All you Need to Know about Breaking in Shoes
March 28, 2024

All you Need to Know about Breaking in Shoes

A Definitive Guide to Breaking in Shoes 

Leather shoes are not just footwear, they’re an investment in style, comfort and durability. Breaking in shoes can sometimes be a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be easier! This comprehensive guide to breaking in your shoes will give you the knowledge you need to break in your shoes without worry. We’ll walk you through the art of doing so, to ensure a comfortable fit and a timeless style that lasts.

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Importance of breaking into your shoes 
Before moving on, this blogpost will go through why there is a necessity to break in your shoes the right way. When you’ve treated yourself to a nice pair of leather shoes, you’ll definitely want to strut in them immediately, but don’t get impatient! Most shoes, especially leather, require a short break in period; typically four to five wears. 
Breaking in your shoes allows the material to soften and stretch, and gradually mould to the shape of your feet. This would take some time and patience, and we definitely would suggest against taking your new shoes for a 5-km hike or a night out with the boys, just yet, however tempting it may be. 
By taking these few precautionary measures, breaking in your shoes will be as easy as ABC and it will speed up the whole process, making it painless and fuss-free. Let’s get to it!  

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Choosing the Right Size
This might sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people are caught at this stage. If your shoes do not fit right in the beginning, breaking them in would have all been for nothing, as the shoes will be too tight or too loose to get them to the right fit. Unsure about your right fit? Don’t worry, we here at Arden Teal will be more than happy to assist you with getting your right fit. 

Wear them Gradually
Before breaking in your shoes, never ever wear them for a main event. That’d just be a day filled with pain. Instead, wear them around the house or short outings, increasing the duration gradually, to allow the leather to stretch, and conform to your feet. That said, it would be better to wear them around the house first, as we definitely wouldn’t want to be caught in pain, with our shoes off outside. In your comfortable abode, if it gets uncomfortable, you can simply remove your shoes. 

Shoe Tree
Investing in a good quality pair of shoe tree goes a long way. A pair of shoe tree helps maintain the shape of the leather shoe and it expedites the breaking in process. Furthermore, shoe trees absorb moisture, prevent creasing and extend the lifespan of your shoes, so they will continue looking great for years to come. 

Alternatively, you can consider tying your shoes tightly when putting them on. Although it might seem tempting to leave your shoes slightly looser, to give it more wiggle room, we would not recommend that. By tying your shoes tightly, it will better conform to the shape of your feet and will stretch the leather more effectively, speeding up the process. Just think about a rubber band stretching; the more they’re stretched, the looser they become. 

Application of Leather Conditioner
The main purpose of leather conditioner is to soften the leather, allowing it to be more supple. With leather conditioning, the breaking in process is sped up. By applying leather conditioner to your shoes, you will soften the fibres and your foot will not have as hard a time fitting comfortably and stretching the leather. That said, always keep in mind that by applying too much leather conditioner, it will create a floppy mess; where your shoes will be overly stretched, and the fibres become too loose. Keep in mind that some parts of the shoe such as the back of the heel or the sides are stiffer, so you might want to apply more leather conditioner there. But again, not too much. 

Wearing thick socks
During the initial wear, always opt for thicker socks, or extra socks to provide your feet with cushioning. This will help minimise friction and reduce the risk of having blisters or discomfort as your shoes adapt to your feet. Especially so for loafers, where you will be tempted to use hidden socks in the beginning, but we would recommend using them with high socks first, to prevent biting. If you don’t want to be seen in loafers and high socks, you can always break them in, in the comfort of your own home, and once they are fully broken in, you can then start wearing your hidden socks.  

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Tips for Troubleshooting
Before I wrap this blogpost up, I will share with you some tips on what you could do to prevent blisters from occurring or from making them worse. Firstly, you could apply petroleum jelly to places where the skin is more sensitive, such as the back of your foot or the side of your foot below your ankle. As the skin here is thinner and the parts of the shoe in contact with the area is stiffer, there is a higher chance of biting. Applying petroleum jelly to these areas acts as a lubricant, which has an anti-friction effect. Alternatively, you could just put a bandage to protect the area, if there is discomfort.

Maintenance and Care
Once your new pair of leather shoes are fully broken in, you can start taking them for a night out. That said, proper maintenance and care for your leather shoes are essential in making them last the longest they can. Regular cleaning, conditioning and polishing your leather shoes can ensure that the leather remains supple, hydrated, and in the best shape they can for a long time. For a step-by-step guide to shoe maintenance, do read our blogpost on it.

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With enough patience, persistence and with the tips outlined in this guide, you will come home worry-free after buying a new pair of leather shoes. Step into confidence and sophistication with every stride, knowing that you’ve mastered the art of breaking into your leather shoes.