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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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!
- Shoolex “Make 'em Fit”: I also tested these and they work for all types of close-toe options, including wider boots and shoes. Read my review of these shoe fillers!
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
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!
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.
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!
Cristina is the chief editor, fashion & shoe expert here at ShoeTease. As a seasoned stylist and women's fashion & shoe designer, she boasts over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry. She loves crafting effortless outfits for ladies both online and off and believes that styling advice should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a styling pro or just starting out, Cristina's here to guide you on your fashion journey! Learn more.
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!