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How to break in Doc Martens quickly and painlessly

How to break in Doc Martens quickly and painlessly

Doc Martens, Dr Martens.  Whatever you want to call them, they are THE fashion boot that just keeps gaining popular momentum.  The are fashionable, easy to wear, and can tackle the toughest weather.  Their only downfall?  Well, the first few wears can be rough on your poor delicate heels.  Think of it like a murder scene involving the back of your ankles.  

BUT, if you follow these steps to break in your Doc martens quickly, you will not only find a new go-to shoe, but you avoid the hobbling cries from your feet. 

How to break in doc martens:

how to soften doc marten boots

First when picking out your Doc Martens, you have to choose the right size. 

What size of Doc Marten’s should I buy?

It should first be explained that Doc Martens do not have half sizes.  So if you are a half size it is recommended that you buy the size below  (mean if you’re a 7.5, get a 37 or 7 size for these chic boots). 
They are generally true to size.  So when trying on your Docs they should be snug but not uncomfortable. Also consider trying them on with your preferred sock choice, as sometimes extra thick socks will be worn with your boots. 
Be careful regarding the width of your docs. You don’t want them to be too tight in the width, as this will the hardest part of the shoe to stretch out. 

Will my docs stretch out?

Doc marten boots will stretch out some with more wear.  Eventually, they will conform generally to the shape of your foot.  In the beginning they will be more snug, and you shouldn’t buy a larger size to compensate for this.  If you want to accelerate your timeline for stretching out your Doc Marten boots, try wearing an extra thick pair of socks and wearing them for 10 minutes at a at a time, 3 times a day.  Walking around your house or in close proximity to your house will be easiest, as you don’t want to overdo it and end up with sore feet. 

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How do I soften my Doc Martens quickly? 

What you need:

Boot and Shoe Stretch Spray

This shoe spray is the quick and easy method to stretching out your docs asap so that you don’t waste any time in styling those chic boots.  

Shoe Stretcher

I suggest a boot shoe stretcher, especially when paired with the shoe stretching spray. These two work very well together and will get the quickest, most even results.  Ideally, you want a two-way shoe stretcher so that you can stretch out the width of the boots as well.

You can also try this two-way stretcher if you want more flexibility to use it with other shoes.

Extra Thick pair of socks

Not only will these socks help you break in your shoes, but they will also protect your feet from blisters, and help push the sides of the docs out- which will help them mold to your feet and feel like a second skin.  Even after you do the initial stretching and breaking in, your docs will take a few tries to mold to your specific feet. So thick socks will help this process be pain-free. 

The following socks are also a great option as they are made for construction boots or hiking boots and are top rated for their cushion and protection.

related: Fall Winter Outfit Ideas for your docs

Optional: Moleskin pads

Once you start wearing your docs out, it’s possible that some parts of the boot will start to break in before the others. Pick up a pair of Dr. Scholl’s moleskin pads to help soften the blow. Simply cut them to the shape that fits best in your shoe or within the area that is still painful.

Steps to break in your Docs (quickly!)

how to break in your doc martens quickly and easily
  1. Loosen the laces (but do not remove) 
  2. Spray the insides of your Doc Martens until they are lightly saturated.  Paying extra attention to the seamed areas (like the back seam and the connection point between the sole and the boot).
  3. Grab a washcloth, cut it in half, and spay it (with your stretching spray) until wet (not soaked).  Wrap the washcloth halves around your wooden shoe stretcher and place it inside the boot. If you need help with using your shoe stretcher, check out this article.  Unless you have very petite feet, I like to use one of the largest settings on the shoe stretcher so that the process is sped up. 
  4. Use balled up newspaper, tightly packed up the “leg” of the boot, and lace up your shoes tightly. 
  5. Leave for 24 hours minimum, 48 hours max.  
  6. Remove stretcher and try on.  If they still feel tight, repeat the process accordingly. Although this has always worked in one try for me. 

How to break in your docs with things you have in your house already:

how to soften up docs in 24 hours

Ok, this method is a little more time intensive and CAN be a bit harder on your feet.  

  1. First, you’re going to put on the thickest socks you own, and if you can fit two pairs on and still get into your docs that is even better. 
  2. Next, you are going to wear them for 10-20 min intervals 3 times a day. You want to walk around your house (or close by) so that you can take them off if your feet start to ache. 
  3. Increase the intervals by 10 minutes each day.

 To speed up this process you can also take a hairdryer and heat up your shoes while you are wearing them.

Take your hair dryer on medium or high heat, 6 inches away from your boot, and blow your shoes (with your feet inside) for 30 second intervals.  Each “problem” spot should receive its only 30 second treatment. 

After you applied the heat to each area proceed to walk around your house until the boots have “cooled” down. Do not take them off until they are back to room temperature as doing so will prevent them from being stretched out.  Essentially we are trying to “mold” them to our feet faster, and your feet need to be in them for this to happen. 

