There is quite possibly nothing more obnoxious than having that new shoe's joy ruined by blisters and foot pain. There's no way to avoid the process of breaking in new boots or a really good pair of shoes; it simply must be done. What doesn't have to happen is the suffering, blisters, and BS that we often put up with for cuteness. Instead of going for a long walk and hoping for the best, be proactive and save yourself the foot ache.
Feet are comprised of 26 bones and over 100 muscles each. That's quite a lot of stuff to shove in a tube of leather. This is why humans evolved to protect feet with fervor, since damaged ones affect mobility, which was essential for survival before modern convenience. It seems pretty dumb that even the act of protecting your feet (usually while trying to look good doing it) you can cause harm not only to surface skin but also to bones and muscles. It's why you should choose well fitting shoes regardless of price, but also why it's actually good to take the time to break in shoes. The unexpected benefit of the breaking in process? You'll force those boots to custom fit your feet.
Before you throw your tootsies into the ring with a pair of new, literally devastatingly gorgeous boots, read these tips and be blister free this year. I recently procured these gorgeous Malie ankle boots from OluKai in Rum colored leather. They needed a bit of TLC before I could wear them scot free, however, and I got my fair share of the expected blisters the first time I wore them. Since I loved them so much, I decided to experiment with methods that would make these booties comfy fast. These were my favorite tips.
1. Wear Thick Socks
OluKai shoes are made with full grain cow leather by hand and, like all well-made leather shoes, come a bit stiff when new, especially around the toes and heel, precisely where most blisters occur. The first thing you can do to nip problems in the bud is wear thicker than normal socks during the first few weeks. These Old Navy Boot Socks are almost twice as thick as normal socks and really get the job done. They are also super warm so, when paired with leather as a wind breaking barrier, you're going to be snug even on the coldest days.
2. Use A Shoe Stretcher
When it comes to shoes, technology hasn't changed too much in the past 2,000 years, let alone the past 20. Sure there are some new materials and shoes are generally more structurally sound, but the basic leather shoe remains more or less unchanged. The shoe stretcher is a simple but effective device that is also pretty old fashioned. Put into your shoe and turn the key until the wooden parts expand, stretching the width of the shoe. This technique is great for expanding a toe box that feels a little tight.
3. Try Some Moleskin
Still experiencing blisters? Try this hairstylist-approved tip: moleskin. Not the adorable notebooks used by burgeoning poets the world over, but a stick-on protection tape for feet. This creates a physical barrier between rubbing portions of a shoe and your skin. People who work on their feet (like your hair dresser) know that if you crowd your toes you can pay for it for days after. Adding a few millimeters of cushion can help stretch the shoe to its perfect shape much quicker than your foot alone.
4. Ice It Out
Got no time to run to the store for a stretcher or moleskin, but have some ziploc bags on hand? Pour water into the bags, stick 'em in your boots, and freeze overnight. Frozen water expands, stretching the shoe as it does. Thanks science!
Whether you're employing on hand items or buying tools specifically to help you break in shoes, breaking in your new kicks is crucial. Keeping blisters and foot pain in check is not only a priority for preserving your feet as you age, but for protecting your biggest freedom: free transportation.
Photos: Maria Penaloza