How To Stretch Patent Leather Shoes

Stretching Patent Leather shoes is simple! To break them in, buy the right size and wear them with a thick socks for a few minutes. If this doesn’t work, soften the leather, stretch the shoes, and put them on. Other methods are to use shoe stretch spray, the freezer method or a 2-way shoe stretcher. The break-in process of brand-new, patent leather shoes can be unpleasant, but they will last for many years when you properly stretch them, especially if you bought expensive shoes.

How to stretch patent leather shoes?

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Avoid buying tight shoes in the first place : size matters

When buying a pair of patent leather shoes, buying the right shoe size is better because this type of material does not stretch easily. Fortunately, they stretch a bit, so you can still break in your new shoes for a more comfortable fit.

Selecting the right size of patent leather shoes is crucial to avoid the need for extensive stretching. Always strive to try on shoes before making a purchase, and ensure they provide a comfortable fit right from the start. Leave uncomfortable shoes on shelves, or size up.

However, we understand that even with the best efforts, sometimes slight adjustments are necessary to achieve the ideal fit. That’s where our comprehensive guide on how to stretch patent leather shoes effectively comes in handy for people with wide feet.

Most people don’t struggle with shoe length, unless they fell in love with shoes that were too small! The real problem lies in two common areas: shoes being slightly too tight across the widest part of the foot or boots feeling restrictive around the calf.

G Maes, Shoe Dr

You can use several tools to stretch your patent leather shoes easily, and some tried and tested older methods. We’ll go into them all in this guide so you’ll find the best solution for you and your shoes.

Can you stretch patent leather shoes?

There are a few methods to stretch patent leather shoes, but as mentioned before, not many. For your convenience, buying a comfortable pair is the best way to save your feet the pain. Check five simple ways to stretch patent leather shoes (executive summary):

  1. Use Shoe stretching spray: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to apply this solution.
  2. Overnight, leave the shoes with shoe trees or shoe stretchers inside.
  3. For a few hours, put on the shoes and thick socks.
  4. Gently heat the shoes with a blow dryer,
  5. put a bag with water in the shoes and freeze the shoes
  6. Go to a professional shoe repair shop, or shoe store
  7. To help tight shoes fit your feet properly, walk on various surfaces for a couple of hours.

This way, you only need to stretch the shoes in the problem areas, which is normally the broadest part of the feet. If you’re pressed for time, there is, for starters, a professional shoe repair shop or a shoe care specialist that can help you.

Related: Can You Dry Shoes with a Blow Dryer?

The following sections will show a few methods to stretch your patent leather shoes to fit independently.

Stretch patent leather shoes with a stretcher
Stretch patent leather shoes with a stretcher

A major factor to consider: the lining of the shoe

The lining material of the shoe can affect the stretching process for patent leather shoes. The lining, the material used on the shoe’s interior, plays a role in how the shoe conforms to the shape of your foot and responds to stretching techniques.

In the context of stretching patent leather shoes, the lining material can influence the overall stretching experience in the following ways:

  1. Comfort and Flexibility: Some shoe linings are made from softer and more flexible materials, which can contribute to a more comfortable stretching process. Suppose the lining material is too rigid (like leather lining often used in patent or regular leather shoes). In that case, it may hinder the stretching action, making it more challenging to achieve the desired fit. Lining in synthetic materials stretches better.
  2. Even Distribution of Stretch: A smooth and evenly distributed lining can help ensure that the stretch affects the entire shoe uniformly. This prevents any uneven stretching or potential damage to specific areas of the patent leather.
  3. Moisture Absorption: Certain lining materials can absorb moisture, which could be beneficial during stretching methods that involve moisture, such as the freezer method. Adequate moisture absorption can help prevent excessive moisture buildup within the shoe during stretching.
  4. Protection of Patent Leather: A soft and gentle lining material can act as a protective barrier between the patent leather and any stretching devices or materials used. This safeguarding prevents scratches or marks on the glossy surface of the patent leather.

Related: How to Fix Peeling Shoe Lining : a comprehensive guide

The Easy Way to stretch patent leather shoes: wear them with thick socks

You can easily break the shoes in or stretch them to fit more comfortably on your feet by simply wearing them. This may take a bit longer, but it is pretty effective and will gradually stretch the shoes to fit your feet.

Start by wearing thick socks and wearing shoes for 10 to 15 minutes. This must be done daily for the same amount of time for the first two or three days.

Gradually increase the daily wear time until you reach an hour of wear time; by this time, the shoes should fit comfortably. As soon as you get to one hour, you can wear a normal-thickness pair of socks with the shoes as you would normally.

For the best results, this method will take a week or more, but your shoes will easily and comfortably on your feet. Some people will start wearing shoes for two to three hours daily and wear thick socks.

The thick socks will help protect your feet against pinching and scuffing to prevent unnecessary pain and discomfort.

Use Hot Air

This method is best if you are pressed for time and need to use the shoes soon after buying them. Put on thick socks and squeeze your feet into the shoe that needs to be stretched for a better fit.

Now blow hot air over the problem area for about 20 seconds with a hair dryer set at medium heat. Remember not to heat the shoe for more than 20 seconds, or the heat will damage the finish and the leather.

