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How to break in new shoes

When you’ve bought a new pair of shoes, it’s natural to want to wear them out and show them off right away. But most shoes require a gentle breaking in period to allow the material to soften and gradually adjust to the shape of your feet.

Breaking in new shoes generally takes a little time and patience; hurrying the process can lead to painful blisters and sore feet. By taking a few precautionary measures, you can help to speed up the process and make it a pain and stress-free experience.

Here’s our advice for breaking in shoes:

1. Ensure you have the right size shoes

This may sound obvious, but ensuring you have the right fit is the most important thing when it comes to buying new shoes. If the fit isn’t right, then taking the time and effort to break them in will be somewhat in vain, as shoes that are too tight or too loose will continue to cause problems on a long-term basis.

Use our size guide to ensure you're buying the correct size and width shoe.

Clarks Wallabees in Red
Clarks Wallabees in Beige

2. Break shoes in slowly

Before heading out for a full day in your new shoes, it’s important to wear them for short periods of time first to help with the process of breaking them in. Wear them around the house to begin with so that you can take them off if your feet start to ache or the shoes start to rub. Take care to prevent blisters from forming as this will only slow down the process.

The material of your shoes will naturally stretch and loosen over time, allowing for a more comfortable fit. Before you know it, you’ll be able to wear them out and about.

3. Tie shoes up tight

When breaking in shoes, it can be tempting to loosen the laces to allow your feet more room to move and breathe. However, tying them up tightly - as you would when wearing your shoes normally - will help to stretch the fabric and speed up the process.

4. Protect against blisters

Certain parts of your shoe, such as at the back of the heel and the sides of your toes, are stiffer and therefore likely to take longer to break in. These tend to be the areas most likely to rub and cause blisters, but with a little preparation, this can be avoided.

You can reduce the amount of friction between your shoes and your feet by moisturising your skin or using petroleum jelly. If your skin is hydrated it is less likely to rub.

5. Wear thick socks

Thick socks may not complement your new shoes, but in the privacy of your own home they can work wonders. Wearing thick socks with your new shoes will help in two ways. Firstly, it will create a thick, padded layer between your feet and your shoes, preventing rubbing from occurring and blisters from forming. Secondly, the bulkiness will slowly help to stretch the material of the shoes.

6. Switch up your footwear

Once you’ve broken in your shoes enough to wear them out and about for longer periods of time, continue to alternate them with other shoes from your collection until they are so comfortable that you no longer fear rubbing or blisters.

It might also be a good idea to carry a spare pair of well-worn in shoes with you in case your feet do start to feel uncomfortable throughout the day.

How long does it take to break in new shoes?

The length of the breaking-in period depends on numerous factors, including the construction of the shoe, the stiffness of the material and the thickness of the sole. Shoes made from soft materials and with rubber soles should take little to no time to wear in, whereas stiff leather shoes with thick soles could take up to a few weeks.

By following these steps to breaking in shoes, you should be able to comfortably wear your new shoes out and about in no time at all. If you spend every day on your feet and need shoes that’ll break in quickly and easily, explore our guide to comfortable everyday shoes.