DIY Projects

How-To: Stretch Out Your Too-Tight Shoes

Alright, so my favorite new shoes? My amazing ones? (I love them.) Well, my amazing favorite new shoes are far less amazing and favorite when they suddenly appear to shrink an entire size overnight, forcing me to hobble around all day in crushing, multiple-Advil-requiring pain.

What I suspect happened is that my feet expanded when I was pregnant, because for the first time in my life I appear to be a solid 8 1/2 rather than an 8, and I think that the fact that the shoes were too small just escaped me in the moments after they arrived because a) I was distracted by the fabulousness, and b) I was doing very little walking that day, because I was on set for Jones New York.

(Also, my mom tells me that her feet expanded a half-size when she was pregnant, and I totally never believed her because that sounds completely weird…but as it turns out, Dr. Oz says it’s true, and what Dr. Oz says is true is probably true, because the man is a genius.)


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What to do when one has ordered fabulous shoes off of the Internet and worn them once already, making an exchange unlikely, and then discovered that they are too small?

I’ll tell you!

The other morning, I was performing my New Shoe Hobble Dance at the J. Crew event, and picked up a fantastically useful tidbit from one of the stylists: apparently there is a technique that you can use to stretch out leather shoes a good half-size:

1. Put on a bunch of pairs of socks (I used two thick ones).

2. Stuff your feet into your too-small shoes (this part is no fun, but it’s worth it).

Check out my experiment with the Japanese “Baby Feet” skin-peeling trend (with video!)

3. Blast your shoes with hot air from a blowdryer for a couple of minutes while flexing your toes and bending your feet, concentrating on the tightest areas.

4. Keep the socks and shoes on until the leather cools. Test out the shoes without socks, and repeat if necessary until they’re comfortable.

And the best part? It totally works. 

(That’s what I thought you said.)

Click through to learn how Saran Wrap (yes, Saran Wrap) can save your crazy-dry feet.

  • Kimmy

    Love! I totally need to do this with a pair of Cole Haans. Thanks for the tip!

  • Marielle

    Yes. Definitely trying this! I have teeny tiny feet, and I bought a pair of Ivanka Trump heels in size 4.5 (I know) and they are just slightly too tight (I’m normally a 5). They were on sale for $40, I couldn’t pass them up!

    • I have tiny feet too but can wear anything from a size 4.5 (sandals) to 6. The reason being is that my foot is wide at the top and narrow at the heel. Congratulations on your find.

  • That is a genius idea! Do you know if it works with other type of material or only if its leather?

  • I tried to stretch my shoes using the ice/freezer method but didn’t work. I look forward to trying this idea.

  • This is amazing. I’ll have to give it a try. Stat.

  • Stephanie

    If all else fails, put a little bit of vaseline on your foot before you put your shoe on. I’m not sure why, but it doesnt just help slide your foot in, it actually makes it wearable! I did this as a last resort for an adorable pair of shoes i HAD to have that wasn’t available in my size 🙂

    • jordanreid

      i was talking to a model during fashion week who told me that her feet were so big that she loses lots of jobs because of them (because the shoes don’t fit), and that this is exactly the trick she uses to get them on.

  • Jana

    Pure genius! Just tried it and it works like a charm! Thank you soooo much!!! 🙂

  • Gina

    As soon as I read this I immediately thought of these Elizabeth & James shoes I have sitting in my closest that were just a wee bit too tight! Came home and tried it after work and it worked like a charm 🙂 Thank you!!!

  • Just wanted to also suggest a trick if this idea doesn’t work. Instead of heating the outside of the shoe with a hair dryer, heat the inside of the shoe with a hair dryer on high heat for about 2 minutes, then try the idea with the thick socks, and walk around a bit. Repeat the process a few more times if needed. I have been playing hockey for 16 years and this is an old trick hockey players use for skates that are too tight or skates that don’t fit properly (it’s called baking your skates), and the process helps form the inside to your feet. I found this process has worked also on difficult to mold or stretch shoes too!

    • honey_booboo

      ill try this too extra space

    • Maureen Laidler

      Yes, works much better by heating from the inside! I tried it on two pair of shoes that are lovely but I never wear because they are so tight on my poor big toe.
      Thanks for your help Elaine, no more aching toes! 😀

    • Drazen B

      Yes, I apply this “internal” method on my leather shoes.
      Moistening them on the outside and hair-drying can ultimately damage the leather appearance, so best not to risk it.

    • I just tried this on a pair of never worn thrift store treasures that were just too good to pass up. Worked like a charm! Thanks.

