Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Do TOMS stretch or should you be thinking about sizing up when you buy them?
I know that when I buy a new pair of their shoes I spend some time considering the sizing before I buy them. Why because I want to make sure I haven’t bought a pair that is too snug and is going to hurt my feet or alternatively that is already feeling loose and could get too big with wear.
Neither situation is great so it sometimes feels like I am walking a tightrope trying to get the right size. No wonder so many people buy the same type of shoes over and over again because once you have found something that fits it is so much easier to purchase the same style of shoes again.
So here is what I have found from wearing TOMS which will hopefully give you a better idea of what to consider when you are buying a pair of their shoes.
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Do TOMS Shoes Stretch Out With Wear?
Whenever I have worn TOMS shoes I have found that the shoes do stretch with wear but how much they will do this varies depending on the material the shoe is made from.
I primarily wear TOMS Alpargata shoes which are made from canvas. I tend to buy them so they feel a bit snug (but not painfully so) and know that by wearing them regularly the canvas tends to give a little. The elastic at the front of the shoe as you can see from my picture also stretches making them a better fit.
The fact is that good quality canvas has a certain amount of give in it. So the pressure from your feet stretches the canvas weave and causes it to expand. I find that most of the pressure I put on my shoes is on the toe box area so that is where I see the most movement.
Whilst everyone associates TOMS with canvas shoes they also have plenty of leather and suede styles. These should also stretch with wear but not as fast as their canvas footwear.
Breaking in your shoes helps if they feel too snug as it helps you to get the right size without having to deal with foot pain to get there. You can also use stretching methods which I’ll talk about later which can help you to get a better fit.
I’m going to state the obvious here if your TOMS shoes feel uncomfortable and painful when you first try them on then size up. I can’t stand uncomfortable shoes and won’t put up with them now and you shouldn’t either.
Wearing TOMS that are too small and painful isn’t going to work because they only stretch slightly which means you are going to be stuck with a pair of shoes that you can’t wear.
How Much Do TOMS Stretch?
Now I guess you are all asking how much do TOMS stretch?
I obviously haven’t worn every style of shoes that they have created but from my experience with their canvas shoes I think they stretch by half a size or less when I have worn them regularly.
As I said before I buy them so they are snug (not overly tight) and as my foot places pressure on the shoes, they will stretch slightly over time so they become much more comfortable.
Other materials such as leather or suede may not give as much with wear so if yours are feeling tight you may need to give them a little extra help to get them to fit properly. The good news is that both leather and suede shoes can be stretched.
I still believe that buying the right size from the start is crucial if you want their styles to feel comfortable. You are always going to take a chance if you buy a pair of shoes that feels too tight or too loose and think you can make adjustments to the fit to make them wearable. I only make adjustments like stretching or adding inserts when I absolutely have to.
It’s worth mentioning that how you treat your TOMS shoes can also have an impact on fit. I wear mine in the summer months when there is no rain forecast so I don’t ruin my shoes. I don’t wear them in heavy rain or in snow for that matter because they are not designed to deal with weather extremes.
Whilst my TOMS can deal with a light shower there is no way that I would wear them in heavy rain because any water resistance they have fails and my feet get wet. Wet canvas shoes can be dried of course but they are more likely to impact the material and make it loose over time.
How Should TOMS Fit?
Getting the sizing of TOMS right from the start of the buying process is always the best solution.
I find that sometimes getting the right size is a bit of trial and error. Sometimes I try on a number of their classic styles before I choose a pair that works for me.
You should note that many TOMS styles such as the Alpagarta that I have are quite narrow. This means that I often need to size up in order to get the best fit for my feet or buy their wide-width styles.
If I try and cram my feet into ones that are the wrong size they instantly feel uncomfortable and are difficult to get on and off.
When I have the width right I check that I have room at the front of the shoes where my toes are. Don’t buy shoes where your toes are crammed in and touching the front of the shoe. You should have a little room to give your toes space to move.
You also want to make sure that the shoes aren’t too loose either otherwise your feet are going to be moving around inside them which can cause blisters. As they do stretch a little this will only get worse.
My best advice is never to go just by your shoe size because even though people will say they are true to size this isn’t always the case and I much prefer to try my shoes on for fit first so I don’t make expensive mistakes like I used to in the past.
Should They Be Tight-Fitting At First?
I think that TOMS shoes should always be snug when you first wear them but I wouldn’t want them to feel so tight that wearing them feels uncomfortable. If you have any of the following size up:
- Toes hitting the front of your shoes.
- The material feels as if it is cutting off your circulation or causing pain or friction.
- Your toes have no room to move.
- It is almost impossible to get the shoes on and off your feet easily.
- Your feet slip around when you try walking in the shoes.
Never compromise on comfort for the sake of a style of shoe. TOMS do stretch but they are never going to do this by much so don’t buy them if you are hoping things will get more comfortable because they probably won’t.
Do TOMS Come in Half Sizes?
The one thing I will applaud TOMS for offering is lots of shoes in half sizes. This is increasingly a rarity with some shoe brands that I review and this is not great for the customer.
