Shoes Too Big? 7 Ways To Make Shoes Smaller

There is nothing more disappointing than slipping on a brand new pair of shoes to find that they are a bit too big. However, there are a few tricks and shoe hacks that you can use to make those oversized shoes fit better. We've rounded up the best of these hacks and will discuss them in this post.

If you are unable to take the shoes back to the store, don't worry. If the shoe size isn't excessively big, you can alter the shoes for a better fit.

Here are a few easy ways that you can make your shoes fit tighter:

  • Stuff The Toe Box
  • Apply Heel Strips
  • Add New Insoles
  • Use A Little Water
  • Visit A Shoe Care Professional (aka "Cobbler")
  • Use An Elastic Band To Tighten The Shoe

Sometimes you can't tell that a shoe fits poorly until you take it home and attempt to wear it for the first time. Unfortunately, this can leave you in a bit of a pinch if you're already prepared to wear it. If you don't have time or the desire to change outfits, there are a few alternatives to get those oversized shoes to fit properly. Continue reading to learn more about these hacks to determine which one may work best for you.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Young woman tying shoelace before workout, getting ready for jogging, Shoes Too Big? 7 Ways To Make Shoes Smaller


Stuff The Toe Box

An effective and low-cost way to get your oversized shoe to fit is by simply stuffing the toe box of the shoe. The "toebox" area refers to the area of a shoe that covers and surrounds the toes. One way to do this is by cutting a pair of socks and stuffing them in the shoe's toe area. If you don't have any old socks to spare at the moment, you can also use a piece of cushion from the couch or a pillow.

Basically, any type of soft or stuffed padded material will work well for this solution. The key is to make sure that the material is soft enough so that your toes will not become sore throughout the day. You can also use a handful of cotton balls, cut up towels, or soft tissue paper. This solution can work for any shoe except for open-toe sandals.

Buy cotton balls on Amazon.

Buy Shoe Fillers

Another way to minimize the space in oversized shoes is to buy shoe fillers. Shoe fillers are typically made from silicone, polyurethane, elastic and inserted in the toe box to remove a few centimeters of space. You can use shoe fillers alone to double their effectiveness by pairing them with heel liners. They're relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at around $8 to $15 online or at most shoe department stores.

Buy shoe fillers on Amazon!

Apply Heel Strips


Orthopedic Insoles. Foot Care Products isolated on white background

Heel strips work in the same manner as shoe fillers, except that they are placed at the end of the shoe and attached to the backside of the heel. These strips are secured by a sticky adhesive backing and can come and a variety of sizes. The cool thing about heel strips is that you can place them anywhere in the shoe where you may need to remove space or add a bit of soft cushion. They are commonly used in high heels and men's and women's dress shoes.

Buy Heel Strips on Amazon.

Add New Insoles

Grey insoles for shoes on wooden background

You can also add new insoles to help your oversized shoes fit better. Insoles come in a variety of designs, sizes, and materials. The most common materials include polyurethane-based foam, gel, and leather. You can purchase complete insoles, half-foot insoles, or insoles designed specifically for the toebox area. Not only do they help to give your shoe a more snug fit, but they also provide great stability and have shock absorption capabilities.

You'll also be happy to know that many insoles can be used in open-toe shoes as well. Other features for insoles include odor elimination and moisture absorption options. You can usually purchase insoles anywhere from $7 to $15 online or in a shoe store.

Buy insoles on Amazon!

Use A Little Water

This hack has been around for about 30 or 40 years and doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. If you'd rather not spend any money to improve your shoes' fit, you can wet them with water and air dry them to create a shrinkage effect. It's important to note that this specific method may not be ideal for every shoe type, as water can permanently damage the shoe if it's made of leather or suede. To get started with this method, take a spray bottle and douse the shoes with it. If the shoes are athletic shoes made of rubber and leather, you may be able to quickly dunk the shoes in a sink of water.

After you wet the shoes, allow them to air-dry outside in the sun or a dry room in your home. You can also use a hairdryer (set on "low") on the shoes as well. Be sure to keep the hairdryer at least 6 to 8 inches away from the shoe to prevent scorching the surface. After your shoes have dried, try them on to check the fit. If they are still too big, repeat the process once or twice.

