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Image / Fashion

Here’s how to stretch and soften your new leather sandals


by Niamh ODonoghue
13th May 2018

Wouldn’t it be a blessing to wear a brand new pair of leather shoes and not suffer the consequences of burns, blisters and cuts? I broke out a pair of brand new, leather sandals last Sunday and, seven days later, I’m still suffering from my poorly thought-out actions. How dare I assume I could wear new leather shoes on a hot day, willy-nilly, and run around town as normal. Destined to have unsightly feet (for a week, it seems), I was determined not to let this rookie mistake happen again. What I’ve learned is that breaking in new leather shoes doesn’t have to be a painful process: it’s too late for my feet, but not too late for yours. New shoes should be a blessing, not a curse, so try these at-home remedies and put a spring back in your step.

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Buy a shoe stretcher

It might seem obvious, but a simple plastic or wooden shoe stretcher can drastically help minimise aching feet, although this method takes more time than others. Leave them overnight or rotate your shoes and wear them only every other day and stretch in-between wears. Amazon has a huge range of stretchers available for under €15. Alternatively, slightly damp newspaper (not wet. If the newspaper is wet it will damage the sole of the shoe) crumpled up inside shoes will help to naturally stretch the leather.

The spoon technique

Using the back of a spoon and rigorously working it into the heel of the shoe mimics your heel. It also works to perform this motion on any other parts of the shoe that are rubbing or cutting. This will help soften the leather much faster so you can wear your new strappy sandals without the worry of unsightly cuts.

Feel the heat, loosen the feet

Leather is super malleable and moldable when it’s subjected to high temperatures. Holding a hairdryer over the parts of your leather shoe that are tight and generally uncomfortable will help loosen leather and stretch them slightly. Don’t forget to let them cool before putting them on your feet, though. Shoes with studs or metal detailing can get extremely hot. You have been warned.

Pay someone to help you

Apparently, in very queen-like fashion, HRH Queen Elizabeth II has her shoes worn in for her. Aren’t we all queens, in our own right? Most cobblers are equipped with the tools and skills to quickly and efficiently soften and stretch new leather shoes. Bryans Master Cobblers, located at 101 Talbot Street, comes highly recommended as the place to go for quick-fixes and alterations. His before and after pictures on Instagram speak for themselves:

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