Skip to Content

How to Make Shoes Smaller – 9 Helpful Hacks | ShoeTease

How to Make Shoes Smaller – 9 Helpful Hacks | ShoeTease

Are your shoes too big? Are you looking for shoe hacks on how to make shoes smaller so that your big footwear fits?

Then you're in luck! I've put together this shoe-shrinking guide just for you. It includes free to relatively inexpensive solutions to make your big, long or wide-fitting flats & heels fit more snugly.

Of course, it's always better to have shoe styles that fit. Why? Loose footwear can impact your walk, resulting in a trip, sprain or even possible injury. 

However, too small shoes happen because of–life. They can become larger due to wear, feet can shrink when it's cold out and often we just buy the wrong shoe size.

No judgment from me as to why your shoes are too big for your feet! But I do have many years of experience designing shoes, so I know a few things about footwear and how to help 😉

How to Make Shoes Smaller 9 Ways

Sometimes we need to make shoes smaller in width, sometimes in length, or just smaller overall.

I've included solutions that include items you can buy, such as various shoe inserts, and easy at-home solutions like socks!

1. Heel Liners to Prevent Heel Slippage

How to make Shoes Smaller - Heel Liners
black text affiliate disclaimer with light pink background.

Heel liners for shoes, also called heel grips or back-of-heel inserts, are 3″ long strips that secure onto the back of the inside heel of your shoe. 

It is great to shorten the length, keep 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. The gel ones are thicker, giving up to 5mm padding.

For extra coverage, I found these nifty heel liner-meets-insole that will help make footwear even smaller in & around the back of the shoe!

Heel liners are a discreet fix for open-toe heels that are too big, especially if the sizing issue is with the length. Take a look at all the brands of heel liners at Amazon or at your closest drug store in the foot care section.

Top-rated heel inserts:

Alt text: various back of heel inserts for shoes.

2. Insoles for the Win

Insoles as a way to make shoes smaller are a personal fave & easy go-to. Insoles are soft inserts that you place inside to line the interior base of your footwear.

Although primarily used for increased comfort and support, full-size insoles are a great solution to decrease the size of an all-around bigger closed-toe styles. They add an extra layer inside the full length of your shoes to fill up extra room inside the shoes, making your shoes feel snugger.

And depending on the insoles you use, they can make your footwear feel up to a full size smaller.

I use insoles regularly in shoes to support my high arches with either Vionic or Strive insoles for sneakers and dress shoes.

There are a variety of insoles ranging from leather, cork, gel, foam to increase comfort, fit and support. Below are the ones I recommend to make shoes fit snugger:

  • Leather Insoles: These are my favorite to make slightly big footwear a bit smaller. Made of natural leather, they are breathable, durable and add a touch of luxury to your footwear. Perfect for dress shoes. Example: Dr. School's insoles for heels, or Pedag
  • Foam Insoles: These are the thickest insoles and will take up most space inside big shoes. They're primarily used to add cushioning and reduce impact absorption. Some are even heat-moldable for personalized foot comfort.
  • Supportive Insoles: Made with stronger materials, these provide stability and support for your foot arches. Good for people with flat feet or high arches. These can be custom or orthotics or off-the shelf.
  • Gel Insoles: These have gel padding for shock absorption. Ideal for high-impact activities like running or sports. Example: Dr. Scholl's Float on Air
  • Sheepskin Insoles: Usually sold by Australian boot companies such as UGG and EMU. to line their sheepskin boots. They make great full shoe fillers to fill up extra space and keep you warm in winter!
  • Odor Absorbing Insoles: often made of odor and moisture absorbing materials such as charcoal, cork, bamboo. Perfect for making your shoes smaller without having to wear socks.

There are even hybrid insoles such as Dr Scholl's Energizing comfort or Pedag Viva leather/charcoal arch support insoles. Some are even specifically made for heels and flats.

Half insoles can also be used to make the front of the shoes smaller, as they rest under the ball of the feet. Great for more than closed-toe foowear, they add hidden comfort and traction to open toed sandals and high heels. My favorite ones are leather ones, like these from Kaps.

Favorite Insoles for Shoes:

3. Ball of Foot Cushions

How to make Shoes Smaller


To make shoes smaller for my summer sandals, dress styles, flats or pumps, and ball-of-foot cushions are the most practical insole types.

They come in gel, foam, gel and fabric materials. They're great for padding around the front of the foot to make shoes smaller.

Their extra padding–approximately 4mm thick–also adds comfort for high heels, even more so with gel cushions.

Gel cushions are best for wearing inside flat, heeled sandals or peep-toe heels with bare feet. Other materials are great for most closed-toe shoes.

I love these gel ones from Dr Scholl's, because they have a textured no-slip grip and come with a 6-month guarantee. They prevent my toes from slipping & sliding in my too big sandals, especially in hotter temperatures.

You can find many great ball of foot cushion brands from Amazon and Walmart.

TIP! Ball of foot cushions make shoes even smaller when used with heel liners, which I cover in the next section.

Favorite Ball of Foot Cushions:

Alt text: various styles of ball of foot cushions for shoes.

4. Toe Inserts for Too-Long Shoes

How to make Shoes Smaller

Still wondering how to make big shoes fit smaller? You can easily add toe inserts for large footwear. These act as shoe fillers in the front of the toe box, and are a great option for closed-toe styles that are too long.

