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October 5, 2011

DIY: Breaking Shoes In The Easy Way

I am in no way a one-shoe man, and because new shoe loves come into my life quicker than it takes to break in the current pair, I’ve devised a method of accelerating the process of breaking in. I was inspired by the way old wives in the Philippines help break in hard leather shoes: they let hot candle wax drip on to the tough spots, then rub it in with the candlestick. I was bored and alone in my apartment back in Boston when I devised this, and made do with what I had at hand; so far my technique has served me well.
Here’s what you’ll need: petroleum jelly, a curling iron, and shoes to break in. I recently acquired a pair of the Made in England Dr. Martens oxfords in dark red and though they were nice and sturdy, they were also impossibly tough.
Spread Vaseline generously all over the tough spots, getting into every corner. Lay it on extra thick on the bumps.
Set the curling iron to high and melt the petroleum jelly into the leather. If it sizzles, you’re doing it right. The trick is to use the curling iron to sort of curl the leather outward so it doesn’t dig into the foot as you walk. While you’re at it, bend the shoe back and forth as if to simulate the bend that occurs when walking. Do it several times, but if you could devote one episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding per shoe, all the better.
Allow to cool, and there you have it: your perfectly broken-in pair of shoes. (Dr. Martens creepers, Florsheim longwing brogues, Dr. Martens oxfords)
For those without a curling iron at home, go ahead and use a butane blowtorch. I could imagine the char marks could look quite charming!

19 Comments

  • Mat
    October 5th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    very interesting indeed, it sounds like a good idea if not on super expensive one. is it likely to fry up the leather on the outside at all? i have some new grenson brogues but dunno whether to risk that

  • Duck
    October 6th, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Only issue – I hate those worn-in creases across the top of my shoes! Always trying to walk without causing them…and then I get drunk and go dancing in them.

  • Cillian
    October 6th, 2011 at 5:22 am

    What would we do without you!?

    C.

  • Izzy
    October 6th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    mat: it may bust a few stitches (it's happened before, but on lower-quality docs), but nothing you could see from the outside. my made in england docs were very slightly broken-in after minutes of frying, so if you were gentle with your Grensons, you should be fine.

    duck: shoe trees can help, to a certain extent, but i say embrace the creases!

    c: and what would I do without you?

  • Katy
    October 6th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    To be honest I've always found that wearing two pairs of socks & wandering around my house for an hour works & is ever so slightly safer!

  • Amie
    October 6th, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    "I could imagine the char marks could look quite charming!"
    I JUST found you on stumbleupon and I think love this blog already :')

  • DarellCarey
    October 7th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Never, ever would have thought of this… might have to borrow a curling iron and hope the petroleum jelly doesn't leave any effect on the iron….

    http://www.drapersjobs.com/

  • Bespoke Custom Suits
    October 9th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    This is the first time I have ever heard of this, one of these days I will come back to this blog and try it out.

  • BJ Pascual
    November 20th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    This is very helpful!!! Especially cause I love wearing footsocks. Salamat! I'll try this

  • Lina
    November 29th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Blogged about this method (with a video demo!) here: http://www.makeuptomakeout.co.uk/2011/11/breaking-in-the-creeper-brogues/

    Thank you for the tip!! x

  • Izzy
    November 29th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Lina: thanks for sharing! I'm glad it worked for you.

  • edinburg tx apartments
    February 23rd, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Thoughtful post! I hope to be able to read more just like it in the future!

  • editor
    March 26th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    seems very logical.
    i HATE breaking in my feet on a new pair of stiff shoes. it usually takes an entire season of wear (and tear) before the shoes give a bit. but i too am a bit timid to attempt this on any of my more precious footwear. bandaids with rochas sandals look great though…right?

  • repair vision
    April 27th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I hope you in no way quit! This is one of the finest blogs Ive ever read. Youve got some mad skill here, man. I just hope which you dont lose your style since youre definitely among the coolest bloggers available. Please keep it up since the net needs an individual like you spreading the word.

  • Brittany
    September 2nd, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    So just tried this method on a pair of Jack Wills oxfords (The Glenthorne Brogue) and it worked! Wore the shoes for a couple hours the other day with socks but the cushion provided by the socks was not enough to absorb the stiff leather above the heel. After the vaseline and curling iron, I’ve been walking around without socks for a couple hours and they feel great! I am so happy :-) Also, if you ever have to break in patent leather shoes, heat them first with a blow dryer, allowing them to cool for a quick moment, put your foot in and the leather will stretch enough and then forms to your foot once it cools. Thanks so much for the post.

  • Sara
    November 21st, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Thanks so much! I just tried it on my Doc Marten oxfords and it worked amazing. I actually thought I would never be able to wear them because they were SO painful at the back heel. I didn’t have any vaseline so I used Smith’s Rosebud Salve and it did the trick. My shoes weren’t damaged at all and it didn’t sizzle or really smudge the inside ink or anything.

    I also had a super tight pair of Jeffrey Campbell ankle boots and I tried the blowdryer and thick socks trick, that one helps too!

  • Izzy
    January 7th, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Glad to be of help, Sara!

  • Melody
    March 24th, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Hi would this trick work on the classic doc marten combat boot style as well? I’m having the same problem around the ankle!

    These are the ones I have:
    http://www.drmartens.com/us/Womens/Womens-Boots/1460-WOMENS-/p/11821600

  • Izzy
    March 28th, 2014 at 12:19 am

    melody: it should work as fine! just make sure you get it into all the pressure points inside the boot shaft.


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