I Stretched My Boots With Chanel No. 5 Perfume. Yes, Really.

I remember the very moment when I knew, without a doubt, that Mr. Foxypants was the man for me. It was when he said without any prompting, “I like how thick your calves are,” unintentionally complimenting the parts of my body that I hate the most.

I have fat legs.

Okay, they aren’t fat fat. But, tell that to the fashion industry. The average size 7 shoe wearer has a 14 inch calf circumference. At 15.5 inches, my calves are even too fat for most “wide shaft” boots. A childhood spent running the hills of Eugene, Oregon and my adulthood bike riding habit has resulted in permanently sturdy legs. I’ve probably wasted a week of my life shopping for off-the-rack, knee-high riding boots, that don’t make my legs look like tree trunks.

I blame Molly Ringwald.

Five years ago, I spent my last dollar (okay, it was my last $99) on a pair of vintage riding boots that zipped over my bare legs with a lot of zipper tugging and flesh squishing. Yes, I was actually willing to go on a pasta and water diet to afford these boots, even though I have to wear thick socks with them because they are a size to large for me. That’s how much I wanted them.

All this probably sounds pathetic to the thin-legged reader. But you, mademoiselle, can suck it.

The riding boots are by Miss Bergdorf, an in-store brand that was phased out in the 1980’s. Everything about these boots is fabulous, from the metallic gold leather lining to the double buckles at the boot tops. Fabulous except for the fact that I can only wear these over bare legs. At 15 inches in circumference, they are still a half inch too tight. I can’t even zip them over stretchy breeches. So much for actually wearing my riding boots on an actual horse.

I don’t know why it took me five years to get the boot’s shafts stretched to fit my calves (#27 on my master To Do list). I suspect it had something to do with spending $50 on speculative shoe repair, but really this is one of those things that I chalk up to my OCD tweakerness.

Alas, even after two weeks on Victor’s Stretch-O-nator, the boots still won’t zip without effort. Never mind that all the working out at Curves has resulted in even buffer gams. Altering the boots by adding an extra leather or elastic insert is so expensive that I might as well just save the money to put towards the $1000 cost of custom made boots for professional equestrian leg fatties.

This led me to a desperate search for alternatives. A quick google revealed a magical shoe stretching liquid. Miraculously, my local drug store carries the 4 oz. bottle of Shoe Stretch spray $3.95 Let’s just say, I couldn’t drive to the store fast enough.

At the drug store, I decided to read the ingredients of the magic Shoe Stretch just to make sure I wasn’t putting something deadly poisonous to bees, humans, or fish, onto my footwear. The main ingredients of Shoe Stretch? 50% isopropyl alcohol and water.

The magic Shoe Stretch liquid is rubbing alcohol and water.

I bought a quart of 70% isopropyl alcohol for $2.38 instead.

When I got home, I realized that I’d been too efficient with my disposal of all my empty sample bottles. I didn’t have an empty spray bottle to put the alcohol in. Luckily, the bathroom counter revealed the perfect solution (literally and figuratively).

The bottom of my vintage Chanel atomizer bottle was caked with dark brown perfume residue. The wick was also stained and yucky looking. As this perfume bottle is slated for the ebay/etsy rampage of next month, I need to wash the gunk out before I photograph it to sell online, without damaging the original paper label. So, killing two birds with one stone, I decided that I would decant 2 oz. of rubbing alcohol into the perfume bottle to clean off the residue, and then use the atomizer to spray the residue/alcohol mix onto my boots.

I ended up with 2 oz. of what looks and smells like Chanel No. 5 Eau de Cologne. I liberally squirted this extremely posh smelling mixture on the interior and exterior of the boot shafts. Then, while the leather was still slightly damp, I put on the boots.

The boots zipped up OVER my skinny jeans without trouble. Four hours later, the boots have stretched more than half an inch in circumference! For the first time in my life, I can zip my boots over my calves without my feet falling asleep.