  • Sizers: These are great for daintier footwear and closed-toe heels and ballerina flats. Read more in my Sizers review. ASOS has recently come up with a Sizers dupe, btw!

Both brands offer various size inserts to make big shoes fit smaller at the toes. They are washable, durable & a much better alternative to stuffing cotton or paper in the tips of your shoes!

To make shoes even snugger, combine toe insert with heel liners!

Toe box shoe fillers we love:

Alt text: shoe fillers for toe box of shoes.

5. Heel Cups to Tighten the Back of Shoes

Heel cups are shoe inserts designed to fit around the heel area of your foot. They serve a couple of key purposes, especially when it comes to improving shoe fit:

  • Stabilizing the Heel: Heel cups provide a snug fit around the heel, reducing movement and slippage. This is particularly helpful in styles that are slightly large in the heel area.
  • Extra Padding: By adding an extra layer in the heel region, they fill up space, making the shoe fit more tightly. This can effectively make a shoe feel smaller or more fitted.
  • Enhanced Comfort: Besides improving the fit, heel cups can offer additional cushioning and support, which can reduce heel pain and provide relief from conditions like plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.
  • Height Adjustment: They can slightly elevate the heel, which can benefit those who need to adjust their posture or alignment.

6. Socks & Footies to Tighten Shoe Fit

How to make Shoes Smaller

Socks are a great solution for making shoes smaller without insoles, as they help break in new shoes and fill them in.

And for the fashionistas, socks are currently trending with not only boots, but loafers, flats and even heels!

But don't worry, there are many no-show sock solutions for the sock-shy. Footies (aka “hidden socks”) come in many styles & colors, and if you get the right ones for your footwear, no one, including you, will notice them.

I love and use Skinnys Socks. These footies are extremely well-padded at the toes & heels, making them perfect to fill in your footwear & make them feel smaller! Much easier than adding toe or heel fillers!

Keysocks & are another no-show sock solution for flats and heels (as pictured above) to wear under pants. You can read my full review of Keysocks!

You can find other footie socks in many shapes, colors and styles from Amazon, Walmart, Zappos and Bloomingdale's.

No-Show Socks and Footies We Love:

Alt text: various footie socks for women.

7. Shoe Tongue Pads

Unless you have a low instep or arch, you're probably not familiar with shoe tongue pads. They're not an exciting shoe accessory, but they work wonders!

a tongue pad is a thick felt-like material that sticks onto the inside part of the shoe tongue. That's the strip of material that you find under the laces of your shoes.

Padding that area does a great job at making wide footwear narrower. Great for sneakers, oxfords, loafers & more styles that have tongues.

You can also find them in different sizes from Amazon, Walmart and eBay.

Shop highly rated shoe tongue pads, below: 

Alt text: various shoe tongue pads.

8. A Cobbler Can Help

There is another option to make your shoes smaller. And it's called a cobbler (that person who fixes footwear as a living, not the drink or dessert!).

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 than any service rendered by a professional is, but it's a permanent & more convenient alternative to footwear you plan on wearing often. Much easier than cleaning/replacing/repositioning inserts or shoe fillers daily!

If you go to a cobbler to adjust your shoes, 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.

9. Purchase the Right Size

Not a hack, but a good point to make: buy the right size footwear. Because no matter the quick bandaid fix, there is no magic solution to making shoes smaller that are far too big.

This can prevent problems including blisters, discomfort and sliding in your shoes. Now that I've mentioned this, I'm off to write a post on how to shop for shoes!

If you seem to be walking around in too big shoes often, it might be time to find some shoes for women with small feet. My linked post covers the best retailers that provide smaller sizes footwear options for ladies.

Now That You Know How to Make Shoes Smaller

The great news is that there are so many easily accessible, low-cost methods & shoe accessories to fix this big footwear conundrum. No matter what type of footwear you need to make fit smaller!

But as life isn't perfect and neither is our footwear & 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!

Have you had great results in your shoe-shrinking journey? If so, I'd love to know how you make your shoes smaller!

Disclaimer: Attempting any of the above methods to make your shoes smaller yourself may cause irreparable damage to your beloved heels & boots. ShoeTease and its partners are not liable for any damages to persons or property arising from any of the advice given in this post. Please Follow advice at your own risk. For best results, take your precious footwear to a professional. This is highly recommended for your pricey designer shoes!

xo ShoeTease

This post may contain affiliate links. ShoeTease may earn a small commission if you click through and/or make a purchase. Thanks for your support!


Friday 19th of August 2022

I wear a size 4 and for years tried all of these - they don't work. A few (depending on the original shape/fit of the shoe) can allow a better for fit for 1x wear under a few hours -- but you'll have a clip or a loss on the way walking to the bus stop after your event.


Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

It's always best to opt for the correct size when wearing shoes, especially if you're trying to fit into a shoe that is 1+ size bigger. There are a great many shoes for small feet in my other post if you want to check them out!


Monday 27th of December 2021

I need help with my slides that too wide


Wednesday 29th of December 2021

Hi Babs, I don't believe there is an easy fix with wide slides. I have narrow feet and avoid wide slides as you could hurt yourself walking in them.

Kimberly R

Monday 16th of August 2021

Thank you for your post. Very helpful solutions.


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.


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.


Saturday 17th of December 2016

So glad you found the post helpful Amelia! xo Cristina