Sometimes you need to add some breathing room to your leather shoes.
Whether the last pair of those great Allen Edmonds were just a half-size too small, or your favourite $US400 Pradas just don’t fit the way they used to — it’s crucial to know how to stretch them out and do it right.
We came up with a few ways to help.
1. Go see a professional.
Business Insider spoke with David Yushuvayev of David Shoe Repair on East 17th Street in Manhattan, and he showed us the great device he uses to stretch shoes for customers. It expands length-wise and width-wise to ensure your shoe is getting stretched in just the right places to match your foot.
Yushuvayev recommends dropping by your local shoe repair shop to get the job done, rather than investing in the device itself and not using it very often. “One time you stretch it, and then 10 years you leave it somewhere,” he said. He charges about $US15 for a stretch.
2. Use a good spray.
No matter which method you use to stretch your shoe, it’s important to use a good shoe stretcher spray beforehand.
If your shoe doesn’t need too much of a stretch, you might even get by with just that.
Yushuvayev recommends the Meltonian Shoe Stretch & Softner Spray from SC Johnson. (Make sure you’re only using this spray on real leather and suede.)
3. Get crafty at home.
If stretching your shoes is a common recurrence for you, then you might want to consider some DIY methods.
Lifehack recommends freezing a bag of water inside your shoes, so that when the bag expands, it stretches the leather as well (repeat as many times as needed).
Alternatively, Lifehack recommends heating your shoes with a hair dryer. Wear the shoes with thick socks, and aim the hairdryer at specific parts of the shoe that need a little more wiggle room.
Several blogs, including Shoe Digest, also recommend stuffing the shoes with peeled potatoes overnight. So that’s also an option, though we’re not sure how they will smell the next morning.
4. Try to buy shoes that fit.
Lastly — or perhaps firstly — you should always aim to buy shoes that fit.
Podiatrist Paul Greenberg of Mount Sinai Hospital and Belvedere Podiatry Group says it’s not a good idea to buy uncomfortable shoes with the intention of stretching them out later.
“They should be comfortable from the start,” he said.
Remember that your feet will swell as the day wears on, so try to avoid early morning shoe-shopping trips, and head to the shops after work instead.