While it’s probably the 70% rubbing alcohol that did the majority of the stretching duty, I’m giving a lot of credit to Coco Chanel. Four hours later my boots still smell pleasantly like my grandma.



  1. Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I started reading about your boot-stretching needs, I wanted to shout through the computer. I wanted to stop you from paying for services or the boot stretching liquid! In 1978, my daughter had outgrown her ballet slippers just BEFORE recital time in the spring. Not wanting to purchase another pair of ballet slippers that would languish all summer and then be too small halfway through the next year, I was bemoaning my fate to other ballet mothers. All the other experienced, helpful mothers and the teacher guided me to the cobbler/shoe shop in town to buy a liquid to stretch shoes. With three children in tow or with the toddler in arms and on my way to pick the two up from school (always doing one or the other, it seemed), I hurriedly purchased the expensive, tiny bottle and brought it home to perform magic. When I smelled the stuff (I always smell stuff I purchase), it was alcohol! I never purchased another bottle and told all the other mothers who never purchased again. Sigh…the poor guy probably never got rid of his stock and is still wondering what happened. Yeah, that stuff saved the purchase of many a pair of ballet slippers since I had two in ballet shoes.

    To read more, go to my blog. About the Chanel No. 5 remark, I think you just insulted me…more about that on the blog…

  2. angie
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this!! I have the same wide calves problem! I actually don’t own a pair of nice boots because I also feel like they make my legs look like tree trunks. I just measured mine and they’re 15″ and that’s after losing 25lbs this year! lol Super excited I can now shop for boots!! Thanks again! 🙂

  3. Posted April 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Great post. Had a question though .. will this work on any material or just leather? I have faux leather and suede boots that I would love to strech out too. Thanks.

  4. Posted April 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm….I don’t know. However, I’d be very careful. I’ve found that faux leather is much less forgiving that real leather. That’s something I’d google around for. Good luck!

  5. phillylicious
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this! I have been in a bit of a dilemma for the past 2 months similar to your story… I have formed a bit of a boot obsession here. Upon doing some research, I found out the trendy name of worn leather, it was “distressed” leather – my research stemmed from my favorite pair of boots. Story is: there was a pair of tan leather ankle boots that I’ve worn so much until I personally qualified them as “distressed” leather boots on my on own merits (to everyone’s dismay…I had justified to everyone that I was not throwing them away)…. SO WHAT, that they have no heels and are grinded down and sound like hollow clogs on a hard surface! Knowing sooner than later that the heels would split, and imaginning the humuliation that would come with it – I finally decided to Google tan distressed leather boots, which is harder to find then I expected… and stumbled upon the Chupacabra… they were “my” ankle boots resurrected into a new and fresh knee high version with the cleanest pair of heels that I ever saw. I have always had a liking for riding boots and had a few pairs, so this was the best of both worlds! They were Lucky Brand boots; needless to say, they were $200! Who pays that for a pair of boots!?! My trusty ankle boots were $19.99 and I had been wearing them for atleast 7 years (less the summers). After searching a few websites I realized the cheapest I could find them was $180 and not all of them had my size so I left it alone….2-3 weeks later I had rationalized that if I got the Lucky Brand boots I would get my money’s worth, I certainly did for my ankle boots. They say that if you don’t buy something on the whim and you still want it days or weeks afterwards that it wouldn’t be considered impulse buying. With that being said, and a little resourcefulness, I found the right website that had the Lucky Brand boots on sale with free shipping and found online coupons to get the price down to $150!! Realizing that my favorite ankle boots were sort of a rare find, I decided that I was gonna go for it – I did my homework! Thing is, I decided to ignore the fact that the calf circumference was a 14-1/2′, I was hopeful or rather, wishful that once I got them they would have some give and stretch a little. I didn’t have a measuring tape to measure my calves but knew in the back of my mind that I have always had muscular calves. The day I got them I bounced around like a kid tearing open the shipping box, admiring the cool box inside and all those little “expensive” inserts that come with pricey things….the boots looked like everything I hoped for – they were PERFECT! As I slipped them on, I cringed as I struggled to get the boot trunk past the ‘lower’ part of my calve, I pulled and pulled and got it up a little, but not much. There was no stretchy ripples or stretch leather or stretch …anything at the base of the trunk. So for the past 2 months I’ve been gazing at them sadly and a bit salty trying to figure out how to stretch them without having to pay for it. The original plan was to loose some weight, but I agree that when you have naturally muscular (and meaty) calves, they are not always the first thing to go when you loose weight. This morning I just got the idea to Google boot trees that can stretch the circumference as an alternative and stumbled on your story. You have no idea how excited I am to try out your suggestion with Isopropyl Alcohol and I DO have a couple of mini spray bottles that I typically save for my travels (since we can only bring 3 oz or less on the planes). I was thinking that I still needed a boot tree but it didn’t occur to me to use my own leg as the boot tree, great idea! Funny how people miss the simplest thing….. I am going to find an old pair of tights, spray the inside of the boots (since they are fair colored) and clean my house and vacuum, which should take a few hours, I am hopeful that will do the trick and I get to wear them THIS winter, instead of the next! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

