Everyone loves a new pair of shoes. Whether you prefer heels, flats, brogues or in my case Dr. Martens, we all know that with new shoes come painful weeks of breaking them in… especially with Dr. Martens, but once they’ve moulded to your feet they are heavenly. For my birthday my partner surprised me with a beautiful pair of cherry red docs – the true way to win a girl’s heart.
On the first day I wore my new boots with thick socks thinking I’ll be okay, but by the end of the day the back of my heels were red raw, and the tops of my feet felt bruised from where the tongue stitching had dug in. So, I decided to do a bit of research on how to make breaking in the new loves of my life a little bit easier.
Shoe Stretcher and Spray
According to some online forums this proved to be one of the most effective methods for breaking in new Dr. Martens. People were buying leather spray and spraying it on to the areas of the shoe that was hurting the most and inserting a shoe stretcher. This process seemed to work for a few people, and they were advising that it only took a week or so for their boots to fit them properly. Unfortunately I can’t justify spending an extra £30 on an already expensive present.
This one I definitely want to try. On other Dr. Marten forums, people were advising that once you had taken off your newly bought boots you should stuff them with newspaper to retain the shape of your foot. Apparently the newspaper stops the leather from shrinking back to its original shape. Due to past hiking experiences I know that we used to stuff our wet shoes with newspaper to help dry them out, so it would be interesting to see if stuffing your shoes will stop them from shrinking if they aren’t wet.
Braving the Blisters
This one is probably my least favourite, but the most effective and commonly used tip for breaking in shoes. Start by bending the leather in the areas that they are most likely to rub. Wear them round the house for a couple of hours a day, then start wearing your new boots out on short trips; but remember to take a spare pair of shoes with you in case they hurt too much. Now I don’t know about you but I always start doing this and then end up wearing them all day and wonder why parts of my feet are in bits. So, I’m left in spending a fortune on blister plasters and thick socks with the hope that positive thoughts will seep into my new boots, and they in return will just love my feet – hey, we can all dream right?
Big No Nos
Do not wee on them
My boss told me that one way I could break my shoes in quicker was by weeing on them. It is true that people in the armed forces do this to help make their boots more malleable, but they are made from a different leather. Unfortunately if you wee on your Docs you will just ruin them, and they may smell. Do not wee on your new shoes!
Do not soak them in water
I read that another way to break in your Docs was to stand in a hot bath (with your boots on) and allow the water to soak the leather making it soft and they will magically mould to your feet. Now I know you can do this with climbing shoes, but unfortunately this is just another way to ruin your shoes. Dr Martens have cardboard built into the sole. They are built to be waterproof from the rain and walking through puddles, but if water gets inside the shoe, the cardboard will disintegrate and your Docs will be uncomfortable and once again ruined.
Do not apply heat
I considered doing this myself until I read an article that said not to. A way for me to break and stretch new heels in is to blow dry my shoes – yep, that’s right get the hair dryer on them. Although this might work with cheaper shoes where the leather is actually plastic, heating up your Docs or leather boots with the hair dryer, radiator or putting them by the fire will actually dry the leather out causing them to shrink! Which is exactly the opposite of what you want.
I am still searching for the perfect method to break in shoes without my feet screaming why are you doing this, but for now I am sticking to wearing my Docs every other day, blister plastering my feet and wearing the thickest socks possible in the hope that they will stretch with time. Wish me luck!