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  1. #1
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    31st August 19
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    Breaking in Ghillie Brogues

    With a highland dress wedding coming up next weekend I'm almost ready, but am just starting to break in my ghillie brogues. They're a bit too long as I need a wide or extra wide shoe and the only option to get something that fit was to go up a size from what I normally wear. They're good quality, leather shoes, but I can tell are going to be a bit of work to get comfortable as they're too loose at the heel, which makes them want to move around rather than settle onto my feet. I've read that good inserts can help address that issue, but was curious if folks here had any helpful experience to share. I'll be in them all day for the wedding, so am working now to try and ensure I won't be limping around or ruining a new pair of hose with open blisters!

  2. #2
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    22nd July 18
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    Heel counters (perhaps two adhesive counters in each shoe as needed) in the brogues and a pair of ankle socks under your kilt hose might be worth trying. Best of luck.

  3. The Following 2 Users say 'Aye' to PassingW For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    Join Date
    10th October 08
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    Louisville, Kentucky, USA (38 13' 11"N x 85 37' 32"W gets you close)
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    PassingW's suggestion is a good one. Your local shoe shop or shoe repair place should have heel cushions/pads to help shoes fit tighter.

    Once you have your shoes fitting snugly with the hose/socks you intend to wear, wear them as much as you can, walk around the house in them, stand around in them, flex them as much as possible. That'll help you figure out where the hot spots (friction points) are on your feet/heels.

    An old hiker's trick is to put tape over those spots before you start your hike to reduce the possibility of blisters (usually duct tape, but a good quality medical tape that will still stick when wet will work too). Apply the tape directly to your feet/heels over those spots before putting on your hose/socks. Make the piece of tape a good bit wider than the area you intend to cover so it doesn't work loose. (e.g. if the spot is one inch by one inch, use about a 4 inch length of duct tape.) Using foot powder to keep your feet dry will help as well. Apply the powder after you apply the tape.

    Best of luck, have a spare pair of comfortable shoes on hand (I'm sure there will be others changing shoes at the reception as well) and congratulations to the happy couple.
    Last edited by EagleJCS; 12th April 22 at 06:59 AM. Reason: typos
    John

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  6. #4
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    25th January 09
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    As stated above - to break the gillie's in - you have to wear them. Saturate the leather with neatsfoot oil to start softening the leather. I would put band-aids on my heels (or tape) knowing blisters are possible. Also, an old shoe salesman told me if your shoes are a 1/4 size too large, put an insole in them (a second if there's already one) to bring your foot up tighter in the shoe. I'm heading out to a black-tie Burns-night (belated due to COVID) tonight so luckily mine are about 5 years old and comfy.
    Steve
    Clans MacDonald & MacKay
    In the Highlands of Colorado.

  7. #5
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    I would note that unless it was specified by the bride, you would be perfectly all right substituting most any other black dress shoe (oxfords, brogues, etc.) for the ghillies. They are not a requirement for dressing formally, and are not as popular with general kilt wearers as they are with pipers.

    I hope you have a joyous and comfortable experience.

    Andrew

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  9. #6
    Join Date
    31st August 19
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    Thanks Andrew! Heel spacers did the trick in this case, and of course quality hose help things feel much more comfortable. I was in them all day, including two long walks to and from the event because of remote parking, and felt just fine when the day was over. Now I can look forward to years of good service from them.

  10. The Following User Says 'Aye' to TNScotsman For This Useful Post:


  11. #7
    Join Date
    14th June 21
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    The trick an old soldier told me they employed when issued with new footwear, was to put on the shoes or boots as they would be worn normally, and then stand in a bowl of hot water.

    The heat softens the leather, and the wet allows it to stretch, shrink and mould to the foot's shape.

    But this required the wet shoes to remain on the feet until dry, or almost, so a couple of hours or more. After that, the shoes would always be comfortable.

    Maybe worth a try if you feel brave...

  12. #8
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    22nd July 18
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    The advice about standing in hot water and then wearing shoes until dry to mold the shoes to your feet is somewhat similar to the way Jock breaks in a new bonnet. As I recall, put it in a creek (or whatever stream, burn or brook that is handy) overnight with a rock on top to prevent escape. Rescue the bonnet the following day, wring it out, beat it up, position it properly on your head, then wear until dry. Works like a charm!

    Apologies for straying from the brogues topic, but the hot water break-in for shoes brought the "Jocking a bonnet" technique to mind, so I thought to share.

  13. #9
    Join Date
    6th May 21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troglodyte View Post
    The trick an old soldier told me they employed when issued with new footwear, was to put on the shoes or boots as they would be worn normally, and then stand in a bowl of hot water.

    The heat softens the leather, and the wet allows it to stretch, shrink and mould to the foot's shape.

    But this required the wet shoes to remain on the feet until dry, or almost, so a couple of hours or more. After that, the shoes would always be comfortable.

    Maybe worth a try if you feel brave...
    This is the advice I've always read for new cowboy boots, which are notoriously torturous when new, and it makes sense, if you have the stomach for it.

  14. #10
    Join Date
    2nd October 04
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    A way to soften up new stiff leather is to beat it with a stick. Take a child's baseball bat, or rolling pin or some other firm wood and GENTLY beat the leather over and over again. Like breaking in a baseball mitt. Not sure the science of it, but it works well.
    Ol' Macdonald himself, a proud son of Skye and Cape Breton Island
    Lifetime Member STA. Two time winner of Utilikiltarian of the Month.
    "I'll have a kilt please, a nice hand sewn tartan, 16 ounce Strome. Oh, and a sporran on the side, with a strap please."

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