Did you know some dancers prefer to buy their shoes half a size smaller than their normal size, to allow them to stretch out and eventually fit perfectly?
We don’t really recommend it, unless you know what you’re doing. However, we’ve all had the experience of being in between sizes, or the perfect pair of shoes being a bit too tight. In these cases, there are ways of stretching your shoes to make them fit, and this week’s Quick Tip will tell you one shoe-stretching secret. This is also great for people with naturally wide feet, since unfortunately not all dance shoes come in wide width options.
Now, most shoes will stretch naturally just by being worn, but that can take a while, and the shoes can also be painful to wear during that time; here’s a way to speed up the process, using only a couple of plastic bags, tap water and a freezer:
- Take 2 ziplock-type bags – the sandwich-sized ones work well for ladies’ shoes, which generally only need the toe part stretched; gentlemen can try using 2 sandwich bags for each shoe or bigger freezer bags – and fill them with water so that they are about 3/4 full. Don’t fill them all the way – it’s important for the water to have room to move and expand. Also make sure to seal the bags well – you don’t want to get your shoes wet, especially if they’re made of satin!
- Place each bag in your shoes, and wedge it so that the fullest part goes where your shoes need the most stretch. You can use some scrap paper (finally, a good use for junk mail!) to fill the rest of the shoes and keep the water bag in place.
- Wrap each shoe in another plastic bag to keep everything in place, as well as for the hygiene of your freezer. You can tape the bags closed if you like.
- Freeze your shoes overnight – make sure they are standing up. As the water in the ziplock bags freezes, it will expand and, if you placed it right, it will stretch the leather/fabric upper of the shoes about 1/4 to 1/2 of a size.
- Take your shoes out of the freezer, remove all paper and water bags, let them warm up to room temperature, and try on your newly stretched shoes – if they’re still too tight, repeat the process.
Note: this method works for regular shoes too, but it is most effective on shoes made of leather or fabric. Synthetic materials have different amounts of stretch, so your results will vary. Patent leather is notoriously hard to stretch and may “shrink” back to its original size after a while, so you might need to stretch it several times.
Don’t have a DIY gene? No worries – most good shoe-repair shops can also stretch shoes by about half a size. Just make sure they’ve worked with dance shoes before and are familiar with suede soles and the construction of ballroom shoes.