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If your heels are slipping out of your shoes and slide all over the place when you attempt to walk, you need to learn how to make your shoes smaller.

We live in the online era where we buy a lot more online, and sometimes we can wear different sizes in different brands. For example, I am a different size on Asics than on Skechers because the first one comes smaller than the second one. I bet the same happened to you, and it can be difficult to buy the right size every single time you shop online.

If you have found a pair of shoes you love, but they are too big, and you can’t return them because they were on sale, don’t have your size, or you bought them in a different country, I have a few solutions for you.

I have worked for over seven years in the footwear industry, where I helped thousands of people find the perfect shoe size. I have heard many different stories and problems people had with shoe sizes, so I believe I am qualified to share some tips regarding how to make shoes smaller.

When Is a Pair of Shoes Too Big?

Sometimes your shoes become too big after you wear them countless times, or your feet shrink during winter due to the cold. It happens, but if the shoes are still in good condition and are your favorites, why not make them more petite and keep wearing them?

Perhaps you don’t even know your shoes are too big, but let me tell you how you can notice that:

Read: How Many Pairs Of Shoes Should a Man Own?

how to measure your feet right
Source: MrTrush92/DepositPhotos

One Foot Is Bigger Than The Other – 60% of the adults have one foot bigger. I know this is the truth because I have measured myself thousands of feet. You will buy a half size bigger, and one shoe will feel too big (unless you are super rich and buy the sneakers twice in different sizes).

Space In Toe Area – This is the most common check for anyone that is trying shoes. Check how much room is in the toe of the shoe. You should have one finger width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. More than that, and the knickers are too big.

Heels Slipping – It annoys me the most when you walk, and your heels slip from your shoes. This is a sign the sneakers are too big.

Your Feet Move – Your feet slide forward inside the shoes because they are too big or new, so you may want to wear them a couple of times before you decide to do anything.

Trip Constantly – Do you trip on things all the time, and sometimes you don’t even have anything around you? The shoes are too big.

You can also develop other conditions like pain in your feet, arch pain, and blisters, making it even more important to wear the correct size.

How To Make Shoes Smaller?

If your shoes are too big, the first thing you’ll try to do is change them at the store or try to get a refund if they’re not your size. As this is not always possible, these are some ideas you can try to make your shoes smaller

Read: Check Out My Review Of Amberjack Shoes

Add a Full-Size Insole

This is my favorite idea on how to make shoes smaller. It’s simple and effective for most cases. When you place the insole inside your footwear, it fills out the space between your feet and the shoe, making them fit better.

Full insoles are an excellent solution if your shoe is too big across the length of your foot. Insoles come in a mixture of materials and styles:

Gel Insoles – Also absorb any impact on your feet and are great for your joints.
Foam Insoles – Adapts to the shape of your feet and provides extra comfort.
Thermal Insoles – Perfect to keep your feet warm and comfortable.
Leather Insoles – Breathable and more extended durability than any other insole.

Read: Do Adidas Shoes Run Big Or Small?

Choose the insole that most fits your needs and try it on your shoes. I guarantee you will feel the difference straight away.

Add a Ball Of Foot Cushions

This insole type is excellent if you have sandals or pumps that are too big. Unfortunately, you can’t put a full-size insole inside those footwear styles, so the ball of foot cushions is the best option here.

It also keeps your feet from moving forward inside the shoe because it makes the foot a little higher and provides extra cushioning and grip under the ball of the feet.

If you feel your shoes are still too big, you can use the ball of foot cushions simultaneously with a heel cup or heel liners.

Add Heel Cups

Heel cups in shoes are great to stabilize the foot by aligning your feet with the ankle and knee. It is also great if you have big shoes because they push your foot to the front, occupying empty space inside the shoe.

They are also excellent if you suffer from any heel pain or plantar fasciitis, releasing any pain.

You can also use them together with a ball of foot cushions if they are not enough alone.

Read: How Often Should You Polish Your Shoes?

Add Heel Liners For Shoes

Heel liners for shoes are 3″ strips that secure onto the inside back of the heel of your shoe, preventing your heels from slipping out of shoes.

The main difference between heel liners and heel cups is that the second ones push your foot to the front and cushion your heels.

If you feel one heel liner is not enough, you can add a second or third one till you think your shoes fit you properly. Heel liners add a slightly snugger feel.

Add Shoe Fillers

If you have too big shoes, adding a toe shoe filler can help because it will fill the empty space of the shoe toe box and prevent your foot from sliding when you walk.

If your toe filler is made of memory foam, it will provide the cushioning you need on your toes to make them comfortable to wear.

Some people put tissues, toilet paper, or cotton in the tips of their shoes, but I find the toe filler much better because it’s durable, comfortable, and more economical over time. If you use something else to fill your toe area, remove it straight away after removing your shoes; otherwise, it will become smelly.