    • trev gulips

      Sir after heating for 2 mins then you wear it?

  • Matt

    brilliant!! thanks for the tip, it worked like a charm! 😀

    • jordanreid

      Happy to hear that!

  • Bought a pair of Gucci slides on eBay (they match my handbag!) and they are just a bit tight. Just tried this and it helped a little, going to do it a few more times and I think it will solve the problem! Thanks for the tip.

  • mindy

    thank you this worked!!!!! I can wear my shoes now thanks so much!

  • Marybell P.

    Awesome!!! It worked for me!

  • Ebony

    OMG! I did it and I’m so excited!! Bought a pair of very expensive shoes and they feel great now!!

  • Diana

    Yeah! Wearing my shoes with The pair of socks worked for me!

  • Girl With Glasses

    nice!!! thanks for the tip!

  • Sarah

    Can you do this with rubber boots?

    • jordanreid

      I don’t think so – leather is a natural fabric so it’s porous and stretches.

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  • Imahernandez

    Can you use it on basketball shoes?

  • Alove

    wow..i just try this and am amazed…love this trick…it really work…i did it for ten.minutes…n boom magic!! 🙂 no need to spend your money on shoe stretcher…Thanks for the trick …:-) happy..

  • Andrea

    Worked so much!

  • Casey Snell

    I wouldn’t do this if I were pregnant… Wouldn’t your feet go back to normal size awhile after giving birth?
    Then they’d be too big!

    • Jenn

      Your foot size doesn’t go back after giving birth

    • 1161gr

      Actually, the Bones in your Pregnant Feet stretch out too, not just the flesh.
      They really do not ever go back to the same smaller size! also, because you’re on the go way more as a Mom, your feet swell earlier in the day, and take awhile to go back down, because you are that much busier!

    • jordanreid

      There are actually a couple of factors that contribute to your feet expanding during pregnancy: one is weight gain and water retention (which should subside after the birth), but the second is that a hormone called “relaxin” is released to allow the joints in your midsection to expand to accommodate your baby…and also expands the joints in your feet. This doesn’t actually pop back post-birth, which is why many women experience a permanent increase in foot size.

    • Sandy Arguijo

      My foot size never went bac

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  • Cathy

    Can you do this procedure if the shoes are cloth, not leather?

    • I don’t think the hair dryer will work on cloth, but what will work is if you get them wet, then wear them around with the socks while they dry. Not as speedy as the hair dryer thing, but it works.

      • Richard Stubbles

        How wet? Like… drenched or..?

        • Drazen B

          Lightly moistened on the inside. Definitely not drenched. Then put a pair of thick socks or 2 pairs of standard socks on, slip on the shoes and ‘hit’ them with the hairdryer until cloth is completely dry. Walk around and flex the feet/toes while still warm until completely cooled down. Remove from feet, remove second sock or socks altogether and try with normal sock or barefoot, whatever preferred.

          It works, I did it and worked a treat for me on Converse, Pepe Jeans and Superga sneakers.

  • Hope Varnedoe

    i went from an 8 1/2 to a 9 after pregnancy – and it doesn’t go back like your waistline does. but even still once in a while i’ll get a 9 that is way too snug – i am definitely going to try this!

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  • honey_booboo

    it worked omg im so happy I spend hundreds on these jordans and it worked im so happy

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  • flambergian

    Will this work if the material is suede? 🙁 I just bought a pair of very pretty high-heeled shoes and they are a bit too small. I paid a lot for this pair so I don’t want any damage, will this trick work? I’m sorry, I’m sure you get this kind of question a lot, but I’m so desperate.

    • jordanreid

      No worries at all! I’ve actually never tried it on suede so I’m not sure (probably depends on how the suede is treated), but since suede is a natural fabric it’s probably worth a shot – it’s just heat, so it shouldn’t damage the shoes even if it doesn’t work perfectly.

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  • Mariah

    So I just received these perfect heels in the mail for prom, and when i went to try them on, they were too small. So I went onto the website and they couldn’t replace my item. I was so devasted, and so I found this article and tried it, and it worked perfectly. Im so happy, words can’t describe. My heels fit perfect now! Thank you-

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  • Kristy

    Just found this post and it was exactly what I needed! My too tight flats are now loose enough to feel comfy 🙂 Thanks for sharing this tip!

  • Faith

    OMG!! Thanks!! I can finally wear those shoes I bought from ALDO *weeps with relief*

  • Hansy

    I have a question? Doesnit work too on sneakers and rubber shoes?

