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How to stretch and soften leather footwear



It can take a while for new footwear to feel like it’s been in your wardrobe forever. So rather than run the risk of rubbing or blisters, try our easy tips for stretching and softening new leather boots and shoes safely.

Sartorial legend has it that the Queen of England has someone to break in her new shoes if they’re feeling a little tight. And why on earth wouldn’t she? Always on her feet for regal visits and functions, she simply can’t afford to feel uncomfortable.

For the rest of us, having someone on hand to make our beautiful new boots and shoes feel like our favourite worn-in old ones, probably isn’t an option. Yet daily comfort is just as crucial. Cue the essential Timberland guide for breaking in your new leather boots and shoes quickly and safely, without damaging them.

1) Wear them little and often

Be sparing with your wearing, at least to start with. The temptation to show off your new purchase will be enormous. But if you start with a few short outings, you’ll give your feet time to get used to the new shape and feel of the leather.

2) Wear them indoors

It’s the easiest trick in the book and usually works a treat. Put on your thickest pair of socks and potter around the house for a few hours. It might feel uncomfortable and a little bit odd but think of any temporary discomfort as a long-term investment for your feet.

3) Use a spoon

Take a large spoon – wooden or metal, it makes no difference – and use it to gently lever and loosen any areas of your shoes or boots that feel a bit tight. Heels are a common area that can cause rubbing to start with and a spoon is the perfect shape to get in for a good stretch.

4) Use the hairdryer

While you’re wearing your new leather footwear around the house, schedule in a couple of sessions with the hairdryer. Yes, you heard that right. Focus on any areas that pinch or feel tight with a 20-second blast of heat to stretch the leather without damaging it. This combination of big socks and extra warmth delivers quick results. Keep shoes or boots on until the leather feels cool to the touch, so they’re more likely to stay stretched and fitted to the contours of your feet.

5) Use screwed up newspaper

It’s the method Grandma always swore by. Dig out any old newspapers or magazines and dampen them very slightly. Then screw the pages up and pack them inside each shoe or boot. Wait until they’re completely dry before removing them. Just be very careful not to over-dampen the paper, as you could damage your inner soles.

6) Buy shoe stretchers

They’re perfect for leather shoes and boots, less useful for sandals. Fit them inside and leave them in place there for as long as possible to gently do the stretching for you over time. Overnight is ideal.

7) Use a stretching spray

All leather will stretch and soften over time but a spray can speed up the process. Most shoe sprays are alcohol-based, which allows for quick-drying. It also prevents the shoe from developing watermarks as it dries. Spray your shoes and boots and insert your feet. Shoe stretchers are a suitable alternative to feet if you don’t have time to wear footwear indoors.

Have you read our guide to keeping leather shoes and boots looking as good as new for longer? Check it out here. In the meantime, you can browse the latest Timberland shoe and boot collections online now. Finding the perfect fit is really important, but so is styling - find out how to wear Timberlands.