze the bag to make sure there aren’t any invisible holes (I got a few drops in my shoes after my initial test). Place the bag in the shoe. Make sure to mold the bag down into the toe area, where shoes tend to feel especially tight. Put the shoes in the freezer until the water becomes ice. Once the ice has formed, you can take out your shoes to thaw for about 20 minutes. Repeat this method multiple times until you reach the size you need.

I first attempted this ice method on a pair of leather oxfords, but I found it’s tough to get the bag down into the instep area. So, in my experience, the blowdryer is a much better method for closed shoes, but I did pull off a half-size stretch on a pair of pointed-toe kitten heels. The corners of the Ziploc slid right into the structured tips, and now my toes are no longer squeezed on top of each other.

Best for: Peep-toe or pointed-toe heels, sneakers, and other non-leather shoes

Method 3: Buy a shoe stretcher.

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a shoe stretcher in your dad’s closet before. Using this simple tool is definitely the least risky method (you won’t have to worry about ruining the shine of your shoes with heat or damaging sneakers with water). A stretcher like the FootFitter Premium Professional 2-Way Shoe Stretcher, $40, can max out the length and width of a shoe. It comes in different sizes to fit both women’s and men’s styles. This particular one even has little nubs you can add in the toe area if the shoe is scraping one particular spot wrong.

Best for: Leather shoes, flats, and oxfords

Precautionary steps to take before buying shoes that are too small:

Shoes should never be too tight, or too loose, Suzanne Levine, M.D., board-certified podiatric surgeon, and author of My Feet are Killing Me, tells SELF. Your shoe should have about 1 centimeter of space—about the width of your index finger—in front of your longest toe (usually the same foot as your dominant hand) so your toes have room to move, Levine says.

She also recommends shopping for shoes towards the end of the day, because your feet will be slightly larger. Then walk around the store with the new shoes on for a few minutes. If they hurt or press, don’t buy them. Likewise, if either foot is swimming in the shoe so that walking is awkward, don’t buy them.

After purchasing new shoes, you can walk on carpet in your home for a few hours to make even more sure of the fit—the carpet will prevent wear to the sole of the shoe. “Especially with athletic footwear, wearing two pairs of socks can reduce the chance of abrasions, irritations, blisters,” Levine says. Cushioning pads in pressure areas, like your heel or the side of your big toe, can help.

How to treat a painful blister from new shoes:

If the blister is closed, wash it gently with mild soap and warm water, then dry gently. Cover the blister with a Band-Aid, or an appropriately-shaped pad (usually U- or O- shaped) to reduce the chance of infection, Levine says.

If the blister is open, keep it closed and wash gently with mild soap and warm water. Apply a topical antibiotic, such as Neosporin 24 Hour Infection Protection First Aid Antibiotic Ointment, $4, before covering with a Band-Aid. Try to avoid footwear that will further abrade the area.

Nov. 12, 2009PRLog — We all know that high heels are bad for our feet, ankles, knees, posture… The list goes on! But that doesn’t seem to stop us from wearing them. Pain may equal beauty in the short term, but at what price?

Unfortunately many of the most elegant dress shoe designs are 3-inch heeled monstrosities. For some reason, shoe designers seem to think that the only people interested in 1 to 2-inch heels are octogenarians. At least when I go shoe shopping, most low-heeled shoes look like something from my grandmother’ s closet and not a pair of shoes that a young 20-something would be excited to wear out on the town.

The good news is that heels can be shortened, but the modification must be done carefully. Changing heel height alters the balance of the shoe and can make a shoe un-wearable. If you lower the heel too much, the toe of the shoe will point upward. Imagine a shoe with a toe that points several inches up into the air. Now imagine putting weight on that shoe. At best, the shoe would be extremely uncomfortable. At worst, the shank would snap in two.

Here’s an easy way of judging how much height you can take off a heel without distorting the shoe’s fit. Place your high heeled shoe or boot on the end of a table so that the heel hangs off. Be sure to keep the shoe level. Slowly lower the heel until the back end of the ball of the foot rests on the table. Whatever part of the heel hangs below table-level is expendable.

