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How to Break in New Shoes

I love getting new shoes, don’t you? There’s just something about putting my best foot forward in a brand-new pair of shoes that gives me a bit of a rush. Of course, I love shoes whether it’s new strappy stilettoes for an event, or shiny new slip-ons for spring. What I don’t love is the discomfort, blisters, and an unwarranted stiffness that goes along with new heels, flats, and sandals. There’s lots of advice out there on the best way to break in new shoes, especially high heels, but what is the most effective method? After some research and trial runs, I’ve found a few basic hacks and at-home remedies to break in your newly acquired pumps, sneakers, and boots!

First, stretch them out. Sure, there are fancy contraptions out there to stretch your shoes, but the best way to have your shoes fit your foot, is by wearing them over three days. I’m not suggesting wearing them from dawn-to-dusk, that’s definitely the wrong way to break in shoes. Instead, have them on for 30 minutes around the house on the first day. Second day, increase your time to 60 minutes, and try to wear them both in and outside of the house. On the third day, wear them for two hours. By then, your shoes should be fully broken in and properly aligned to your foot.

Of course, feet do swell as the day progresses. So, if you can, schedule your three-day break-in wears toward the end of the day. Wearing your new shoes in the afternoon or evening will allow them to stretch to your most realized foot size.

If your new leather shoes are still a bit tight along the toes after those three days, use a blow dryer, as the heat will make the material more malleable. Give them a good blow-drying along the toe cap for approximately 30 seconds before putting them on. This will literally “warm them up” for your foot. You may need to repeat this hack a few more times for really stiff pumps and loafers.

Regardless of your shoe material, be aware of your pressure points, or hot spots. Those are areas on your foot that tend to blister or get irritated the most by new shoes. For me, it’s the back of the heel and big toe side of the foot. I’ve found some simple moleskin padding prevents irritation and protects my foot during the breaking in process.

Another preventative step for your feet is to “dry” them. If you are breaking in shoes with bare feet. be sure to either spray each foot with some antiperspirant or rub some baby powder on them to keep them dry during your timed breaking-in wears. This will also keep blisters at bay and prevent any possible fungus from starting. Again, you can use this method on shoes you’ve already broken-in but wear without socks, especially during the warmer months.

It goes without saying the best way to prevent wrecking your feet with new shoes is by getting the right size and width. Feet can change over time and different brands have different fits. So, try on a few full and half-sizes, and consider sizing “up” if that provides you with more comfort. The right fitting shoe makes the breaking-in process easier and more effective. Happy Shoe Shopping!

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