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How to Make Shoes Smaller: Helpful Hacks and Tips to Enjoy the Perfect Size

This guide comes in handy for those looking for cost-efficient and non-health-threatening ways to solve the problem of too big shoes. Although there are lots of suggestions on how to make shoes smaller, you should always be cautious not to be tricked by pseudo-professionalism on the internet. Shrinking the shoes with water won’t work and can easily damage the surface of the model, for example.

Of course, our team had to deal with ups and downs in choosing the right size and fit along the way. However, our failures turned out to be great examples of advantageous troubleshooting for such a scenario. In this guide, we will share top-notch solutions on how to make your footwear smaller with proven efficiency. Onwards!

Looking ahead. Heel Inserts - Our Editors' Choice
Looking ahead. Heel Inserts – Our Editors’ Choice

Define the Problem — Are Your Shoes Slightly or Too Big?

Our journey starts with answering whether your feet feel comfortable and free in the shoes when you wear them. Here are special telltale indicators to pay attention to:

  • During the shopping phase, people stick to precise measurements. In practice, different brands come with unique fitting stories — bigger, true-to-the-size, and smaller than highlighted in the size chart. Improper sizing is easy to catch if there is too much or little room in the heel zone or toe box.
  • Try to walk in your new pair of boots or sandals. If you don’t feel natural and experience feet sliding inside or heels slipping out of the footwear, that’s a red flag.

Healthy strides with overly loose fits are Mission Impossible. Before getting started with professional tools to make bigger shoes smaller, check the paper- or fabric-stuffing technique. Although the result won’t be lasting, it will be clear whether the target pair of shoes can be saved for natural movement without constraints and discomfort.

NB. This method is insufficient for exercising or long walks. It is a nice game-changer for shoes zero-drop shoes with closed-toe boxes.

Shrinking Shoes to Fit Smaller Than Their Actual Size: Expert Suggestions

  • Your favorite shoes have stretched over time and become bigger.
  • You’ve received a gift that doesn’t work as planned.
  • You purchased a luxurious model from a renowned brand.

Let’s not take things to the extreme and create a suitable way out without wasting your budget. Here are the editor’s chosen methods with impressive functionality — suitable for boots, sneakers, flats, sandals, and other types of footwear for men, women, and children.

Thicker Socks — Classic Life-Saver for Many

Thick socks can partially solve the problem

The feasibility of the plan isn’t surprising since it’s something people do regularly. Certain situations do address more specific socks-related requirements, including premium-class shoes for hunting or hiking in colder environments or those with high humidity. That’s when thick socks for a bit bigger shoes will shine. We recommend them for their high-end cushioning, excellent for minimizing excess friction, and up-market insulation.

If you have shoes for running or want to wear something suitable for visiting a gym or cycling, thin socks will work better though. They stand out in terms of their quick drying and breathability — great protection from feet smelling caused by excessive sweating. In this case, our team suggests double-layer socks to get the best of both worlds.

Opt for Insoles to Fix Your Footwear’s Fit

Examples of Popular Insoles in Stores
Examples of Popular Insoles in Stores

There are several reasons to say “yes” to wearing insoles regularly:

  • Insoles can provide healthy foot movement patterns in bulky shoes and help prevent painful conditions like bunions and the sensation of “stabbing” in the near-the-heel bottom of the foot.
  • By avoiding flat feet situations, insoles also reduce lower body discomfort and soothe lower back hip, knee, and ankle pain.

Take a closer look at the variety of insoles to provide you with extra heel control, arch support, and secure foot movement:

  • Odor-destroying — the name is self-explanatory. Aside from controlling the degree of wetness and smell, they guarantee a comfortable and slim fit without crowding. Brands come up with unique odor-blocking technologies and achieve lasting results by adding baking soda and charcoal as top ingredients for the insole’s structure.
  • Foam — if you are searching for the highest degree of personalization possible, here is the answer. So-called memory foam orthotics mimic the shape of your feet and distribute cushioning properly to the right zones. Ground feedback is great, as well as foot pain relief benefits.
  • Leather — these insoles are great for different types of boots. Please opt for models with slip resistance. Without that kind of finish, they will limit healthy foot movement when walking in high-humidity environments. Otherwise, they stand out thanks to their absorbency and durability. We’ve tried both a DIY approach and shopping for pre-made designs. The latter is more credible and reliable for beginners.
  • Thermal — as the name implies, these insoles are second to none when it comes to keeping a person’s feet warm and comfortable. Even if you don’t hike or spend time in cold environments, it doesn’t mean the sufficiency of such tools is lacking. For example, if you suffer from poor blood circulation, they will assist in solving the problem. By choosing advanced solutions, you can also benefit from high-stretch materials with antibacterial effects.
  • Gel — this varietal serves as a durable shield and protects your feet from excessive shock as an additional and auxiliary layer in your footwear. Not only do they promote healthy and balanced bodyweight distribution during physical activities, but they also make it simpler for muscles, bones, and joints of your feet and legs to function.

In several cases, a pair of insoles with a supportive heel cup might be a nice decision for a person with bulky shoes. Insoles are especially effective for footwear with wide-toe boxes.