Let the shoes cool off and repeat the 20 seconds heating process. Repeat it for two to three minutes. While heating the shoes, you should move your feet around inside the shoes to stretch the leather of the shoes.

When you are done with the heating process, please do not take the shoes off but walk around inside them while cooling off. This method must be done twice to thrice for the shoes to fit comfortably and perfectly on your feet.

You let the shoes cool off on your feet so the leather can mold to the shape and size of your feet. When the shoes are completely cooled off, put on the regular socks you would normally wear with the shoes.

Feel if it fits better. If not, do all the steps from the beginning until the shoes fit perfectly.

DIY Stretching out a pair of shoes + DEMO by RaeDoesDopeShit

The Freezer Method: A Safe and Efficient Technique

The freezer method is a popular and safe technique for stretching patent leather shoes without causing any harm to their shine. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Fill Two Resealable Plastic Bags: Take two small resealable plastic bags and fill them halfway with water.
  2. Insert Bags into the Shoes: Place one bag inside each shoe, ensuring they sit snugly in the toe area. The bags of water will act as molds to stretch the shoes gently.
  3. Protect the Shoes: Carefully put the shoes inside individual plastic bags to protect them from moisture during stretching.
  4. Freeze the Shoes: Put the shoes in the freezer and leave them overnight. As water freezes, it expands and gently stretches the patent leather without compromising its glossy finish.

Alcohol-Based Stretching Spray

An alcohol-based stretching spray can be a game-changer when stretching patent leather shoes. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Purchase an alcohol-based shoe stretching spray from a reliable shoe store. (in our study we chose FootMatters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretcher Spray.
  2. Lightly spray the patent leather shoes’ interior lining, focusing on the tight areas.
  3. Put on the shoes and walk around the house for about 15 to 20 minutes to let the alcohol work its magic.
  4. The alcohol will help soften the leather, allowing it to stretch to a more comfortable size.

FootMatters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretch Spray – Softener & Stretcher for Leather, Suede, Nubuck, Canvas – 4 oz (2 pack)

Buy on Amazon

Related: Discover a full review on the Best Shoe Stretch Spray

Using Tools To Stretch Patent Leather Shoes

You can use specialized tools to stretch the leather, so you do not need to endure the pain.

Related: Do Shoe Stretchers Really Work?

Ball-And-Ring Stretchers

This tool looks like a pair of pliers with a small ring on one tip and a ball on the other tip with a screw at the back end. You put this tool over the problem part and tighten it to leave it overnight to do the stretching.

Because patent leather is difficult to stretch, you must repeat the process several times until you are satisfied. This tool will leave a bump on the leather, but it settles down when you wear the shoe.

To protect the finish on the shoe, put it in a plastic bag before using the tool for stretching. These specialized tools can be pricey and might not be worth the money if you fix just one pair of shoes.

Our choice of Ball-And-Ring-Shoe-Stretcher to stretch patent leather shoes.

Related: Can You Use a Shoe Stretcher on Boots?

Two-Way Shoe Stretcher

This tool comes with a screw included that will lengthen or widen with the opening and closing of the screw. This allows you to stretch the shoe in length and width simultaneously, but be careful. Two-way stretchers come in many variations from plastic to wooden stretchers.

This process can damage the leather if you stretch too quickly and too much at the first attempt. 

Insert the tool inside the shoe, turn the nut to lengthen to the back, and widen at the front, slowly.

You can gradually add more strength by turning the crank of the tool every eight hours. It should be left for 24 to 48 hours. Also, remember that this tool will not be cheap and can easily damage your shoes if not used correctly.

Related: Do Shoe Stretchers Really Work?

Other Methods To Stretch Your Patent Leather Shoes

If the above options don’t appeal to you, don’t despair. A few tried and tested methods to stretch your shoes were used by many people with great results.

Some people use a tightly rolled-up sock and leave it in the shoe overnight or longer until preferred results are reached.

Others use the newspaper method, made into a tight ball and pressed into the shoes to help stretch it.

You can also use shoe-stretching spray to help stretch, but these chemicals must be used properly.

Another method is to put a large potato inside the shoe to do the same job the rolled-up sock or newspaper do.

Seeking Professional Help with a shoe repair professional

When dealing with high-quality patent leather shoes, it’s wise to consult a professional shoe repair shop or cobbler. These experts possess the necessary knowledge and tools to safely stretch your patent leather shoes without compromising aesthetics.

Related: Do Suede Shoes Stretch with Wear?

How to stretch patent leather shoes explained (video)

How to Stretch Patent Leather Shoes by ExpertVillage Leaf Group

Additional Tips for Caring for Patent Leather Shoes

In addition to stretching, proper care can significantly extend the lifespan of your patent leather shoes:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Wipe off dust or dirt with a soft cloth, and use a patent leather cleaner for more stubborn stains.
  2. Proper Storage: Keep patent leather shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to maintain shine and prevent cracking.
  3. Use a Shoe Horn: Invest in a shoe horn to help you slip into your patent leather shoes without damaging the back.
  4. Avoid Moisture: Protect your patent leather shoes from wet surfaces and rain to prevent water spots and damage.
  5. Wear Them with Socks: Wearing socks with patent leather shoes will increase comfort and prevent sweat from affecting the glossy finish.

