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How to stop shoes rubbing

How to stop shoes rubbing

A new pair of shoes can reinvigorate your entire wardrobe. They can make tired outfits feel fresh, or they can be the anchor to build entirely new combinations around. But they can also tear your feet apart. “Tough leather rubs when it’s new,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “And if you haven’t got the size quite right, new shoes can either pinch and split your skin or cause blisters as you slide around inside them.”

When new shoes hurt, you don't want to wear them. And what should be an exciting addition to your wardrobe just gathers dust in the back of it. But blisters aren’t an obligatory part of buying new footwear. With these four tips, you can ensure your new shoes are comfortable right out of the box.

Test them at the right time

Wear new shoes at night

The technique: Wait until the evening to try your shoes on for the first time.

Why it works: Your feet swell by up to half a size over a day, which means shoes that fit in the morning might not in the afternoon. By testing them at night, you get a better sense of whether they’re actually big enough for your feet. If they pinch, send them back and go up a size.

Stretch them out

Stretch new shoes out

The technique: Wear them with two pairs of hiking socks.

Why it works: “New shoes need to be broken in,” says Freddie. Leather especially moulds to your foot shape over time, which makes them feel like a second skin. But getting to that point takes time. You can speed the process by bulking up your foot, which stretches the leather out more quickly. The socks will also protect your skin from blisters. Just save this technique for home, rather than work.

Prep your feet

Prep feet with Vaseline

The technique: Dab Vaseline on rubbing hotspots.

Why it works: Blisters are caused by friction – your skin rubbing against another material. A layer of lubricant means your foot slides against the leather, so less friction. The key areas are the heels, toe knuckles and the top of your instep, although if you wear them for half-an-hour you’ll quickly pinpoint any potential blister zones.

Heat things up

Blow new shoes with hairdryer

The technique: Use a hairdryer on any problem areas.

Why it works: All new shoes have some areas that rub more than others. To fix these, apply heat. A 30-second blast with a hairdryer on a tight spot will warm the leather and make it more supple. If you walk around immediately after with the shoes on, the leather will stretch out. Repeat a few times on each pain point until the tightness goes.

Illustrations: David Doran