    • Drazen B

      Pre-moisten canvas sneakers like Converse etc – yes.
      Rubber shoes – no, sorry.

      I tried both.

  • jnorman

    A massive thank you. I have just stumbled on to this while desperate to get my wedding shoes to fit. You are amazing.

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  • Erica

    I tried it on mine for a couple minutes and it worked but after a couple minutes i tried them on again and they feel as if they got tight again 🙁

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  • April

    Does this apply to a pair of Sperry’s? I bought an 8 because 8.5 makes my feet slip when I walk. But after a whole day of wearing them, I got blisters in my toes and heels.. more on the toes because the shoes aren’t wide enough to make room for my toes. But size 8 is okay. But the blisters, they hurt. A lot.

  • krishna pandya

    I bought a new velvet boots from one online shopping website.. They are very lovely but when I wore the for the first time.. I was shocked.. They are too tight to walk.. I got painful shoe bites walking just a few metres.. So I just looked solution on your website.. I want try this but I am bit afraid of ruining velvet material.. Your method works on velvet meterial..??? They are made from kind of regesin meterial from inside..

    • Shanna

      No Hon, Can’t you send them back and order a size uo?

    • Maureen Laidler

      Thanks! Just tried it and it worked perfectly! No more aching big toes 😀

  • Ming

    It worksssss omgggg!!!! Thank you so much! I ordered a pair of shoes from a place that normally runs too big just my luck they ran true to size this time and couldn’t send them back because they were out of stock and couldn’t find a shoe I would want to exchange them with…went on Google and found this and I am greatly appreciative because now they fit and are so much better and I thank you so much now I’m all over the house doing my happy dance. After I type this Im going to destroy the box I had planned to send these back in because these babies are not going back …Im already looking for outfits to match them now. You saved the day thanks sooooo much!!!!

    • jordanreid

      i’m so happy to hear that!!!!

      • Zara

        My leather fab sandle are loose can anyone tel me how to fit them 🙁

  • C

    Amazing!!! Just did this to my $200 work clogs that I ordered online and couldn’t wear! Worked like a charm! They are about a half a size bigger!

  • Violet

    Hi! I wore high heels for 20+ years and now in my 50’s I have bunions. Ouch. Cause squishing your toes together in pointy shoes. Make sure you have enough toe room in shoes! Those wooden shoe stretcher things work great however if you need to widen them! Every shoe repair has them!

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  • Angeli M

    Question. Is this tip a temporary fix or has someone done this and the shoes have stayed stretched? Like they don’t revert to their normal size.

    • Charberry2

      I usually find they stay stretched. I have plenty of worn in shoes that started tight. One pair Of flats I wore while pregnant, I cant even wear now because my own feet made them super big at the time. I havent worn them in a year and they are pretty loose on my feet now

  • facet

    Great idea.
    A big thank you I just stumbled upon
    this moment desperate
    to get my wedding shoes
    to size. You are amazing.
    My future wife
    just jump
    out of luck.

  • facet
  • John

    Would you believe I take a size UK 18 and I’ve just bought the only slippers I can get from the US which are size 17.
    My ugg slippers are wonderful but a little too tight, I’m going to give this a try as the leather is quite hard.
    Wish me luck X

  • Damian
  • Gislaine

    I tried the heat method – hairdryer on the inside – on a new pair of boots which were rather snug. Wore a pair of thick walking socks for about 10 minutes. It worked, brilliant! It takes such a long time to wear in new shoes/boots which are a bit tight when you come to wear them. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

  • sek

    great guide

  • Ashton Sauer

    I badly need this right now! I bought a pair of shoes maybe about half size smaller than my size but they were so pretty and on sale! I hope this works *crosses fingers*

  • Saima Mulla

    I recently bought some some slydes that are my size but when they arrived they were too small I can hardly get my feet into them so I’m not sure how to stretch them out as I can’t return them. Any suggestions?

  • great article! congrats

  • Romanian

    I have read on your site and plan to keep reading when I get more time …..

  • Nada Raafat

    I have a question… does this work on Converse? (the rubber part at the front is really tight on my toes)

    • jordanreid

      i don’t think so – leather only.

  • Sam

    Thank you!!! This really works!
    Did it twice and put extra socks to get it comfortable.
    Thanks again!

  • Nellie Carter

    Can I do the same thing with adidas flip flops?
    They are my size but too tight.

    • jordanreid


  • Michele Taylor

    So I brought these fab shoes, but wasn’t looking forward to wearing them for the first time; I’m so glad a stumbled upon this chat. I’m going to give baking my shoes a try before wearing them for the first time.

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