Five Ways to Break in New Shoes Without the Pain

If the sound of the postman delivering your new pair of designer shoes is one of the joys in your life, then the feeling of aching, blistered, painful feet after day one is surely the moment that brings you crashing back to reality. The prospect of having to break in your new shoes can put a dampener on the whole experience, making you want to relegate your new loves straight to the back of the wardrobe.

But breaking in your new shoes needn’t be a painful experience. No matter what your shoes are made from, their material— including even the most robust of leathers— will be pliable and ready to take on the shape of your foot for bespoke comfort. By taking a few simple precautionary measures, all of which can be done easily at home, you will be able to break in new shoes without a blister or swollen ankle anywhere in sight.


How Long Does it Take to Break in New Shoes?

This depends on the nature and quality of the leather, the placement of seams and brogue detailing, the conditions the shoes are worn in and, perhaps most importantly, the fit. For the toughest of boots like Dr Martens, sometimes I can take up to 3-6 weeks to properly break in your new pair, so patience is key. However, it is possible to help the process along by softening the leather to a certain extent using at-home methods that may help ease any particular pain points as you do break in your new shoes.

#1 | Take it Slow

As much as you want to show off your new kicks, it is important you break in your shoes one step at a time. Wear your shoes for short periods, even around the house, with the freedom to be able to change them when your feet start to ache or swell. The leather of your shoes will naturally begin to stretch and loosen over time, giving your feet the room to breathe and move more comfortably. This will also prevent your relationship with your new shoes starting on a sour note, stopping you from getting blisters that will only slow the process down.

#2 | Bring a Spare Pair

In line with the above, if you’re planning to take your new shoes out make sure you take a spare pair of more comfortable shoes along with you for later in the day. Pop a pair of easy canvas flats in your bag as an end-of-the-night saviour or an in-case-of-emergency mid-day swap that you can easily play off as a fashionable costume change.

#3 | Stay Warm

The best way to soften leather is to keep it warm. Just like skin, warm leather stretched and cold leather shrinks, so to help the shoe mould to your foot, it’s best to keep them cosy. Avoid storing the new shoes in a cold hallway when you’re planning to wear them, or for a last-ditch attempt before an event, put your shoes on with some socks and use a hairdryer to gently warm them, giving the pair a helping hand in becoming a second skin.

#4 | Double Up on Socks

Forget duct tape, moleskin and plasters. Dig out your chunky knit woollen socks or simply double up to help put up a padded boundary that will prevent blisters and rubs when you break in your shoes. Pick the right pair and your socks can become a fashion statement in their own right.

#5 | Target Hotspots

If you have already worn your shoes and know the areas giving you grief, aim to soften that part of the shoe by carefully mashing and pressing the leather. Alternatively, the heel is notoriously the stiffest part of the shoe and so make sure you mash the heel with your hands before you first wear your shoes to help soften the leather. You can also invest in an anti-blister balm to apply directly onto the trouble areas to prevent rubbing.

#6 | Tie Them Up Tight

While the temptation with new shoes might be to loosen your laces and allow your feet to breathe, it is better in the long term to tie your laces nice and tight and wear your shoes over shorter periods. By tightening the leather over your feet you will stretch the leather, which will give you greater comfort sooner.

For some shoe-specific tips and advice on sizing and shoe care, check out our buyer’s guides…





 Dr. Martens



By Olivia Seed

Olivia Seed

Olivia Seed


A minimalist fashion fan with high interests in the odd print or check. Constantly trying to make my home look like a catalogue; you can find me shopping for cute bedding, candles and other Instagrammable interior accessories.