how to break in canvas shoes

Canvas shoes are made from canvas, with a rubber, leather or fibre sole. These multi-purpose shoes come in a range of styles, from lace-ups to slips-ons and pumps.

Why wear canvas shoes?

Canvas shoes have many benefits, which make them a popular choice of footwear for men and women. Canvas shoes are comfortable, lightweight, easy to clean and can be paired with a wide range of outfits.

When are canvas shoes worn?

Canvas shoes are appropriate for a variety of locations and environments, including:

  • At the gym. With their lightweight and fitted style, canvas shoes are great to wear in the gym. They’re particularly useful when you’re performing squats or dead-lifts, as their flat sole allows you to dig your heels in to keep your balance.
  • While playing sports. Canvas shoes are a favourite for basketball, hockey and tennis players because the rubber sole grips well on indoor surfaces. They’re also suitable for skateboarding.
  • On holiday. In hot weather, canvas shoes allow air through to cool your feet. They’re also machine-washable – perfect for getting out those last bits of sand from the beach when you’re back home.

Canvas shoes: tips and maintenance

How do you break in canvas shoes?

As with any footwear, you’ll need to break in your new canvas shoes after you’ve unboxed them. Follow these steps to wear them in quickly.

  1. Gently bend each shoe back and forth, then side to side.
  2. Put on socks, then the shoes.
  3. Lean in different directions and stand on your heels and toes to loosen the material.
  4. If your shoes are too snug, place a jar in each of them and leave overnight to stretch them out.
  5. Wear the shoes indoors for several days before taking them outside.

Are canvas shoes good for winter?

Canvas shoes are not made for winter weather. The material isn’t waterproof and won’t do an effective job of insulating your feet against cold temperatures.

Canvas shoes are also susceptible to salt stains – especially if the roads have been gritted – and this can damage the stitching. If you want to wear your favourite canvas shoes in winter, it’s a good idea to shop for a waterproof version of your favourite style. Learn the best hacks for caring for your shoes in winter.

Can I run in canvas shoes?

Although the flat sole of canvas shoes is great for some sports and exercises, it’s not as good for running as it doesn’t provide enough stability for the foot.

If you’re going to be walking or running extensively, leave your canvas shoes at home and opt for trainers that will provide the lateral movement, shock absorption and support your feet need.

Should I wear socks with canvas shoes?

Depending on the outfit you’re going for, socks may or may not be an option. The truth is you can wear canvas shoes either with or without socks.

Wearing any kind of shoe without socks increases the chance of both of your shoes and feet becoming smelly during the day. If you want to go for the no socks look, try wearing trainer socks or shoe liners as an alternative.

How do I clean canvas shoes?

Cleaning your canvas shoes is straightforward and easy. Throw them in the washing machine with some standard detergent and the stains should lift right out.

You can get the best results by cleaning them by hand. Just follow these steps:

  1. Fill a bowl or bucket with warm water.
  2. Stir in some detergent until it dissolves.
  3. Drip a soft brush (or a toothbrush) into the water.
  4. Gently scrub the outside of your canvas shoes.
  5. Rinse them with clean water.
  6. Dry your shoes by squeezing them into a towel.
  7. Scrunch up some paper and put them inside your shoes to preserve the shape.
  8. Leave them to dry, preferably outside in summer, or indoors, near a heat source.

Never dry your canvas shoes using a dryer, as this can damage the soles.

How to wear men’s canvas shoes

A versatile and stylish shoe, it’s easy to incorporate canvas shoes into a contemporary men’s outfit.

  • Jeans – if the weather is chilly or autumnal, keep things casual with a well-fitted pair of jeans and a classic pair of lace-up men’s canvas shoes.
  • Chinos – you can still dress smart while wearing canvas shoes. Chinos pair well with canvas boat shoes for a classic smart-casual look.
  • Shorts – swim shorts, denim shorts or jersey shorts all go perfectly with canvas shoes. One sure-fire pairing is an old school pair of canvas high tops and white sports socks.

How to wear women’s canvas shoes

One of the best things about women’s canvas shoes is that you’re not limited to what you can wear with them. Here are some ideas for what kind of outfits pair well with canvas shoes.

  • Tracksuit bottoms – throw on some low-top canvas trainers and your best T-shirt to round off a comfortable day-to-day outfit.
  • Maxi dress – got a barbecue or a garden party coming up? Canvas wedges and maxi dresses are a match made in heaven. Check out our summer wedges style guide.
  • Patterned skirt – canvas slip-ons don’t have laces, so if you’re a fan of patterns you can use them to work more prints and bold colours into your outfit.

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