Fashion Projects

Let Me Blow Your Mind: How To Stretch Out Your Too-Tight Shoes

Oh, just making a fashion statement in the bathroom over here

Did you know I’m an actual, certified Internet Authority on how to stretch out your shoes? As unlikely as it sounds, somehow the oddities of search engine optimization have made it so, because check it:

how to stretch out shoes that are too tight hairdryer

Those black pumps with the white heels? MINE.

And the green hairdryer/sock photo? Mine too (as evidenced by the fact that, SIX ENTIRE YEARS LATER, I still own and use the same not-very-good hairdryer because I’m too cheap and lazy to buy a new one).

I’d say I get a solid 5% of my site traffic from searches for “how to stretch out your too tight shoes.”

Which makes what happened when my new pair of ballet flats arrived in the mail kind of funny. I put them on, discovered that they were at least a full size too small…and did my (alleged) Internet expertise re: too-tight shoes occur to me? Nope: I got all grumpy about it. I texted Francesca (who had convinced me to buy the ballet flats in the first place and had assured me that I was ordering the right size, making this the first and only time that I can definitively and authoritatively say FRANCESCA YOU WERE WRONG) a photo of my feet stuffed into the aforementioned elegant black ballet flats like fatty sausages. And then I emailed the company to start the process of returning the shoes (to the U.K., meaning oh so many shipping fees, ugggggg).

And then, just as I was extracting my sausages from their casings and hunting around for a box in which to (expensively) ship them back to England, you know what happened?


(OK, so Francesca remembered. Which really takes away from the part of a story where I tell you that she was wrong about something. Which is annoying.

“Do your hairdryer-sock thing!” she said. And I thought, “…Hmm. ‘Hairdryer-sock thing.’ That sounds familiar…But why?”

And then it occurred to me:



It’s my thing.)

So here is how I took ballet flats that were at least a size too small, used my hairdryer-sock thing, and made them perfect.

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

how to stretch out shoes that are too tight hairdryer


  1. Put on a bunch of pairs of socks (I used two thick pairs).
  2. Stuff your feet into your too-small shoes that are now much, much smaller thanks to the socks (this part is no fun, but it’s worth it).
  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. (You may find that the shoes shrink back a bit after a few hours; just keep repeating the process until you reach a size that suits you.)

In the past, I’ve found that this technique stretches shoes a half size, but with ballet flats (which are more flexible by design, and tend to be made from more lightweight, stretchable material than traditional pumps), it turns out you can stretch them at least a size, if not more. My ballet flats literally went from a size too small to half a size too big after one stretching session (and then shrunk back again to the halfway point after they cooled, so after one more mini-stretching session they were 100% perfect).

Try it try it try it.

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

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