If you have ordered a new pair of shoes online and you find them oversized, do not return just yet. You can try a few tricks for how to make big shoes fit tighter.
In any case, it is not all the time that you can return shoes. You might find the return policy too complicated.
If you bought a rare kind of shoes, you might not want to return them anyway. You can make them smaller and without taking them to a cobbler.
In this guide, we will show you how to make boots or shoes smaller.
Actually, some of these techniques to make big shoes smaller can be permanent. Some can be temporary, you know, when you just need the shoe to fit for the day.
Keep reading to see more helpful information that can help you make your boots or shoes fit better if they feel too big.
Is it okay to wear half a size bigger shoe?
Yes for boots and no for shoes!
If you are buying dress shoes, tennis shoes or mesh shoes for running, it is best that you measure your foot first to know your shoe size.
These shoes should fit in a snug but comfortable way. By this, we mean that when you walk down a slope, your foot will move forward a bit, inside the shoes. However, your toes should not touch the shoe end.
Even for the shoes that run true to size, there is always an allowance for foot expansion. It is a well-known fact that your feet expand slightly, especially in the afternoon.
Also, shoes have an allowance for wearing thick socks. Therefore, when buying a pair, just order your true size online.
Alternatively, since your feet expand in the afternoon, you should fit your shoes when your feet have already expanded.
Of course, this option is also available for people who buy their shoes online. For instance, you can measure your feet in the afternoon and then order your pair of shoes by that size.
If you are buying Timberland boots, it is okay to let them run at least a half size bigger. Their PRO model of work boot runs a little large. However, even if you feel that it runs too big, for example, when you have naturally narrow feet, you should make them fit tighter.
You can also read our Timberland boot sizing chart to see your proper boot size.
Remember, if your shoes are too big, they can start chafing your ankle and back of heel when walking.
Why is it okay to wear boots that are a half size bigger? Well, first, if you wear work boots, it means you work on your feet most of the time.
Therefore, your feet are likely to expand more than a person who works behind a desk all day. It is only reasonable to give your legs some more expansion space.
Also, when you order your boots, you might not like the standard insoles that most come with. Therefore, if you would like to use your own custom insoles, it will be okay to slip them onto the existing insoles, without removing them.
Do insoles make shoes tighter?
Using insoles is your first line of defense for shoes that just fit too big. However, if they run too big, you should probably try other more permanent methods to make them fit tighter.
With boots, adding a thicker insole is going to work very well, because they have more surface area. In fact, the extra padding is going to be good for your arch, heel and ball of foot support.
However, with regular shoes, when you add insoles, they might push your foot too high. In that case, you might find that your foot raises a bit too high especially at the heel area. This might make it slip off when you are walking.
When shoes feel too big, it is best to note where exactly they feel too big. Perhaps it is at the toe area, or at the heel area.
If it is at the toe area, you might find that you do not need a full insert. You could just use a half insert and it will work very well.
If the entire shoe feels too big, you can use full inserts to make it fit tighter. Insoles also help you to deal with other foot and leg issues. For instance, orthotic inserts help with joint pain.
Even if you do not have joint, ankle or knee pain right now, the right insoles can help you prevent the development of such issues.They also offer your foot the best support at the arches.
We said that insoles are your first line of defense when your shoes run big because with the right choice, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Is it okay for shoes to be tight or loose?
The okay thing is to have your shoes fit you just right. When you are walking, the shoes should not slip since they might blister the back of your heels.
Also, when you wear a shoe that is so loose that it threatens to slip off, you have to find extra grip with your toes. Therefore, you make the toes work extra hard, and this ends up hurting your feet. In fact, it can lead to an inflamed plantar fascia.
If you have bunions, the shoes can be a bit oversized to accommodate the bunions. However, the shoes should only be bigger at the ball of foot and area toes, since bunions grow on the first joint of the big toe.
You can find a wide pair of shoes that fit you comfortably without aggravating the bunions.
So between loose and tight shoes, which one is better? It is best to go with the shoes that feel a bit loose, because you can stuff them with tissue at the toe area and they will start fitting tighter.
If the shoes feel too tight, you cannot stay too long in them. When your feet expand in the afternoon, the shoes will feel really tight, to a point of removing them.
Some people also ask: Is it better to wear big or small shoes? Well, it is much better to have shoes that run a little bigger than small ones. Sometimes, all it takes is a pair of insoles for the shoes to fit you.
Both tightness and looseness are “evil,” but looseness seems to be the better evil since it is so easy to rectify without affecting the structural integrity of the shoes.
