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How to Make Shoes Smaller – 6 Helpful Hacks!

How to Make Shoes Smaller – 6 Helpful Hacks!

We’ve all been there: that perfect shoe that no longer fits so perfectly. Yes, traumatic stuff  here, people! And it can happen for so  many reasons, not excluding indulging in your dream shoe at the expense of the right size!

So if you’re looking for some shoe repair hacks on how to make shoes smaller, or how to make big shoes fit, here are 6 free to relatively inexpensive solutions to make your shoes fit better.

Looking for the opposite solution of how to make big shoes fit, perhaps? Check out my new post on how to stretch shoes (some great, easy-easy tips here too!).

I have many heels, flats & sneakers that have become larger due to wear; foot shrinkage during the colder months of the year & for other reasons I just can’t seem to explain! And it’s always better to have shoes that fit vs. loose shoes that will impact your swagger & may result in a trip or sprain. 

Sometimes I need to make shoes smaller in width, sometimes in length. Some shoes that are generally all around large, require both shortening & narrowing. 

The great news is that there are so many easily accessible, low cost methods & shoe accessories to fix this little footwear conundrum, no matter what type of footwear you need to make fit you a little smaller! These include shoe inserts for shoes that are too big & some surprisingly simple solutions such as socks!

It’s especially good new for those of you who can’t find tiny enough shoes for small feet

I buy most of mine at Walmart or via Amazon or at my local drugstore with most costing under $10 for a pair. If you’re shopping in-store in Toronto or Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart has the lowest prices. If anyone knows where to get shoe repairing accessories even cheaper, let me know!

How to Make Shoes Smaller: 6 Ways

1. Ball of Foot Cushions (Half Insoles)

How to make Shoes Smaller

To make shoes smaller for my summer sandals, flats or pumps, ball of foot cushions are the most practical insole type. They will not only prop your foot a little higher so that the shoe’s toe straps keep your foot in place, but they add extra padding & grip under the ball of the feet.

This prevents toes from slipping & sliding in your shoes during the warmer temperatures. This type of half insole works best in flats, sandals, heels & dress shoes. These are the insoles for open toe heels that I most recommend, especially if you’re wearing a d’Orsay or similarly capped high heel style.

There are 2 types of ball of foot insoles that I recommend & personally use:

They’re thicker than the usual half insole, textured to grip & prevent slipping, reusable, washable & the sticky surface won’t damage the inside of your shoes. These also come with a 6 month guarantee! The downside is that they may make your feet sweaty. Best used on bare feet.

  • Genuine Leather half insoles from Pedag

A great, breathable alternative to a gel insole to is a leather insole. Thinner than a gel ball of foot cushion, these work great to make shoes just a bit smaller, add traction under the toes & won’t cause your feet to sweat. These are great gadgets on how to make big shoes fit!

TIP! Ball of foot cushions make shoes even smaller when used with heel liners. Which brings me to my next item on the list…

2. Heel Liners for Shoes

How to make Shoes Smaller - Heel Liners

Heel liners for shoes, or back of heel inserts, are 3″ strips that secure onto the inside back of the heel of your shoe. Great to both shorten the length of the shoe, prevent heels from slipping out of shoes, increase comfort & prevent blisters. Does a lot for such a little strip!

These come in many materials, including gel, fabric & special latex-free materials. I found these nifty heel liner-meets-insole that will help make shoes even smaller in & around the back of the shoe! Check it out & many other top rated heel inserts, below:

Heel liners are a discreet fix for open toe heels that are too big, especially if the sizing issue is with the length.

3. Full Size Insoles

Insoles to make shoes smaller are a personal fave & easy go-to, to make shoes fit smaller. Full size insoles are a great solution to an all around bigger shoe. Many branded & non branded options exist, in so many shapes, sizes, materials & yes, colors!

You can find more generic insoles (you know, those flat, cut-to-size types) but I prefer ones that cater to the specific type of shoe you’re trying “shrink”. You can easily find insoles for flat & heeled dress shoes, sock absorbing ones for sneakers & even flip-flop sandals.

You can get gel ones like Dr. Scholl’s Dreamwalk insoles (most comfy). Or you can opt for leather insoles, like Pedag insoles for heels, or Pedag insoles for flats. These I highly recommend for everyday use, since they’re breathable (great for summer!). 

Some of my fave brands include: Dr. Scholl’s, Pedag, Hug my Heels & Hotter Shoes but there are many non-branded insoles that work well too.


Shop full size insoles:


 

4. Toe Inserts for Shoes that are too Big

How to make Shoes Smaller - Heel Liners

If you have a closed-toe shoe that is far too long for your foot, you have some great options. You can add easily add toe inserts for shoes that are too big to act as shoe filler. Great to make shoes shorter in length, you can also pair these with a ball of foot cushions.

This makes for an even tighter fit in the front toe part of the shoes. Or combo your toe insert with heel liners and ball of foot cushions to make your shoes even more snug!