Read: Are Vans Non Slip?

Furthermore, the toe fillers can only be used on closed-toe shoes for obvious reasons.

Wear Thicker Socks

Wearing thicker socks is more like a quick fix than something for the long term. It can be great during Winter but a problem through the Summer.

Having thicker socks will fill in the empty space and add extra padding to your feet. You will feel your feet tighter in your shoes. Some people wear two socks on the same foot to bring even more tightness if you don’t have proper thicker socks. I am not a big fan of wearing two socks because the second pair compresses your foot, cuts off circulation, and makes it colder.

It’s not a method that you can use with sandals but works well with closed-toe shoes.

Shrink The Shoes Using Water

There are certain types of shoes (leather, suede, and canvas) that you can shrink if they are too big.

The first step is to get your shoes wet. If they are made of leather or suede, you need to spray them. Canvas shoes can be soaked in water but not for more than fifteen minutes.

The second step is to let the footwear dry in the sun or use a hairdryer in a low setting not to damage the shoe material. Try the shoes and repeat the process if they still feel massive.

Take The Shoes To a Professional Cobbler

If you can’t be bothered to find a solution yourself because you don’t have time or it just sounds too complicated, you can go to a cobbler.

I would suggest this as a last resort because it’s the most expensive option, but it’s also the most permanent since it is done by a professional that can modify your shoe insoles, heels, tongue, grip, etc. Also, I would only use a cobbler for new shoes since old shoes may not be worth the extra money spend (the material deteriorates with time).

How To Avoid Buying Your Shoes Too Big?

To avoid buying shoes that are too big, follow these tips.

Buy In-Store:

Measure Your Feet – Any shoe store these days can measure your feet correctly and tell your ideal size.

Try The Shoes In-Store – If it’s a new brand or style, try the shoes in-store quickly to check if they are loose or tight.

Try Them Around The House – After you bought the shoes, try them around the house for a couple of hours to ensure they are the correct size. I always said this to my clients because you can’t swap them anymore if you wear them outside.

Read what are the best shoes for overweight men.

Buy Online:

Read The Reviews – When you buy a new brand or style, read the reviews because it’s common for former buyers to tell if the brand or styles came big or tighter than their standard size.

Try-On Shoes At The End Of The Day – Your feet are swollen at the end of the day after a long day of work, so when you try the shoes, if they feel too big, you know you need to swap them for a smaller size.

Common Questions About How To Make Shoes Smaller

These are some of the most common questions about how to make shoes smaller.

Is It Better For Shoes To Be Tight Or Loose?

Ideally, your shoes would not be loose or tight, they would be a perfect size, but as you have read, that isn’t easy because most adults have one foot more prominent than the other.

If you have to choose between tight or loose, I would suggest loose because you can fix the shoes with all the suggestions I have provided. Also, if you sweat a lot or live in a warm place, your feet will swell and need extra space. Keep in mind that new shoes may feel a little bit tight initially, but they will stretch over time.

how to make shoes smaller measuring foot size correctly
Source: Photography33/DepositPhotos

What Happens If You Wear Tight Shoes?

Wearing tight shoes is very bad for your feet and can cause loads of problems as deform your toes, blisters, cut off circulation in the toes that can cause numbness, aggravate structural issues, and damage the nerves that run towards the toes.

Should I Get Bigger Shoes For Insoles?

My experience is that yes, you need to buy a half size or a full size bigger if you add an insole inside of your shoe, especially if you have orthopedic insoles that can take up a lot of space. I have seen many people choosing one full-size bigger to add an insole inside of the shoe.

Is It OK To Wear Shoes a Little Big?

No. Wearing shoes that feel loose can make you walk in an unnatural and dysfunctional way, leading to serious foot problems.

The only time your shoes should be a little bit loose, is when your feet swell because of the heat, especially when you exercise, or if you have one foot more prominent than the other.

How To Make Wide Shoes Fit Tighter?

If your shoes have two sets of eyelets on each side, use them and tight your laces the maximum you can (don’t make it uncomfortably tight). Doing this will help to close both sides of the shoe together tightly over the shoe. You can also wear a thicker sock if this wasn’t enough.

How To Make Sneakers Smaller?

I have provided some great tips on making your shoes smaller and what you need to pay attention to when buying your sneakers to avoid having them too big.

Don’t forget always to try the shoes when possible to ensure they are ideal for you. If you are buying them online, you want to read reviews about the shoes.

To make your shoes smaller, you can add a full-size insole, heel cups, heel liners, ball of foot cushions, shoe fillers, or wear thicker socks. You can also shrink the shoes with water or take the footwear to a professional cobbler. The important part is that you are making your shoes smaller to get the best from them.

What about you? How to make shoes smaller, in your opinion? Do you have any secret tricks? Share with me in the comments.