What Causes Shoes to Curl Up?

Man with variety of footwear

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Shoes make a statement about the wearer. A nice pair of shoes can help you exude confidence and success, while a pair of curled-up shoes can make you look sloppy and feel embarrassed. There's nothing worse than your confident shoes turning into your sloppy shoes virtually overnight. While there are numerous reasons shoes curl up, not all of them are unavoidable. Understanding what causes your shoes to curl up will help you prevent it from happening.


Cheap shoes with low-quality materials are much more likely to curl up than expensive shoes. Kevin Williams of the Chicago Tribune advises consumers to purchase shoes with leather soles and heels for their resilience. Artificial materials will cause shoes to curl up. He suggests looking at the sole of the shoe when you buy, as well, noting, “If the stitching that holds the sole to the upper is visible, it should be embedded in a groove so that the stitching doesn't wear out as you walk.”

Weather Conditions

Walking around in rain, snow or other poor weather conditions will cause your shoes to curl up. When your shoes get wet, the materials will expand—and curl. If this happens, stuff the shoe to keep shape (with newspapers or a shoe tree) and let the shoe air dry. Do not try to heat the shoe, as heat will also cause the shoe materials to curl. Avoid wearing your shoes in wet conditions—opt for a pair of rain or snow boots which are meant to sustain rough weather.

Everyday Wear

Shoes curl up from over-use. If you’re wearing the same pair of shoes every day, especially commuting to work or school, over time, your soles won’t be able to handle the constant wear and tear and will most likely begin to curl up. Kevin Williams writes, “No matter how small you are, with every foot strike, you put a tremendous amount of force into your shoes; something like two times your body weight.” Even great quality shoes can become victim to curling up if they’re constantly used. Switch up your kicks throughout the week to prevent the eventual curling of your shoes.

Tips & Tricks

Avoid your favorite pair of shoes curling up by buying a pair of shoe trees. Shoe trees are a shaped block that can be inserted in the shoe to preserve shape while they’re not being worn. You can find them at most shoe stores. Make sure the shoes you’re buying fit properly—shoes that are too big or too small will curl up faster because your foot strikes will be exaggerated when you walk.