  6. Midtown292
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    As a man who likes to wear high heeled boots (yes you read right!), funnily enough I have a story similar to phillylicious, in that I bought some very expensive designed for men (or so they claimed) 4in heel ankle boots with side zip, in the largest size they offered – which was meant to be UK men’s 11. I would have bought a size larger but they didnt offer any. I waited over 10 months for the so-called custom mad boots to arrive, but when they came they looked less glamourous than in the photos on the eBay store – they were just large sized women’s 90s style boots. This wouldnt have been so much of a problem if I had paid <$50 but these cost me about $400, and if the change in style wasn't bad enough, my heart sank farther as I couldn't even get meh left foot into the boot!! Not only do I have large manly calves, I also have a left foot, that is fatter than the right, but with a thinner calf (WTF?!), yes my left foot is too big for my boots but the right foot fits, in spite of the fact that the right calf is wider. So I'm lying in bed wearing the right boot for the hell of it, since I will never be able to pound the pavement in my expensive new boots. Since the heel cap is too tight for my left foot I am not sure if your alcoholic idea could help me, and I am scared to ruin the boots! Help!

  7. Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Boo! What a sad story. Well, I am not a shoe specialist or a textile expert so I don’t know if my trick will ruin your awesome boots or not. So far I’ve used this trick on three pairs of leather shoes that I own, all vintage, with no discoloring or damage that I can see. I’d use straight rubbing alcohol (No perfume residue like I used). Can you buy a pair of sacrificial shoes at a thrift store for a few bucks in a similar color or leather type and experiment on the cheap shoes first? Then you can see first hand how it works without having to worry about ruining your boots. That said, the tight heel cap sounds like it needs professional attention.

  8. Paige
    Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious. This not only solved my fat calf problem, but had me snorting frappucino (see previously mentioned fattiness problem) out my nose. Love it!

  9. Joanna
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad I came across this post! I have a similar problem with some awesome boots. They are real leather and all black but out of fear of the boots discoloring I will practice on a pair of old leather boots. 🙂

  10. Suzie Williams
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I’ve got a bottle of 25 yr old tequila (I’m not a big drinker..) would this work to stretch my boots? My problem is odd feet, and one very thick ankle..left side. The right boot goes on, the left won’t zip past the ankle. These are brand new ros hammerson super ultra wide calf boots for which I paid a king’s ransom including import duty and shipping. Not feasible yo send them back and i actually WANT them to fit me.

