Tuesday, April 02, 2013

How To Tell If Your Shoe Will Stretch

N164 by El Naturalista

Feet come in all different shapes and sizes…no two feet are the same, whereas a pair of shoes just varies in proportions. One shoe that is exceedingly wide for one person is way too narrow for another, and vice versa. The correct fit for a shoe is incredibly subjective. I frequently have customers ask for me to “check the toe” on their shoes to see if it's too big or small. The thing is- I can't tell you if a shoe is too big or small because that is completely up to you. If it feels good, then it's not too big or small for you. On a different person, it could feel completely different.

One question that I'm frequently asked is: Will this shoe stretch?

There are a few things you need to check for before this question can be answered:

First, is the shoe made of leather uppers? If it isn’t, chances are it’s made of polyurethane (plastic), and *might* give only a little bit. If the shoe is made of leather, it will probably give, excluding patent leather. The weave of fabric uppers tends to loosen up a bit as well.

The Carson Oxford by Frye is the perfect example of a shoe that initially feels narrow, but once broken in will stretch and soften.

Second, what is the shoe lined with? If the shoe is also lined with leather, which is ideal, it’ll be quite easy to see where the shoe will stretch primarily, and it’s safe to assume most of the shoe will soften and “mold” to your foot. If the shoe isn’t lined with leather, it’ll still give, but perhaps not as much. If a leather shoe is too tight in the width and “pinches” a bit, it’s quite easy to see where it’ll primarily stretch. With the shoe on, bend your foot at the toes (like you’re standing on your tippy-toes on both feet). Look down. Do you see that crease on your shoe? That’s where the toe cap ends. A toe cap is used to reinforce the shape of the toe, so it doesn’t warp with wear. If you feel pinching where the toe cap is, that won’t necessarily change and you might want to consider trying on the next size up. If you feel pinching where there isn’t a toe cap, you’re close to determining if the shoe will stretch where you need it to.

The black line indicates where the toe cap ends. Inside the red circle shows where the leather will stretch most. Keep in mind that the stretching will occur below the stitching detail.

The third thing to check for is if there is a bunch of stitching on the shoe. Stitching will also reinforce the shape of the shoe, and depending on where it is, it can prevent stretching. Is the shoe pinching not where the toe cap is, but where there’s stitching detail? If yes, I’d also try on the next size up to see if it makes a difference. 

So, now you're able to determine is if it’s possible for the shoe to stretch where it’s tight by checking for a few simple things. The pinching can be remedied by wearing your shoe, which may be a bit uncomfortable initially, but over a typically short period of time you’ll find that your shoe has softened, stretched, and now fits like a glove! Another option is to take your shoe to a cobbler where they can stretch it for you using a nifty contraption that applies pressure to the inside of the shoe.

One thing to keep in mind is that the length of a shoe rarely changes. Like I said before, most shoes have a toe cap which keeps the structure of the toe of the shoe and also prevents it from stretching. Some shoes don’t have a toe cap, which would allow them to give a little based on the pressure that’s put on the leather from your foot pushing forward during use.

Now, for strappy sandals! Are the straps a little too tight? You should start by also checking for what the uppers of the sandal are made out of. Leather straps? Leather lined straps? The straps might be a little uncomfortable at first, however after a wear or two, you’ll find that they loosened up a bit. Being concerned about them stretching too much is completely valid. They very well could, although there’s another easy remedy. There’s a cushion we sell by Foot Petals called Tip Toes that adheres to shoe under the ball of your foot. This not only provides a baby pillow under the ball to ease pain from the pressure that goes along with wearing a heel, it also prevents your foot from sliding forward as much. When straps on high heeled strappy sandals stretch, it can thrust your foot forward, making your toes hang over the edge which is NOT A GOOD LOOK AT ALL.  This cushion prevents sliding forward by adding friction to an otherwise slick foot-bed lining, which will help with the sliding if the straps aren’t holding you as tightly as they need to. 

The straps in front of West by Esska should fit snugly in order to prevent your foot from completely sliding forward. Should they stretch a bit too much, check out Tip Toes by Foot Petals to keep your foot back!

This information will not only come in handy when shoe shopping if a sales associate isn’t available to provide information, but it will also be useful when you purchase shoes online and are trying to decide whether or not they’ll work once you receive them. Knowing when to say no to a shoe you love will save you money, allowing you to have some shoe money leftover to splurge on that other pair that also fit wonderfully.


post by Amanda

2 comments:

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Unknown said...

Based on my experience even though my leather shoes stretch I'm always make sure that I'll put some shoe cream that will take care of the texture and avoids cracking surface.. Anyways thank you very much for sharing this post..

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