Friday, February 12, 2016

Will Patent Leather Flats Stretch Out?

Will Patent Leather Flats Stretch Out?

Patent leather doesn't break in like a pair of calfskin ballet flats, but it breaks in after awhile. Patent leather is common in both women's fashionable footwear and in dance shoes. It looks synthetic, but is not. It is coated with two synthetic materials, one being polyurethane for shine and the other being acrylic for flexibility and stretch. (Early patent leather was heavily coated with linseed oil and lacquer.) You can speed up stretching and the break-in period with a few tried-and-tested techniques.

Pressure and Moist Heat

    Pressure and moist heat (from the inside out) will stretch any shoe leather, but patent leather may be more stubborn because of its synthetic coatings.

Casual Wear

    Allow time for the flats to stretch. Wear them around the house over athletic socks for a few days, allowing the leather and the synthetic materials to stretch naturally.


    Use a rubbing alcohol-water mixture to speed up stretching. Water serves to soften the leather fibers, and rubbing alcohol helps speed the evaporation. Mix 95 percent alcohol (available in drugstores) in a two-to-one solution of alcohol and water. Soak a pair of athletic socks in the solution, then wear the shoes until the socks feel dry (two to three hours). The alcohol is not powerful enough to break down the urethane or acrylic, so should not harm the finish.
    Of course, alcohol will hurt immensely on any open sores or blisters. If you have either, use warm water without alcohol.


    Take the flats to a cobbler. A cobbler can typically stretch a shoe by half a size to a full size. The cobbler uses a stretching machine, which applies firm pressure and heat to the inside of the shoe, usually over two days.


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