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How to stretch leather boots properly

New shoes always bring the same problem: blisters. It doesn't matter how perfect the pair fit your feet in the shop, they still manage to hurt for the first few wears.

Leather boots especially take a little time to mould to your feet but different styles sometimes require different techniques of stretching.

Because leather boots are one of the most versatile items you can have in your wardrobe, it’s important to get the style and fit that works best for you.

Here at Rydale, we’ve rounded up our top tips of which features to look out for when purchasing leather boots, as well as a few tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way in terms of stretching your boots to increase comfort.

Firstly, let’s look at the different styles of boots you might want to consider before buying them.

Rydale Harewood Boots

Types of boots

It can be overwhelming when you’re looking for the perfect pair. Not only do you have to think of where you’re going to be wearing your boots, but what colour you’re after, the material, whether you want an ankle boot or something taller. Some of us have a long list of boxes that should be ticked when looking for new boots, so we thought we’d take a closer look at the general styles out there in the market right now.

Proper riding boots

A more traditional style boot, these tend to come in knee-length forms and with a thicker sole. They are designed to be tough for riding but often have elasticated panels on the calves for that fitted feel. They usually have a harder toe-cap than other styles for obvious reasons!

Riding-style walking boots

An updated version of traditional riding boots now feature a cleated sole and a softer leather finish. This style of boot are influenced by the shape of traditional riding boots, but are designed so that they are a little more wearable during everyday life. These country boots are perfect for countryside walks but would be just as stylish running errands! See our Bramham leather boots

Rydale Bramham Leather Boot

Chelsea boots

Having been around since Victorian times, Chelsea boots have evolved over time. This ankle-boot style is perfect for people with narrower feet and they are easy to put on with the elastic side panels.

They always come back into fashion during the autumn and winter months and also look great in different colours and materials. We love a classic brown or tan leather pair with skinny or bootcut jeans! See our Kirby Leather Chelsea Boots

Fashion boots

At this time of year, you’ll notice the shops start to bring out their new footwear ranges and every fashion retailer will feature a collection of boots. Biker boots are often included for a more casual look or shoe boots, shortened to shoobs, look great for a night-time look when you don’t want your toes out in heels!

Rydale Feversham Heeled Boot

Wellies

How can we discuss types of boots without mentioning good, old-fashioned Wellington boots? They not only look great, but serve a purpose too - keeping your feet dry of course! Instead of a classic green colour, now you can buy them in an array of bright colours as well as patterned ones. We’ve been loving our Kate Ripon High Gloss Tweed pair for when we’re walking the dog!

How to select the correct size of leather boot and features to look out for

When searching for the perfect pair, it is important to make sure that the features of the boot you’re buying for yourself match up with what you’re looking for. You need to know what style suits you as well as your leg/foot shape.

If you have narrow feet, you might need to consider insoles or if you have more ‘athletic’ calves, elastic and buckles may be better for you. You’ve also got to think of the purpose of buying the boots. The more embellishments on the boot, the dressier it can look.

If you’re buying boots for everyday wear, you may want a sleeker looking boot in a neutral shade that will match your whole wardrobe. Nevertheless, you need to know which features you should look out for to find a pair of boots most wearable and suitable for you.

Adjustable buckles

Whether you fit in a standard size or require a wider fit, buckles can be your best friend. For narrow feet, it allows you to secure boots better to your ankles/calves so your feet do not slip around in them.

On the other hand, buckles can be a great solution for wider feet so you can loosen them so they don’t cut off your circulation!

Elasticated panels

Sometimes the biggest struggle is actually getting the boots on if they do not have a zip fastening. Behold elastic panels: stretching out the boot so you can wiggle your foot in. The elastic will almost mould to the shape of your ankle allowing a more comfortable fit.

More supple leathers

One main concern with leather boots is that they can be incredibly tough, making them less wearable. Including softer leathers makes them stretchy but still durable. Adding flexibility means that comfort is increased whilst still keeping the leather texture.

Hidden platforms inside the boot

For heeled boots, having a hidden platform inside the boots adds so much comfort. It means you can wear them for a longer period of time as well as adding extra height.

Cleated soles for extra grip

Look out for the sole of your boots and consider the activities you’ll be doing when wearing them. Expect to be doing a considerable amount of walking or hiking, this is probably the feature which will be most applicable for you. If you plan on wearing your boots just for everyday occasions, then grooves on the bottom help with less smooth paths and rainy days.

Cushioned inner soles

Because boots are an investment piece, comfort is key when purchasing a pair. Many styles now include specific insoles embedded in the boot with extra padding for the balls of the feet as well as the heels. However, if required, you can buy specialist insoles to give you extra comfort.

String fastenings at the top

Many of us suffer from feet that aren’t an exact shoe size. Especially with boots, we often buy them half a size or even a full size bigger to allow for wearing thicker socks. When buying taller boots, the issue is often higher up the leg. With string fastenings at the top, it can further help to secure the boot to your calf. Just be careful to not fasten them too tightly!

What we recommend: modern boot stretching methods

The worst part of getting leather shoes or boots is getting them comfortable. Due to the toughness and durability of the material, it means that it can often take a while for them to mould to your feet. Being patient is usually the key to all of our techniques below!

Wear them in

This goes for all new shoes but especially leather boots! Get yourself a thick pair of socks and walk around the house. We recommend doing this for about 5-10 minutes a few times. You can blast a hairdryer for 20-30 seconds on them whilst they’re on your feet to soften them more but this only works leather on boots however! Did you know that the Queen actually has someone to break shoes in for her?

Buy a boot stretcher

Similar to a shoe stretcher, these have a longer handle so you can reach all the way to the full length of the sole. If you wear boots often or have a few people in your household, a boot stretcher can be a great investment.

The water trick

Place a tied-up bag of water inside your boots and stick them in the freezer until the water freezes (usually after a few hours). Then simply remove them from the freezer, take out the bags and wear. You can repeat this process a couple of times until they’ve stretched enough for you.

Stuff your shoes

When they’re not on your feet, it’s important for your boots to keep their shape. Try stuffing them with socks, tissue paper or newspaper, but most dry materials would work really! This is a great tip when travelling as you can stuff smaller items inside them to allow more space in your luggage!

Suck it up

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to bear a little pain. Stick on some bandages/plasters on the problem areas (usually around your toes and/or heels), pop on your new pair of boots and you should be good to go.

Start off small by wearing them out to go for a walk to the local shop for 10 minutes and gradually build up the length of time before you’re fully comfortable.

Visit a cobbler

If all else fails, they will know best! Some styles may not stretch anymore than they have done but a trained cobbler will be able to tell if they can see the boots in person.

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