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Stretching shoes: How much of an increase can be achieved?

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    Stretching shoes: How much of an increase can be achieved?

    Does anyone know how much of a size increase can be achieved from stretching a pair of smaller shoes? Any experience in doing this? Do you think different types of material could be stretched more than others?

    The reason I ask is that a pair of shoes on ebay are going for much less than the price at the store. And of course my size is not offered. The largest size i've seen so far are 11.5s. I wear a 12/13 depending on the manufacturer. They're a 100% leather so i'm assuming they should have a bit of give if stretched. I think I need to try on the smallest pair I can comfortably squeeze into at the store and go from there. Thoughts?

    -Eric L.


    Footwear of all kinds can stretch, and leather can stretch quite a bit. My dad has AE shoes from the 70s that are 3 sizes smaller than what he buys now.

    Usually, you want to have your shoes stretched to resolve a pressure point. If you don't mind hurting your feet, though, you can just wear shoes until your feet do the stretching. Of course, over the years as your feet flatten and widen, they will quietly stretch your shoes without even noticing.

    At some point, though, you could stretch the leather beyond the sole. Anyways, what I'm saying is that you could probably stretch a half size, especially if it fit in most areas but not in one area (toe box, for instance).



      Stretching can give you a bit more room in terms of width; length not so much.

      To be honest, I'd have doubts about buying too-small shoes and hoping to stretch them to fit. Like Nicholas said, stretching is usually done to relieve pressure points.

      Whatever you do, make sure you take them to the best shoe repair place you can find and get an opinion before you start wearing them around town (i.e., at which point you can't take them back). And don't expect any miracles.



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          I have a question about stretching that might be more related to breaking in.

          I got in on the Berens/Nordstom deal and got both the Park Aves and the Strands. I have pretty wide feet and have bought 10.5 3E in AE shoes. All the AEs I have bought thus far were used on 3 (Chester) or 7 (Lloyd) lasts and were more than wide enough at 10.5 3E. When I got the PA/Strands in 10.5 3E, they were long but not excessively tight width-wise and I exchanged them for 10 3E. Arguably the 10 3E is still a bit long, but now the width is somewhat tight. So forum, how much do brand new pairs of AEs stretch, and how long does it tend to take? I'm willing to put some work into these if necessary, even if the 5 last will never be my best fit. Or size back up to 10.5 3E and deal with the length?

          Thanks in advance.



            @Matt: How tight is somewhat tight? You mentioned your previous AEs were used which means the leather has already been broken in.



              I would say they're tight in a way that feels like they could still fit snug, but comfortably, if the leather can stretch that much. I also measured the soles of the shoes, and the 5 last is just over a 1/4" narrower at the widest point of the shoe. I could use a 5 last 10 5E.



                You've got some wide dogs! Is this a pressure point that's bugging you, or is your entire foot claustrophobic?



                  They were my best asset when I used to swim competitively, but they, along with really broad shoulders, are terribly limiting for fashion.

                  They are long enough, they're just pinching at the ball of the foot and the outside opposite the ball. Wearing my used Lloyds today, and my foot can actually move a bit side to side in them.

                  Here's another question. Within a last between sizes, do all dimensions change at once, like you're shrinking the whole last, or are you just making it shorter to go from a 10 to a 9?



                    The length and width changes as a size changes. You might be a good candidate for shoe stretching with specific pressure points like you're describing.



                      You can also try putting a few socks over a pair of your shoe trees and shoving those into the shoes. This can provide some stretching. At your own risk ofcourse.



                        Take it for what it's worth, this guy is a cobbler:


                        With the right stretching machine a shoe can be made a quarter size longer sometime up to a half size. It will not damage the shoe if done properly.

                        Stretching leather in the width can be expanded by a full size in most cases. A stretching fluid is sprayed onto the leather to set the stretching of the leather so it does not contract back. For best results, you need to leave the shoes on the stretcher for 24 hours.

                        I'm aware of the temptation to buy shoes for less even though they won't (or might not) fit. I play that game often because 7.5D shoes are much more plentiful than 7.5E shoes. That difference in width doesn't sound like much, but it's the difference between toe pinching/continual discomfort/eventual blisters versus being perfectly comfortable--when you're feet start hurting because your shoes don't fit right, it doesn't matter how much money you saved.

                        Now if the shoes are really inexpensive (absolutely, not relatively), then you can consider it a test and a learning experience if you're willing to shell out the money.



                          Psssh. I feel best in a 10E, but I wear 10B shoes for vanity. I'm just not bothered by tight shoes. Of course, this is just me.