The two shoe fillers I have personally tested out & reviewed are Sizers (ASOS has recently come up with a Sizers dupe, btw!) & Shoolex “Make ’em Fit” (read my full review of these shoe fillers, here). Both brands have updated their products since my reviews, so I’d highly recommend giving their new & improved inserts a try! 

Both brands offer 3 sizes of inserts to make big shoes fit smaller that are washable, durable & a much better alternative to stuffing cotton in the tips of your shoes! Both can only be used in closed-toe shoes, however.


Shop these toe box shoe fillers, below:


 

5. Shoe Tongue Pads

Unless you are one of those people with a low instep or arch, you’re probably not too familiar with shoe tongue pads. They’re not the most sexy shoe accessory, but they work wonders!

Great for sneakers, oxfords, loafers & more, a tongue pad is a thick felt-like material that sticks onto the inside part of the shoe “tongue”.

The tongue is that strip of material that you find under the laces of your shoes & does a great job at making wide shoes narrower. You can also find them in different sizes from eBay and Amazon.

Shop highly rated shoe tongue pads, below: 

6. Socks & Footies

How to make Shoes Smaller

If you’re going to be wearing long trousers & flared jeans, why not opt for something you already have in your closet? Yep, the #6 item on how to make shoes smaller is socks! You can either wear your everyday socks, or, if you’d rather your socks not peek out from your shoes, then footies are your best option.

Footies (aka “hidden socks”) come in many styles & colors, and if you get the right ones for your shoes, no one, including you, will notice them.

Keysocks are great knee high no show socks for flats & heels (as pictured above) to wear under pants. You can read my full review of Keysocks <– here! They now come in many more prints & colors too 🙂

Shop No-Show Socks/footies:

Shop Keysocks:

Getting a Cobbler to Make Shoes Smaller

There is another option to make your shoes smaller. And it’s called a cobbler (that person who fixes shoes as a living, not the drink or desert!). A cobbler can seamlessly insert one or a combination of insole padding, heel liner, tongue pad & heel grip under the original lining of the shoe.

Yep, it’ll be more expensive as any service rendered by a professional is, but it’s a permanent & more convenient alternative to shoes you plan on wearing often. Much easier than cleaning/replacing/repositioning shoe inserts or shoe fillers every day!

If you decide to go to a cobbler to get your shoes adjusted, go in with a new/newer shoe. As you will get more wear out of a newer shoe (before other parts start to deteriorate), it will justify the cost of the service & nip the problem in the bud, right from the start.

Final Thoughts about How to Make Shoes Smaller

In sum, of course there is no magic solution to making shoes smaller, or how to make big shoes fit. I do, however always recommend buying the right shoe size for your foot when you can.

But as life isn’t perfect and neither are our shoes & feet, adding a few inexpensive shoe accessories to hack your way into making shoes fit tighter is never a bad idea (especially if it makes your heels more comfortable & decreases the chances of injury!).

If you’ve at all taken your shoe shrinking journey too far and have done some damage to your shoes, check out my post about the best glue for shoes and boots!

 

That being said, how do you make your shoes smaller?

Love heel hacks? Check out my latest post about high heel protectors to shield your delicate heels from pretty much anything!

And if  you’re not able to make your big shoes fit smaller with my above suggestions, I invite you to look at my post on where to shop for shoes for women with small feet!

xo ShoeTease

Kimberly R

Monday 16th of August 2021

Thank you for your post. Very helpful solutions.

Chioma

Sunday 27th of September 2020

Thanks for this post. I am a size 39 but I got a size 41 shoes which slip out of my feet with every step I take. Which option is best for me.

Amelia

Saturday 26th of November 2016

Ohhh, such a helpful post for me right now! My new-bought shoe is a bit wide so I decided to search some advice from the Internet. Thank you.

ShoeTease

Saturday 17th of December 2016

So glad you found the post helpful Amelia! xo Cristina

Dylan

Sunday 6th of November 2016

I recently got an amazing deal on some Adidas Cloudfoam sneakers, but my heel slips out of them with every step, despite the fact that I got my usual size. Which of these options would be best to fix this issue?

Nkechi

Tuesday 14th of March 2017

I have the exact same problem!!! Help!!?!?!!

ShoeTease

Monday 7th of November 2016

Hi Dylan, I would say a thicker heel tab insert that is not made of a sticky rubber is your best bet, like this one: https://bit.ly/2ewoEUf

Those low sports socks with padded tabs could also work well, depending on where the extra material ends up placing itself in the shoe. Something like this: https://bit.ly/2fUaiCj or this: https://bit.ly/2fU9BbY

Hope this helps! xo Cristina

Amanda

Saturday 22nd of October 2016

I am excited to try a few of these ideas, as I was gifted an incredible pair of Converse that are about a size too big and I refuse to not wear them!

ShoeTease

Saturday 22nd of October 2016

Oh, no too bad about the Converse. But the good news is there are so many options to make them fit a little snugger! My fave option with sneakers is a full insole :) Let us know which options ends up working best for you! xo Cristina