This is a drill that we know all too well. You spot a pair of shoes that you just have to buy for their glamorous sense of style, only to realize that the pair is too big for you. The shoes that had you smitten now have your feet slipping and sliding all the place in the slightest attempt to walk.
Not being able to wear your dream shoes is as traumatic as it comes, and we all have been there. While the immediate remedy would be to exchange them for the right fitting pair, sometimes this is just not possible.
Don’t stress over such a small matter. There exist proven hacks of how to make shoes smaller for a better fit on your new pair of shoes. I hope these tricks and tips save you from the initial disappointment of having to wear unfitting shoes.
When Is a Pair of Shoes Too Big?
The trend all over the globe is to buy shoes, depending on the size of your feet. But quite frankly, when is the last time any of you measured their feet and ascertained the best fit? My best guess is when you were in school.
In essence, you could be inadvertently wearing the wrong shoe size without knowing. When it comes to wearing shoes that are too roomy for your liking, you are not alone. In 2011, Ashley Olsen made headlines when she wore bigger shoes than her size at the Met Gala.
Also, the Duchess of Sussex has admitted to wearing bigger fitting shoes in order to avoid bunions and blisters. Sounds crazy, right? You know a pair of shoes is big if it doesn’t give you that much-needed Cinderella fit.
Shoes that require shrinking are those that are longer, wider, or all-around larger than your typical comfort shoes. So when you know your shoe size, then it becomes easy correcting any size indifferences.
How to Make Shoes Smaller?
It is sometimes impossible to resist an urge to buy a stylish pair of your dream shoes, even if it is way big for your toes. Luckily for you, I have scoured around the web for tried and tested hacks of shrinking down big shoes, without being given the silly look as you walk around.
Here are a couple of the hacks and ideas to solve your conundrum.
1. Replace the Insoles
If you are the proud owner of a pair of shoes that don’t fit great, then you need to make friends with new insoles. In the course of my research, I realized many people are neither aware of this technique and some even don’t know what an insole is.
First of all, an insole refers to the soft pad placed inside shoes to provide comfort, warmth, and support to your feet. It’s usually made from a variant of materials ranging from leather, gel, and foam.
Ideally, this part of your shoes is intended to provide reprieve for posture-related problems as well as discomforts. However, insoles come in handy in taking up extra space in shoes that are bigger across the length.
All you have to do is buy a suitable insole, pop it in the shoes and you should be good to go. Each material is made to offer a specific solution. For example, foam insoles are great for a snug fit and general stability, gel insoles for joint pains and shock absorption, and thermal insoles for warmth.
Other options are leather insoles for breathability and a moisture-free in-shoe. Lastly, an odor-free insole eliminates odor-causing bacteria from the shoes. This hack is best for most shoes, including open-toe and heels. Try the insoles first before buying to ascertain the effectiveness.
2. Stuff The Toe Area or Wear Thicker Socks
The most obvious way of making the shoe area smaller than before is right in your sock drawer. I find this big-shoe remedy low cost and quite effective for that matter. Doubling the number of socks you wear takes up bits of the space that creates the big-shoe nightmare.
Alternatively, a single thick pair of socks could still do the trick. The thick layer of padding created results in a tight fit of sorts, making the shoes small in away. As you might have thought, this hack does not work for open-toe sandals, but only for trainers and boots.
Also, remember not to layer up the number of socks over summer, more so if you sweat a lot. The thick layers are bad for breathability. A better solution is to stuff padded, soft materials in the toe area of the shoes.
Ideal wadded materials that work best are thin rags, toilet paper, tissue paper, or better yet, cotton balls. If your foot slides back and forth during walks, then this solution works perfectly for you. Moreover, you can stuff the shoe anywhere.
3. Shrink the Shoes Using Water
There are certain types of shoes that you will be able to shrink using water and leather conditioners. This process is made possible by the simple principle that air drying wetted shoe results in a shrinking phenomenon that has been exploited over the years.
In as much as this technique works, you should take care to do it in the right way. There is often a small risk of damaging your lovely pair of shoes. For starters, you need to get the shoes wet. Suede and leather shoes call for a spray bottle while both athletic and casual shoes should be soaked in water.
Afterward, allow the shoes to sun-dry or force-dry them using a hairdryer in case there is a cloud cover. Ensure the hairdryer is in the low setting and not held too close to the shoes. Once the shoes are dry, try putting them on. You should notice a slight difference in the level of fit.
And if you don’t, then you can repeat the process several times until the shoes shrink to your desired fit. Other people also prefer drying the shoes while worn so as not to over shrink them. For suede or leather shoes, it is best to condition them once they are dry.
Here is a great video on how to go about the shoe shrinking process for a pair of Miu Miu flats. Both the tools used can be easily found at your local shoe store.
4. Stitch an Elastic Band Inside the Shoe
If you are handy with sewing, then this hack will work for you. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the shoes. The aim of stitching an elastic band inside the shoes is to create a tight fit by pulling together the inside of the heel area of the shoe.
You’ll need a thread, needle, and the elastic bands to be stitched on each of the shoes. While any loose part of the shoes will do the trick, the inner portion of the heel area is best suited. After stretching the elastic band in place, keep it tight as you sew it all around.
For those who are not handy with sewing, safety pins are helpful in accomplishing the above step. When done, let go of the elastic bend. As it stretches out, the loose material is pulled together, resulting in a relatively smaller fit than before.
5. Take the Shoes to a Professional Cobbler
Not that I doubt your DIY skills, but sometimes, these types of jobs are better done by the professionals. This is especially crucial if the pair of shoes is treasured, expensive, or of very high quality.
Better yet, you can have the cobbler fit the insoles, heel grips, heel liners, and tongue pads into the shoes for you. You may part with a couple of bucks for the services, but it should be well worth it. At the same time, I don’t think every shoe is worth spending all that money on. Take your tennis shoes for instance.
After altering the sizes of the shoes, remember that the exterior dimensions remain basically the same. As a result, you should maintain an appropriate walking posture when wearing these “big” shoes.
Have your head up, chest up and forward, then have your shoulders slightly pulled back in alignment with the arms. While walking around, be mindful of objects so that you don’t trip over.
It is most likely that your shoes are longer than usual, meaning if you drag your feet, then it becomes easier to catch the objects. All in all, learning how to make shoes smaller is a handy hack and not such a bad idea, more so if it reduces the chances of injury, and increases your comfort.