Most of their classic styles such as the Alpargatas come in half sizes making it easier to get the fit you want. You might have more of a problem with some of the limited edition styles.
Half sizes make a huge difference in fit as they allow you to be more precise with the footwear you buy for comfort. Trying to make whole sizes work for some people just isn’t practical and often you end up compromising on shoe fit.
It is all very well for shoe brands to say size up or down but what I really think is that the manufacturer doesn’t care much about the customer if they are trying to make them buy shoes that aren’t right for their feet.
What To Do If Your TOMS Are Tight Across Top Of Foot
If you find that your shoes are too tight across the top part of your foot when you try them on there are some really easy solutions you can use.
The first thing I do is try the next size up to see if that gives me more room. If the next size isn’t doing the trick then I would try on a pair of their wide-width shoes as they are much roomier across the foot and personally, I find they often fit my feet better.
You can also remove the insole of the shoes but I wouldn’t really recommend this as the shoes are going to be uncomfortable without it.
Breaking your shoe in by gradually wearing them can help but not if the tightness is painful. Usually, I would suggest that you take them back to the store if this is the case. If you have left it too late to do this then you will need to think about stretching them manually.
Canvas, leather and suede shoes can all be stretched with the right methods but remember you can only stretch the uppers, not the base which is usually made from EVA. This will obviously limit how large you can make them.
Breaking In Your Shoes
I personally haven’t worn TOMS shoes in styles other than their canvas materials.
Generally, I have found canvas TOMS to be relatively comfortable right from the start provided I got the sizing right when I bought them.
If I have found them to be a little tight I’ve worn them for an hour or two at a time around the house usually whilst wearing a thick pair of socks. Over a week or so I gradually increase the time I wear them and that tends to do the trick.
Leather shoes tend to take a little longer especially if the leather isn’t soft so bear that in mind. The good news is they are so much easier to break in than shoes like Doc Martens which can take an age to fit comfortably.
How To Stretch TOMS
I should point out that I have of course made plenty of mistakes in the past and bought shoes that didn’t fit. Some of them have sat in my closet for years but for others, I’ve taken the time to stretch them to fit better.
Just about every shoe can be stretched to some degree but the key is to do it without damaging them or making them so large that they no longer fit you.
I have a few favorite methods that I use which I’ll go into detail on. There are also plenty of other dafter methods out there that I tend to stay away from. I’ll mention them but I suggest you only do these if you are desperate.
Wear Thick Socks
I’ve already mentioned my first method which is wearing thick socks whilst wearing TOMS shoes.
This is the easiest method as it is unlikely to damage your shoes and costs nothing as I already own the socks.
I just wear the TOMS shoes around the house with socks on inside them and that tends to give me the extra space I need to make them comfortable for me.
Use a Shoe Stretcher
Once upon a time if you wanted to get your shoes stretched you would go to a shoe repair shop and get the cobbler to stretch your shoes. Now there is no need because you can buy the stretchers for cheaper than the cost of the repair at the store.
I have a cheap four-way shoe stretcher that I use as you can see in the picture. I just pop it into my shoe and either create extra space in the length of the shoe or in the width by turning the screws to put pressure on the shoes. These TOMS don’t need resizing but as you can see the stretcher easily fits into the shoe.
With materials like canvas, I would do this gently as the last thing you want to do is put too much pressure on the shoes and split the seams.
Twenty-four hours of stretching is usually enough to make them looser but of course, you can prolong that if you need extra space.
Use Shoe Stretching Spray Or Make Your Own
There are also products you can buy called shoe stretching sprays.
These are super easy to use as all you need to do is spray the inside of your TOMS shoes with the product and walk around in them for a while to stretch out the material.
Make sure you are buying a spray that is suitable for the material your TOMS are made from.
You can also make your own if you want to save money. Just fill a spray bottle with 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol and give it a shake before you use it.
If you want you can also put the spray on the inside of your shoes first and then use a shoe stretcher to make the material give a little.
The Freezer Method
I see so many people mention this method that I thought I should as well however it is my least favorite way of stretching shoes and frankly I’m not convinced it works that well.
It involves half-filling a plastic bag with water and then placing it inside your TOMS in the area where they need to be stretched. If you pop your shoes in another bag and place them in the freezer the water will solidify and expand putting pressure on the canvas material and causing it to stretch.
When you have left the shoes in the freezer for 24 hours take the bag out and let it defrost before removing the water bag.
Whilst this is a cheap method the results can be really variable and often not worth the time and effort. The only good side to this method is that it costs virtually nothing to do.
How To Stretch TOMS for Wide Feet
Do TOMS stretch for wider feet?
Well, I think there is really no need now for people to stretch TOMS for wide feet anymore.
Once upon a time they just used to sell their shoes in a medium width but now they do wider sizes there is no excuse not to buy a pair that fits correctly from the start. As an example these TOMS Women’s, Alpargata Recycled Slip-On’s come in a wide width for a roomier shoe.
The wider-width styles for women are usually 3/8″ larger than the medium width and for men that is nearer to 1/4″. The wider fit will give you more room in the toe box and forefoot area.
With so much better choice you should be able to find a pair that fits your fit comfortably.
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