Wearing boots that are too tight can be a real pain, literally. But before you decide to give up on your favourite pair, consider stretching them out.
Ideally, cowboy boots should be a snug fit so that they break in and warp perfectly around your foot shape. Don't size up to have them fit loosely from the start because that way they will just fit sloppy. Here are some tips and tricks for stretching boots to achieve a more comfortable fit.
Can't get your boots through the in-step?
It's very common to struggle to get cowboy boots through the in-step. Some boots leathers are thicker and need more breaking in than others. That doesn't mean they won't fit once in, which is why I recommend a nifty trick that works for almost everyone: putting your foot in a carrier bag. This will help your foot glide inside the boots. Don't worry, you wouldn't have to keep doing it forever, just the first couple of times depending on how long you were them for. I recommend wearing them for a full day so that you don't have to do more than 2 times.
Watch this video for the how-to:
My boots feel tight. What should I do?
Tightness across the in-step is very common, and it does not mean your boots don't fit you. It's expected tightness on cowboy boots because they need to be worn to soften. As long as the tightness is not on the toes you're all good and with time the leather will shape around your foot which will give you a perfect fit. For some boots this can take 1–2 months and more others with softer leather it can up just a few weeks.
If you just need a bit of breaking in, such as some tightness around the instep, you can use a stretching spray and put the boots on straight after.
Use a shoe stretcher
A shoe stretcher is a tool specifically designed to stretch shoes and boots. They come in various sizes and shapes and can be adjusted to fit the exact shape of your boots. Simply insert the stretcher into the boot, and turn the knob to widen it until you reach the desired level of stretch. Leave the stretcher in place for several hours or overnight, and repeat the process if necessary. There are shoe stretchers that have extra pieces to add to the wood piece which stretch shoes in specific spots, which is perfect for people with bunions.
This may sound odd, but it can be effective. Fill a plastic bag with water, seal it, and place it inside your boots. Make sure the bag is positioned in a way that covers the area you want to stretch. Then, place your boots in the freezer overnight. The water in the bag will expand as it freezes, causing the material of the boots to stretch. When you take the boots out of the freezer, remove the bag and let them dry before wearing them.
Wear them around the house
If you have night-in, take that time to break in your boots without breaking a sweat. Simply put them on and allow the warmth from your body and your feet to soften the leather and help on the process of breaking them in without having to walk in them. This is specially useful for when you have an event you need your boots for and want them to already be comfortable by that point.
Wear them with thick socks
This is a simple method that requires some patience. Put on a pair of thick socks, and then put on your boots. Walk around in them for a few hours, or wear them around the house while doing chores. The combination of your body heat and the pressure of your feet will slowly stretch the boots to a more comfortable fit.
Take them to a cobbler
If you're not confident in your ability to stretch your boots on your own, take them to a professional cobbler. They have the experience and tools to stretch your boots in a safe and effective way, and can even make any necessary repairs while they're at it.
By using these tips and tricks, you can avoid the discomfort of tight boots and enjoy your favourite pair all over again. Just remember to be patient and take things slowly to avoid damaging your boots in the process.