Finding that perfect pair of shoes only to realize they are slightly too big can be disappointing. But before giving up on those roomy kicks, there are clever tricks you can use to adjust the fit of shoes that are too large.
Inserting sock liners, lacing the shoes tighter, using tongue and heel pads, and applying moleskin patches are effective ways to take up excess space inside oversized shoes.
These solutions help stabilize and secure smaller feet inside loose-fitting footwear. Taking a strategic approach by targeting areas like the heel, midfoot and toe box provides a customized tightening of the shoe’s interior. With some adjustable inserts and a few handy shoe-fitting tools, you can creatively transform those big shoes into a perfect fit for your smaller feet.
Read on to learn 4 simple ways to make oversized shoes fit smaller feet.
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1) Insert Sock Liners
One easy solution for making big shoes fit is inserting sock liners. These are thin, foam insoles that sit inside the shoe on top of the main footbed. Sock liners take up excess room in the toe box and snug up the heel. You can purchase stock sock liners from shoe stores or drug stores that are sized specifically for men, women, or kids. Cut-to-fit foam can also be used to create DIY sock liners.
When inserting sock liners:
- Trace your foot on the foam and cut out the shape.
- Make sure to size it wide enough so toes don’t hang off.
- The foam should compress snugly against the foot when the shoe is on.
- Add layers of foam to take up more room if needed.
- Place liner on top of main shoe footbed. Don’t remove factory insoles.
Tip: Fashion tape, double-sided tape or glue can help adhere liners in place so they don’t shift around.
2) Lace Shoes Tighter
One free and easy solution for making shoes smaller is lacing them tighter. This brings the upper closer to your foot for a more secure fit. When lacing shoes:
- Do a crisscross lacing pattern up the shoe rather than straight across.
- Start laces from the very bottom set of eyelets.
- Pull strongly on laces as you tie them. The knot should fit snugly.
- Double-knot laces so they stay tight.
- The upper should now fit more closely around your heel and across the vamp.
- Avoid lacing so tight it digs into your foot.
Tip: Add an extra set of laces across empty eyelets to really cinch up shoe fit.
3) Use Tongue or Heel Pads
Adding pads to the tongue or heel is an effective way to take up excess room inside shoes. Tongue pads fit under the tongue and push your foot backward to stabilize the heel. Full-length heel pads wrap around the heel and keep it from slipping. These adhesive pads come in various thicknesses to fill more or less space inside the shoe.
When using shoe pads:
- Identify where the looseness is—heel, midfoot, toe box.
- Choose an appropriate pad thickness to take up space.
- Thicker pads work for moderate looseness; thin pads work for minor gaps.
- Adhere pads to the interior roof or back wall, not the footbed.
- Pads should keep the heel and midfoot stable when walking.
- Avoid excess padding that squeezes the toes or irritates the foot.
Tip: Combine tongue and heel pads to custom-fill different areas with stability.
4) Apply Moleskin Patches
Moleskin sheets provide an adaptable option for shrinking multiple spots inside a loose shoe. Cut and place patches of moleskin where the foot is slipping to act as cushioned pads. Common placement areas include:
- Heel to prevent slippage
- Sides of the heel to grip it
- Tongue to push foot backwards
- The roof of the toe box holds the toes down
When applying moleskin:
- Identify empty spaces that allow movement inside the shoe.
- Cut circular or oval shapes of moleskin to target those spots.
- Peel the adhesive backing off and stick patches in place.
- Start with minimal, thin layers and add more if needed.
- Ensure padded areas don’t bend toes uncomfortably.
Tip: Self-adhesive felt furniture pads also work great as anti-slip patches inside big shoes.
Getting the Fit Just Right
It takes some trial and error to find the right balance of inserts, pads, and tight lacing to make big shoes fit smaller feet properly. Don’t over-pad areasthat leadg to discomfort. Aim for a comfortably snug fit that stabilizes your foot inside the shoe without squishing your toes. Combining a few of these shoe-shrinking tricks lets you customize the fit at different spots for the ideal shoe size reduction. With smart use of sock liners, laces, pads, and patches, you can finally get those roomy shoes to fit like a glove.
How do you make big shoes fit smaller?
You can make big shoes fit smaller by using inserts like sock liners, heel pads or tongue pads, lacing the shoes tighter, or using moleskin patches in areas where your foot slips.
Is there a way to fix shoes that are too big?
Yes, you can fix shoes that are too big by adding inserts to take up space, lacing them tighter, or using moleskin patches and heel grips to prevent foot slippage.
Is it OK to wear shoes 1 size too big?
Shoes 1 size too big can be worn, but may need inserts or tighter lacing to prevent your foot from sliding forward and giving less stability.
Can a cobbler make shoes smaller?
Yes, a cobbler can sometimes make shoes smaller by stretching the materials to conform tighter to your foot, but results depend on the shoe construction.
How much can you shrink a shoe?
It’s possible to shrink shoes up to a full size with methods like thick insoles, maximum lacing, and moleskin padding, but 1/2 to 3/4 size adjustments are more comfortable.
Finding the perfect pair of shoes in your size can be difficult. But with some clever adjustments, you can tweak shoes that are slightly too big to properly fit your smaller feet.
Using inexpensive products like sock liners, tongue pads, moleskin sheets, and tighter laces, you can alter various parts of a loose shoe to create a more secure and comfortable fit.