Written by Jon Clarke
Summer is almost here. No really. Despite what the lingering clouds may say, there’s surely some warmer weather to come now isn’t there? Anyway, with the warmer weather comes t-shirts and shorts. Time to get the guns and ankles out. A common issue with summer though is the fact that we do just that - get our ankles out. This leads to going sockless, which can then lead to rubbing. It’s an unfortunate knock-on effect happening to more people than you think. And while the designers here at Goodwin Smith HQ pride themselves on designing the most ergonomically precise footwear (technical jargon for really well fitted shoes), everybody’s feet are different.
You can see then that the task of ‘one size fits all’ becomes more difficult and can lead to the potential of rubbing - especially if your going sockless. Add to this the likelihood of sweat, grit from the beach and sun cream, and you’ve got one hell of a concoction for rubbing shoes.
But don’t worry, as seasoned shoemakers we’ve acquired some knowledge in our time. Read below to discover the three most effective secrets to making your favourite pair of shoes also become your most comfortable…
1. The warm air method
Our number one trick is possibly the easiest and most effective. What’s more, the simplicity of it just adds to its genius. We aren’t sure who came up with the idea (probably a no-nonsense cobbler from the 1940s), but they deserve a pint. Anyway, here’s what you do…
Put on a pair of your thickest socks (double up on thinner pairs if need be). Squeeze your feet into the offending shoes. Take a hairdryer and set to medium heat. Slowly heat the area of the shoe that rubs, moving your foot around as you do. Position your foot at various angles that might simulate how it will be when walking or crouching.
Heating shoes with a hairdryer and remolding them is a surprisingly effective method.
Do this for a few minutes until the leather feels supple and malleable. Let the shoes cool with your feet still inside them. Once cool, you will notice that the opening has now been widened, just enough to stop the rubbing. If not, just repeat this process a couple of times to achieve the desired result.
This is a great way to make shoes feel custom fitted, without compromising on the finish and appearance. We aren’t fooling here gents, this method actually works!
2. Arm yourself… with plasters
For the first few wears of new shoes, it’s well worth popping a few plasters into your wallet (you know, just between the beer money and condoms). Only put the plaster on once you feel the pain, as this will tell you exactly where the shoes are rubbing. Good plasters will last most of the night - but it’s always nice to have back-ups just in case one comes off.
Now we know what you’re thinking, wearing plasters isn’t solving the problem, it’s just masking it. Well yes, it is at first. However, the more you wear your new shoes, the more you break them in. The leather will become softer over time, making it more forgiving. Until then, wearing plasters will help you to 'weather the storm' and walk in them with pride, rather than limping everywhere. A limp can ruin the nicest pair of shoes.
Top tip: this may sound a bit obvious, but clear or nude plasters are the way to go, they need to be discreet. Stay away from blue plasters or patterned ones. They are not cool accessories.
3. Think tactically when breaking them in
Following on a little from the point above, it pays to think ahead when wearing new shoes in. If you know that you need them for an important occasion - let’s say your wedding - it would be a disaster if they rubbed on the big day wouldn’t it?
The best way to prepare is to buy the shoes in good time before the event. The key then is to wear them in, without wearing them out. So wear them around the house for short periods leading up to the day. This will make a surprising difference over time, as you’ll find your feet will soon build a resistance, and the shoes will soon shape to them.
Top tip: when storing them, keep them well polished to make them as supple as possible, and consider investing in a quality shoe tree for storing them.