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Shoe Trees and Shoe Horns

A shoe tree is a device that looks like the shape of a foot that is placed inside a shoe to preserve its shape. A shoe tree stops the shoe from developing creases and thereby extends the life of the shoe. They also help to prevent leather-damaging moisture from the inside when the shoes are worn without socks as the sweat absorbed by the leather can lead to lining rot.  Higher quality shoe trees are made from solid wood, usually cedar, which helps to control odor and absorb moisture. There are four different types of shoe trees which are spring shoe trees, advanced shoe trees, lasted shoe trees and plastic shoe trees.



Spring shoe trees are wooden shoe tree without a full heel that are the cheapest to buy. The spring shoe tree will help preserve the original shape at the front of the shoe while the narrow knob on the heel puts excess pressure on section of the heel.



An advanced shoe tree is a mild-ranged tree that has a full articulated (usually rounded) heel that sometimes has ventilation slots in the toe to help moisture evaporate. These shoe trees are usually made of three parts which are a heel, a head and a smaller toe piece.




Plastic shoe trees are made of plastic or stamped sheet metal, with or without a coiled steel spring stem. These shoe trees are usually cheaper, lighter and better suited for travelling. Plastic shoe trees maintain the shape of your shoes, but lack the moisture absorbing qualities of wooden shoe trees.


A lasted shoe tree is basically a shoe tree made to the exact shape of the inside of the shoe. A “last” is the piece of wood over which a shoe is built, that gives its shape. A lasted shoe tree is usually made of cedar wood and they have a wooden heel that fits inside the shoe. It maintains the shape of your shoe from the front (toes) to the back (heel) and has moisture absorbing qualities.





Shoe horns are devices used to slide your heel and foot into a shoe without discomfort and keeps your shoes in good shape. These tools allow your foot to slide into your shoe which protects the heel counter from creasing and unsightly wrinkles. Shoe horns are made of metal, plastic or wood. Metal and plastic shoe horns each have different features. There are different types of shoe horns such as short shoe horns, medium shoe horns, long shoe horns, specialty shoe horns and replacement shoe horn spoons. Using a short shoe horn (up to 12 inches) protects your heel counter from being crushed by your heel when sliding the foot into the shoe and adds a couple of years to your shoes, heels and boots. Medium shoe horns range from 12 inches to 24 inches which allows people with back pain and flexibility issues to slip on their shoes without having to bend over and hurt their back. Long shoe horns (over 24 inches) allows people to stand up and not have to bend over while sliding their foot in to their shoes. Both medium and long shoe horns also prevent premature damage to the shoe’s heel counter by allowing your foot to smoothly slide in to your shoe. Specialty shoe horns (over 21 inches) features wooden, nickel plated and ivory style novel ornaments on the head of the shoe horn such as a eagle head, duck, horse or a golf club handle.



Plastic shoe horns have their own advantages and disadvantages. Plastic shoe horns are usually less expensive than metal shoe horns. Plastic shoe horns come in a variety of different colors, shades and snazzy designs. They are lighter weight or almost weightless compared to metal. A disadvantage is a plastic shoe horn won’t last as long, especially with frequent use as a metal one because metal is a stronger material than plastic. Especially long plastic shoe horns which may crack or break over time. Unlike metal, a plastic shoe horn has some give so it might be easier to use, especially with very stiff shoes.

Here are some good and bad features of metal shoe horns. Metal shoe horns generally last for a very long time because they are almost unbreakable. A metal shoe horn will almost always outlast a plastic one especially if you use your shoe horn every day. Since metal shoe horns are more durable and long-lasting, they cost more money to buy than plastic shoe horns. A disadvantage is a metal shoe horn is somewhat heavier than a plastic one which might cause a problem for seniors who use a long handled metal shoe horn. Metal shoe horns don’t bend, flex or give which make them more inflexible than plastic shoe horns which might be easier to use with certain types of shoes. A metal shoe horn could be dangerous for a small child because it can be used to poke someone in the face or the child might injure itself.









  1. Jason S Otter

    I am always on the look out for a good shoe horn, man I am almost 40 and already have trouble bending over to put my dress shoes on. Now thanks to your article I am going to have to get a shoe tree as well!

    • Roger

      Hi Jason,
      I recommend that you buy a long metal shoe horn so that you can stand up and not have to bend over to slide your feet into your shoes.

      All the best,


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