Looking to preserve the life of your shoes? Consider getting a shoe horn, an inexpensive accessory that can preserve your footwear for years to come!
A shoe horn is a spoon-like implement that is designed to help you to put your feet into shoes.
While they’ve been used since at least the 16th century, the shoe horn’s form has changed little over the centuries.
In this article, I’ll explain how to use a shoe horn, cover different shoe horn types and materials, and provide you with several alternatives to help you put on your shoes with ease even when you don’t have a shoe horn handy.
Why use a shoe horn? Using a shoe horn helps to make putting your shoes on easier, and it also helps to protect your shoes from getting damaged.
Some shoes, especially well-fitted expensive leather dress shoes are meant to fit snuggly. As a result, they can be difficult to put on without the aid of this simple, yet specialized tool.
How to Use a Shoe Horn
Shoe horns are incredibly easy to use.
Simply untie your laces, loosen the shoes, insert the “blade” into the back of your shoe, hold the shoe tongue with one hand, and slide your foot into your shoe.
When it comes to
Types of Shoe Horns
There are two main distinctions when it comes to shoe horns — short shoe horns and long shoe horns.
Short Shoe Horns
The advantage of short, squat shoe horns is that they are more inexpensive and portable than their lanky cousins.
A small wooden, metal, or plastic shoe horn could be easily stowed in your briefcase or backpack to use on the go. Since a short shoe horn can be found for just a few dollars, you could easily purchase several, one for each bag you use regularly.
You could even carry one in your jacket or pants pocket if you know you’re going to be taking off your shoes while you’re out and about.
Long Shoe Horns
While not as portable, long shoe horns are ideal for foyers and mudrooms. Depending on the shoes or boots, with a long shoe horn, you can put on your footwear without bending over — a lifesaver for people with bad backs.
They’re also much better for putting on boots since short shoe horns often aren’t substantial enough to be of much help.
Shoe Horn Materials
Shoe horns, being a simple tool, can be made of a wide variety of materials. Here are just a few:
Genuine Horn Shoe Horns
Historically, shoe horns were made out of, well, horn. Horn, being a solid, somewhat flexible material was ideal for carving long slender shoe spoons.
While you can still find genuine horn shoe horns, today other materials such as plastic and metal are much more common.
Metal Shoe Horns
I’ve heard horror stories about metal shoe horns bending and even breaking while being used to try and put on particularly snug pairs of boots.
In my opinion, metal is good for small, handheld shoe horns, but not ideal for long variants.
Plastic Shoe Horns
Plastic shoe horns, on the other hand, can be quite rugged even at very long lengths, depending on the type of plastic used. Shoe horns should be rigid yet somewhat flexible — brittle plastic is likely to snap.
The best plastic shoe horns that I’ve encountered are from IKEA (currently out of stock).
Shoe Horns Made From Other Materials
Shoe horns can be made out of many other materials. If you have a lot of disposable income to spend on shoe horns (kudos to you), consider trying many different varieties.
For instance, a portable carbon fiber shoe horn could be a sleek, modern-looking accessory to keep in your Tesla.
Or, if you’re crafty, you could try your hand at carving a small shoe horn from a hard, flexible piece of wood, such as maple. Great for stowing in your buggy 😉.
Shoe Horn Alternatives
If you don’t have a shoe horn available and need to put on your $500 dress shoes and don’t want to crush the delicate heel counters, you’re out of luck. I guess you’re going to have to attend your daughter’s wedding in your socks!
No need to fear, even without a bona fide shoe horn, you can still slide into your Oxfords with ease with one of these alternatives.
Using a Belt To Put On Your Shoes
If you’re leaving a friend’s place and are about to put on your shoes but realize your pal doesn’t have a shoe horn, you can use the tip of your belt.
Unbuckle the belt and insert the end without the buckle into your shoes towards the heel. Then simply slide in your foot.
Using a Magazine To Put On Your Shoes
If you’re not wearing a belt, you could use a magazine instead.
Just roll up a thin magazine, newspaper, or junk mail flyer and use that in place of a shoe horn.
This can work to help avoid damaging your shoes, but it can also transfer newsprint onto your socks.
Using Your Finger To Put On Your Shoes
If your shoes don’t fit very snuggly, or if you really don’t want to untie them, you can use your finger to help slide into your shoes without hurting their heels.
In this case, it’s best to loosen your shoes as much as you can before trying to put them on.
This method can sometimes hurt your finger, but hey, it works.
Questions and Answers
Here are some FAQ’s about shoe horns:
What is a shoe horn?
A shoe horn is a spoon-shaped tool that is designed to help you to put your feet into shoes without damaging them.
What is the best shoe horn?
Some of the best shoe horns today are still made out of real horn. This one from our friends over at the Gentleman Gazette is particularly carefully crafted.
What’s the best cheap shoe horn?
It’s hard to say! It depends on your preferences. I’d recommend trying out small, short shoe horns in several different materials and styles until you find one that you love. Then, if you’d like, move onto long shoe horns.
Why should you care about shoe horns?
Shoe horns can help make it easier to put on your shoes and extend the life of your shoes.
There you go, everything you could want to know about shoe horns. This often-overlooked tool can play an essential role in your shoe maintenance game plan.
What are some other unsung accessories in the menswear world? Leave you ideas in the comment section!