7 Ways for How to Make Big Shoes Fit Tighter
Making shoes or boots fit tighter could be as simple as wearing a thick pair of socks or inserting an extra insole. There are also more ways, which we will look at in detail below:
1. Stuff the toe area – fastest way to make a big shoe fit smaller
If you have to rush somewhere and your shoes feel a tad bigger, cut some cotton wool or toilet paper and stuff it inside the toe area.
You can use a blunt object to push it all the way to the end. However, be careful not to over-stuff it to avoid hurting your toes.
If your feet slide inside the shoes as you walk, it means they are too big. You can stuff them with recommended material to make them smaller.
2. Tongue pads can help
If your feet feel too small inside the shoes, it is because the shoes have a large volume, especially on the toe area. The problem with that is when walking, the shoe creases badly, which shortens its lifespan.
The tongue padding goes just below the tongue of the shoes. If you buy a good one, it is not going to slip out or cause any sort of discomfort. It will increase the volume of your foot and make the laces hold on tighter and better.
You can also make your own DIY shoe tongue pad at home and it will be equally effective.
3. Buy ball of foot cushions
There are special cushions that go into the ball of the foot area. They can be thick, medium or small, depending on how much you need to raise this area.
Sometimes, a shoe feels too big, but it becomes more uncomfortable if you use a full insole. This is where you must use the half insert.
Besides, you can use these special cushions for closed shoes, heels/pumps, flats as well as sneakers. They stay in place so well such that no one can tell they are extras.
4. Heel Inserts – Good for reducing the shoe length
Heel inserts, also called heel inserts are so easy to use as you just slip them in the back of the heel and they stick there.
They are going to help you reduce your shoe length and your feet will fit comfortably. They mostly work for shoes that are only slightly longer than what you wear. Thus, they might not help much if your shoes run bigger by one size.
It is vital to put in these stickers correctly. If you do not position them right, they could cause serious heel blisters.
You can buy about three sets of heel liners. You can stick the first one directly to the inside part of the heel.
We suggest that you measure how the shoe fits after this. If you still feel that the shoe is too big, you can stick another insert onto the first insert.
Be careful with the heel liners and place them exactly where you want them. If you have to pull them apart a few times for repositioning, they can lose their stickiness easily.
5. Toe box fillers
Also called shoe fillers, these are some of the easiest ways for how to make big shoes fit tighter. They are so simple to use because you just push them into the toe area and that is it.
They will fill up the volume, reducing the area that your foot has to fill. Besides, they also help to stop the shoe creasing too much when you walk.
Remember, leather and suede shoes will start falling apart right where they crease.
If your shoes feel slightly bigger even if you have inserted the toe box filler, you can add a heel insert or two as explained above.
But probably, if you need to do all these, it means that your shoes were one size or even more bigger than they should be.
If you have to use two or more techniques to make the shoes fit tighter, returning it is better. If they are past the return date, you can take them to a cobbler (see number 7).
6. Wear grip socks with the shoes
As their name suggests, grip socks are going to grip or stick to the shoes so that your feet do not slide about in the shoes.
Mostly, we wear grip socks to walk around different types of slippery floors. Now, you can wear them inside a pair of shoes that is too big. They will keep your feet intact inside the shoes.
What is more, if you need to fill up the space inside the shoes some, you can even wear the grip socks with regular socks.
Bundling up on the socks is one of the easiest ways to make big shoes fit smaller. In this case, wear the regular shoes first and then wear the grip socks on top of them.
7. Take them to a cobbler to make them smaller
After all else has failed to make the shoes fit as tight as you would have liked, you can take them to a cobbler.
For a small fee, he/she is going to make permanent changes to the shoes, but after that, they will fit comfortably.
The same way that he can stretch shoes to make them bigger is the same way that he can shrink them for a tighter fit.
One of the things that a cobbler can do is to shrink the shoes using water and heat. This is applicable especially for cloth and leather shoes.
Another thing that he might do is to sew an elastic band inside the shoes. When you wear them, the band holds them in place and prevents it from slipping.
If you have tried wearing multiple socks, shoe fillers, heel inserts and even stuffing the toe box area to no success, just take them to a cobbler. Even if it means undoing the entire shoe and making it smaller, they will do it.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Big Shoes Fit Tighter
At times, you just cannot return the shoes if you find that they are too big. However, with so many techniques for how to make big shoes fit tighter, you can wear them to the end of their lifespan.
Our preferred method is using grip socks, that is, if your shoes run only a half size to a size bigger. They are chic, they hold onto the shoes and if you choose good ones, they never lose their grip.
Besides, you can also wear these socks to walk around slippery surfaces such as the gym or your house floor.
If they are not your kind of thing, feel free to try any of the other methods.