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Breaking-in new shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by kolecho, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. j

    j Senior member Admin

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    Good leather has a very high capacity for stretching while maintaining integrity. Leather that has stretched to fit around your body will obviously fit more correctly than leather that has never needed to stretch to fit. Ironically, a shoe that fits snugly and breaks in will end up with less unsightly wrinkles across the vamp.

    Edit: also, there is the matter of the cork footbed that gets impacted by your bodyweight over the break-in period, thus also loosening the fit somewhat from when they were new.
     
  2. Get Smart

    Get Smart Senior member

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    i always go with a shoe which size always feel perfectly comfortable on my feet from the beginning.


    that's how I've always approached it. The salesman line of "oh new shoes always feel tight, they'll get more comfortable" never sat well with me. And I've never noticed my shoes getting noticeably bigger due to stretching
     
  3. kolecho

    kolecho Senior member

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    A good point was made about trying on shoes in the store. Taking those few steps do not guarantee choosing well fitted shoes. It could very well be that the last in question does not fit the wearer. Sometimes, the length may be right, but the width is too narrow, and vice versa. All my shoes have stretched over time. Shoes stretch more or less depending on the quality of leather used, and also the type (calf, cordovan etc).
     
  4. Toiletduck

    Toiletduck Senior member

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    also...when they stretch around the toe box area, do they not ruin the overall look of the shoe somewhat? I know that happened w/ a pair of my most comfortable shoes: Tight at first but loosened to fit perfectly. However little toe area pokes out a little compared to original fit (ugly)
     
  5. kolecho

    kolecho Senior member

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    My baby toes stick out a little also on narrow lasts when I size the length right. If I take a half size longer, that problem disappears but I end up with a longer shoe. The solution might be to take a wider shoe, but many makers don't make more than a standard E width.
     
  6. Drinkwaters

    Drinkwaters Senior member

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    The major problem today with getting the right fit is having a sales person who is a qualified shoe fitter. Unfortunately, most are not and this leads to incorrect fitting shoes. First of all, every time you shop for shoes you should ask the sales person to measure your foot with a Brannock device. This will assure you that the fitter is qualified if he/she can determine your size correctly. Second, your foot will vary in size and shape depending on what time of day it is or if you have a problem swelling of your feet according to some ailment you might be experiencing.
    Always, the best and only measurement is the ball to heel measurement first, then the width is determined by the device. Always keep this axiom in mind, "Not every shoe is for everybody". This has been a truth that I have had to express to a willing client to disregard the purchase because of the inevitable discomfort they will experience.
    I have been fitting footwear for more than thirty years and never allowed a customer to make a final decission on their selections until they have experienced the fit for at least a week of sporadic wear in the comfort of their home. I suggest that they wear the shoes in the morning, on a rug of course, and in the evening while sitting or standing. Yes, one can almost determine when a shoe fits great at the time of purchase but there is always the chance that your foot could be at its smallest size. Also, feet are always changing in size, usually getting bigger over time(If only other parts of our body would follow suit) so don't forget to get an update on your correct size from time to time.
    As for trying footwear at home for a duration. If a store or sales person will not allow to do this, move on, they are not interested in your comfort or continued business.

    Best Regards,

    Gary
     
  7. philosophe

    philosophe Senior member

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    Seconded on double soles. The first few wearings are agony. It takes a while to soften up the "hinge" point in the sole. In the meantime (among other problems), your foot will lift inside the shoe and your heel will rub, causing blisters.

    Ditto. Misery unless managed carefully! I find that some moleskin really helps at the beginning.
     
  8. Drinkwaters

    Drinkwaters Senior member

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    Seconded on double soles. The first few wearings are agony. It takes a while to soften up the "hinge" point in the sole. In the meantime (among other problems), your foot will lift inside the shoe and your heel will rub, causing blisters.

    Heavy or Double soled shoes should be addresed by the sales person selling you the shoes. A sole of this kind should be "broken" before the shoe is tried on. This is simply done by placing the shoe on a solid surface, pulling back the tongue and inserting your fist to the footbed at where the ball of the foot would land. Now lift the toe back a few times to simulate the flex at that point. Never just hold the shoe in your hands and flex without putting your hand inside for this could force the shoe to break in an inappropriate spot. You might still experience some heel lift after performing this task but it will minimal to what you will encounter if it is not performed.

    Best Regards,

    Gary
     
  9. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    I've found that the wet sock trick is great for shoes that are slightly too narrow through the toe box. Wearing them for an hour or two with the socks in place is far better than most stretching services, which tend to stretch shoes through the entire forefoot in addition to the pressure point. I've tried to cull most of my mediocre fitting shoes from the wardobe.

    My break-in pattern usually includes a few hours around the apartment to create some wear in the corkbed and to soften the soles a bit. Double soles can wear like boards for their first few outings*. Same goes for Dainite soles.


    *Disclaimer: As a New Yorker we walk a lot. Stiff shoes can cause foot fatigue if worn for a full workday.


    Is your trick to wear a wet sock for 2 hrs? I got a pair of PS wholecut loafers which are a too tight on my left heel.
     
