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How to Break In Dr. Martens: A Step-by-Step Guide

My three pairs of vegan dr martens

Dr. Martens are iconic for their durability, style, and comfort. But how to break Dr Martens in? I own four pairs of docs, three are vegan. Fresh out of the box, Dr. Martens are stiff. Especially vegan Dr Marten's.

The toughness factor of vegan leather is no joke! It will be challenging to break them in, but it will be worth the time and energy. For those ready to shop here is an Amazon affiliate link for vegan Dr. Martens.

The Breaking-in Process

Breaking in a new pair of shoes, especially Dr. Martens, can be challenging but rewarding. Start by wearing the thickest socks you own to protect your feet from blisters and give the stiff leather time to adjust. The breaking-in process typically takes a long period of time. Mine took at least a good month, so be patient.

A good strategy is to wear your new boots for short periods, around 10-20 minute intervals. Gradually increase the time as the leather begins to soften. Using a blow dryer or hair dryer on a low setting can help make the leather more pliable, speeding up the break-in period.

Protecting Your Feet

Inserting heel pads or using shoe trees can also help maintain the shape of your boots and prevent painful blisters. Cushioned hiking socks or boot socks provide extra padding. This will ensure your feet through friction remain blister-free. Remember, taking breaks and not overdoing it is crucial. Give your feet a bit of breathing room to avoid sore feet.

'Tips' for Success

Some people recommend stuffing your boots with balled-up newspaper. They suggest that this can aid in stretching the leather without damaging it. I am not convinced of this, especially with the vegan leather being so tough.

From my experience, you need something stronger. You might have more luck with wooden shoe stretchers or seek advice from a shoe care specialist.

After initial breaking-in wear your boots in 1-2 hour intervals over 1-2 weeks. Investing in extra pairs of socks and backup shoes for quick outings can also help during this transition period. With patience and the right methods, your new leather boots will become comfy shoes and a style staple for many years to come.

How to Break Dr. Martens In Step-By Step

Step 1: Choose the Right Size

First things first, ensure your Dr. Martens fit correctly. They should feel snug but not overly tight, with enough room to wiggle your toes. Remember, vegan leather does not stretch as much as regular leather. The shoes won't expand much in width. So, choosing the right size from the start is crucial.

If you're worried about size, I would recommend going up a size. The only exception would be Dr Martens vegan sandals. The sandals are a little more forgiving than the boot and school shoes.

Step 2: Wear Thick Socks

Start by wearing thick socks. You can also wear multiple pairs. They will protect your feet and make a cushioning barrier. This will not only prevent blisters but also stretch the leather gently. If you don't protect your feet, you won't be able to stretch your shoes.

Step 3: Soften the Leather

Before you take your first steps, soften the leather. You can use a leather conditioner, Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam is not vegan. Apply it to the leather, focusing on the seams and areas where the shoe bends. This will help soften the material and make it more pliable. This will also protect your shoes from damage.

Step 4: Break Them in Gradually

Resist the urge to wear your new Docs for a full day right away. Start by wearing them for short periods around the house. Gradually increase the time as your shoes start to feel more comfortable. This slow process prevents blisters. It also lets the leather mould to your foot's shape.

When I bought my boots I wore three pairs of socks. I started by walking around the house and built up to walking around my block. Even then it took a good few weeks to get them to where I was comfortable. When I started wearing them to work I still wore two pairs of socks, just to be sure (and to help them stretch a little more).

Step 5: Use a Shoe Stretcher or Spoon

For particularly tight spots, consider using a shoe stretcher overnight. Or, a spoon can work wonders. Use the back of the spoon to rub and stretch tight areas, mimicking the natural bending of your foot.

Step 6: Bend and Twist

Manually bending and twisting the shoe can also help. Hold the heel in one hand and the toe in the other, then gently bend the shoe back and forth. This mimics the natural movement of walking and helps loosen the leather.

Step 7: Be Patient

Patience is key when breaking in Dr. Martens. It can take a few weeks to fully break them in. But, once you do, you'll have a comfy, custom-fit shoe that can last for years. My Dr Martens are my go-to work shoes and I have a pair to suit every season. Once you break them in, they are comfortable.

Bonus Tip: Address Blisters Immediately

woman with feet against wall

If you do get blisters, treat them immediately to prevent further discomfort. Bandages or blister plasters can be a lifesaver. Use them as you continue breaking in. If you get blisters you won't want to wear your Docs and that is a tragedy.


I hope this blog on how to break Dr. Martens in is helpful. Breaking in Dr. Martens is hard. But, with patience and persistence, it will lead to comfort and style. Follow these steps. They will speed up the break-in process and ensure your shoes are ready for many years of adventures. Remember, every step takes you closer to the perfect fit. You will be rewarded for your perseverance! Click on the Amazon affiliate link to buy Dr. Martens. To read more on Dr. Martens read Are Vegan Doc Martens Good? A Review.


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