Some time ago I wrote a post about the different things that affect how shoes will stretch on the Swedish version of this blog (will be posted here on the English one in the future), a topic that you can say a lot about. That was about shoe construction and how it differently affect stretching, here we look at a few aspects which instead is about how they are, so to say “exposed to” when being used.
Above all I thought I’d highlight the fact that shoes made of leather in simple terms has the ability to stretch as much as required. We can take an example, a person buys a plain cap toe oxford which fits tight over the widest part of the foot and also above the instep. Not that they are too small, but tight. They take a while to break in, but after a dozen wears the leather that has been under pressure from the foot has stretched out and they start to get really comfortable. Then we take another person, who buys the same model of plain cap toe oxfords, but here they are instead almost are it a bit spacious, they are not tight at all at the shoe’s widest part or over the instep, but it was not at all possible to go down in size or so, then they were way too tight. His shoes will maybe stretch a tiny bit, but overall keeps the size when the pressure of the foot on the shoe is not all that big, ergo, there’s no need to stretch.
Thus, the shoe can stretch different amounts depending on the carrier and what his feet does to the shoes. Leather subjected to strong pressure from the feet that are tight in the shoes will let go much more than leather that have feet that have been okay with space and not press against it in the same way. It’s a generalization and many of the aspects I highlighted in the first post on the topic still affect, but overall it holds that tight shoes will stretch more than shoes that are loose, simply. Again, an example of how you can never say that “a shoe stretches about half the size”, since the same shoe thus can stretch very differently depending on what it is exposed.
I may also be worthwhile to talk a bit about how one affects this aforementioned stretching process with use. I advocate that one should break in shoes gently, use them at home for short periods initially to be gentle both against shoes and feet. Note, however, that in view of the above, as they are subject to something entirely different when one trots around leisurely at home, sits on the sofa and so on, compared to when you walk to work, walk around town, or similar. You should therefore have with you that if the shoe is on the verge of being a bit tight at any place and does not give in at first, it can be changed when using them properly and they get stretched and strained more. With such pairs it may be worth to a short period at the beginning, for example, wear them to work where they might be going a lot, but then change into some comfortable old pair in the office to not strain your feet unnecessarily, and then put on the new ones for the journey home again. An excellent intermediate step between home use and regular use if you have shoes that need to stretch a bit more.