Nothing says fall like new leather boots that go with every outfit you own. Developing agonizing blisters, however, can easily ruin your day and keep you from wearing those boots ever again. To put your purchase to good use, take the time to save your feet and break in your boots the right way.
With tricks as easy as these, you can bypass the pain and wear your boots as much as you want (i.e., every day!).
01. Use Leather Conditioner
Not taking the time to break in a new pair of leather boots can injure your feet and damage your boots. How? When breaking in a new pair of shoes, your feet expand the leather; when done too quickly, it can result in cracks in the leather. The best way to prevent this is to apply a layer of leather conditioner to soften the stiff leather fibers, allowing you to easily stretch the shoes. This quickens the breaking in process while protecting your feet and shoes. Using leather conditioner is also a great way to waterproof your shoes so that they can last longer.
02. Prevent with Band-Aids
Sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry. Blisters form because of friction between your foot and the shoe. To stop this friction before it happens, completely cover trouble areas with a bandage or foot tape (or both!). Protecting your usual blister spots before they even have the chance to form is the best approach to avoiding pain. If you’re not sure where your blister spots are, wear your new shoes around the house for half an hour, and you’ll find them quickly.
Wearing preventative Band-Aids will also help you break in your boots quicker because you’ll be able to wear them longer. We suggest wearing the large fabric Band-Aids because they’re much sturdier than the plastic Band-Aids that easily peel off from moisture.
03. Wear Them Around the House
An oldie but a goodie! One of the best ways to break in a new pair of leather boots is to wear them around the house. This will get you through the worst part of the breaking in process while in the comfort of your own home. This trick requires some patience. To really stretch them out and speed up the process, add an extra pair of socks (or just wear the chunkiest pair you own).
04. Bend and Twist Them
Leather boots are tough because they go through numerous chemical treatments, making the leather fibers very rigid. To loosen up the fibers, gently bend and twist the boots after you’ve worn them for a bit and they’re still warm. This will continue to soften the leather in areas that your feet have already begun breaking in. Just remember to be gentle so you don’t overstretch and crack the leather fibers.
05. Add Some Heat
Be sure your shoes are made out of genuine leather for this one, or else the plastic will melt. While wearing your thick or double-layer socks, directly aim your blow dryer at your feet where the leather rubs or where the shoe is tightest. Most people’s hotspots are in the toe and heel areas. The heat will soften the leather quickly, allowing your feet to expand the shoe so the leather can mold to your foot shape. Apply the heat for twenty to thirty seconds per area.
Make sure to walk around your house while they are still warm; the leather will form to your feet as they cool. Repeat the process until you notice the shoes have stretched. Pro tip: Apply leather conditioner afterward to restore any moisture lost.
06. Mimic the Motion with a Spoon
This technique isn’t traditional, but it works great when you’re in a pinch (literally). Simply rub the round side of a spoon against the back of the heel (inside the shoe) and any other tough spots the spoon can reach. Don’t be afraid to be a little rough with it, but be careful to not scratch the leather with the edge of the spoon. This rubbing motion imitates the motion of your foot when walking and smooths and softens the rough leather.
07. Use a Shoe Stretcher
If you find yourself breaking in boots a lot, it might be worth it to invest in a boot stretcher. That way you can skip all the hard work of breaking in shoes! The wooden insert mimics the shape of your foot and can be left in your shoe overnight. How does it work? Once the boot stretcher slides into the front of your shoe, you crank the bar at the opposite end to expand the insert, which in turn expands your shoe.
Keep in mind that boot stretchers are different than regular shoe stretchers, but they will also work on shoes that aren’t boots.
08. Take Them to a Professional
When all else fails, you can always take your shoes to a cobbler—yes, they do still exist. Do a quick Google search for “shoe cobblers” or “shoe repair near me.” While it may be more expensive, the breaking in process will be done faster and definitely done right. Shoe cobblers are the masters and can come up with a solution for any discomfort you may have when wearing your shoes. Usually it will require leaving your new pair with them for three to seven days.