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In this week's Shoe Q&A we have a question from Lauren O'Farrell, editor of our fabulous sister site Crafty Crafty and long-standing lover of the DM boot. Lauren asked us:

"Dr Martens are the comfiest boots ever once you have worn them in. Any advice about doing this without the hideous pain?"

Lauren's question has been around as long as there have been DMs, and I'm sure we've all been there at some point. In fact, any boot or shoe that is designed to mould to the feet can cause this problem: you just have to grit your teeth and pray that the payoff will be a supremely comfortable pair that eventually fit perfectly to your body's natural contours. Or do you? Surely there has to be a better way...

So, what is the secret to wearing in a pair of DM boots? 

The most fundamental point seems obvious but needs to be raised: ensure you have the correct fit when you buy. This means no going down half a size for an 'unmissable' sale bargain, and no ordering online without trying first. Even if you already have that size, the various different materials and finishes used to create the lovely patterns and colours can slightly alter the fit.

Next, you'll need to limit the amount of time you spend wearing them at first. We know this is virtually impossible: keeping your feet away from any new pair of shoes or boots is a real struggle, but you'll get used to them more quickly if you first wear them for short periods of time. The best way is to wear them for periods of 1-2 hours at home, taking them off once they start to hurt. Then by all means wear them to work, but don't set out on any long walks or go clubbing in them: you need to gradually increase wearing time until they're comfortable.


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The makers of DM boots know that they hurt like crazy when first worn, so they've come up with their own magic solution: it's called Doctor Marten's Wonder Balsam. You can rub this in to the inner seams of the boot to soften them, and this prevents a lot of the causes of rubbing. It's only £6 a tub, and once you're comfy in your boots you can use it to protect and buff up the uppers of the boots. 

You can continue to break in your boots even when you're not wearing them. If you think the leather needs stretching a little, pack them full of newspaper and leave it in over night. Or if you're feeling adventurous, more extreme methods rumoured to have been used by punk rockers in the 70s and 80s include wearing the boots all night in bed, striking them with a mallet or sledgehammer. rubbing the leather with alcohol or soaking the boots in the bath till the leather is soft. It's really up to you how much effort you want to put in! There is always, of course, the option of covering your feet in blister plasters and sucking it up till the pain subsides...

Related: Are Louboutins comfortable? We explore whether the most famous heels in the world can ever be easy on the feet.