A guide to break into your new footwear

We have to take a lot into account when purchasing a new shoe: type, style, quality, how often you'll wear them, and, perhaps most important, comfort. I think we can all agree that while buying shoes is fun, breaking them in is decidedly not. Breaking in shoes can take a lot of time, but don't fall for the potentially shoe-damaging tricks like throwing your new purchase in the washing machine or the microwave (yes, that's a thing). These tips have had some success in the DIY world, but they definitely aren't the best option if you're looking to make your new pair last. Instead, here are some ways to help speed up the break-in process without sacrificing the integrity of your shoes, so you can rock those new shoes without all the blisters and bruises. 

  1. Wear the right size: This may sound obvious, but ensuring you have the right fit is the most important thing when it comes to buying new shoes. If the fit isn’t right, then taking the time and effort to break them in will be somewhat in vain, as shoes that are too tight or too loose will continue to cause problems on a long-term basis. Since there is no universal size guide for footwear and sizes differ from brand to brand, it is best to measure your feet, check the size guide of the brand and then purchase. For example one may be wearing size 6 sneakers but wears size 7 of formal shoes (say both are US size) OR at times the style of shoe also matters. The ones with narrower front may not fit someone with a broad front end foot and you’ll have to go for one size higher than the one which would normally fit you. Use our size guide to ensure you are buying the right size.

  2. Protect the blister zone: Breaking in shoes is always a little harsh on your feet, but some of the usual blisters can be prevented if you know where to look. Your heels are an obvious spot, but other common hotspots include the sides and tops of your toes. If you're not quite sure where your problem spots are going to be, walk around your house in the new shoes for an hour and you'll definitely figure it out. Blisters are caused by friction between your foot and the shoe. To reduce friction, moisture is key—dry skin will rub a lot more than hydrated skin. Keep your skin moisturized with lotion, and use petroleum jelly on the worst spots to reduce friction even more. However, there are also some more unconventional ways to prevent friction and blisters. Antiperspirant is one known option, especially in the summer months. Unlike deodorant, antiperspirant actually lessens sweating, so applying the product directly to your feet prevents the foot sweat that can make your blister situation a lot worse. Another unusual method of blister prevention is applying paper surgical tape to your hotspots. The tape is very smooth and thin, so even if you get a blister, removing the tape will not be a super traumatic experience. The best part about this new shoe hack? It can be found at your local drug store.

  3. Blow dry: You don't have to wear new shoes long to know that the type of shoe matters when you're trying to break them in. If you're feeling some tightness in a particular spot, like the joint of the big toe, grab your hairdryer and some chunky socks. Put the new shoes on your feet after wearing the chunky socks and blow dry over the tight spot for about 20 to 30 seconds, far enough away that you don't burn your feet. Then, take a quick walk around the room to loosen the shoe material while it's still hot and flexible. When you think they've stretched enough, remove those chunky socks and test them out! 

A tip: Use the blow dry on the lowest heat setting for vegan leather shoes.

  1. Tie up tight: When breaking in shoes, it can be tempting to loosen the laces to allow your feet more room to move and breathe. However, tying them up tightly - as you would when wearing your shoes normally - will help to stretch the fabric and speed up the process.

  2. Switch up your footwear: Once you’ve broken in your shoes enough to wear them out and about for longer periods of time, continue to alternate them with other shoes from your collection until they are so comfortable that you no longer fear rubbing or blisters. It might also be a good idea to carry a spare pair of well-worn shoes with you in case your feet do start to feel uncomfortable throughout the day.

Try these hacks out and let us know on Instagram which one worked the best for you by using #PAIOClan.