Related: Can You Store Shoes in Plastic Boxes? Yes, you can!

Bonus tip: Stretching Non-Leather or Synthetic Shoes:

Non-leather or synthetic shoes, such as those made from canvas, mesh, or synthetic leather, may require different stretching approaches due to their distinct properties. Here are some methods for stretching non-leather or synthetic shoes:

  1. Water Method: For canvas or fabric shoes, dampening the material with water and wearing them until they dry can help stretch them slightly.
  2. Shoe Stretchers: Shoe stretchers designed specifically for non-leather materials can widen or lengthen the shoes as needed.
  3. Heating Techniques: Some synthetic materials respond well to gentle heating, such as using a hairdryer, to make them more pliable for stretching.

Example: Suppose you have a pair of canvas sneakers that are slightly tight across the instep. Dampening the canvas shoes with water and wearing them briefly can help ease the fit.

Example: If you recently purchased a pair of running shoes and find the toe box slightly tight, gradually wearing them during short walks or light jogs can help improve the fit while preserving their performance features.

Conclusion on stretching leather vs. synthetic shoes

Stretching leather shoes, non-leather or synthetic shoes, and running shoes requires tailored approaches due to their unique material properties. While leather shoes can benefit from the freezer method or alcohol-based sprays, non-leather shoes may respond better to water stretching or specialized stretchers. For running shoes, gradual wear and expert advice are essential to ensure a comfortable fit without compromising performance capabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How are fake patent non-leather shoes stretched?

You can stretch fake leather or Plastic shoes in a couple of ways: To mold the shoes to your feet while wearing them, use a blow dryer. Use a leather-stretching spray or conditioning oil to soften and stretch out faux leather cloth. Use Shoe trees or shoe stretchers to keep the fabric stretched whenever you aren’t wearing plastic or faux leather shoes.

How to break or stretch patent shoes, real or fake leather - to increase comfortable fit
How to break or stretch patent shoes, real or fake leather – to increase comfortable fit

How can I stretch my patent leather shoes without damaging their glossy finish?

To stretch patent leather shoes safely, you can use the freezer method. Fill two small resealable plastic bags halfway with water, place one bag inside each shoe’s toe area, and carefully put the shoes in individual plastic bags. Leave them in the freezer overnight. As the water freezes and expands, it gently stretches the shoes without harming the glossy surface.

Is there an alternative method for stretching patent leather shoes besides the freezer technique?

Yes, another effective method is using an alcohol-based stretching spray. This spray softens the patent leather, making it more pliable for stretching. Lightly spray the shoes’ interior in tight areas, then walk around in the shoes for about 15 to 20 minutes to let the alcohol work its magic. You might consider walking around with your shoes, wearing 2 pairs of socks.

Can I use shoe liners or shoe trees to enhance the stretching effect of patent leather shoes?

While some suggest using shoe liners or shoe trees to enhance stretching, it’s essential to exercise caution. Shoe liners can add some stretching effect but may also trap moisture, potentially damaging the patent leather’s glossy finish. It’s recommended to stick to traditional stretching methods for patent leather shoes.

Are there any specific care tips for maintaining patent leather shoes after stretching?

To maintain your patent leather shoes’ glossy appearance and longevity, follow these care tips:

  • Regularly clean the shoes with a soft cloth and use a patent leather cleaner for stubborn stains.
  • Store the shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent cracking.
  • Use a shoe horn when wearing the shoes to avoid damaging the back.
  • Keep the shoes away from wet surfaces and rain to prevent water spots and damage.
  • Wear socks with the shoes to increase comfort and prevent sweat from affecting the glossy finish.

Is it advisable to seek professional help for stretching high-quality patent leather shoes?

If you have high-quality or valuable patent leather shoes, seeking professional assistance from a cobbler or shoe repair shop is a wise decision. These experts have the knowledge and tools to safely stretch the shoes without compromising their aesthetics or structural integrity.

Can stretching patent leather shoes cause creases or deformities in the material?

When done correctly, stretching patent leather shoes should not cause creases or deformities. It’s essential to use gentle stretching methods and avoid applying excessive force to the material.

Will stretching patent leather shoes alter their original size significantly?

The stretching process for patent leather shoes is typically subtle and should not drastically change their original size. The goal is to achieve a more comfortable fit without compromising the overall appearance or shape of the shoes.


Yes, Patent Leather can be stretched but only a little by using stretcher spray, wearing thick socks in them for a couple of days, or the freezer method. Why is it not easy to stretch the shoe a lot? A tiny layer of plastic is applied to the leather to give modern patent leather shoes their sheen. Sadly, this plastic coating renders patent leather shoes rigid and challenging to stretch. By purchasing shoes that fit correctly and taking a few simple precautions to protect your feet, you can reduce the need to break in. That’s it! You should be able to easily and effectively stretch your patent leather shoes and start showing off them soon. Go for a stretcher!

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