  11. Susan
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Thank you soooo much for this info!! I did buy a rather expensive pair of gorgeous boots last year that were too tight around my 15.5″ calves. I had the perfect dress to wear with these beautiful tan colored dress boots, a pretty wheat color. I did stretch them some but only used water while wearing wet knee socks. I NEVER thought about alcohol as the correct solution!
    Now I have a pair of beautiful black dress boots arriving – I KNOW they will be too tight and I need more of a stretch as I want that much looser look than what I obtained on my tan pair. (I HATE the look of some fat oozing over the top-how ever slight) so I Googled the idea of stretching materials, and found you!
    Just want to say a big thank you for posting this! Now I am truly excited to get my boots and stretch them to look just right!

  12. Posted October 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I have no idea if regular booze would work. I use vodka instead of febreeze to clean vintage dresses that are too delicate to be dry cleaned, but I’m not sure if Tequila would result in permanent staining even though some are clear liquors. The vodka and rubbing alcohol evaporate off without a trace. I’d just buy the $3 bottle of rubbing alcohol and regift the tequila to someone who will appreciate it. Or trade the tequila for rubbing alcohol. It might take a few tries to stretch it. Also, some people have good experiences with professional shoe stretching. As you can see from the above story, I did not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try that option too. Good luck!

  13. marissa
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    i have a pair of faux leather boots that are a bit too tight around the calf.. would this method work in stretching them out?

  14. Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Hmmm…I don’t know. I can’t wear fake leather because my feet get too hot. Do a search on “how to stretch fake/faux leather” and see what other people have done.

  15. Carrie Smith
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting! My friend has some boots that she is willing to give me and I am in love!! I put them on and they are too tight around the calfs….So sad. I am a little nervous about stretching them myself…So I just want to be clear. Do I use 100 percent rubbing Alcohol? Or do I mix a certain percent with water? Do I cover the whole boot so it doesn’t make spots? Thanks 🙂

  16. Posted October 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I use 70% isopropyl alcohol right out of the bottle from the drug store. I don’t dilute it at all. The rubbing alcohol will darken the leather initially, but then it evaporates off and doesn’t leave spots after it dries. I would only put it on the area that you want to stretch. If you put it everywhere, the boots will stretch everywhere your foot or leg makes contact with the leather.

  17. Erinn B.
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Years of dancing, horseback riding, and running have left me with tree trunks for legs.
    And while I have found calf high boots that fit I’ve never found a pair of knee highs that would work. I took a chance on some knee highs online with rave reviews about how roomy they were in the calf… So I ordered them and anxiously waited until their arrival yesterday. Opened the box slid them on to my feet starting pulling the zipper and what do you know, stuck at my calf. Of course. I eventually got them zipped and up but I knew it was only shear luck that my leg had not exploded thru the zipper. So I searched for what I could do and found this page. And I have to say GOD BLESS YOU!! Because of your handy little trick and a .99 cent bottle of rubbing alcohol I am now wearing my boots. Not only wearing them, But wearing them over top of skinny jeans. You made my day. THANK YOU!

  18. Mary
    Posted November 5, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I just bought black riding boots w a glossy sheen to them and seem to be a calf skin leather rather than something softer like lambskin. They were fairly expensive so I am worried they might get spotted or discolored. You said the boots you tried were all vintage and had a distressed look. Any idea of how the alcohol will work on ‘glossy’ finish leather?

    I don’t have empty spray bottle so would rubbing on w damp cloth work? TIA!

  19. Posted November 6, 2012 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    A damp cloth with totally work. I don’t know how the alcohol will impact the gloss, but my vintage riding boots have that hard shiny finish too and aren’t distressed looking (I don’t know where my pictures for this post went)…and I’ve had no fogging or discoloration. If your boots have a tongue, or interior pulls, you could do a spot test on those if you are really nervous to check in advance for spotting.

  20. Gail Hahn
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    I have my mom’s tall Frye boots from 1975. If I use two pairs of pliers, I can almost pull them up over my calves. I’m on my way out for alcohol and a spray bottle right now!

