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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Do Your Shoes Hurt?

Like most brides you are sure to be purchasing some new shoes to walk down the aisle in. And the one thing you do not want on your wedding day is shoes that pinch your feet. So here are some ways to stretch your shoes. Warning: these are not for tintable shoes. Many include the use of water which is not good for those shoes. Stretch all shoes at your own risk.

However, over the years I've owned my fair share of high heels or high fashion shoes or boots that killed my feet (or at least they did until I tried some of my favorite tricks to easy the pinch.) Working in a women's shoe store I heard them all! Some boggled the mind (and actually worked) others, not so much.

My best suggestion is don't buy the shoes that kill your feet unless you are willing to put some time (and possibly pain) into stretching them out. But the good news is there are some ways to stretch your shoes that don't involve pain (thank you God!)

Some of my other suggestions:
  • Break shoes in gradually. Wear them for an hour or so a day when you can spend part of that time sitting down. This lets them slowly break in without you breaking out in blisters. Ouch!
  • The trick you see shoe salesmen doing all the time, take the shoes out of the box, removing all the tissue etc. and bend them up and down. I used to do this every time I put a new pair of shoes on a customer to relieve the stiffness. Works only if a shoe needs minimal stretching. You may want to do this in conjunction with other 'tricks.' If I do this at home I do it in conjunction with heating the shoe with a blow dryer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Shoe stores and shoemakers can also sell you shoe stretcher. Don't waste your money buying the spray they'll sell you, just use a spray made of half water and half alcohol, a lot cheaper especially if you have a lot of shoes to stretch.
  • Shoe stores and shoemakers sometimes have a metal tool that they will use to ease your shoes for you. If you shoes pinch really badly this alone is not the answer, but it's worth asking. Also Amazon sells shoe stretchers that are worth a try. I've never tried them so can only tell you they exist, not if they work. Be aware, the Amazon product comes with just one stretcher. I know my shoemaker recommends buying different stretchers for men and women as well as different ones for flats and heels. Seems like a lot of gadgets to clutter up the closet. The one pro with taking your shoes to the shoemaker, if he screws up his insurance will probably cover the damage, you do it at home, you are just out of luck.
  • Another trick your shoemaker can do is to use a machine to stretch your shoes. This will take at least a day, but it's another good option for those expensive shoes and boots and it seems to work well.
  • If you don't want to break you neck scuff up the bottom of your shoes on bare floors, concrete or with a piece of sandpaper. This can help you avoid going flying as you start walking around in them on other surfaces. It doesn't ease the tightness but it helps when you are wearing new shoes.
  • If the shoes are leather, pleather, or fake leather, etc. try freezing them. It gets stranger. Grab a ziplock bag (or brand of your choice) and fill 1/3 to 1/2 of the way with water, seal the bag. Put the bag with water in it in your shoe and be sure it fills your shoe from heel to toe. Place your shoes in the freezer and let them sit there several hours or overnight until they freeze. Thaw 20-30 minutes and remove the bags. Repeat if necessary. Don't use this on your designer shoes, instead use it on your less expensive shoes, just in case the baggie leaks or the freezing damages the materials.
  • The next tip is from the manager of a shoe store (Thanks Marianne) where I worked years ago. Take a big potato and push it far enough into your shoe to make it bulge out. Leave the potato in the shoe overnight and try it on again in the morning. Wipe of any potato residue before wearing. We could never figure out why a potato worked better than other 'stretchers' but she swore by it. I've run across this tip from other friends over the years so I guess sometimes the old wives tales work! (We were using these on inexpensive shoes, not sure if you want to use it on shoes that you paid hundreds of dollars for.
  • The Wet Sock Method (use on leather shoes): Put on damp wool socks and then don your shoes. Dry using your hairdryer. Heat 20-30 seconds at a time. Let shoes cool. Try them on with regular stockings (or socks), whatever you are planning on wearing with the shoes, repeat until they are comfortable. I hate this method for two reasons, first I hate wool socks, second wet wool socks are the one thing I hate even more. I don't use this on my shoes but you may be perfectly happy using it on yours.
  • Add some moleskin to the skin where the shoe is pinching. Soak your feet with the moleskin on, the moleskin should expand. Then put your shoes back on. The moleskin will help stretch the shoes only in the areas you need them stretched. (It will also help protect your feet as you stretch out your shoes.
Remember, your best bet is to buy shoes that fit. Have your feet remeasured periodically. Feet will change with weight gain or pregnancy or water retention and age. You may need to adjust your shoe size accordingly. Also be sure the size you wear is in USA sizes. Many shoes come from different parts of the world and are listed in European sizes.

I hope these suggestions make your next new pair of shoes a more pleasant experience from the first day you wear them. Remember, it takes time to stretch shoes out, so give yourself plent of time to complete the stretching and enjoy your big day!


Pam Margolis said...

I hate that wet sock method.

Nancy said...

I know, wet socks...who wants them? Wet wool, worse yet! Of course I prefer no shoes but can't always get away with that!