It is rarely possible to shorten a heel by more than an inch (and even this amount of reduction is too much in some cases). Luckily, lowering a heel even by as subtle an amount as a ¼-inch can take a lot pressure of your forefoot.

I recommend performing the table test at home before you even consider taking your heels to a cobbler. If it seems like the shoes can be lowered, make sure to bring them to a reputable place. The cobbler’s estimate of how much the shoes can be lowered should roughly match the results of the table test.

When looking for a beautiful dress shoe, there is no reason to choose between high heels and flats. A moderate heel (anything from one to one and half inches) can actually be beneficial to the long-term health of your feet and knees.

Last Updated: June 1, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Kathi Burns, CPO®. Kathi Burns is a board certified Professional Organizer (CPO) and Founder of Organized and Energized!, her consulting business with a mission to empower people to master their environment and personal image by assisting them in taking control, making change and organizing their lives. Kathi has over 17 years of organizing experience and her work has been featured on Better Homes and Gardens, NBC News, Good Morning America, and Entrepreneur. She has a BS in Communication from Ohio University.

There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Your new high heels may look fantastic, but you won’t want to wear them if they’re too uncomfortable! That’s why it’s so important to break them in as soon as you buy them. Rather than wearing them until you get used to blisters and pain in your feet, there are actually several methods to break in your high heels that are easy and painless. Peruse this article to learn the many ways you can break in your new high heels. You’ll be wearing those killer cheetah print pumps in no time!

How to stretch high heels

I have a very deep relationship with heels and, despite swinging between love and hate, we are committed to each other for life. The first time a particularly stubborn pair of heels started to break my heart and blister my feet, I immediately learned how to stretch out heels and reminded myself everything will be OK soon! If you, too, have a particularly wonderful (and cruel) pair of heels, fear not. The hacks below will have you rocking your favorite stilettos as comfortably as possible in no time.

Before you try to stretch out your heels, you first need to accept that you might actually need a different size. I know how easy it is to become emotionally attached to a pair of heels, but sometimes, they’re just not gonna work. Beyond a little tightness, if you’re experiencing a lot of sliding, agonizingly painful walking, consistent blisters, overhanging toes, improper heel placement, and too-tight straps, a new pair of better-fitting heels to start with might be a wise move.

If you’re confident your only challenge is tightness, then the hacks for stretching out your heels should totally work just fine. Roll up your sleeves and get to it!

1. Purchase A Shoe Stretcher

Stiletto Stretcher, $29.95, Foot Petals

One of the easiest ways to DIY stretch out shoe sis by purchasing a stretcher specifically designed for stilettos. Simply leave the stretcher in your heels overnight to loosen things up.

2. Try The Ice Trick

Wardrobe consultant Allie Brandwein shared an ingenious tip with SheKnows. “If your shoes are a little too tight . Fill a zip lock bag halfway with water and place the bag inside the shoe. Put the shoe in the freezer overnight and voilГ ! Your shoe stretches. The water freezes and expands the shoe.” It’s legit that easy.

3. Hit Up A Professional

If you happen to own a fair of super swanky designer heels, you might want to consider going to a professional cobbler to stretch them out so you don’t accidentally damage the shape of the shoe with a DIY method.

4. Grab Your Blowdryer

Ionic Blowdryer, $19.99, Revlon

A bit unconventional, this DIY hack form RamshackleGlam is one of my favorite. First, a few layers of your thickest socks on, then jam your sock-covered feet into those tiny heels. Next, flex your feet while you blast the heels with your blowdryer on high.

5. Tape Your Toes

Surgical Tape, $8.91, Micropore

If your stretched out shoes still feel a little tight, you can always tape your third and fourth toes together with nude tape. This helps take the pressure off your toes and the ball of your foot so things stay more comfortable.

Want more style tips? Check out the video below, and be sure to subscribe to Bustle’s YouTube page for more hacks and tricks!

How to stretch high heels to make them a bit more comfortable?

If you are a modern woman, then heels of different styles and types are an essential part of your clothing. Even if it hurts a little, it does not dishearten woman from wearing the heels to parties, offices etc.

Now heels are generally designed in a manner that most of them hurt if you walk wearing a heel too long. But to top that if they do not even fit you properly then does not matter whether you are sitting or standing, it is going to be very painful, and the result is painful blisters and muscle pain. How to stretch heels comes with a solution of a shoe stretcher.