How do I avoid my docs from looking too worn?

how to break in your doc martens quickly, and avoid creases

Breaking in your Doc Martens quickly can lead to break lines or creases in the shoes, this is normal.
Use this balm on your shoes to add some moisture back into your shoes/leather and prevent the creases from being more obvious.  

How do I apply the wonder balsam to my docs?

Make sure your docs are clean of any dirt or debris.  Gently wipe them down with a washcloth. 
Next, using the provided sponge, work a small amount of wonder balsam* into the leather. Pay special attention to the seams and easily creased areas. 
Let the balm dry for 5 minutes and you are good to go.

Can I use the wonder balsam on patent leather Doc Martens?

No, the wonder balsam will give your boots a more matte finish, so it is not recommended for the glitter or patent leather docs.  
To avoid deep creases use a shoe stretcher (in your size) to hold the shape of your docs when not wearing them.  

TIP: If you get your docs extremely wet, use your shoe stretcher to hold their shape (in your size) while they dry.  This will prevent large creases or breaks in the leather from forming.


What doc martens are most popular this season?

For fall/winter 2020, the Jadon 8-eye Doc martens are the “it” shoe.  However, the beauty of Docs is that the classic combat lace up boot is always a popular choice and go-to style staple.

The Jadon 8-eye Dr. Marten’s are the perfect classic iteration of the chunky boot trend, and adds a bit of height to your look without sacrificing functionality.

related: shoe trends 2020

Here are some other docs I love:
The BEST insoles to add to your Doc Martens:

How do I break in Dr Martens sandals?

Breaking in Dr. Marten’s sandals follows the same guidelines as regular boots, but it is usually faster.
1. Put on thick socks – even though they are sandals they can still cause blisters before the leather is broken in
2. Wear them around the house for short periods of time
3. Try the blow dryer technique if you want to speed up the process
4. As they break in, take them outside more on short errands or quick outtings. (always bring an extra pair of shoes when you do this)
5. Add blister protection to your feet or moleskin pads to your sandals to avoid any rubbing
6. Gradually increase the amount of time you wear them in a day until they are fully broken in.

How long does it take to fully break in Doc Martens?

On average, it takes 3-6 weeks to fully break in your docs. It can be sped up by using heat techniques or wearing them with socks to increase the break in period. However, while they may be wearable, the full break in period will come at around 3 weeks.

How do I wear doc martens if I have a feminine style?

Doc Martens do not have to “only” be for edgy fashion. In fact, lace up boots like Docs pair perfectly well with a fitted or feminine style dress.  

Some of the most stylish, eye catching outfits pull from two fashion categories. 

Here are some examples:

how to make docs more feminine

Slip dress with docs

The slip dress is extremely feminine and girly and the docs complement the outfit while still keeping it casual and not overly sexy. If the oversized jacket is too much for you, you could try adding a cropped jacket to this look, or a knit cardigan.  

related: how to wear a slip dress in IRL

white t-shirt outfit ideas , 90's style

Try it with a classic white t-shirt, with a bit of 90’s flair. You can check out more white t-shirt outfit ideas, here.

Other examples 

A jumpsuit is a great way to add a more feminine, less edgy, but still modern style to doc martens.

And, a girly dress goes great with docs.

for more outfit ideas, check out all my outfit idea posts here.

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    Doc Martens are a style staple that I simply never want to go away, and lucky for us all, they continue to stand the test of time.  Whether you like the platform docs, the mary jane style, or chunky loafer docs, you need to heed my advice and break them in properly.

    Don’t end up with a blood bath in your boot.  Your feet deserve better. So follow these steps and rock this stylish combat boot the sane way, by breaking them in, first. 

    Pin the below image. Your feet will thank you.

    how to break in your doc marten boots quickly


    Saturday 13th of February 2021

    I have a high arch on the top of my foot. I just got a pair or doc combat boots and they fit perfect every when except they are tight right where the tongue starts on the top of my foot. Will they break in at this spot? Idk what to do.


    Saturday 13th of February 2021

    are you talking about where the tongue begins to go up your ankle or where it begins closer to your toes? both of those spots will loosen up. Arch supports should help you longterm for comfort. But in order to break in either of these spots I would get on your thickest pair of socks and walk up and down stairs for about 15 minutes a day. In a few days that spot should have broken in.

    Hope Cole

    Thursday 15th of October 2020

    I have the chelsea boot docs, They a snug everywhere but my toes, I feel like there's still room at the top. Are they too big? Should I return for a smaller size?


    Thursday 15th of October 2020

    Room at the top is ok (space above your foot), they tend to be a bit bulkier shoes. What you want to avoid is too much room in front of your toes, so if you have more than the width of your thumb between your big toe and the front edge of the boot I would size down.