It's advised that you not repeat this more than a couple of times as you may damage this year. You may want to apply a conditioner after you shrank the shoes to prevent damaging leather or suede shoes. This can be purchased for under $20 online or in any department, shoe store, or pharmacy.

Buy leather conditioner on Amazon!

Visit A Shoe Care Professional (aka "Cobbler")

You can always take the shoes to a professional if you'd rather not risk damaging them--this may be a better option if they are expensive. Cobblers can use a variety of methods to shrink your shoes for a better fit. Though cobblers may not be as popular as they were a hundred years ago, they are still treasures to anyone who's ever had issues with a shoe that they didn't want to throw out. Keep in mind that their services can be on the expensive side, so you'll want to make sure that the shoe is worth it.

Use An Elastic Band To Tighten The Shoe

One hack that you may have never considered is the use of an elastic band on the shoe. This solution works best if you have at least some experience with embroidery or sewing. For this hack, you'll need to stitch elastic bands to the interior of your shoes to constrict them.

This will require a specific level of expertise and a lot of attention to detail. You'll need a needle, thread, and an elastic band that's at least 12 inches long. You can use safety pins to hold the band in place as you begin to sew it into one side of the shoe. Be sure to keep the elastic tight as you sew the band into the shoe, and upon completion, simply release it.

Buy a sewing kit on Amazon!

Does it matter if shoes are too big?

Yes, but it depends on the type of shoes, how long the shoes are worn, and how oversized they are. Oversized shoes can be uncomfortable to wear and can increase your chance of falling or slipping if you lose your balance or put traction on the ground. They can also look odd if they are extremely oversized. For example, they may flap off of the heel of your foot in the back when you walk or even fall off of your foot at the slightest misstep. Also, shoes that are too big can cause you to walk in a dysfunctional and unnatural way. Prolonged wear of oversized shoes can potentially lead to foot or posture issues.

Should your toes touch the end of shoes?

Young woman tying shoelace before workout, getting ready for jogging, Shoes Too Big? 7 Ways To Make Shoes Smaller

No, your toes should never touch the end of the toe box of your shoe. If they do, chances are that they are too small. The oldest technique to test your shoe's fit is to simply place your thumb on the toe of the shoe between your big toe and the tip of the shoe. If you can't press completely down on the shoe without touching your toe, then the shoe is probably too big. Here are a few tips to help you determine if your shoe fits properly:

Dress Shoes

Dress shoes should be comfortable when you slide them on and take a few steps in them. There should be about an inch of space between the end of the shoe and your longest toe.


It's best to ensure that your high heels fit as comfortably as possible and have about 1/4 to 1/2 inches of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If it doesn't fit, go a half size up. You should be able to wiggle your toes slightly.

Tennis/Athletic Shoes

Athletic shoes should have a very comfortable fit, and you should be able to move your toes comfortably inside the shoe. You should also be able to fit your thumb between the end of the shoe and your longest toe.

Flat Casual Shoes

Casual shoes should fit similarly to athletic shoes. Be sure that the shoes are not too tight and allow for comfortable movement around the toes and heel. It's also helpful to use the thumb/toe test.


Boots are typically stiffer around the toe box, so instead of using the thumb-toe method to ensure a proper fit, you may want to use your arch size to determine the appropriate size. Your foot should fit snugly in a boot and not feel jammed up against the toe box. Also, it shouldn't be so loose to the point that your foot slides back and forth when walking in the boot.

How can I make wide shoes tighter?

There are a few hacks that you can use to fill up your shoes and tighten their fit if you have narrow feet. The quickest solution would be to insert heel liners on one or both sides of your shoe to reduce the spacing. If the shoes are casual or athletic and have laces, you can simply tie the shoe strings tighter to make them fit more snugly on your feet. You can also use regular shoe inserts to give the shoes a tighter fit.

Wrapping Things Up

Finding that your shoes are oversized doesn't have to be the end of the world. There are several inexpensive methods that you can use to help improve the shoe's fit, including using heel inserts, shrinking the shoe with water, and stuffing the toe box with a sock or tissue.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

What Shoes To Wear With Straight Leg Pants [7 Suggestions]

Do Boots Stretch As You Wear Them? [And How Much]

Leave a Reply