Common Problems With Men’s ShoesWritten by Tigre Haller
Men’s dress shoes are a must-have for any guys’ wardrobe. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to experience some problems when wearing them.
Not every shoe fits every foot the same. That’s just a fact of life. The good news is that there are things you can do to avoid or manage uncomfortable shoes.
Together we will examine some of the most common problems men experience with dress shoes, and figure out how to manage them.
Now, get comfortable and get ready to put an end to problematic shoes.
Painful Breaking In Period
Breaking in new leather shoes is usually not a pleasant experience. Since the leather is oftentimes rigid and tight, even though the “new leather smell” might be pleasant, the new leather feel isn’t. This inflexibility can make you feel as if your feet are encased in concrete, or a vice.
However, breaking in your shoes can be easier than you might think. Take a look at this article by my colleague Gavin which explains how you can master the breaking in period.
Shoes Are Too Tight
Shoes that are too tight can constrict your feet, cut-off the blood supply, cause blistering and possibly lead to foot damage.
Before walking around in the world, try your shoes on at home. Walk around in them for a while to get a real feel for the fit. Be sure to use the types of socks and inserts you would normally wear with your shoes.
If you experience constriction around your toes, arches, sides or heels, your shoes are probably too tight. This is different from the stiffness that you would usually experience with new shoes.
Try these methods to deal with shoes that are too tight:
Stretch your shoes
Use a shoe stretcher spray or tool. Many options are available to order online and come with specific instructions on proper use.
Freeze your shoes
- Double up two sets of ziploc bags (one inside the other) and position the bottom sides in your shoes. Put your hand inside the bag and spread it to cover the entire bottom of the shoe.
- Carefully fill the bag with water and carefully zip it closed.
- You might want to also slip another bag over the upper of your shoes.
- Place your shoes in the freezer and leave them there until the water freezes. This will actually stretch your shoes.
- Remove your shoes from the freezer and let the ice thaw enough for you to remove the bags.
- Your shoes should now be stretched and more comfortable to wear.
Heat your shoes
- Put thick socks on your feet.
- Put your shoes on.
- Heat the tight areas with a blowdryer, being careful not to overheat your shoes.
- Wriggle and flex your toes and feet to loosen the leather.
Rub your shoes
- Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle.
- Spray the inside of your shoes until they are damp.
- Put the shoes on and walk around until the alcohol dries.
Shoes Are Too Big
Just like shoes which are too tight, shoes which are too loose can cause damage. Following the basic advice above should let you know how your shoes fit. Generally, you can tell if your shoes are too big if you can fit more than a finger-width behind your heel. And, if there is more than a half-finger of space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe.
You can make your shoes fit tighter by following these suggestions:
This might be the quickest and easiest way to create a tighter fit. Insoles are most commonly made from foam or gel and can be thin enough to equal half a size or quite thick.
Wear thicker or double socks
The thicker your socks, the tighter your shoes will fit. It’s as simple as that. Just be careful that your feet don’t break out in a sweat.
Pad with a heel and / or toe cushion
These adhesive pads help to close the gaps and reduce the amount of movement in the back and front of your shoes.
Chafing most often occurs when your heel rubs up against the shoe’s heel counter. This most often happens if your shoes are too big, as discussed above. The constant friction wears away at your skin, even if you are wearing socks, thus causing pain and blisters.
Take these steps to prevent heel chafing:
- Make sure your shoes fit properly.
- Wear full-grain leather shoes which are soft and will conform to the shape of your feet over time.
- Check to see if there is a leather or suede lining on the heel counter like you will find in Beckett Simonon shoes. If there isn’t one you can ask your cobbler to add one, or you can adhere a heel cushion yourself.
- Add a thin insole. This will lift your foot a bit and provide a tighter fit which will help avoid slippage.
- Place a bandaid (or two) on your heel for extra padding.
- Wear a thicker pair of socks as a base layer, then slide on a pair of thinner nylon socks. This will add some bulk and extra protection for your heels.
- Wear a thick pair of socks, put on your shoes and heath the back with a blowdryer until the material softens, being careful not to overheat or burn. As you walk around the material will start to fit to the shape of your heel.
How to stop shoes from squeaking is a question that many people ask. This is a problem that seems to appear out of nowhere and can drive you crazy if not taken care of.
Follow these tips to stop shoe squeaking:
- If the insoles are shifting, sprinkle a good amount of baby powder, talcum powder or cornstarch underneath them. If you can’t remove the insoles, sprinkle the substance inside your shoes. Tap your shoes to distribute the powder and to fill in any seams. Discard any excess powder.
- You can also place two sheets of folded paper towels or paper napkins under the insoles to prevent them from moving around when you are walking.
- Excess interior moisture could also be the culprit. Soak it up by stuffing your shoes with newspapers or inserting a cedar shoe tree.
- If the squeaking is caused by the leather upper, apply a nice coat of leather conditioner with an oil component to soften it, paying close attention to wear the upper is attached to the soles. Be sure to also apply the conditioner to the tongues to keep them moisturized and avoid squeaking when the shoelaces rub against them.
- The soles of your shoes can also cause squeaking if they are too slick. Simply rub them with a fresh dryer sheet a few times to dull any slickness they might have.
- Another trick is to rub the soles with a low grit sandpaper to roughen them a bit. Be careful not to rub them too hard or for too long.
Poor Arch Support
Arch support is especially important if you have flat feet. Even if you don’t and your shoes have a nice amount of support, like you’ll find in Beckett Simonon’s dress shoes, you still might need a little extra.
You can find a host of arch support inserts either online or in specialty shops. They really are a great tool and help you in a number of ways, including:
- Prevent your arches from collapsing.
- Provide support.
- Distribute the pressure of your body weight.
- Diminish foot pain.
Shoes Retain Moisture
As we’ve talked about above, it is very common for shoes to retain moisture from foot sweat and environmental causes, such as rain or snow. If you don’t dry your shoes out, the moisture can cause bacteria to grow, mold spores to form and damage your shoes. It’s really very easy to deal with this issue:
Rotate your shoes by wearing a different pair each day. Wearing the same pair of shoes for consecutive days doesn’t give them time to rest and dry out. This can lead to an excess of moisture building up, and also potentially cause foot damage.
Use cedar shoe trees to keep the shoe’s shape and to soak up extra moisture caused by sweat.
Rolled up newspapers are excellent for absorbing moisture caused by rain or snow.
I hope these tips have helped you understand that dealing with common shoe problems is pretty straightforward. In the case of ill-fitting shoes, you might be able to return or exchange them Or, take them to a cobbler who might be able to adjust them.
At Beckett Simonon our shoes are individually handcrafted by highly skilled artisans to either solve or avoid most of these issues. We do everything we can to make sure our shoes are comfortable right out of the box. Of course some people will experience problems, and for the most part, they can be dealt with easily enough.
Please send a comment to let us know if you have any shoe-related problems and we will do our best to help you out.