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How to make small shoes bigger -- with a blow dryer

This quick trick will give your shoes a custom fit.

making-shoes-bigger.jpg

Grab some socks and your blow dryer to make your shoes fit just right.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Whether they're heels, dress shoes, flats or sandals, leather shoes can be stretched to better fit your foot. You'll need a blow dryer, some socks and two minutes per foot.

How to stretch your shoes

Put on two layers of thick socks --I used athletic socks -- and stuff your feet into the too-tight shoes. Set your blow dryer to medium heat and point it at the area that pinches your foot. Be sure to move the dryer back and forth and keep the nozzle a few inches away to prevent scorching the shoe.

Warm the area for two minutes while wiggling your toes and flexing your foot. The combination of socks, foot stretching and heat will make your shoes expand. I felt the material on my shoes expand within the first 10 seconds, but continued the full two minutes to make sure the change was permanent.

Remember: leather only

Sometimes it is hard to tell if your shoe is really leather or just artificial leather. While the trick does work on some fake leathers, it doesn't work on all of them. If you don't know, don't risk it.

Here's some insurance, though, in case you misidentified your shoes' material. If you're heating your shoe and the material seems to be wrinkling, stop right away. Wrinkles can be a sign that your pleather is a vinyl or some type of synthetic leather that doesn't respond well to heat.

Finish up

Wear the shoes with the socks still on until the material cools. This will keep the shoes from shrinking back to their normal size.

When cool, you should be able to wear the shoes normally with no pain. The number of socks you wear is up to you.