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How to Make Shoes Smaller – 6 Helpful Hacks!

How to Make Shoes Smaller – 6 Helpful Hacks!

Are your shoes too big? Are you looking for some shoe repair hacks on how to make shoes smaller for big shoes to fit?

I've put together a make-big-shoes-smaller guide just for you! It includes 7 free to relatively inexpensive solutions to make your big, long or wide shoes & heels fit better.

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. 

However, we've all experienced a small-fitting shoe at one point. Whether because a shoe has become larger due to wear, foot shrinkage during the colder months of the year, or for indulging in a too-small size of your dream shoe, there are many reasons why your shoes can be too tight for your feet.

Sometimes we need to make shoes smaller in width, and sometimes in length. Some shoes can fit all-around large and require both shortening & narrowing. 

How to Make Shoes Smaller 7 Ways

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. Let's start with the first one:

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.

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.

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.

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.

  • Gel ball of foot cushions: 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. I really like the ones from Dr Scholl's. These come with a 6-month guarantee! The downside: they may make your feet sweaty & are best used on bare feet.
  • Genuine Leather half insoles: A great, breathable alternative 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. I like these ones from Kaps.

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

These are great gadgets on how to make big shoes fit:

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

TIP! Ball of foot cushions make shoes even smaller when used with heel liners. This 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, 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. I found these nifty heel liner-meets-insole that will help make shoes 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 lines at Amazon.

Check top-rated heel inserts, below:

Alt text: various back of heel inserts for shoes.

3. Full Size Insoles

Insoles to make shoes smaller are a personal fave & easy go-to. It's really a no-brainer to make shoes fit smaller. Full-size insoles are a great solution to an all around bigger shoe. Think sneakers, boots, and closed-toe dress shoes like oxfords and loafers.

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, shock-absorbing ones for sneakers & even flip-flop sandals.

You can get gel ones like Dr. Scholl's Float on Air insoles (most comfy). Or you can opt for leather insoles, like Dr. School's insoles for heels, or Dr. Scholl's cushioned 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, & Vionic. However, there are many non-branded insoles that work well too.

Alt text: various full size insoles for shoes.


4. Toe Inserts for Shoes

How to make Shoes Smaller

Still wondering how to make big shoes fit smaller? There are great options if you have a closed-toe shoe that is far too long for your foot. You can easily add toe inserts for shoes that are too big to act as shoe fillers.

Great to make shoes shorter in length, you can also pair these with a ball of foot cushions or full-length insoles.

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 snugger! I have tested out two shoe fillers:

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

Both brands offer three sizes of inserts to make big shoes fit smaller. They 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.

Toe box shoe fillers we love:

Alt text: shoe fillers for toe box of shoes.

5. 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. Funny enough, socks are also a great way to break in new shoes!

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.

I personally love and use Skinnys Socks. These footies are extremely well-padded at the toes & heels, making them perfect to fill in shoes & make them feel smaller!

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

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 🙂

No-Show Socks and Footies We Love:

Alt text: various footie socks for women.

Shop Keysocks:

Alt text: no-show knee socks for women.

6. 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 an exciting 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 Amazon, Walmart and eBay.

Shop highly rated shoe tongue pads, below: 

Alt text: various shoe tongue pads.

7. Seek Out a Cobbler

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 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 shoes you plan on wearing often. Much easier than cleaning/replacing/repositioning shoe inserts or shoe fillers daily!

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.

8. Don't Purchase Shoes that are too Big

Of course, there is no magic solution to making shoes smaller, or how to make big shoes fit. I do ecommend buying the right shoe size for your foot when you can.

This can prevent problems including blisters, discomfort and sliding in your shoes. Now that I've mentioned this, I'm going to write a post on how to buy the right size shoes!

Final Thoughts on How to Make Shoes Smaller

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 so, 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!

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

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


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

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