How to Stretch Patent Leather Shoes – 5 Easy Methods to Break in Your New Leather Boots
Have you been struggling to fit your recently bought patent leather shoes and looking for stretching those pairs a bit?
If you are looking for the solution to quickly break in your new pair of patent leather footwear, then you are in the right place.
Footwear is an essential part of our style, and there is nothing quite like a pair of patent leather shoes to complete your look.
Despite amazing aesthetics, though, you might soon learn that patent leather is an incredibly stiff material.
As such, breaking it in can be a very uncomfortable or even a costly process.
In most instances, there might be dulling aches that can make you want to throw your brand-new shoes directly in the trash.
Luckily, I now know how to stretch or break in patent leather shoes using the right methods.
So, continue reading further to know my 5 favorite methods to break in all types of patent leather footwear at home.
Can You Really Stretch Patent Leather Shoes or Boots?
The short answer to this question is “Yes”. It is possible to stretch all types of patent leather footwear if you know the right stretching method.
Patent leather is leather coated with a plastic, varnish, or lacquer finish that gives it a shiny look.
While the leather itself is stretchy and flexible, the finish is not.
According to David Mesquita, a leather expert from New York City; patent leather does stretch in a bit, but not as much as a genuine leather or suede material.
How much the patent leather will stretch ultimately depends on the type of finish as well as the lining of the shoe.
Patent leather footwear lined with leather will stretch and break in a little bit, but if the shoe is lined with polyurethane - a type of plastic used as faux leather - it won’t stretch at all.
Other variables include the style of shoe and sole.
If you want to stretch stilettos, for example, you may only stretch them in terms of their width. However, if you overdo it, the entire aspect of the shoe might suffer.
If the shoe sole extends over the upper, it can also be impossible to stretch the shoe.
Sure, it may break in a bit, but don’t expect too much flexibility.
For these reasons, it is important to buy patent leather shoes of the right size that need little breaking in, or you might just waste your money.
Can a Cobbler Stretch Patent Leather Boots and Shoes?
Yes, cobblers can certainly stretch or help you break in your patent leather shoes in the limits explained in the video below.
Now you might have understood that you shouldn’t expect any miracles.
If the shoes you want to stretch, have a varnish or leather finish and are lined with real leather, then a cobbler may increase their length and width by up to half-size.
However, even the best cobbler won’t be able to do much for patent leather shoes that is coated with vinyl or lined with faux leather.
So, if your heart is settled on such a pair, either buy the right size of patent leather footwear or just move on to buy the pair of genuine leather shoes.
How Long Does it Take to Break in Patent Leather Shoes and Boots?
The short answer is from 2 days to 2 weeks.
It may take anywhere between a couple of days to a couple of weeks to break in new patent leather boots and shoes. You can check out this Wikihow article for more details.
Despite common conventions recommending to wear your brand-new shoes for as long as possible for quicker stretching; the truth is that shorter but frequent sessions are key to pain-free breaking in.
Start with a few minutes of walking around in your shoes, preferably while wearing a reliable pair of thick socks.
Then, take the shoes off and wait for half an hour, then wear them again for another few minutes.
While this process may take longer, you’re allowing your foot to get used to the new shoe.
At the same time, the footwear will expand slowly but steadily, to accommodate your foot size and width.
This is how you can break in your new patent leather boots without getting blisters and hot spots on your feet.
Shoe Stretching articles for you:
5 Easy Methods to Stretch or Break in Patent Leather Shoes
Besides regularly wearing your new patent leather shoes, you can also use the methods below to speed up the process of stretching your new leather boots and shoes.
No. 1: Heating Shoes with Hair Dryer
If your patent leather shoes are made from genuine leather with limited use of synthetic materials, then you can break them in faster with the help of a hair dryer. (Source: Verilymag.com article)
This method is best used for softening tight spots rather than stretching the entire upper.
A thing to keep in mind before starting is that heat can damage the glossy finish, so you should only use this method with caution.
Things You will Need:
1. A Reliable Pair of Thick Socks
2. A Pair of Thin Socks
3. Hair Dryer
1. You will first need to put on a pair of chunky socks and slip your feet into the shoes.
Yes, you will feel uncomfortable and squeezed in the beginning. But the thick socks are needed to protect your feet from the increased heat level.
2. Turn on your hair dryer and apply heat for about 30 seconds to the sections of the shoe where you’re most likely to develop hot spots, such as your toe and heel area.
Now, walk around for five to ten minutes, until the shoe is cold enough to touch.
3. Take off the shoe, put on a pair of thin socks, slip the foot into the shoe, and walk around to see if you notice any difference. Repeat as needed.
No. 2: By Using Ziploc Frozen Bags
One of the most popular ways of expanding your shoes is with a bag of frozen water.
