It happens to even the most savvy shoppers – you buy a pair of beautiful leather boots only to find that the toe box pinches just enough to rub your toes the wrong way. It's always better to buy a size up with boots, especially if you plan to wear thick winter socks, and to test them out before you buy them. If your boots are too tight, try out several home remedies to stretch out the toe box and give your piggies some room to breathe.
Fill a spray bottle with one part water, one part rubbing alcohol. Spritz the inside of your boots lightly with the mixture to help stretch out the leather. It's a cobbler's secret weapon.
Slip on two or three pairs of thick socks. Squeeze into the boots and walk around in them while you're at home. Wiggle your feet inside your boots, stand on your tiptoes and move your toes around as much as you can. The socks, combined with all your fidgeting, will help stretch the toe box of your boots. The longer you wear them, the better they'll stretch.
Blow hot air from a hair dryer over your boots as you're stretching them out. The warm air helps soften the leather, making them even looser. Use your hair dryer for three to five minutes. Strip off the extra socks and test out the boots. Repeat if necessary.
Fill two secure zip-closure freezer bags with about a cup of water. Slide the bags into your boots so that one bag fills up each toe box completely. Add or remove water as necessary. Set your boots in the freezer and leave them for 12 to 24 hours. As the water freezes, it will expand and stretch the leather. Set the boots out so the water bags can melt. Remove the bags and test your boots. The freezer won't hurt the boots, but you can rub a little leather conditioner on them afterward to keep them supple.
Use a boot stretcher to keep your boots comfortably loose. Spritz the alcohol mixture inside each boot, and then insert the stretcher. Twist the base to open the stretcher until it fits snugly in the toe box of the boot. This will keep the boots from returning to their original size when you're not wearing them.
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Tips to Stretch Tight Shoes
- If the methods you try don't work, or if you're concerned about damaging your boots, consult your local cobbler.
- If a boot is too narrow in the toes, the width can usually be stretched slightly. If the boot is too short for your foot, however, very little can be done to lengthen the inside of the boot.
Lindsey Robinson Sanchez, from Bessemer, Ala., has written for the "Troy Messenger," "The Alabama Baptist" and "The Gainesville Times," where her work was featured on the AP wire. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida. She writes style, beauty, fitness, travel and culture.