We all have them: Adorable flats or heels that almost but don’t quite fit, causing them to uncomfortably slip off your heel with each step. Sometimes the result of shopping a bit late in the day (when feet are fractionally larger) or sometimes the result of an against-better-judgment-impulse-buy, we all have a few pairs just a bit too big.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you two ORIGINAL ideas I use to adapt shoes with slipping heels into easy-to-wear flats (or heels) that stay on with each step!
These two solutions result from experiments as I was on my 5-year quest to find the perfect pair of heels and learn to walk confidently in them. My aventure took me through the surreal world of luxury-high-heel brands (and back, as after failing at several tries of several hundred dollar heels, I gave up on buying my way out of the problem), and into the world of burlesque, where a “boy”lesque performer taught classes for those of us more in need of professional guidance to master the art of high heel wearing. Although you’d still be hard-pressed to pry my Blundstone paddock boots from my cold dead fingers, I can boast that I learned to sashay, step, and strut in 5-inch heels and discovered two kickass anti-heel-slipping hacks during the journey.
My foot is wide- like very, very, measured-for-double-wide-running-shoes wide. So shoe fitting is a challenge. When I wear just about any non-lacing, non-strappy shoe (especially with a heel) my wide foot begins to slip down into the toe, widening it and changing the fit of the whole shoe. Hence: the back of the shoe slipping on my heel.
I’ve tried inserts, I’ve tried non-slip liners, cushions, Band-Aids, and even duct tape. Some remedies worked better than others, but I was never able to resolve the heel slipping issue enough to be comfortable running around Seattle in cute, low, non-strappy shoes… until now.
Two Solutions for Heel Slipping in Shoes:
1. DIY: Make your shoe heels non-slip using silicone caulking.
2. DIY: Prevent heel slipping with wool toe bumpers.
Strategy #1: How to DIY’ing nonslip heels with silicone:
Lining the heels of a particularly slip-prone pair of heels or flats with silicone is a great way to add enough friction to keep the heel of your shoe in place without adding so much friction that your shoe blisters or rubs your skin raw. Silicone is perfect because it’s both non-slip and very, very soft- ideal as a shoe liner.
What you’ll need:
- Clean, dry shoes
- 100% Silicone caulk – Clear
- A small bowl of water
- (Optional: Turpentine for better flow, a heavy-duty zip-top bag, Acrylic paint in a color similar to your shoes, a craft stick to mix, and a mixing surface)
How to Begin:
Lining a heel with silicone is both really simple, and takes a bit of finesse to get it to work. The problem is that silicone is formulated to be easy to clean up, and actually- straight out of the tube- resists adhering to leather or cloth on the inside of a shoe.
There are two ways to increase adhesion as you place the silicone non-slip:
Method 1: The first way to increase adherence of silicone to the shoe is easy but requires patience to add a step and give it time to set before moving on. To apply pure silicone as permanent heel-slip prevention, you’ll need 100% silicone calk and wood craft sticks. To begin, place a bit of caulking on your craft stick (think: toothpaste on a toothbrush) and smooth the silicone along the inside back heel of your shoe. Use enough pressure that a thin layer of silicone is pressed into the material of the shoe, making contact and filling any seams or gaps and filling spaces between fibers.
Allow to dry for at least 1-2 hours.
When the thin layer is dry, you can use the silicone caulking tube to add ridges of silicone on top of the thin film. The film will adhere permanently to the shoe and the ridges will adhere permanently to the film, creating a long term, step-proof way to end heel slippage.
Method 2: Before putting the silicone in your shoe, squeeze it into a heavy-duty zip-bag, add a small amount of turpentine (roughly 1 part turpentine to 25 parts silicone caulk) squeeze bag till mixed well, and then snip off the tip of the bag and pipe in lines along the back inside heel of your shoes. (In this mixture the turpentine dilutes the silicone helping it to spread and flow just enough to penetrate the fiber that it’s placed on and stay put, instead of remaining in a coil and, once dry, easy to peel off) If you add 2-5 parts acrylic paint, during the mixing, you can also match the silicone to your shoe color, to make it less obvious, while also decreasing the time needed for the silicone to set, dry, and be ready to use.
To smooth down a coil of silicone squeezed from bag or tube, wet your finger well, and use a water-coated fingertip to press the coil flat. Silicone and water do not mix, so as long as your finger is very wet, you’ll be able to touch the silicone without getting sticky. Don’t worry about the water and silicone mixing- water actually speeds the curing process that dries silicone!
Strategy #2: Step Heels from Slipping using Wool-Stuffed Toes
The silicone solution above fixed most of my slipping heels, but there were a few pair (admittedly, shoes I probably knew were a little too big when I bought them) that still slipped after the silicone was added. I realized that my foot was slipping so far up towards the toe that my heel wasn’t making contact with the solution. Then I had an idea- a slightly kooky idea- but it really works AND it’s comfortable, I promise!
That method is actually deserving of its own post, so once I typed it up I actually relocated it over to it’s own post, which you can find here: How I create a toe bumper out of pantyhose and 100% wool roving.