  21. Lesley
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Oh wow, I am so excited that I found this website! I was actually looking for a “cobbler” but in a small beach town that is next to impossible to find! I ordered a pair of boots, received them and fell in love. I put one boot on, I felt there was a chance I could get it up, with the help of a shoelace, I did get it zippered all the way up. So here goes the other boot, not a chance in hell that zipper was going past the top of my ankle. I again used the shoelace through the hole in the zipper, and then “POP” there goes the zipper. It came right off! Anyways I am getting a replacement pair and know that they will not fit on one leg. So my question is, do I spray the outside of the boot or the inside? And if you spray the inside, my boots have that foamy like lining, will that cause a problem for stretching? Thank you for posting that I feel more women have a problem with than most will admit!

  22. Posted November 10, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I have no idea how the synthetic lining of your boot will stretch. Try it and report back so all your fellow leg fatties know for future reference! Good luck!

  23. Sharmi
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Do you have to use the rubbing alcohol every time you wear the boot or is it a one time thing?

  24. Posted November 14, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    It depends on the leather. My boots took one application. It’s taken me a couple applications to get other tight shoes to really fit comfortably.

  25. KeyBiscayneGirl
    Posted November 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I too suffer from w i d e calves. I always wanted a beautiful pair of high heeled, smooth leather, sophisticated looking boots, but because of my wide calves and (on the big side) shoe size (9.5-10), it was IMPOSSIBLE. All the boots were huge in the foot, hideously wide at the ankle, and too small on the calf. THEN I FOUND THE HOLY GRAIL- a website (in the UK). You measure your calf and put that in with your shoe size, and it brings up all the styles they have in your size. IT’S FANTASTIC!! I got my boots within 3-4 days and have been a sexy boot wearing, wide calved wonder since! My husband loves them on me (I bought the style called Laurel). They are classic and comfortable, and so beautiful! Two of my friends have also bought boots from Duo, all successfully. They are not crazy expensive either, especially if you consider that you can wear them for years, I wore my last pair for 5 years (until I decided I needed a more “grown up” boot. Good luck ladies!!

  26. Kristine
    Posted November 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I would like to thank you for the advice. Worked so well on my leather boots!!! I have always had a challenge buying boots but thanks to isopropyl alcohol, I could zip up the boots with ease. Came across the “shoe stretcher” spray in Bed, Bath and Beyond for $14.00 and you’re right– main ingredient is just isopropyl alcohol. AMAZING.

  27. Verna
    Posted December 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Do you know if this process would work on suede Bearpaw boots?

  28. Posted December 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I have no idea what Bearpaw boots are, so I can’t comment on how this would work for your boots! I have never tried this on suede.

  29. domesticjenne
    Posted December 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    For those with faux leather boots, it is safe to try this on your shoes. Rubbing alcohol is actually used to get stains off faux leather. Just thought I’d put that out there. Also, thanks for this post. I just bought the cutest boots and they fit perfect around my feet but really tight around the widest part of my calf… I’m trying this out and will post back the results.

  30. Posted December 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that tip on the faux leather!

  31. Alexis
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this awesome tip! My boots barely zip over my bare skin so I’m hoping to stretch them a little.

    I just got a pair of ugg boots (not the fuzzy kind) that are leather and sheepskin, the inside where my calf is is leather and the outside is the fuzzy sheepskin. I have rubbing alcohol but no spray bottle, could I just rub the alcohol on the leather inside with a towel or something? or should I get a spray bottle?

    Also, did you spray them and then while they were wet put them on with jeans? or did you put them on with something else like socks.

  32. Posted December 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Alexis! A rag will totally work as an applicator. You just want to make sure you get the leather damp beyond just the surface. Since some of my shoes tend to bleed dye onto my socks when wet, I would first try this over some thick sacrificial socks or grubby pants you don’t care about to avoid staining your jeans. If no dye comes off the interior of your boots while wet, do a second stretch over your jeans.

  33. Anne
    Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    do i spray the alcohol from inside? how far do i go as to spraying the inside? do i need to spray the outside part too?