If you’ve paid attention to the physics classes in your school, you should know how this works by now.
Water expands in terms of its volume when it freezes. So, if you place a bag of water into the shoe, and then the shoe into the freezer, the frozen water should hopefully do the trick.
This method tends to work best with shoes made from synthetic materials, so you might have a chance of stretching a pair of faux patent leather shoes, as well as patent leather shoes coated with vinyl or having polyurethane lining.
To enhance its effectiveness, my advice is to leave your shoes in the freezer overnight. They might not expand by much, but at least you’ll have a pair of cool shoes to wear in the morning.
Things You will Need:
1. Ziploc Freezer Bags
2. A Glass of Water
3. Deep Freezer
4. Thin Socks
1. First, you will need to buy a quality Ziploc freezer bags and then fill them with the water.
2. Pack them carefully so that water can not come out of it.
3. Now insert the two Ziploc water bags inside your newly bought patent leather footwear.
4. Then place your shoes inside the deep freezer.
5. Allow at least 10-12 hours to 24 hours of time period to freeze the water bag and shoes as well.
6. Once the water bags freeze, they expand in size and width which in turn causes your shoes to expand in the process.
7. Take out your shoes after the stipulated time and try them on over thin socks. Walk in them to gauze the comfort level.
If you are not happy then you can repeat this process till you get satisfactory results.
No. 3: Applying Rubbing Alcohol
Apparently, rubbing alcohol can also help you break-in your new patent leather shoes faster.
The trick here is to spray a mist of rubbing alcohol to stretch your shoes rather than soak them in any liquid – which, by the way, might damage them.
Things You will Need:
1. A Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol
2. Thick Socks
3. And Your Patent Leather Footwear too!
1. The method is simple. You will need to dilute the rubbing alcohol solution before you use it.
Mix 50% rubbing alcohol with 50% water in a spray bottle, then spray the inside of each shoe with this solution - you want it to be slightly damp, not soaked.
2. Wear the shoes for about 20 minutes, preferably with thicker socks.
Alternatively, you can soak the socks in rubbing alcohol, squeeze out the excess, and wear the shoes with the socks on until the alcohol dries.
Special Note: Don’t forget that alcohol can dry the leather, causing it to crack.
That’s why you shouldn’t exaggerate with this method, especially if the shoes are lined with real leather.
No. 4: Making Use of Leather Shoe Stretch Spray
A reliable leather shoe stretch spray works just like the rubbing alcohol mentioned above.
Things You will Need:
1. Instant Comfort Leather Shoe Stretching Spray
2. Pair of Thick Socks
1. Simply put on a pair of thick socks first.
2. Then, take a bottle of leather shoe stretch spray and start spraying the inside of your leather shoes.
3. Once you spray sufficiently, wear them until your shoes become dry.
Its recommended to walk in your shoes for at least 1-2 hours for a week or so to get the best results. (Source:
Shoe stretch spray is readily available in most shoe shops as well as online, so getting it should really be easy.
No. 5: Applying Shoe Stretcher Device
If you want to stretch your brand-new patent leather shoes the way a cobbler would, then I strongly recommend to get a quality shoe stretcher device.
The best device I can recommend is FootFitter which you can buy from Amazon.
This device comes in multiple sizes and various shapes to fit different kinds of shoes, such as flats, boots, high heels, and other specific types of footwear.
You can also choose from two-way stretchers that will expand your shoe in both length and width or toe shoe stretcher designed to expand the toe box only for a roomier fit. (Source: Liveabout.com Article)
Things You will Need:
1. FootFitter Two-Way Shoe Stretcher
2. Rubbing Alcohol Bottle or Leather Shoe Stretch Spray
3. Thin Socks
1. To use the shoe stretcher, first you will need to apply rubbing alcohol or leather stretch spray to the interior of your shoe.
2. Once you apply the stretching spray or rubbing alcohol, then insert the device inside your shoe.
3. Now start expanding it with the provided screws slowly until you feel some resistance.
4. Stop at that point and take out the stretching device.
5. Leave your shoes overnight and then wear them the next day.
6. If you are not yet satisfied with the fitting, then you can try stretching your shoes one more time.
But I recommend to totally avoid repeating the process more than once or twice to prevent overstretching of your shoes.
Wrapping It All Up
Stretching or breaking in patent leather shoes demands honest efforts and use of right instrument at hand.
But at the end of the day, the methods above may help you prevent hot spots, blisters, and foot pain.
Which is the best method? In my opinion, rubbing alcohol and a shoe stretcher device.
So, what do you say? Have you ever tried to stretch patent leather shoes before?
What is your favorite break-in method? Don’t forget to share it with me via the contact us link. I’d love to hear from you soon.
Before you go, don’t forget to share this article with your friends. You never know when they might need to stretch a brand-new pair of patent leather boots and shoes too.