How to stretch high heels?

You should know the working procedure of the shoe expander. Otherwise, you might end up ruining your favorite shoe. You also have to buy a shoe stretcher spray along with the shoe stretcher for the best result. A shoe stretcher spray moistens up the fabric of the shoe and helps expand it smoothly.

Always remember, do not overstretch your shoes. Only stretch your shoes till a length up to which your shoe permits. One of the “don’ts” of how to stretch heels is not to stretch your shoe too much at one time.

After inserting the stretcher, there is a knob in it to stretch the shoe. Shoe stretcher spray helps it work smoothly. Leave the like that for at least one day. The shoe stretcher for high heels in question how to stretch high heels comes in pair and works as a two way shoe stretcher.

How to stretch high heels

Photo: Heather Hazzan. Wardrobe styling by Yuiko Ikebata. Hair by Jerome Cultrera. Makeup by Ingeborg.

You know the story: You splurge on an amazing pair of shoes online. They arrive after weeks of anticipation, and then . . . they’re too tight (damn you, size chart!!). Or maybe your feet are naturally two different sizes. Or perhaps you just HAD to have those heels from the clearance rack even though they’re a half-size too small. Typically shoes loosen up naturally as you wear them from place to place, but that entire process could take weeks of tiptoeing around with crunched toes and blooming blisters.

But walking in shoes that pinch is something you can totally avoid. If you did buy shoes that are too snug, there are some at-home tips you can follow to stretch shoes for a more comfortable fit. In general, stretching your shoes can add a quarter- to a half-size in space, David Mesquita, owner of The Leather Spa, a leather repair boutique in New York City, tells SELF. The stretching process also typically happens in width, not length, as the outsole (or the bottommost part of a shoe that comes in direct contact with the ground) can’t be stretched that much—so please don’t buy those Jimmy Choo pointy stilettos in a size 7 if you’re really a size 8. (That is, unless one foot is larger than the other—in that case, experts advise to fit for the larger foot and then add an insert!)

Don’t worry about creasing the skin of your new shoes, either. Mesquita says this is a normal byproduct of the stretching process—something that would happen regardless of when you start to break in your new shoes. If the lining is synthetic, the shoe stretcher can stick and leave a mark. Leather-lined shoes will give a more supple finish, he adds.

Convinced you can DIY this? Here are a few quick—and painless—ways to stretch shoes at home.

Method 1: Stretch with a blowdryer.

You can speed up the stretching process for leather shoes using thick socks and a blowdryer. The heat loosens up the leather, so it can mold to your foot.

Instructions:

Cover your feet with one or two pair of socks (The thicker, the better!)

Then put on your shoes and blast them on medium heat for 30 seconds—you want to move the nozzle to different spots on your shoes to avoid overheating any particular area and cracking the leather. Repeat this process until your feet slip in comfortably.

I tested this on a pair of suede booties that were a little tight around the balls of my feet. After rotating the dryer around the front of the shoe for about two minutes, there was definitely more room. I was able to walk in them easily with just one pair of socks—success! Make sure to apply a leather or suede conditioner afterwards, as the heat can dry out leather.

Best for: Leather or suede oxfords and boots

Method 2: Use the freezer method.

Put your shoes in the freezer? Yes, really! (Quick science lesson: When water turns to ice, it expands. This is what stretches your shoes slightly.)

Instructions:

Fill a sandwich-size Ziploc bag one-third of the way with water. Secure tightly, leaving a little room at the top. Squeeze the bag to make sure there aren’t any invisible holes (I got a few drops in my shoes after my initial test). Place the bag in the shoe. Make sure to mold the bag down into the toe area, where shoes tend to feel especially tight. Put the shoes in the freezer until the water becomes ice. Once the ice has formed, you can take out your shoes to thaw for about 20 minutes. Repeat this method multiple times until you reach the size you need.

I first attempted this ice method on a pair of leather oxfords, but I found it’s tough to get the bag down into the instep area. So, in my experience, the blowdryer is a much better method for closed shoes, but I did pull off a half-size stretch on a pair of pointed-toe kitten heels. The corners of the Ziploc slid right into the structured tips, and now my toes are no longer squeezed on top of each other.