  34. Steph
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I just purchased a pair of PURPLE (amazing!) Doc Marten boots from eBay and whilst I know the size is right for my foot (based on my other pairs), I was pretty worried about the calf measurement, as I too have chunky calves. Now that I have found this recommendation, I’m not worrying about the cost of the boots/will they fit?/how will I justify this? etc… Hurrah!! Bring on the alcohol and boots! 😉

  35. Jen
    Posted July 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Will this work for Tory Burch knee high leather boots?? I’m desperate for them but the biggest part of my calf is 15″ and the boots come in 15″ in the calves. I want to be able to wear them with skinny jeans and tights but I’m afarid it’ll be too tight!!! Will the alcohol ruin them??? HELP!

  36. Denise
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this! I bought a pair of what I consider to be THE perfect pair of boots on eBay and to my disappointment, the calf is still too narrow. I had hoped after losing over 80lbs last year and losing 2″ off my calves (from 17″ to 15″) that I would be able to wear knee high boots more easily. Not so! I was going to take them to a shoe shop in London to have them stretched or otherwise altered but when they quoted me the price, it was WAY more than I paid for the boots! So here I am on google, searching for an alternative. I’m so happy to have stumbled on your blog! Looks like I may be able to wear my fab boots after all! 🙂

  37. Marge
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this cheap fix for us wide calved girls! I know so many that search and search for boots with no luck. I have very large 16″ muscular calves (I wear a size 2-4) and all boots either don’t fit or make you look like you have cankles. As my quest continued on again this year for some boots, I finally found some that were able to pull up (with a ton of effort and on bare skin) but really wanted to wear them with skinnys. I’m going to try this the minute I get home! I’m really surprised that more companies don’t realize that there are girls that have calves that are between 15-18″…most companies have their wide calf as 15″ and if you go to plus size shops, they are all 20″. SO. EXCITED!

  38. WarriorGoddess
    Posted October 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I really wanted to like this post, but with all the fat-phobic self-deprecation and intended humor at the expense of people that actually ARE fat, I am left feeling dumbfounded and mildly offended.

    Do you seriously not realize that calling yourself a fattie when you are, in fact, not fat, making sure to explain to people that your legs are actually more muscular than fat because you work out all the time, and acting as though you’re lucky your husband loves you despite your fat legs are all examples of fat phobia? You think you’re being witty and cute but you’re actually engaging in fat-shaming behavior. You’re having a good laugh at the expense of women that actually are fat, and there’s nothing cute or endearing about that.

  39. ann
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    thank you so much for posting this. i just bought a pair of boots from etsy and was really sad when i came home and they were tight in the calf. after reading this, i am hopeful that all is not lost.

  40. Posted November 16, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Hi I have a pair of sexy black suede boots that I can’t zip up over my calf muscle.
    I’ve had them a year now and have only worn them once, after my partner pulled the zips
    Up for me. They were so tight I was afraid I’d get a blood cot so never tried again.
    Do you think this trick of your would be ok on suede?
    Or perhaps would it be better to apply the alcohol on the inside area which is leather?
    Thanks for your post very interesting. Carol B

  41. Posted November 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    I, too blame Molly Ringwald.

    I grew up during that era watching my mom wear fabulous tall riding boots with long wrap skirts and tights with wool shorts. So, when the tall boot came back over a decade ago, I had to have a pair. With my muscular 16 1/2″ calves, I was subjected to the stretchy faux boots-not exactly what I wanted. So, I SPLURGED ($260) and bought a “wide-calf” leather boot from J.Crew. Still, the zipper stopped at the calf. Depressing.

    So, just a few years ago I came across a pair of vintage (80’s) Etienne Aigner tall riding boots that pull-on. Worth every penny! Needless to say, I went on an eBay buying binge and snatched up every Vintage Etienne Aigner boot in my size that I liked. The one thing I found was that the flat riding style had the larger shaft. I have found the vintage zip-up styles to be a bit tight, similar to the Aigner boots manufactured now.

