Reader Request: Slippery Shoe Tricks

How to keep your feet from slipping inside your shoes

Reader Erin asked:

I have a pair of patent leather heels with patent leather insoles that are kinda treacherous to wear with betighted footsies (it’s kinda slippery). Can you suggest a product to add some grip to slippery insoles? This wasn’t a problem when I wore these kicks with bare feet in the summer. I would like to see a post on tricks to make shoes fit/work better, and I think you could talk a bit about how your feet change from season to season. You mentioned recently that a pair of shoes you bought in the summer now were pretty loose because of hot-weather swelling. Maybe you could tie in how to transition shoes from one season to another.

Ahhh, yes, that fun transition from sticky bare feet sweating inside your pumps to pulling on a pair of tights and feeling alarmingly unstable as your foot slides around inside the shoe body. How can we WIN?

Well, one way is to wear only tall boots all winter long. But that can get a bit dull. So here are a few other suggestions for making your shoes fit and work year-round.

Gel Products

Dr. Scholls (and generic knockoffs) makes insoles, toe pads, and heel grippers that are made from what looks like anti-freeze flavored Jell-O, and these all provide some delightful tackiness inside your pumps. Of course they also add bulk … but since our feet tend to shrink just a bit when the weather cools off, that might not be a huge problem. Experiment with the various products to see which is the most comfortable and practical for your feet and your shoe wardrobe. Don’t go thinking insoles are your only options! Smaller, ball-of-foot pads are available, too.

Summer Soles

This product is meant for sweaty summer feet, but would work just as well to combat the slippery tights problem. I haven’t used these myself and am pretty sure the adhesive is permanent … so some of the gel products might be less scary commitment-wise.

Socks over tights for boots

I end up slipping around inside several of my favorite pairs of tall boots, too, and although the boot shaft itself provides some stability, it still feels a little wobbly in there. But since nobody is peeking down the shaft of my boots, I just throw on a pair of medium-weight cotton socks over my tights. They add bulk and provide some added traction, but also breathe so I don’t end up with a nasty case of stinkfoot.

Hairspray

Hairspray is basically a universal tackifier and a little spritz on the inside of a slippery shoe will give you a touch of traction without ruining your tights. Well, that last bit is debatable I suppose. Try this out with thick, durable opaques. Do something less risky for nylons, fishnets, or anything delicate.

Moleskin

I use moleskin to shield my feet from shoes that rub, but the product could just as easily serve as a slip-reducer. Cut a few small squares and stick them to the sole, two up front, one in the middle, and one at the heel. Make sure they’re large enough that they won’t cause blisters, and be warned that the adhesive might make these squares hard to remove.

Image courtesy Zappos.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

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  • lopi

    I totally do the "socks over tights" trick myself when I wear boots. I even buy my boots half a size larger intentionally, so they are roomy enough for me to wear cotton socks with them. Adds warmth too! But when it comes to pumps, the problem can be more complicated… I use summer insoles when things aren't very tight, but if they are, I just wear them with layered opaque tights and hope for the best..

  • Tina Z.

    Heel grippers work wonders to keep your heels from sliding out, tights or notw. You can use two on shoes that are too big (great trick for thrifting).

  • Gillian

    I have absolutely no advice, since my feet are stupid and temperamental. However, "betighted footsies" is now my new favorite expression.

  • Maria

    Socks over tights work quite well for me in boots, too.

    Other than that, I use a pair of sheepskin insoles which fit into most of my pumps and keep my feet from slipping. Plus, they add some warmth on chilly winter days.

  • A-C

    I also add a pair of socks on top of tights when I wear boots. I'm sure it looks silly to the Fiance when I'm wearing dark tights and bright orange socks, but they keep my feet warm and from slipping inside my boots.

    Aside from the gel insoles, there are also non-gel insoles that work great if you don't like the consistency or the thickness of the gel insoles. They tend to stay put better when feet are sweaty than the gel ones. And by far my favorite solution is mole skin. I always keep some in my purse because you never know when your shoes will decide to rub you the wrong way.

    http://lawschoolfashionista.blogspot.com/

  • Diana

    I'm might try out heel grippers soon. I just got my first pair of Tsubo Acreas, and while they fit great in the toe box, the heel strap is really loose.

