Buying the right boots
May 13, 2019 11:01 PM   Subscribe

I decided to invest in a quality pair of boots, but the ones I got seem a little narrow. When I wear wider boots, they feel too wide. Is it better to be too narrow or too wide?

I was recently told that I’m men’s width E, but I don’t usually buy wide shoes. When I have bought width E shoes, I’ve felt like my feet were swimming after they broke in. They’re hard to lace up tightly because my ankle is so much narrower than the shoe is designed for.

I just bought a pair of Red Wing heritage boots, and even on sale they’re a major investment for me (price is comparable to Chippewa, etc). They only come in width D. They recommend buying a half size down from what you normally wear, as they tend to stretch out a little as they break in. They mostly fit fine, but the two smallest toes on my left foot feel a little constricted, as that foot’s a little larger.

Can I expect these to stretch out a little and get a little wider? It won’t take much stretch for them to feel snug but comfortable. Or is this the part of the boot that will stay more or less the same, and I’ll just be causing pain in my feet and wallet? Am I better off just buying a different boot? If so, what?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No, just take them to a cobbler. They'll be able to stretch the boot to fit your feet. It's quick and inexpensive and doesnt affect the overall wear of the leather.

You can always stretch leather a bit. You can't make a shoe smaller very effectively.
posted by ananci at 11:49 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Just as a general thing if your feet are wide mostly in the toes then something to look for might be normal-width shoes described (officially or by reviewers) as having a wide toe box.
posted by trig at 12:24 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

I've heard you can stretch the toe box by spraying the inside of the shoe with rubbing alcohol and inserting a shoe stretcher works. I've tried it but using another shoe instead of a store-bought shoe stretcher. It didn't really help, but you might give it a try.
posted by Morpeth at 2:31 AM on May 14

I bought a beautiful pair of vintage boots which were a narrow width when I need a normal width and was able to get them to mold exactly to my feet by using this stuff and wearing them around the house until it dried 3 times: shoe stretch.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:46 AM on May 14

spraying the inside of the shoe with rubbing alcohol

Huh, rubbing alcohol is not a great friend to leather and may well cause problems. If you DIY it use something like that Kiwi "leather conditioner" they sell in the spray bottle. But new boots need to wear in - I'd give them three or four short wears before trying anything.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:10 AM on May 14

Don't use rubbing alcohol, it dries out leather and it will prematurely age and crack.

In the past I've used a combination of shoe trees and stretch spray and just-walking-around-a-bit to get my boots to fit my feet. As long as the toe boxes of your boots are already large enough for your toes, this works fine.

Since you're having trouble in the toe box, take your boots to a cobbler, because shoe trees and walking around won't enlarge the toe box area. A good cobbler can take into account any idiosyncrasies of your feet's shapes, such as bunions, spread toes, etc.
posted by ardgedee at 5:33 AM on May 14

I have weirdly shaped feet and off-the-shelf shoes don't fit me. You can go the custom route for ~$400-600. I have custom boots from White's Boots (ordered through Baker's Boots). You send measurements of your foot and they build it to fit. R/goodyearwelt has a guide to ordering custom boots that walks you through the whole process.
posted by carrioncomfort at 5:48 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Ancedata, I sized down one half size on my Red Wing Heritage boots and thought that it was uncomfortable, but after about a month, I wish I had sized down a full size. I did nothing special to them besides wear them every other day. At some point I started conditioning them, but I believe all the break in happened before I got to that point.
posted by advicepig at 6:40 AM on May 14

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