Ballet flats combine the often-elusive elements of feminine style with a splash of necessary comfort. These shoes fit snugly into purses as a backup out at night and serve as trusty companions in the professional sphere. However, ballet flats tend to be little tight around the toes and heel. Home remedies and a little TLC can gently refashion flats for increased comfort.
Wear and Tear
The surest way to stretch shoes for your specific foot shape is to wear them. If the flats are too tight or uncomfortable to wear around during the day, pop them on your feet in the evening for an hour or two every day while you wash the dishes or relax. Wear a pair of comfortable socks underneath to protect your heel and to encourage increased stretching. Repeat this process for a couple of weeks.
Spritz leather or suede ballet flats with a specially formulated leather stretching spray before putting them on. The compound will help the leather hydrate and reshape more effectively. However, these products do not work on cotton or faux materials.
Leather and many fibers, including synthetic fabrics and faux leather, react to the elements, and heat is no exception. Put a pair of very thick socks on and put the ballet flats on over the socks. Grab a blow dryer and put the settings to high heat and medium airflow.
Blast the heel and toe areas for about 20 seconds each with the blow dryer. Be careful not to overheat the material, especially leather. Allow the shoes to cool for a minute or two. Remove the flats and socks and try on the shoes with bare feet. If they need a bit more stretching, then repeat the process a second time. Condition leather shoes with a moisturizing product after this process to keep the material in good condition.
Ballet flats made from cotton and polyester fabrics might need a bit more long-lasting structure to reshape appropriately. Fill two sturdy quart-sized resealable bags with water about halfway. Wipe down the exterior of the bag and ensure there are no leaks. Place the bags inside the shoe so that it fills the toe and pushes up against the heel slightly.
Place the shoes in the freezer overnight. The water will expand as it freezes and hold the shoe in place to stretch the material for hours. Remove the bags in the morning and allow the shoes to thaw for about 20 minutes. Try them on to see if the toe and heel areas have been sufficiently stretched. Repeat this process a few times, if necessary.
While the home remedies produce results, you can also opt to use more traditional tools to stretch your ballet flats. Look for a women’s shoe stretcher that will fit comfortably inside the petite shape of ballet flats. Most men’s dress shoe stretchers will not fit ballet flats.
Spritz leather or delicate fabrics with a stretch spray and place the stretcher inside the shoe. Allow the device to sit for several hours before trying them on again. Repeat this process or leave the shoes on the stretcher regularly when you are not wearing them.
Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.