I am in no way a one-shoe man, and because new shoe loves come into my life quicker than it takes to break in the current pair, I've devised a method of accelerating the process of breaking in. I was inspired by the way old wives in the Philippines help break in hard leather shoes: they let hot candle wax drip on to the tough spots, then rub it in with the candlestick. I was bored and alone in my apartment back in Boston when I devised this, and made do with what I had at hand; so far my technique has served me well.
Here's what you'll need: petroleum jelly, a curling iron, and shoes to break in. I recently acquired a pair of the Made in England Dr. Martens oxfords in dark red and though they were nice and sturdy, they were also impossibly tough.
Spread Vaseline generously all over the tough spots, getting into every corner. Lay it on extra thick on the bumps.
Set the curling iron to high and melt the petroleum jelly into the leather. If it sizzles, you're doing it right. The trick is to use the curling iron to sort of curl the leather outward so it doesn't dig into the foot as you walk. While you're at it, bend the shoe back and forth as if to simulate the bend that occurs when walking. Do it several times, but if you could devote one episode of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding per shoe, all the better.
Allow to cool, and there you have it: your perfectly broken-in pair of shoes. (Dr. Martens creepers, Florsheim longwing brogues, Dr. Martens oxfords)
For those without a curling iron at home, go ahead and use a butane blowtorch. I could imagine the char marks could look quite charming!