Accessories, Fashion

4 Tips To Break In Doc Martens & Make Them The Most Comfortable Shoe You Own

How to break in Doc Martens

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s spring editorial intern Katelyn Rodriguez. Find her on Instagram at @katelynrodwrites. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

Last year I purchased a pair of Dr. Martens 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea boots for my impending trip to England. It marked one of my first major shoe purchases, but it also meant I had to break them in during the last few months before leaving. My roommates at the time told me all about how painstaking the break-in process was going to be, so I made sure to stock up on bandaids beforehand. While my break-in process was minimally painful since I have a wide foot and had to size down, it was worth it in the end. Whether you currently have a pair to break in or are considering purchasing some, here are four tips on how to break in Doc Martens.


Wear them for short intervals


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♬ The Less I Know The Better – Tame Impala

This one might be obvious, but it is one of the most necessary. One of the first tricks I used to break in my Docs was wearing them in my apartment for short intervals of around 10 minutes. I would also wear two pairs of thick socks while walking around in them. While the two-sock method worked for a little bit, I found it to be one of the more difficult methods since it was hard to get my foot into the boot. I am also very impatient and wanted to show off my new boots. I decided to start wearing them for short intervals while going to classes or running errands so they would experience more movement to aid in the stretching process. While my Chelsea boots didn’t rub against my foot and cause bleeding or many blisters, I still had bandaids on hand to use as an extra precaution. I wouldn’t recommend being like me and wearing them outside of the house for a few hours because trust me, I paid for it in the end. Wearing them in the house will provide enough stretch for starters.

The good ‘ole heat method

I learned about the heat method while Googling the best break-in methods, but never felt comfortable enough doing it myself. It entails heating your Docs with your hairdryer to make the leather more pliable when you eventually wear them and will help with the usually slow break-in process. Some people put a balm on the boot before heating them, but the majority that I’ve seen don’t, so it depends on personal preference.

Get them professionally stretched


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♬ Show Me How (Album V) – Men I Trust

I ended up sporting my Docs during my trip to England. While wearing them I ended up having pain in the width of my foot where it was still too tight despite my best efforts to stretch them out beforehand. Was the pain worth it? Kind of because my outfits ended up looking great despite the 16+ hours of walking I ended up doing some days while in London. However, once I was back home in California I ended up taking them to a shoe repair shop to have them professionally stretched. It roughly cost $12 to get them stretched, which is less than I thought it would be. After three days of waiting, I got my boots back. They finally fit perfectly and haven’t caused me any pain since. If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend getting them professionally stretched so that you don’t have to worry about attempting to do it yourself. However, if you don’t live near a shoe repair shop, you can stuff things into your Docs to stretch them out, such as cans or newspapers or buy your own shoe stretcher.


Doc Marten leather balm

One of the products the Dr. Martens website recommends for aiding the break-in process is Wonder Balsam. I’ve heard great things about this product being used to soften the leather of Docs. According to the Dr. Martens website, in addition to softening the leather of the boot, it also adds a protective coating to it which is a bonus.

Overall, there are lots of things you can do to break in doc martens to make them the most comfortable pair of shoes. I hope these tips help with the initial confusion breaking in new boots may bring. 

Do you have any other tips on how to break in Doc Martens? Let us know in the comments below!

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