Stretching Tight Shoes in the Freezer

stretching tight shoes in the freezer
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I often read things on Pinterest that make me shake my head such as stretching tight shoes in the freezer with gel packs.

I almost always think “no way, that will never work”!  But occasionally I find myself with a problem where I’m willing to try a slightly unusual solution.

My Problem – Tight Shoes

Occasionally I have been known to pounce on items on the sale rack that might not quite fit.  Sometimes it’s because I know I can make an easy alteration myself.  But other times I have the wish or hope that circumstances will change.

Such was my issue about three years ago when I was shopping at the flagship Nordstrom in Seattle.  I stumbled across a pair of black Manolo Blahnik peep toe pumps.  They were marked down to under $200 on a sale rack.  I tried them on and I believed them to fit.

It was just like Cinderella’s sisters hopelessly believed that tight shoes would work for them!

My feet, however, did not appreciate them – no matter how much I may have coveted them. I tried them on and worn them around the house a few times.  Off to dinner I hobbled in them one evening.  But I only lasted until I sat down.  Then they were off under the table while I massaged my aching toes.

Oh the stupid things we do in the name of vanity!

I took them to a local high-end shoe boutique because they are pros at stretching tight shoes.  They put them on their stretcher but there was not enough difference to matter.  I had resigned them to being that thing in the closet that I admired but never wore again.

Pinterest to the Rescue

But then I got the idea to search Pinterest for ideas.  There were plenty of them for stretching tight shoes.  One actually recalled my knowledge of science.  It played on the idea of using the expansion quality of ice to allow for a gentle stretch via physics.  The basic concept is to take plastic bags filled with water.  You then stuff them into the part of the shoe that requires stretching.  The liquid will freeze and force a gentle stretch as it expands.

I decided I had nothing to lose.  I would give stretching my tight shoes in the freezer a shot!

stretching tight shoes in the freezer
My shoes stuffed with room temperature gel packs.

The idea of using plastic bags of water scared me.  I decided to use some room temperature gel packs that had come in a refrigerated box from Blue Print Cleanse .  I was uncertain what the properties of the gel packs were.  They were tightly sealed though so I figured they might work.

I stuffed the gel packs tightly into the shoes making sure that the spaces in the tight areas were fully filled.  Then I put my tight shoes in the freezer and left on an overnight trip.

stretching tight shoes in the freezer
High heels and a bottle of limoncello – the partial contents of The Jetsetter’s freezer.

My Tight Shoes are Tight No More

Guess what?  It worked!

The first thing I observed is that the now-frozen gel packs were very difficult to wedge out of the shoes.  I decided to wait and let them thaw to avoid any damage to the shoes.

When I tried them on, I noticed a bit of give in the shoes.  Victory.  But I still wanted them to be slightly looser so I repeated the process again the next night.

I noticed the first time that there was some moisture from condensation that had seeped into the shoes.  This time I lined the inside with a layer of plastic wrap before putting the gel packs back.  This helped to protect the inside of the shoes.

The second round gave just enough additional stretch to make these comfortable to wear.  I was able to take them with me on a cruise to wear in the evenings.

Like any heels, I still can’t manage a long day in them.  But I’m proud to say my Pinterest fix for stretching tight shoes in the freezer worked like a champ.

I would be reluctant to try this on suede or other delicate materials (silk, satin) due to the condensation issue.  But for leather I’d do this again in a heartbeat!

One Comment

  1. I have a stunning pair of Manolo Blahnik Notturno Pumps that I have never worn. Why? Like you, I tried them on in the store and they seemed to fit but, in real life, my toes get crunched. Because of the delicate nature of notturno, Manolo Blahnik told me stretching could damage and even rip the shoes. What to do? I can’t suffer anymore so I put on some thinish, athletic ankle socks (that I wear with my running shoes)and wore the shoes around the house for about 45 minutes. Voila, they are MUCH more comfortable and the shoes are undamaged!!! YAY!

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