When you have a new pair of heels to break in, it can seem like a difficult task to figure out. Trying to stretch your new fashion-focused shoes by wearing them can be one of the most obvious ways to break in a new set of heels, but it also takes far longer than you might have time for. Here are some tips and tricks to break in high heels that don’t rely on you wearing uncomfortable shoes for a month straight.

Why break them in?

High heels are notoriously hard to wear for the first time. Even if you are experienced with large heels, you will need to break most new shoes in: your feet have to stretch the shoes out properly as you wear them. This isn’t related to fashion at all, but beauty comes from confidence – if you care about fashion, then you want that confidence in the way that you move, and walking in a confident style matters a lot. First, you have to find a way to make your feet comfortable inside the shoes. There is a lot of information out there about breaking in shoes, but there are hundreds of tips that could apply to your shoes in particular.

Many people who like large heels will have experienced this issue. A comfortable pair of heels (or any shoes) can take a while to feel comfortable, and you don’t know how long – a day, or perhaps a month. Pulling off tags and wearing different socks can help, but not very much. At home, you have a fair amount of options, so have a look around your home for any good ideas or techniques you could use. Break in your shoes before you apply any fashion tweaks or alterations since the process could alter the shoes in ways that ruin those changes.

Break Them In Gradually

If you want to brute-force your shoes, you can wear your new heels at home. This removes the risk of wearing uncomfortable heels out in public, and you don’t even necessarily have to walk around while wearing them: just having them on your feet can be enough to stretch the heel and toe areas out while you get on with other work. This also allows you to wear heels with thick socks: these will stretch out the material, but it can be an odd combination, so many people make sure that they only do it in the privacy of their own home. Both of these are a good way to try stretching the heels without any risk of blisters, excessive sweat, heat, water damage, or other things that can come from using your new heels outdoors.

Putting your foot inside new high heels can occasionally lead to blisters anyway, but you will see and feel them slowly disappear over time. The first day might cause foot pain, but after a few days of walking around the house in high heels and thick socks, the material should be stretched out enough to make this pain vanish entirely. Large socks can dampen this pain a little bit.

Wet Them

You can break in heels using regular water. Rub the inside of your high heels with a wet cloth to speed up the process since they will flex around your feet easily. You can wear damp socks to do the same if you really want to, but either way, they should become much more comfortable heels. This also won’t damage the fashion or beauty value behind the high heels, even after you break them in.

Your shoes and heels will be wet after this, so dry them off if you decide to wear them. You might not mind soggy heels, but it could ruin socks if you happen to wear any with your heels.

Twist Them

While fashion and beauty fans might struggle with it, you can often just twist the shoes. This can help get the pair of high heel shoes into a certain shape and loosen them up, allowing you to walk in them more effectively. This is a great DIY method to try before you start walking in them since your feet would need to push through the initial stiffness when you wear them otherwise – leading to significant pain in the back and sides of your feet.

Be careful – too much twisting may damage the shoes or even snap off the heel if you grab it accidentally. Be sure to remove tags before doing this. Store tags are hard to pull off, and getting tags wrapped around your hands can hurt. Tags can cut into the tips of your fingers if you don’t hold them in the right way.

Use Heat

Another good DIY method is through a hair dryer. Aiming a blow dryer at part of your high heels can put it under a lot of heat, making some materials more pliable. If you do this well, and with the right materials, you may be able to bend and twist the high heels to get more room without having to wear them and walk around. Certain types of leather are vulnerable to this, but try to keep the dryer well away from the heels at first: too much heat can cause the leather to suffer obvious scorching marks, impacting how they look and meaning that they could need a clean or polish.

Breaking in a pair of shoes after using a dryer can work well as a DIY option, but keep the hair dryer away from the bottom of your heels. You want to stretch the material at the top, not make the heel soft – a heated heel gone soft can bend if you put too much foot weight on it, damaging the shoes almost permanently. It is best to stretch your shoes by hand every time you try this. Also, avoid catching your skin in front of the dryer, or you could add some sudden excitement to your life.

Stuff Them

You can stuff your heels in place of your feet to help with breaking them in. Whether they are leather shoes or entirely synthetic, you can use something solid to act as a replacement for your feet. This is a common tactic in the fashion world, and unlike most methods, it won’t damage the fashion value of your shoe: newspaper is a popular option. This will break in heels over time without altering their style or making you wear heels yourself.

Silica gel – the packet things that come with many products – can help here too. Theoretically, these would stop your high heel shoes, boots, and any other article of clothing from shrinking due to excess moisture. Keep a few in the shoes you aren’t wearing, and you are going to stop them from trying to close up again, keeping them stretched out in the style you wanted.

Shoe Stretchers

A common option is a shoe stretcher – a typical shoe stretcher will take a moment to set up but can then be placed in one shoe and rotated to expand outwards. This acts as a literal stretcher for the shoe, pushing it out in almost no time. However, if you make small heels too large, they can be damaged, so buy a shoe stretcher that fits the general size of that high heel pair. When you find a shoe stretcher on your preferred “online seller dot com,” you can often see information about its use for breaking in shoes, as well as any ‘all rights reserved’ details or features offered by the shop that produces it.

Using the same “online seller dot com” example, you might find larger shoe stretchers. These are often machines that use pressure and heat to stretch your shoe and can be one of the best ways to stretch out a large number of shoes at once. They aren’t as small and can take up more space, but they work if you need to take multiple pairs of shoes or boots and stretch them.


Moleskin is a type of bandage that can often be used in life-or-death situations, but it also helps with shoes. If your feet are pinched while breaking in your high heel boots, cover the areas in moleskin. Then, soak your feet in water and let the moleskin soak up the water. This will make it expand and turn wet, softening the inside of the heels when you wear them with the moleskin on your feet.

Dress appropriately for this, since you might end up wetting some of your other clothes. Heels will dry out, but other valuable fashion items can suffer far worse fates if you drop them in a bowl of liquid.

Frozen Water

If you get a bag of water and find space in your freezer, you can fill your shoe with water and freeze it. The freezer will make the water expand, stretching the shoes out. Once they are stretched, remove them and get rid of the bags, then get them comfortably warm and wear them like normal. This can be a comfortable way to break in every type of shoe, and won’t damage the beauty or fashion value of the footwear itself. With enough space, you can make sure that multiple shoes are stretched every day, and it doesn’t need any extra help or tips to figure out.

Other Tips

Here are some other assorted tips for making your shoes ready to wear:

  • You can buy extra gel packs from most shoe stores if you want more.
  • The wrong combination of techniques can ruin the look and fashion value of any shoe. To preserve a certain style of fashion in your shoe, look up information online, and buy products that you know won’t damage the materials.
  • If you have to break in a pair of heels, walking is the best way to do it equally. If walking isn’t right for you, and you have to use another technique than “just walk,” keep it equal. One shoe being wider than another can ruin any fashion value or quality the heels have.
  • Walking in thick socks can be done outside if you find a style you are comfortable showing off. Trying to find a way of turning a technique into a style or fashion statement can make the process much easier if you like to dress in a particular way outdoors.
  • Focus on your toes, too, not just heels. Shoes should be comfortable all over.
  • Look for an article online with information about your shoes. The online article writer may know a lot more about the materials than you do and could have tips or information like ‘pull this piece back to stretch it out’ or ‘if you feel it straining, stop stretching it.’ This avoids accidental damage to your shoes.
About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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