    So, I feel your pain, but thank you for the tip! I acquired a couple of nicer pair prior to discovering the Aigner boots that I will try the alcohol trick with. Thank you.

  42. Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Carolann-

    I have no idea if the alcohol trick will work on suede. I’m assuming it will, but suede shoes spot more readily than leather. Here’s the question you have to ask yourself: is it worth the risk of ruining the boots for resale if the best possible result is sexy boots that fit you? If you are okay with that risk, then do it. (I’d go with your instinct and apply the alcohol to the INSIDE leather lining of the boots). If it’s going to really bum you out that you won’t be able to recover even part of the money you spent on the boots by reselling them if you stain the suede by trying to stretch them, then just resell them and keep looking for boots that will fit you.

    If you do decide to risk it on your suede boots, please report back the results! I’d love to know.

  43. brooke
    Posted December 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi, so my boyfriend bought me a pair of GORGEOUS knee high boots. The shoe itself fit me but I can only get part of my calf into the boot, and I reallllyyyyy want to wear them because he spent $200 dollars on them and I wanna show em off ! Will this help if I just use the alcohol and water ? They don’t zip or lace up, they are supposed to be slide on boots, but with playing soccer for 5 years, and dancing… and plus being a bigger girl… my calves are just to fat!

  44. Bootman
    Posted December 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m so happy I found this forum. I am also a man who loves wearing heels and boots. I recently was given a pair of Italian hand made designer boots, slightly over-knee (but split up the back just above the calf). My first attempt at putting them on resulted in having to PULL them up over my calf. You should have seen my trying to remove them, thought they were stuck on for good lol. I am definitely going to try the 70% iso trick to see how it works and will post my results. First task – test a sample area. I don’t want to mess them up at all!!!

  45. Posted January 1, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Hi Brooke!

    I use rubbing alcohol out of the bottle. I DO NOT dilute the alcohol with water. The rubbing alcohol evaporates off, without leaving water spots. If you are nervous about ruining your boots, do a test run with cheap shoes from the thrift store so you can judge the process for yourself.

    Good luck!

  46. Debbie
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Just came across this. I wish the images were still viewable. I’m gonna try this with my Frye Carson Lug boots that are too snug.

    I also want to add that I still, to this day, covet Molly Ringwald’s boots in The Breakfast Club. <3

  47. Emma
    Posted February 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    This article is brilliant and a great help, THANK YOU but I was wondering if you could help me out with these particuliar shoes?

    I recently bought an amazing pair of vintage leather heels on etsy. But as the curse of online shopping dictates, they were too small, especially in the front (the back has a piece of wood in it, I think). So small in fact, I can’t get my foot into them – though almost with stockings on. Here’s how they look for reference:

    Do you think the rubbing alcohol could work on these delicate shoes? And is there anything I should take into account if I do it?
    Thank you in advance!

  48. Posted March 3, 2014 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Hi Emma!

    Etsy is not letting me see a big picture of your shoes so I can see the condition of them. Be aware that vintage leather shoes are often EXTREMELY brittle. So before you try the alcohol trick, I recommend that you slather the shoes with Lexol or another leather conditioner to moisturize the leather so they don’t rip or crack instead of stretching. Just the leather conditioner might be enough to allow for stretching. However, leather conditioners are oily, so they might darken the color of your shoes. (Alcohol evaporates off, and leaves no trace).

    For vintage pointy shoes, sadly, my first recommendation is to resell them. Vintage feet are narrower than modern feet, so often times vintage shoes will run really, really tight. Believe me. I feel your pain. I just had to give back the most perfect pair of coral heels, that my friend gave me because they were too tight in the toe and too lose in the heel.

    Good luck!

  49. Lena
    Posted January 22, 2015 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Hello I was wondering if this works on rubber rain boots as well. Only for the calf how could I loose it?

  50. Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Hi Lena–

    I don’t think this will work on rubber rain boots. Good luck with finding rain boots that fit! I feel your pain.

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