Just like clothes, few shoes fit perfectly “off the rack”. Most need some tailoring to fit. Do you have an issue with bunions or hammertoes and tight shoe fit? A shoe stretcher is the perfect trick. People will gladly pay to have a single pair of shoes stretched, but you can do dozens of shoes at home easily, safely, and for a lot less money and a lot more fun.
The first thing to determine is what type of shoe stretcher you need. There are stretchers for high heels, stretchers for boots and stretchers for flats. There are shoe stretchers which can raise the toe box, raise the vamp or make the forefoot wider. And don’t forget the nobs, (think Mr. Potato Head), which when perfectly placed, can spot stretch even the tightest area. Now we come to sizes, which range from the tiniest, tightest high heel to the biggest, widest military boot.
Your tools…shoe stretch spray (our favorite is Wiley’s) your shoe stretcher and an uncomfortably tight shoe with a leather upper. Synthetics need not apply.
Spray in the appropriate area, insert the stretcher, twist the handle clockwise and set aside for 24-48 hours. Remove the stretcher, try both shoes on again and see if the stretched shoe now fits. If not, remove, re-insert the stretcher and repeat.
How many of us check the insides of our shoes? If you’re like most of us, never, right? Well, you may want to get better acquainted with the insides of your shoes.
Above is a worn pair of sock liners I removed from a pair of Rockport shoes. Even without a podiatry degree, you should be able to see significant signs of wear and tear. Amazing, how different the right and left foot wear patterns are. Notice the right sock liner with the big hole on the outside? Even if you never see the foot, you would still worry that something important alignment-wise might be happening on the right foot side. And you would be right… Achilles tendonitis on the right side. See? Worn sock liners really can be the window to your sole!
I enjoy asking someone their shoe size right before I measure their foot…According to my unscientific research, at least 70% of the feet I measure, are being put into the wrong size shoe.
I don’t enjoy discovering that someone’s foot size (heel to ball) measures an 11.5 and the running shoes they have been wearing is a 10…which might also explain why their toenails are turning purple.
And…I am shocked and appalled when I come across a shoe that has a different heel to ball length vs. heel to toe length. New Balance 858 is such a shoe. A design flaw, I call ‘disproportionate’. In this case, the shoes arch length is long relative to the toe box length. Fine for someone who has really short stubby toes, but way too short in the toe box for the rest of us. Oh, I almost forgot, that would be short stubby toes and narrow foot, because of the narrow outsole, which makes this shoe a nearly impossible match to anyones foot.
To their credit, New Balance makes many styles of shoes, and this is one very specific style. And this one style doesn’t make all New Balance shoes bad, (i.e, “1 bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl…”) and most manufactures make ‘disproportionate’ shoes once in a while.
As a member of my posse, your job will be to stop buying disproportionate shoes. Eventually, when these styles don’t sell, shoe manufacturers will stop producing them, and eventually, shoes will start to fit better.
Do you experience heel slippage in your slip on shoe styles (loafers, flats)? Do you have a high arched foot or two different sized feet? If so, you may want to check the vamp length.
The picture above shows two different vamp/tongue lengths on slip on styles of shoes with elastic insets. The brown shoe has a shorter vamp length and the black shoe has a longer vamp length.
For this person the brown pair barely stayed on, because of her very high arch coupled with the short vamp length. The black shoe on the other hand, made much more surface area contact with the foot (think form fitting), creating a much more secure environment.
This is also important if you have one foot shorter than the other, because the short vamp won’t contact the foot enough to stay on, hence slippage or even falling off…especially if you’re running to catch a cab and you forget to hold the shoe on by gripping with your toes!
It’s seasonably warm in the Bay Area this fall and sandal wearing still abounds. Thanksgiving week someone walked into my office wearing sandals, whose strap was rubbing and irritating the top of her big toe. In spite of her visit being related to something entirely different, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to correct her strangulating strap. If you suffer from this, here’s a surefire fix. Simply unbuckle the offending strap, and secure a 1/8″ thick square of Wiley’s Felt Remedy to the strap underside. A quick re-buckle and problem solved! This trick also works for Mary Jane staps (flats or heels) as well.