  10. billiebob

    billiebob Senior member

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    I'm definitely in the "stretch to fit" camp. I can't stand walking miles a day without some support from the shoe from a precise fit.

    Since sitting at a desk all day with a restrictive shoe is distracting at best, I break shoes in by running errands in them first, or on weekends. Some shoes have responded to this tactic better than others. The double-soled Polo benchgrade shoes took months to break in.

    My most comfortable shoes have a midsole that gets imprinted with my foot. This takes a few miles, but results in serious comfort. This is also why I suspect used shoes (beyond a few wearings) won't ever be quite right. Once the midsole is compressed by another foot, it won't ever be perfect for you.

    Nice idea with the wet sock. Sounds kinda nasty, but effective.
     
  11. smoothie

    smoothie Senior member

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    Nice idea with the wet sock. Sounds kinda nasty, but effective.


    Hows it nasty?Its not wet from foot sweat, but wet from water you apply.
     
  12. wgiceman

    wgiceman Senior member

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    So, it appears that shoes should initially be snug, based on the fact that the cork of the insole will mold to your foot and the leather will stretch over time. Both of these things happening will provide more room in shoe, right? Is that the final answer?
     
  13. sfo423

    sfo423 Senior member

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    always condition the little pigs before you go on maiden voyage.
     
  14. Kuro

    Kuro Senior member

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    I recall reading a post by the man with the cat avatar who said that when he picked up his bespoke shoes he was told to break them in by only wearing them a few hours at a time.
     
  15. mimile

    mimile Senior member

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    Yes, you need to break them in unless you wear some Adidas or Nike.
    It took almost 2 months for a Church's Grafton. Now it is perfect.
    I wear new shoes 2 to 3 hours a day in the beginning, rather on a dry surface, and preferably at home. I want to be sure my feet would not be tired if I spend 8 hours wearing them.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. goodlife

    goodlife Senior member

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    Yes, you need to break them in unless you wear some Adidas or Nike.
    It took almost 2 months for a Church's Grafton. Now it is perfect.
    I wear new shoes 2 to 3 hours a day in the beginning, rather on a dry surface, and preferably at home. I want to be sure my feet would not be tired if I spend 8 hours wearing them.



    +1
    Several intervals at home, which gives me the option of a return/exchange. Then short trips into the neighborhood. Finally, longer walks or full days at work. In all this probably takes 2 weeks minimum.
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. Tarmac

    Tarmac Senior member

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    I've worn almost all my shoes for the entire day on the first day, the good ones have no problem at all. They are comfortable from day 1 until day 3001. They don't stretch noticeably. They don't change sizes.

    The bad ones are uncomfortable and they stay that way. This is about 10% of my shoes.
     
  18. Grosbard

    Grosbard Member

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    Here's my theory on the break-in period: You should keep the first few wearings short (2-3 hours) no matter what. That's because it's not about your personal pain tolerance, but it's about your gait.

    During break-in, the shoe is adapting to your foot shape and the way you apply pressure during a normal step (gait). While you might be tough enough to tolerate wearing the shoes all day long, you might be modifying your gait a little bit to compensate for the pain. That means you won't be breaking in the shoes with your normal gait, but with a different one. But over a short amount of time (2-3 hours), you probably won't feel much pain, so you'll walk more or less normally.

    I think this applies (albeit less so) even if you feel no pain at the first wearing. That's because after a few hours of wearing the shoes, though there isn't pain, the shoes will still feel "different" from your other shoes (cause they haven't yet adapted to you)...and that will affect your gait also.

    Feel free to propose any corollaries to my theory.
     
  19. rkw5000

    rkw5000 Senior member

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    I don't know about you guys, but the shape of my heel is nowhere near the nicely rounded heel of a new shoe. Because of the manner in which my heel bone protrudes, my new shoes always require a break in period. After a few wearings, some soreness, and the odd blister, the shoe usually conforms nicely to the heel of my foot and I no longer experience any pain. Nonetheless, I think I will try the wet sock trick with my next pair to see if this speeds the the process.
     
  20. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    Here's my theory on the break-in period: You should keep the first few wearings short (2-3 hours) no matter what. That's because it's not about your personal pain tolerance, but it's about your gait.

    During break-in, the shoe is adapting to your foot shape and the way you apply pressure during a normal step (gait). While you might be tough enough to tolerate wearing the shoes all day long, you might be modifying your gait a little bit to compensate for the pain. That means you won't be breaking in the shoes with your normal gait, but with a different one. But over a short amount of time (2-3 hours), you probably won't feel much pain, so you'll walk more or less normally.

    I think this applies (albeit less so) even if you feel no pain at the first wearing. That's because after a few hours of wearing the shoes, though there isn't pain, the shoes will still feel "different" from your other shoes (cause they haven't yet adapted to you)...and that will affect your gait also.

    Feel free to propose any corollaries to my theory.

    I agree. I buy shoes that feel comfortable from day one, I'm NOT in the stretch to fit camp. However, I still limit wear for the first couple of times to a few hours and light walking only, and only during dry weather.
     

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