Buying new leather shoes can be fun and exciting, whether for a special occasion or a new job. However, new leather shoes can be stiff and uncomfortable, so what’s the best way to break them in? I will cover some easy methods for breaking in leather shoes, step by step.
Breaking in leather shoes is stretching and softening the leather material of footwear for a better fit. This is done for stiff leather shoes, to accommodate any fitting issues, and for comfort. Leather shoes can be broken in with frequent use, wearing thick socks, and using shoe stretchers.
Have you found the perfect pair of leather dress shoes, but they feel stiff and uncomfortable? Did your new leather shoes fit perfectly in the store but now cause pain and blisters? Let’s check out the various way to break in leather shoes to get them fitting just right.
What Is Breaking in Leather Shoes?
Breaking in leather shoes is using one of several methods to stretch and soften leather for a better fit. One may find leather shoes fit well in the store, but wearing them all day can cause foot pain and sore spots due to tight, brand-new leather.
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- Reasons You Might Choose to Break in Leather Shoes
- Variations of Breaking in Leather Shoes
- Breaking in Leather Shoes Overview Table
- Skill Level of Breaking in Leather Shoes
- Tools and Supplies Needed for Breaking in Leather Shoes
- How to Breaking in Leather Shoes Step by Step
- How to Get Better at Breaking in Leather Shoes
- My Personal Research on Breaking in Leather Shoes
- Helpful Insights on Breaking in Leather Shoes
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
One misconception about breaking in leather shoes involves the use of moisture. Some have said that a soak in water and then wearing leather shoes can help break them in, but water more often leads to leather shrinkage and damage. The same has been said about heat — but this can lead to the leather drying out and cracking.
Another misconception is regarding size and that leather shoes that are a full size too small can be stretched and broken in to fit. This is untrue because leather is made to stretch to a certain point, and then cracking and tearing will occur.
Reasons You Might Choose To Break in Leather Shoes
Why do leather shoes need breaking in? Brand-new leather can be stiff and tight. They may even feel too small after a few hours of wear.
Sometimes, they don’t accommodate particular foot aspects like bunions, corns, and other specific issues because they are made on generic wooden models by size. Another reason one might choose to break in new leather shoes is there may be one spot that is rubbing, pinching, or causing blisters.
Use patience when breaking in leather shoes to avoid damaging the leather.
Variations of Breaking in Leather Shoes
Several variations of breaking in leather shoes exist; some are quick and easy, and some take more time and patience. One may choose the easiest method that doesn’t require additional supplies. Here are the variations of breaking in leather shoes:
- Frequent wear – By wearing brand new leather shoes often and for long periods, they will be broken in quicker and be a perfect fit for your feet.
- Wear with thick socks – Wearing 1–2 pairs of thick socks with leather shoes often will stretch out and break in the shoes even quicker. It’s a bit tight and perhaps even uncomfortable for some, but they will break in quicker.
- Shoe stretcher – These are devices that fit inside shoes with plugs that can be placed to accommodate bunions or corns. A turning handle can be turned every eight hours to gently stretch the leather shoes for a better fit.
Breaking in Leather Shoes Overview Table
|Area of Preparation||Details|
|Technique||Breaking in Leather Shoes|
|Overall Level of Skill (1–5)||3|
|Time to Complete (minutes/hours)||80–100 hours|
|Tools and Supplies Needed||Shoe stretcher, leather conditioner, thick socks|
|Key Helpful Tip||Start with the correct size or one-half size smaller max.|
Skill Level of Breaking in Leather Shoes
Breaking in leather shoes takes little skill, although knowledge regarding proper leather care is helpful. Also, know that the leather used for shoes is supposed to be strong yet flexible, keep feet comfortable and allow airflow, and properly flex with the foot, according to researchers Hossain, Azam, and Chowdhury.
One doesn’t need special tools, but tools are available should one want to utilize a different method than what’s on hand. Starting with the correct size of leather shoes is an excellent place to start – in fact, the shoes should not be more than one-half size less than what fits well.
Tools and Supplies Needed for Breaking in Leather Shoes
Few tools and supplies are required for breaking in leather shoes, and which ones will depend on which method will be used. Here are the usual tools and supplies for breaking in leather shoes:
- Leather conditioner
- Thick socks (1–2 pairs)
- Shoe stretcher
- Foot cushions or bandages
How to Break in Leather Shoes Step by Step
Once the supplies for the procedure have been collected, it’s time to get started. Here is how to break in leather shoes step by step.
1. Put on 1–2 pairs of thick socks.
2. Apply leather conditioner evenly to the outsides of the leather shoes.
3. Put on leather shoes.
4. Wear the shoes for eight hours per day.
5. Use foot cushions or bandages for any problem spots or blisters.
6. Use the shoe stretcher at night for any problem spots that persist after the first two days.
Watch this video from Daniel Wiebracht for helpful tips for making a new pair of leather dress shoes fit more comfortably.
How to Get Better at Breaking in Leather Shoes
Breaking in leather shoes isn’t difficult, but it does take time and patience. Getting better at it just means buying more leather shoes — and what could be bad about that? Remember how leather should be cleaned and treated for long-lasting wear, and don’t rush when breaking it in.
Start with the right size or not too small, and try different methods. These methods can also be used for leather boots, leather sandals, and even patent and faux leather.
My Personal Research on Breaking in Leather Shoes
Most people have at least one pair of leather shoes or boots in their closet, so it’s likely that stretching and breaking-in methods have been used by many. I polled friends and family on which methods they have used or prefer for their leather shoes. Here is a table representing their responses and what I learned from the poll about how to break in leather shoes.
|Method for Breaking In Leather Shoes||Times Selected|
|Leather conditioner and frequent wear||24%|
Helpful Insights On Breaking in Leather Shoes
How long does it take to break into leather shoes?
Depending on the method used and how much breaking in is needed, it can take between 80 hours and two weeks to effectively break in leather shoes. A shoe stretcher can work in less time as this method can target specific spots.
How do you break in leather shoes without wearing them?
There are a few methods for breaking in leather shoes without wearing them. There are shoe stretchers, stretch spray, the freezer method, and cobblers. Cobblers are usually the most expensive at $15–$25, while the others are very affordable and performed at home.
What is the best way to break in leather shoes?
The best way to break in brand-new leather shoes is to wear them frequently. They can be worn with thick socks to help speed up the process and protect the feet from blisters and sore spots. This method will take a few days but is the most effective.
- Breaking in leather shoes takes anywhere from 80–100 hours.
- Use patience when breaking in leather shoes to avoid damaging the leather.
- Protect your feet with cushions, bandages, or thick socks when breaking in leather shoes.
Leather shoes are great for many occasions, from everyday to special events, and comfort is a high priority. Breaking in leather shoes doesn’t have to be painful or take a long time, so patience and the right method should be utilized. Always protect your feet and start with leather shoes that fit versus those too small. Which method will you use to break in your new leather shoes?
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