Best for: Peep-toe or pointed-toe heels, sneakers, and other non-leather shoes

Method 3: Buy a shoe stretcher.

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a shoe stretcher in your dad’s closet before. Using this simple tool is definitely the least risky method (you won’t have to worry about ruining the shine of your shoes with heat or damaging sneakers with water). A stretcher like the FootFitter Premium Professional 2-Way Shoe Stretcher, $40, can max out the length and width of a shoe. It comes in different sizes to fit both women’s and men’s styles. This particular one even has little nubs you can add in the toe area if the shoe is scraping one particular spot wrong.

Best for: Leather shoes, flats, and oxfords

Precautionary steps to take before buying shoes that are too small:

Shoes should never be too tight, or too loose, Suzanne Levine, M.D., board-certified podiatric surgeon, and author of My Feet are Killing Me, tells SELF. Your shoe should have about 1 centimeter of space—about the width of your index finger—in front of your longest toe (usually the same foot as your dominant hand) so your toes have room to move, Levine says.

She also recommends shopping for shoes towards the end of the day, because your feet will be slightly larger. Then walk around the store with the new shoes on for a few minutes. If they hurt or press, don’t buy them. Likewise, if either foot is swimming in the shoe so that walking is awkward, don’t buy them.

After purchasing new shoes, you can walk on carpet in your home for a few hours to make even more sure of the fit—the carpet will prevent wear to the sole of the shoe. “Especially with athletic footwear, wearing two pairs of socks can reduce the chance of abrasions, irritations, blisters,” Levine says. Cushioning pads in pressure areas, like your heel or the side of your big toe, can help.

How to treat a painful blister from new shoes:

If the blister is closed, wash it gently with mild soap and warm water, then dry gently. Cover the blister with a Band-Aid, or an appropriately-shaped pad (usually U- or O- shaped) to reduce the chance of infection, Levine says.

If the blister is open, keep it closed and wash gently with mild soap and warm water. Apply a topical antibiotic, such as Neosporin 24 Hour Infection Protection First Aid Antibiotic Ointment, $4, before covering with a Band-Aid. Try to avoid footwear that will further abrade the area.

How to stretch high heels

It doesn’t get much better than sliding on a new styling pair of shoes. Unfortunately, leather shoes tend to be tight and uncomfortable until you break them in. We’ll show you how to stretch leather shoes so that you can comfortably enjoy your new shoes.

Perhaps you bought a flashy pair of shoes online, and once they arrived at your doorstep, you discovered they are a tad too small. Maybe those shoes seemed to fit you perfectly at the shoe store, but if you state, “My feet are hurting,” after a few hours of wearing them, you have a problem.

Whatever the cause for discomfort, walking around in shoes that do not fit properly is literal torture. The great news is, you don’t have to return your favorite leather shoes to the store. There are several ways to stretch leather shoes to conform to your size and fit.

Ways to Stretch Leather Shoes

In the old days, you’d go through the stretching process of fitting your shoes at the shoe cobbler. These days, we take our shoes to professional shoe repair shops or stretch tight shoes ourselves. We’ll show you several DIY methods to stretch leather boots, tight shoes, and high heels.

Breaking in Leather Shoes

If your new leather shoes are just a bit too small, sometimes breaking them in slowly by fitting shoes to your feet size does the trick. All that’s needed is a pair of thick socks and a little bit of time.

Breaking in Shoes

Place a thick pair of socks on your feet and slip into the shoes. Walk as you normally would around the house for about half an hour. Take them off, slip on the second pair of socks, and repeat the walking process for an additional half-hour.

Many times, doing this is sufficient enough to stretch out new shoes. This process may need to be repeated over several days to get the perfect fit.

Use a Pair of Socks to Stretch Leather Shoes

If your leather shoes are still too tight after you try breaking them in, try rolled-up socks for a gentle stretch. The bulky socks do all of the work and require no effort on your part.

DIY Shoe Stretching

Roll socks into tight balls and place them into the toe area of each shoe. Continue rolling socks and inserting them into the empty spaces of the shoe until you reach the heel. To expand the width of a shoe, let the shoes sit overnight while the socks slowly expand the leather.

