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Yes, You Should Buy a Shoe Stretcher

Stop wearing shoes that are too small.

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A woman in a pair of brown ankle boots Photo: Joe Harper

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A shoe stretcher is something you don’t know you need until you really need it. Sure, you can do all those weird things to break in tight, new shoes — like wearing them around the house with big athletic socks — or take them to a cobbler and have them do it for you. Or, you can just buy a shoe stretcher and do it yourself, without the blisters.

I’d argue that any adult who buys a new pair of shoes at least twice a year should probably own a shoe stretcher.

I have an awful habit of buying shoes that are too small. For years I was convinced that I was a size 6 or 6.5, but I am most definitely a 7. The fear of shoes being too big and falling off of my foot was greater than the fear of the uncomfortableness of shoes that are too small. This past winter, after spending close to $200 on a pair of shoes that were definitely a full size too small, I caved and bought a $25 wooden shoe stretcher from Amazon.

And it was a great purchase! I’ve stretched so many of those size 6 and 6.5 shoes that I’ve collected over the years, and now they all fit like 7s. My example is a dramatic one — what normal human being routinely buys shoes that are way too small? — but I bet you, too, could use to stretch a few shoes.

I’d also argue, though, that if you know one person who’s already bought a shoe stretcher, you’re set. This is not something everyone in your group chat needs to own if someone already does. In my group chat, that person is me.