Purchasing a new pair of Canadian dress shoes or boots is an exciting experience. It’s tempting to put them on and start wearing them as soon as you get them out of the box. However, breaking in your leather footwear correctly is an important first step to ensure their comfort and longevity. Taking the following steps during the break-in process will help your shoes or boots fit more comfortably while helping preserve their quality for years. 

Find the Right Size

The most important element in finding a comfortable pair of leather dress shoes or boots is choosing the correct size. The discomfort commonly associated with leather dress shoes is often due to the shoes simply being the wrong size. In the ball area of your foot, a snug fit is best as the leather will develop some give through wear. Avoid sizes where your toes touch the end of the shoes. Finally, the heel should always fit closely, as loose heels will cause blisters. A premium dress shoe or dress boot is an investment, so it’s key they fit correctly and comfortably.

Lace your Footwear Correctly

Lacing your dress shoes or boots correctly is another important element of a comfortable fit. Choosing a lacing pattern that suits your style and ensures a good fit for your shoes, will help during the break-in period. It’s also important to untie and loosen your laces whenever you put on or take off your footwear, to keep the heels in their best shape.

Apply Saphir Renovateur and Polish

When you first receive a new pair of premium leather shoes or boots, we recommend giving them a thorough conditioning before wearing them. Applying 1 or 2 coats of a premier product such as Saphir Renovateur, will hydrate the leather, helping the shoes break into your feet more easily. Applying a few coats of Saphir Shoe Cream will add further nourishment to your new leather shoes while hiding any scuffs from unboxing. A finishing coat of Pate de Luxe wax polish will give your new Canadian dress shoes a lovely shine. 

Wear Sparingly At First

Breaking in your shoes slowly is the best way to avoid any discomfort and blistering. We highly recommend wearing your new shoes from morning until noon, every other day, for the first couple of wears. Your feet change size and shape throughout the day, as they carry the weight of your body. You can avoid the most uncomfortable part of breaking in a new pair of shoes simply by bringing a change of shoes for the afternoon. We recommend repeating this process for the first 2-3 wears to avoid the most discomfort. 

The premium leathers will mould to your feet, and with a bit of time, your new footwear will fit comfortably. You should only expect a little discomfort for the first few wears and after 10-20 wears, the shoes will have perfectly formed to the shape of your feet, allowing for years of comfort and style.

Use your Shoe Trees

Using premium cedar shoe trees is another important part of breaking in your new footwear. Taking care to store your dress shoes and leather boots correctly from the very beginning, is a great way to ensure they last and maintain their quality. Inserting your shoe trees after each wear will hold the shape of the footwear and gently stretch the leather while wicking away any moisture from inside. Building great shoe care habits from the beginning is sure to maximize the value of your premium leather footwear. 

Wear the Right Socks

Wearing thick socks during the break-in process is another way to limit any discomfort. A pair of thick socks will help protect your feet from any chafing or rubbing while gradually stretching the leather of your footwear to fit your foot. A useful trick is to wear two pairs of socks with your new leather dress shoes or boots. This will help to gently stretch your footwear and will generate some warmth helping to speed up the process. Nice quality socks are sure to help maximize the comfort of your footwear.

Waterproof your Shoes

Depending on the season and climate, it’s also a great idea to add some moisture protection to your new leather footwear prior to outside wear. Firstly, a good polish with 1 or 2 coats of Saphir Pate de Luxe wax polish will help build a wax coat on your new shoes, offering some resistance to moisture. Saphir’s Creme De Luxe polish is another great waterproofing cream that also helps to recolour any marks in the finish of your leather footwear. For really wet and cold conditions, the best protection for your dress shoes is a pair of galoshes. A pair of SWIMS natural rubber galoshes offers superior and stylish protection.

Avoid Heat and Water

While some online sources suggest exposing your new leather footwear to heat and water to speed up the break-in process, we at Hartt recommend avoiding these whenever possible. Dunking your leather footwear in water can cause the leather to shrink and damage the insoles. Direct exposure to heat can also be quite damaging. Heat often causes leather to dry and crack and can cause discolouration and damage to the finish of your shoes. 

Despite the initial discomfort that leather footwear can cause, those built with premium materials and quality construction will become comfortable with time. Taking a few steps during the break-in process will help limit this discomfort and have your beautiful footwear feeling great in just a short time. Taking care of your shoes and boots from the beginning is a sure way to keep them looking and feeling their very best for years.

Adriana Spragg