Simple Ways to Stretch Leather Shoes

Sometimes, leather needs a little help stretching to a comfortable size for your feet. Here is one of the simple ways to stretch leather shoes in a few easy steps.

Stuffing Leather Shoes

  • Stuffing Leather Shoes
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Old newspaper

Combine equal portions of rubbing alcohol and water into a bottle sprayer and shake well to mix. Spritz the insides of your leather shoes lightly with the alcohol solution so that they are damp but not soaked. Always test new solutions on an inconspicuous area of leather first.

Crumple up a bunch of newspapers into tight balls and tuck them into your shoes, beginning with the toe box and ending with the heel. Try and pack them as tightly as possible.

Place your shoes in a warm and dry location and let them sit for about 12 hours. Do not set the leather shoes in the sun. Remove the crumpled newspapers, and test the shoes on your feet.

If they slip on easily and feel comfy, then your job is complete. If not, repeat the process. Consider leaving the newspaper in the shoes or use shoe trees when you are not wearing them to help them keep their shape.

Alcohol can also be helpful for getting stains out of leather shoes, purses, or furniture. Apply carefully to avoid damaging the leather surface.

How to Stretch Leather Shoes with a Shoe Stretcher

A shoe stretcher is a convenient tool sold in many shoe stores. It wedges down into the shoe, and gradually widens and lengthens it until it is the right size. Here is how to stretch out shoes using a shoe stretcher.

Emma is a professional blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack. Read full profile

How to stretch high heels

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Don’t you hate it when you get the perfect pair of shoes only to discover that they are too tight on your feet? Sure, they did seem to fit when you tried them on at the department store, but after wearing them for a few hours, you realize that they are actually uncomfortably tight. This does happen. If you can’t return the shoes—or don’t want to—there are ways you can stretch them out to fit.

Here are some quick ways on how to stretch shoes:

Wear your shoes around the house

In order to be able to wear those shoes for long periods such as all day at work or all evening at a social gathering, you’re going to have to make them more comfortable. Wearing the shoes at home for short periods will help loosen the material and stretch out the shoes.

To speed up the process, wear a thick pair of socks—or several pairs—before you stuff the shoes on your feet. When the shoes hurt your feet, just take them off.

Freeze your shoes

Water expands as it freezes, freezing your shoes also expands them.

All you have to do is fill a sandwich bag for each foot with water about 1/4th full. Insert the bags up into your shoes, stick them in the freezer and leave them there until the water freezes. Once it does, allow it to thaw, take out the bags and try on your shoes. If one round of freezing doesn’t do the trick, try a second time. This method can be a little tricky, as you will need to make sure the water doesn’t leak when put inside the shoe.

For shoes (such as canvas) that can get wet, however, freezing the whole shoe can work as well. Get the whole shoe wet, add the water inside, and freeze it all. When everything thaws out, hopefully you will have a shoe that fits.

Here’s a humorous video that shows you what can happen if you don’t do it carefully:

Heat your shoes

Besides freezing shoes, heating shoes that are too tight is another option.

To do this, put on some thick socks and then your shoes. Get out the hairdryer, put it on high heat, and heat the shoe in the areas where it is tight. As you do this, flex your feet, bending your toes back and forth to move the shoe material as much as you can. This method doesn’t sound very comfortable but it works.

Watch this video for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Both the freezing and heating method are known to stretch shoe sizes from a half to a whole size. Leather works the best since once stretched, it is less likely to go back to its original size.

Use simple shoe stretching tools

An alternative to stretching out the shoes with your own feet is to insert other items into your tight pair of shoes. Try over-stuffing socks into the shoes or crumpled up newspaper.

How to stretch high heels

A number of shoe-stretching tools are out there specifically for the purpose of stretching out shoes. Shoe stretchers can adjust the length as well as width of a shoe. Knobs can be turned to adjust the stretcher. Just be careful not to get the shoe too loose. Shoe stretchers can work fine but will cost you maybe $20 or so.

Now that you are armed with several ways to stretch out your shoes, go through your closet and pull out all the ones that need to be stretched. Never again will there be such a thing as shoes that are too tight.