Color Guard Foot Wear – Source Period Correct Leather Shoes & Stretch These to Fit

Are you looking for shoes that are period correct for your SAR Color Guard activities?

Crazy Crow – Colonial Shoes and included buckles

Sharing a tip from a fellow SAR member. Sharing my story to save you some time.

Source of Shoes – I can recommend Crazy Crow which also sells other American Revolutionary War clothing and accessories (see link below). These shoes are period correct and include the period correct buckle (which is a bonus!).

Note buying shoes that fit my very wide feet are my Achilles heel (pun intended). As a result, I needed to order a size larger.

Note that the shoes I first ordered, were too small (due to my wide feet). Crazy Crow allowed me to return the original and sent a replacement. Received them quickly and my experience with Crazy Crow was great! Give them a try!  Call them in advance to get their recommendations.

Even with the replacements, my shoes needed some stretching. The article below by Joan Clark offers some suggestions to stretch the shoes. My interest in stretching the shoes is to make room for some orthotic inserts which are welcome if your Color Guard is active in marching, parades or standing at attention for long times at ceremonies / events.

Trust me that this effort is a journey. Everyone’s feet are different, so “one size doesn’t fit all!” There are not a lot of sources for Colonial shoes, so you will potentially need to work with what you find.

Remember, these are your shoes and you decide what you try. You are responsible for proper sizing and potential damage to your shoes during modification process. 

If you have any secret solutions or suggestions, please comment and I will incorporate in this blog post.

Recommended Source – 18th Century Shoes with Buckles

Crazy Crow – Colonial Shoes with Buckles – product description

Crazy Crow’s 18th Century Colonial Shoes for Men with Buckles are patterned after the shoes of the last half of the 18th century. Our new men’s colonial shoes are designed for civilian or military wear from the French & Indian War period up through the Revolutionary War.

These 18th century colonial shoes are very well made, with distinct “right foot” and “left foot” rather than being period correct straight lasted. This makes them much more comfortable to wear, with less “break in” required. Our colonial shoes are available in men’s sizes 8 through 12, in D width.

Uppers are black full grain leather, with thick all leather soles and heels. Authentic, solid brass buckles are included and already attached, making these colonial shoes ready to wea (other vendors require you to purchase and install the buckles separately). Buckles can be adjusted to accommodate for high insteps. For half sizes or wider feet, order 1/2 size larger.

How to Stretch Leather Shoes – by Joan Clark

It doesn’t get much better than sliding on a new styling pair of shoes. Unfortunately, leather shoes tend to be tight and uncomfortable until you break them in. We’ll show you how to stretch leather shoes so that you can comfortably enjoy your new shoes.

Perhaps you bought a flashy pair of shoes online, and once they arrived at your doorstep, you discovered they are a tad too small. Maybe those shoes seemed to fit you perfectly at the shoe store, but if you state, “My feet are hurting,” after a few hours of wearing them, you have a problem.
Whatever the cause for discomfort, walking around in shoes that do not fit properly is literal torture. The great news is, you don’t have to return your favorite leather shoes to the store. There are several ways to stretch leather shoes to conform to your size and fit.

Table Of Contents

Different Ways to Stretch Leather Shoes
1  Breaking in Leather Shoes
2  Use a Pair of Socks to Stretch Leather Shoes
3  Simple Ways to Stretch Leather Shoes
4  How to Stretch Leather Shoes with a Shoe Stretcher
5  Stretching Out Leather Shoes with Heat
6  Using Steam to Stretch Shoes
7  Use Cold to Expand Leather Shoes
8  How to Stretch Out Shoes with a Shoe Stretching Spray

Ways to Stretch Leather Shoes
In the old days, you’d go through the stretching process of fitting your shoes at the shoe cobbler. These days, we take our shoes to professional shoe repair shops or stretch tight shoes ourselves. We’ll show you several DIY methods to stretch leather boots, tight shoes, and high heels.

1.  Breaking in Leather Shoes
If your new leather shoes are just a bit too small, sometimes breaking them in slowly by fitting shoes to your feet size does the trick. All that’s needed is a pair of thick socks and a little bit of time.
Breaking in Shoes
Place a thick pair of socks on your feet and slip into the shoes. Walk as you normally would around the house for about half an hour. Take them off, slip on the second pair of socks, and repeat the walking process for an additional half-hour.
Many times, doing this is sufficient enough to stretch out new shoes. This process may need to be repeated over several days to get the perfect fit.

2.  Use a Pair of Socks to Stretch Leather Shoes
If your leather shoes are still too tight after you try breaking them in, try rolled-up socks for a gentle stretch. The bulky socks do all of the work and require no effort on your part.

DIY Shoe Stretching
Roll socks into tight balls and place them into the toe area of each shoe. Continue rolling socks and inserting them into the empty spaces of the shoe until you reach the heel. To expand the width of a shoe, let the shoes sit overnight while the socks slowly expand the leather.

3.  Simple Ways to Stretch Leather Shoes
Sometimes, leather needs a little help stretching to a comfortable size for your feet. Here is one of the simple ways to stretch leather shoes in a few easy steps.

