While shoes come in a variety of sizes and widths, getting the perfect fit is not always easy. There are a few ways to adjust the fit of leather shoes by stretching them to enlarge them and achieve a more comfortable feel. Shoe stretching tools can widen or lift the toe, raise the vamp and even adjust the instep of one or both of your shoes.
Leather is a material that can be stretched relatively easily, meaning leather shoes can be shaped to fit a foot better than many other materials. There are two main shoe stretching methods: stretching sprays and stretching tools. In most cases, the two are used together for the most effective reshaping of the shoe in order to gain the required fit. Each stretching tool is designed to enlarge a different part of the shoe or a different type of shoe.
Basic Shoe Stretchers
The standard and most frequently seen shoe stretcher is designed to generally widen the shoe and give it a broken-in feel. The stretcher is inserted into the shoe and tightened to the point where it puts pressure on the shoe from within. Basic shoe stretchers also come in a high heel version, designed to fit into women's shoes with higher heels.
Two-Way Shoe Stretchers
A two-way stretcher is designed to provide both greater width and greater length to a shoe at the same time. While the amount of lengthening that can be accomplished is generally less than the widening, some extra room can be made, which is helpful for people who fall between sizes.
A toe raiser is a shoe stretcher that is designed to increase the toe room in the front of the shoe. This is intended for shoes that fit well otherwise but feel tight in the toes.
Also known as instep stretchers, vamp stretchers work to increase the space in the instep of the shoe. This is one of the areas generally considered difficult to stretch and a problem area for enlarging shoes.
Boot stretchers help to create more room in boots. While the bottom part of the stretcher is generally the same as is the function, boot stretchers are shaped differently to allow for the shaft of the boot. Some boot stretchers are also designed to stretch the shaft itself, to make more room for the calf.
All of the shoe stretching tools can be used in conjunction with a shoe stretching spray, and generally should be in order to get the best results. The spray itself can also work on its own, making it a versatile stretching tool that works on all different styles of shoes and boots. There are numerous stretching sprays that are safe for use on leather.