From ankle booties to equestrians, no fall or winter wardrobe is complete without a new pair of boots. But while boots may be one of my very favorite items to shop for (I just splurged on this Burberry pair in black), my initial enthusiasm is often undermined when I wear my new pair out for the first time. (If you’ve ever slipped on a brand-new pair of shoes only to discover they rub at the heels and pinch at the toes, then you know what I mean.) Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize the not-so-comfy break-in period. Without further ado, here are my 5 sole-saving tips for wearing in new boots

1. Wear them around the house.

I like to wear new boots around the house with a few pairs of thick socks. They will feel a bit snug, but the extra padding should protect your skin from blistering while you break the boots in.

2. Stuff them.

When I’m not wearing my boots, I like stuffing my boots with a rolled towel to stretch them. This is also a great way to help your boots keep their shape once you’re past the break-in period.

3. Spray them.

Fill a spray bottle with a 1:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and water, and then lightly spritz the inside of your boots. This is the same formula that shoemakers use to stretch and relax leather fibers.

4. Leave it to a professional.

A cobbler is good for much more than repairing broken heels and replacing worn out soles. If you have a professional you trust with your footwear, you can also ask them to stretch out a pair of brand new boots for you. It usually takes 30-minutes or less!

5. Freeze them!

Fill an airtight freezer baggie with water (preferably the larger size) then place the baggie inside the boot so it hits the toe. If you’re nervous about the baggie leaking, use duck tape to keep it sealed. Then place the boot into another plastic bag and seal it tightly. Repeat with your second boot and then place both boots (upright) into your freezer for one full day. The idea is that the water will freeze and the ice will expand, thus stretching the boot from the inside. After 24-hours, set the boots outside of the freezer and let them thaw out and then remove the baggie and wear your freshly stretched boots!

If you have trouble with the above techniques, bare in mind that different boots will require different amounts of break-in time depending on how stiff the leather is to begin with. The hard truth is that most pairs of boots will need to be worn for a couple of weeks before they’re truly comfortable. If you can work though this break-in period, however, the leather will mold to the shape of your foot and you’ll never want to take them off. If all else fails, follow tip #4!

Do you have any tips of your own for wearing in new boots?

Let me know in the comments below.

Also, if you have any tips to prevent sweaters from pilling, share that below too!

XO Lauren