Stuffing Leather Shoes
• Stuffing Leather Shoes
• Rubbing alcohol
• Water
• Spray bottle
• Old newspaper

Combine equal portions of rubbing alcohol and water into a bottle sprayer and shake well to mix. Spritz the insides of your leather shoes lightly with the alcohol solution so that they are damp but not soaked. Always test new solutions on an inconspicuous area of leather first.
Crumple up a bunch of newspapers into tight balls and tuck them into your shoes, beginning with the toe box and ending with the heel. Try and pack them as tightly as possible.
Place your shoes in a warm and dry location and let them sit for about 12 hours. Do not set the leather shoes in the sun. Remove the crumpled newspapers, and test the shoes on your feet.
If they slip on easily and feel comfy, then your job is complete. If not, repeat the process. Consider leaving the newspaper in the shoes or use shoe trees when you are not wearing them to help them keep their shape.
Alcohol can also be helpful for getting stains out of leather shoes, purses, or furniture. Apply carefully to avoid damaging the leather surface.

4.  How to Stretch Leather Shoes with a Shoe Stretcher
A shoe stretcher is a convenient tool sold in many shoe stores. It wedges down into the shoe, and gradually widens and lengthens it until it is the right size. Here is how to stretch out shoes using a shoe stretcher.

Stretching Shoes with a Shoe Stretcher
• Shoe stretcher
• Stretching plugs

Begin by inserting stretching plugs into your shoes at problem areas to prevent corns and bunions. Insert the Footfitter or other brand shoe stretcher into your shoe and crank the handle until you reach the desired stretch.
Wait eight hours and then turn the handle one full turn. Repeat this process until the footwear is the right size and then let it sit for two days to ensure that it holds a new shape. Finish up by giving those shoes a good shine with an olive oil shoe polish.

5.  Stretching Out Leather Shoes with Heat
Heat works wonders when you need to stretch leather shoes wider to fit your feet perfectly. This method stretches shoes up to a half-size. Do not use this technique on vintage leather shoes to prevent damage and cracking.

Heat-Style Leather Shoe Stretching
• Wool socks
• Hair dryer
• Shoe conditioner

Begin by sliding one or two pairs of thick socks onto your feet. Wool socks work best for the job at hand, but several layers of thin socks work as well. Sit comfortably in a chair and aim a blow dryer set at medium heat on each shoe for 30 seconds at a time while you move and wiggle your feet around.
Do this for a total of two minutes on each shoe. Leave the shoes on your feet until they are cooled. Remove the shoes and socks, slip on socks that you would typically wear, and replace the shoes.
Test them out by walking around. If your feet are comfortable, then you’re done. If they are too snug, repeat the process once more. Apply shoe conditioner to the leather to restore moisture depleted from the heat. This is also what cleans leather to prevent cracking.

6.  Using Steam to Stretch Shoes
Use steam to stretch tight shoes and leather booties in only a few minutes. Garment steamers work wonders at making leather supple enough to stretch. If you don’t have a garment steamer, use a tea kettle as a substitute.

Steam Leather Shoe Stretching
• Garment steamer
• Tea kettles
• Gloves
• Leather conditioner or balm

Heat a garment steamer to a low temperature and aim the nozzle directly into the shoe. If using a tea kettle, fill it with water and heat it to a boil on the stove. While wearing cloth gloves to protect your hands from burning, position the shoe over the kettle to collect the steam.
Steam each shoe for 30-second intervals, testing between sessions for suppleness. Repeat for a total of three minutes if necessary. Slip your socked feet into the supple shoes and walk around to stretch the leather.
Finish by applying a leather balm or conditioner to prevent cracking that results from heat. If the leather has an unpleasant odor, use a shoe deodorizing spray to freshen the leather.

7.  Use Cold to Expand Leather Shoes
As we all know, when water freezes, it expands. Therefore, it’s an excellent tool for stretching leather shoes up to one full size. This technique is not only easy to do, but you’re using the power of ice rather than your feet to stretch the leather.

Cold Expanding Leather Shoes
• Ziplock bags
• Water

Fill freezer bags one-third of the way with water and secure them shut. Double bag each one to ensure that no water gets on the leather. Slide the bags of water into each shoe, making sure to get into every corner to ensure that the ice stretches out the full size of the shoe.
Use as many bags as needed to fill the shoes. Place the water-filled shoes into the freezer and leave until frozen. Remove the shoes and let them thaw before removing the water bags.
Test the shoes by slipping in your feet and walking around. If they are still tight, then repeat the process.

8.  How to Stretch Out Shoes with a Shoe Stretching Spray
Shoe stretching spray is a liquid that is designed to soften and stretch leather shoes and boots. It’s a useful tool that works while you wear the shoes to gradually form them to your foot width and length, providing optimal comfort to the soles, instep, and foot.
Shoe Stretch Spray
Slip-on both of your shoes and follow the directions of the shoe stretch spray by spritzing the leather. Wear your shoes as you typically would while the spray dries.
Doing this allows the leather fibers to stretch to the shape of your foot. For cleaning leather boots and shoes, try a homemade vinegar spray.
By using a newspaper, extra layers of socks, a shoe stretcher, heat, or cold, leather and suede shoes are easy to stretch. All that is needed is a little bit of time and patience.
Takes those flashy leather shoes and boots and wear them like you mean it, without pain. Say goodbye to bunions and blisters, sore toes and aching feet.

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