How to Safely Soften Your Leather Shoes at Home

leather shoes

There are many reasons to love leather shoes, from their functional resilience to the elements to their perfect fashionable balance of formality and informality. But when you first buy a new pair of leather shoes, they may feel rigid and slightly uncomfortable.

What ways can you safely soften up your leather shoes at home?

Buying Better Leather Shoes

First, make sure you buy the best pair of leather shoes that you can afford. Leather is known for its toughness and durability, and that does come with some drawbacks, including a kind of initial rigidity. However, leather is commonly used in clothes and accessories precisely because it has enormous flexibility. If you buy leather products that are made from the highest quality leather, and you buy handmade, your leather shoes are going to be much softer and more flexible when you wear them.

Even so, the day you bring them home, they may feel a bit unyielding.

your leather shoes

The Answer You Don’t Want to Hear

The only “real way” to break in a pair of leather shoes is to wear them. Unfortunately, that’s it. Leather is naturally going to soften and become more flexible over time, but the only way to achieve this result is to wear your leather shoes and give them the time they need.

There are many shortcuts that are proclaimed to help you break in your shoes faster, and some of them do offer some marginal help, but many of them do come with additional risks. You’re much better off simply wearing your shoes regularly so they gradually become more adapted to your foot and more flexible.

If you’re feeling impatient, take heart knowing this process usually doesn’t take long. After even a week or two of consistent wear, you’ll notice a major difference.

How to Safely Soften Your Leather Shoes at Home

If you simply can’t wait that long, you can try some techniques to soften your leather shoes at home.

· Wear them in the house. If you don’t have many occasions to wear your leather shoes, consider wearing them around the house. This is advantageous for several reasons. It’s highly convenient, since you won’t need an occasion to go out. It’s clean and comfortable, so you won’t have to worry about wearing your leather shoes in an ill-suited environment. And because you’re at home, you can control precisely how long you wear them; you can take them off as soon as they start feeling uncomfortable.

· Wear thick socks. Regardless of where and how you wear your shoes, consider wearing thicker socks. The thick cushion of your soft material is going to provide some comfort, even in the housing of the tightest, most rigid shoe. Plus, it’s going to apply additional pressure to the inside of the material, forcing it to stretch a bit more than it would otherwise. As with the other tactics on this list, however, it’s important to exercise caution here.

· Apply a leather conditioner/moisturizer. Leather conditioning and moisturizing products introduce moisture to the material and allow it to remain in better condition for longer. It’s an important part of any leather care routine. It also has the double benefit of making leather a bit softer and more pliable, allowing you to break in your shoes more reliably.

· Move your feet and toes around. Whenever you wear your leather shoes, make a conscious effort to move your feet and toes around within those shoes. If you’re walking or running in them, this is going to happen somewhat naturally. But any additional effort you make to gently apply pressure to the interior of the shoe could help to soften it up faster.

· Stuff with paper when not in use. When you’re not wearing your leather shoes, stuff them with wads of paper. This will help the shoes retain their proper form and make them easier to slip on the next time you want to wear them.

· Heat (lightly). Some people advise using light heat, such as heat from a hair dryer, to make the leather softer and more flexible, and therefore more conducive to stretching and breaking in. While this technique can yield some results, it’s often not worth the risk. If you do choose to apply this technique, do so with extreme caution.

· Use a shoe tree. Shoe trees are often used to store shoes and fight against their tendency to become out of shape over time. However, they can also be used to help your shoes adapt to a certain mold. Do keep in mind that shoe trees are not going to replicate the same shape and feel as your foot, so the process is imperfect.

The best and safest way to soften your leather shoes is to wear them frequently; if they’re currently exceptionally stiff, commit to wearing them only for a short duration. There are some tips and tricks that can help you accelerate this process, but not all of them are very effective and some of them carry heavy risks. Keep this in mind as you choose the best path forward for you and your new leather shoes.

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