  • evanadine

    i absolutely swear by the Foot Petals line of shoe inserts. though i havent used ALL of their styles, the ones i have used have been the best i have ever tried — way more comfortable than the gel inserts, IMHO.

  • JennyMac

    I didnt know the hairspray trick. Love it.

    And I use the Scholls insert for heels. LOVE THEM.

  • Sheila

    I swear by Dr. Scholl's – they make removeable gel inserts that are small (they're made for women's shoes) so that they don't show. They also give great padding for your feet.

    I've always worn socks with boots – yay for the extra warmth too!

  • Casey

    Thank you so much for your tips! 🙂 I bought a pair of cute, low-heel mary-janes earlier this season, only to have my feet shrink once the weather cooled off. I haven't really worn them since–I'll have to go pick up something (per your suggestions) to help prevent the slipping that goes on. 🙂

  • Angie

    Fab information! I don’t know if this will help, but you can have rubberized strips popped onto the soles of shoes to prevent slipping on slick surfaces – something we know all about in wet Seattle. A cobbler should be able to do this for a reasonable price too. I guess it’s worth a try.

  • Make Do Style

    Great advice – hairspray is good for all I find. I use clear nail varnish to adhere holes in tights or stop ladders, so hairspray can't hurt.

  • Anonymous

    I had this problem recently. Finally cracked and bought a pair of shiny mustard-yellow pumps (for ten bucks!). Tried them on bare feet and were astonished how comfortable they were, and wore them the next day over tights. Huge failure. I ended up having to change shoes. I'll have to try some of these tricks.

  • lisa

    Great tips! I wore socks over tights and leggings yesterday in my fleece-lined boots and felt toasty the entire day.

    For foot slippage, buying a couple pairs of stirrup tights from AA could do the trick. That way you can wear tights, but enough of your foot is exposed to stick to the inside of the shoe.

  • Hanako66

    moleskin is the only thing that i have tried…i may try hairspray in a pinch now!

  • Melissa Blake

    Thanks for the great tips! 🙂

  • a cat of impossible colour

    I just wanted to stop by and say merry Christmas, Sal, and thanks for another great year of posts – I hope you have a wonderful day. 🙂

    A xx

  • The Budget Babe

    OMG such a great post! quite timely. has anyone invented tights with traction on the feet yet? I'm sure they'd sell well!

  • Rosie Unknown

    I cheat by buying t-strap shoes that help keep my feet in place.

    Thanks so much for the tips though, I will definitely be putting them to use.

  • Vildy

    Those heel gripper pads that stick in your shoes – instead, stick them to the roof of the throat of your pump.

  • All Women Stalker

    Great tips! I've never considered the socks over tights idea; I'll definitely do that next time.

    -meream

  • Nadine

    Hey Sal – This post which you linked to last week has been a huge help! (I missed it the first time round, being away for summer.) I am a dance teacher and was having trouble with a scarily slippery stage. I was experiencing dreadful problems until I squirted it with hairspray! You are a total winner -thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Hi, I was just wondering if you had any specific tips for insoles of sandals – they're toe post leather sandals with an ankle strap, the insole is also leather and it's gone really slippery (I guess cos I wore them so much). This makes me walk funny!! What can I do to give the insole grip without it noticing too much?!

  • I’d like to add that the adhesive in Summer Soles is NOT permanent. Summer Soles are the most glorious invention in shoe wearing ever. No sweaty feet when without socks or stockings, keeps stockings from slipping in shoes, easily replaceable and they come in fresh smelling varieties, which for summer living in the South is invaluable! Seriously I think everyone should have these in their summer shoes and anything slippy on the inside.

    I love this blog but I find I’m actually disappointed that you haven’t tried these! (PS – I don’t work for the this company. Heh.)