Avoid Slipping-Out Incidents with Padded Heel Inserts

How To Use Padded Heel Inserts
How To Use Padded Heel Inserts

This supply is commonly self-adhesive and easy to use. Their snug fit in baggy footwear speaks for itself. Based on our experience, they are excellent tools not just to prevent slippage and provide comfort in slightly bigger shoes. At the same time, heel inserts with cushioning are capable of averting heel pain and overwhelming load on the foot by reducing the abrasion.

The list of advantages this solution offers isn’t over yet. We like their overall longevity and flexibility:

  • Even after a year of wearing shoes with premium-class heel cushion inserts, they preserved their snug fit and didn’t fall off.
  • Their sizing is customizable. Depending on your requirements, professionals may easily cut them and present a ready-made tool to make various shoes fit smaller. We appreciate this diversity, which helps us enjoy bulky footwear in any shape and height without discomfort.

However, you should also be aware of the prospective drawbacks this troubleshooting mechanism comes with. It might become more challenging to put your favorite pair of shoes on and off. Besides, this method requires time to get accustomed to the unusual sensation in the heel area. In our hands-on experience, you will feel the inserts for around ten to fifteen minutes before getting used to them.

Discovering Heel Liners

Types of Heel Liners
Types of Heel Liners

People frequently find it difficult to distinguish heel inserts from heel lines. Although some brands use these terms interchangeably, we would like to highlight a few crucial differences:

  • Heel inserts aren’t only crafted to target the heel area. You will also locate full insoles that help make larger shoes fit smaller. Compared to heel liners, they cover the whole footbed of shoes.
  • On the contrary, the goal behind creating heel lines lies in preventing foot slippage. They are typically on a sleeker and thinner side.

Heel liners are especially popular among women who want to make heels more comfortable. Furthermore, female fashionistas will surely appreciate how they prevent heel blisters, calli, and pain.

Welcome Shoe Tongue Pads

Using Tongue Pads for Shoes
Using Tongue Pads for Shoes

Like other solutions on the list, this product is self-abhesive and created to make bulky shoes usable, convenient, and durable for men and women of any age. The performance mechanism is as simple as ABC — take a pair of tongue pads and place them on the underside of your shoe’s tongue.

We recommend this solution for ladies and gentlemen with narrow feet and low arches — traditional options such as inserts won’t be as effective for them as shoe tongue pads. Besides, they are incredibly versatile to use. Even though one product won’t necessarily be one-size-fits-all, it will suit numerous pairs of shoes with closed-toe boxes.

Heel Cups for Beginners

Silicone Heel Cup Pads
Silicone Heel Cup Pads

These instruments for getting a better footwear fit have a waffle pattern are are softly shaped to hug the heel. They are positioned right under the heel. Heel cups are a wonderful alternative to full-length insoles that make larger shoes fit too snug and inconvenient. The minimal size change these tools commonly offer may be just right to save your favorite shoes from transitioning into garbage.

As in the case of insoles, heel cups can be produced from different materials, including gel and foam. Our team is glad to share our opinions on what benefits they present to the target wearer in the long run:

  • tension reduction;
  • stress relief;
  • shock absorption;
  • limiting foot swelling risks;
  • soothing fatigue;
  • extra ankle and heel support.

What About Shoe Toe Inserts?

Shoe Toe Inserts to Remove Excess Space
Shoe Toe Inserts to Remove Excess Space

Instead of supporting the heel area, you can also “eat” extra space in front of your toes by adding stuff there. Paper isn’t the only option — the market offers professional toe inserts for the purpose. We wouldn’t recommend such shoe fillers for children’s footwear to prevent any toe and foot deformation risks. For adults, their performance is proven to be efficient. We wouldn’t recommend such shoe fillers for children’s footwear to prevent any toe and foot deformation risks. For adults, their performance is proven to be efficient. In our practice, it is a perfect match for shoes with too big toe boxes. Depending on how the target pair fits, you can effortlessly combine toe inserts and alternative solutions like heel cups for the desired effect.

As you see, solving the problem of slightly bigger footwear than needed is always an error-and-trial method. Luckily, the price of such tools isn’t skyrocketing, which allows for experiments and successful solutions to be found without difficulty.

If Nothing Works, What’s Next?

When your happily-ever-after with a pair of shoes is impossible, the list of options to overcome this crisis boils down to:

  • Once you get footwear with an improper and unfixable fit, contact the brand to proceed with the return procedure. It is up to you whether you want a refund or exchange. Please remember to check the target manufacturer’s offers and requirements to stick to for a successful process without the hustle and bustle.
  • On the contrary, you may apply to professionals to get a more lasting and effective transformation of your footwear. It won’t work for every pair you have, but third-party assistance will prove how feasible your prior size-fit-fixing tactics were.

While shoes may stretch a bit and become more convenient in the long run, they won’t shrink for sure. Don’t waste time on magic to happen if you see something is off. The sooner you find a solution, the better.

Wrapping It Up

At one point or another, we’ve all been there — getting a visually gorgeous pair of shoes that just don’t fit right. Now that you’ve checked a wide scope of expert-tested and -proven approaches to make shoes smaller, you will easily handle a half or one-size-up in fit without purchasing a new pair. To stay on the safe side, consider your feet’s health and the type of footwear to “fix.”

If you have any additional questions or want to share your experience in the field, feel free to express yourselves in the comment section. Check our theme-related tips and suggestions — walk in comfort even if things don’t work efficiently from the first trial.


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