Ooh – those heady, early days with a new pair of Doctor Martens footwear. So shiny and box-fresh. You want to wear them all day long, and show them off to friends and strangers. Subtly, of course. And with some class. Maybe twirling a bit while crying, “Look! At! My! New! Shoes!”
Pictured: two pairs of newly worn-in Docs having a day out at the park. You too can be this comfy!
As tempting as this is, it’s also a crummy idea. Sometimes you’ve got to give your new kicks a bit of love before they can love you back. So if you want to cherish your new Doc friends forever and ever (which is pretty much how long they’ll last), wearing them in is the way to go.
How to perform this foot-related marvel? We got our editor-in-chief, Jo Walker, and our favourite pregnant photographer, Stephanie Rose Wood, to roadtest the best ways of wearing in your pretty new foot-coverings. For the record, Jo wore in a pair of 1461 smooth 3-eye shoes in black and Steph went for the 2976 vegan Chelsea boots in cherry red. Here’s how it went down.
Waiting around is all part of the wearing-in process. This isn’t going to be quick.
STEP ONE: TAKE YOUR TIME
This is the bit where you don’t immediately start wearing your fancy new kicks 24 hours a day. Instead, start off with maybe two hours a day – preferably in the morning when your feet are apparently a bit more petite. (They ‘spread’ in the afternoon – true story). Pop them on while doing household chores, or taking a walk around your ’hood. Once you’ve done this for a bit, ease into longer wearings, till you can comfortably clomp around all day. Even then, it’s best to go day on/day off for a bit.
Jo says: This ‘starting slow’ thing was a revelation to me. I found the advice about doing the cleaning in your new shoes super-useful, so they saw quite a bit of vacuum action early on. I also found that standing on tippy toes with bent knees – sort of like a Michael Jackson ‘c’mon-ah!’ pose – was good for loosening things up.
Steph says: To begin with, I played by the rules. I wore my new boots around the house, then on a short walk to the shops and then out for dinner (a mostly sitting activity). Then I got cocky. I reeeallly wanted to wear my fancy new kicks to a party and, well, let’s just say it could have gone better. Moral of the story: don’t go out dancing all night in new Docs. Patience works!
Thick socks are where it’s at. Just pretend you’re in the late 1980s and scrunch, scrunch, scrunch.
STEP TWO: DOUBLE-SOCKING IT
Your mission here is two-fold: gently stretching your new kicks by tricking them into thinking your foot is a size bigger than it really is, and protecting those bits of your feet that might cop some rubbing without sizeable sock protection (heels, bridge, big toe). Two pairs of woollen socks are ideal, the thicker the better. Really, just keep stuffing your feet in there like the (problematically named) Ugly Sisters from Cinderella. DMs have even invented their own Double Doc Sock if you need more help!
Jo says: I was double-socking with some really ugly bed socks when doing my two-hour-a-day thing. But once I was out of the house I didn’t want to look like I had elephantitis of the cankles. My solution was a thick ‘undersock’, slightly scrunched down, with a cute sock on top.
Steph says: This double-socking idea was much welcomed, bringing toasty feet and helping prevent blisters. There is a downside to the method, though. Getting boots onto a pregnant lady with thick socks: not easy. Getting them off again: near impossible. Assistance was needed.
Time to get brutal with your nice new shoes. They can take it!
STEP 3: BEND AND STRETCH
Your new Doc friends can take a fair amount of punishment, so bending, smooshing and whacking should be part of your wearing-in routine. For inspiration on just how brutal you can be, see this video, which shows how some Docs are pre-worn in their factory. Flex the toe around to the heel repeatedly, like some kind of manic squeezebox operator, to make things comfier across the bridge of your foot. Smoosh the fold line down the back of the boot or shoe to soften things up a bit, and avoid the dreaded Heel Blister. Flex and wiggle the side panels, basically using your shoe like a low-tech hand puppet.
Jo says: Before watching this vid, I would not have been confident being so hardcore with new kicks! But the smooshing definitely helped. I tried to have a good flex across the bridge and gentle smashing down the back strap after each wear, when the shoes were warm and quite pliable.
Steph says: At first, I was reluctant to bend and stretch my boots. They looked so new and shiny! After some convincing, I soon realised that this is a very effective method of loosening up the boot. The bending was of particular benefit. Also, having a red-hot go at your shoes is a pretty good way to relieve stress.
Once you’re all worn in, take your shoes out for a good time at the local pub or similar establishment.
So there you have it: patience, enormous socks and brutality are the keys to wearing in your favourite new shoes. Take your time and your future self will thank you for it: footloose and blister-free, with comfy Docs that will last you pretty much forever. Go forth and kick arse!
This incredibly sensible and grown-up shoe advice was brought to you by our friends at Dr. Martens. They make snazzy shoes that (almost) never die.