Lola Lovely continues with her Gent’s Guide to Shoes... everything you always wanted to know about shoes but were too afraid to ask…
There is no point to buying a good pair of shoes if you’re not going to take care of them. A shoe that is scuffed or caked with dirt just makes you wonder about its owner. Either you’re someplace dirty, and everyone’s shoes are dirty, or this person can’t be bothered to clean his shoes. And if he can’t take the time to clean his shoes, what else can’t he take the time to clean? You don’t want to be this guy.
Keeping your shoes clean:
- Lengthens the lifespan of your shoes
- Saves you money in the long run
- Shows that you take time to keep your shoes clean
- Gives you pristine shoes.
If you happen to have a shoe shiner you can go to, then that’s great! But not all of us have that luxury. And shoe shining can cost quite a bit, especially if you’re doing it regularly. I still do recommend cleaning your own shoes. It does create quite a nice habit and bond with you shoes.
First some basics
- You want to always shine your shoes just before you go out and at a regular schedule after that. So make sure you factor that in when you’re getting ready to go out. A good shoe shine can take upwards of 30 minutes if done right. You don’t want to do a shoddy job. Especially if you’d like to preserve the leather.
- Don’t wear your shoes two days in a row. Always allow some time in between so your shoe can rest, dry out and get back into shape.
- Invest in shoetrees. They are lifesavers when it comes to expanding the life span in your shoes. Make sure you put them into your shoes as soon as you take them off because it works better to hold the shape of your shoe when the leather is warm and moist.
- If you shoe is wet, stuff it with old newspaper let it air dry. Don’t try and dry leather shoes with artificial heat like radiators or hair dryers. This will dry out the leather and it could crack. When it’s almost dry, insert the shoetree in so that it can maintain its shape.
- Be aware of moisture as it could affect the leather. Be sure to keep your shoes in a dry place.
So, perhaps you’re taking more of an interest in expanding the lifespan of your shoes. Great! Welcome to the world of mature men! If you happen to be lucky enough to have a shoe shiner available to clean your shoes, then great! But those can get expensive and not all of us are that lucky. Also, shining your own shoes can bring a great sense of pride in your shoes.
I would strongly suggest investing in a few tools to take better care of your shoes. For a small initial investment, you shall lengthen the lifespan of your shoes and that will save you money in the long run.
Shoe Cleaner Set
These things are convenient and not very expensive to buy. If you are low on cash, just get yourself a good shoe polish and a good shoe shine brush. You can always use an old rag cloth (an old t-shirt will do as well) to apply polish and shine shoes.
A word on Wax
There are two kinds of wax’s available, paste or wax polish. Paste polish is good for conditioning shoes and keeps the leather flexible and allows it to breathe but isn’t as good at covering scuffs as wax leather. Wax polish however helps cover scuffs and gives shoes extra shine but can dry shoes and cause it to crack over time. If possible, I would recommend getting them both (they cost around $7 – $10 and can last a while) and use as necessary.
Avoid using liquid polish. They might be great when tight for time, but in the long run, they dry our shoes.
Shoe horns are not super essential but are good for easing your feet into the shoes without cause damage to the counter (the back for the shoe). You might think that this is trivial, but after repeated use, it will cause the shoe counter to damage. Since shoe horns are relatively cheap, you might as well invest in one, rather than let your shoes get damaged!
You don’t need to get a set of shoetrees for each shoe you own because you only need to use a shoetree when you remove your shoes. Once the shoe dries, you can remove the shoetree. Still I’d recommend having at least 2 pairs, just in case. Make sure to get unvarnished cedar shoetree as opposed to the varnished ones as these don’t draw out moisture as well as the cedar ones.
These are the basic tools you need to keep your shoes in tiptop condition… and now that the basics are covered, it’s time to go a bit deeper… into the realms of…
Special Shoe Care
So, sometimes you’re going to find yourself and your shoes in interesting conditions that out of your control. Perhaps it is raining cats and dogs and your shoes are soaked? Perhaps your shoes start squeaking? What is a gentleman to do?
Worry not! We’ve got you covered, bro. Yep, whatever the condition, we’ve got your back!
Scuffmarks are easily covered using wax polish, but if you’re tight on time, then put a tiny amount of toothpaste on a damp rag and wipe.
Nothing is worse than removing your shoes only to be assaulted by bad feet smell. Make sure you wash your feet AND socks as often as possible and don’t wear the same socks twice. Airing your feet out as often as possible (in a private place) is helpful if you have to wear your shoes all day long. Also, make sure you wear no show socks when going for the sockless look. Remember to use shoetrees as soon as you remove your shoes to help absorb the moisture and smell. You can also change your insoles if your shoes are really stinky.
So you got caught in the rain? We’ve got you. Stuff your shoes with crumpled newspaper or paper towels and leave to dry naturally. Do not try and get them to dry quicker by putting them next to artificial heat. When the shoe is slightly damp, insert shoe trees so that they maintain their shape.
Salt on Shoes
Never leave what can be done immediately til later. The sooner you rinse the salt off, the better. Use a traditional remedy of vinegar and water to wipe clean and then wipe dry. Leave to dry naturally (follow the directions for wet shoes).
It probably means that the shoe’s soles may be breaking down. This is best left to the professional.
Keeping your shoelaces in place
I hate it when my shoelaces come undone. To avoid this happening, spritz some water on laces after you’ve tied them so that they harden and don’t come undone. Rubbing some wax on them also helps them stay tied.
Really Bad Shape
If your shoes are in really bad shape, try sending them back to the manufacturer for refurbishing. Most good shoe makers provide this service.
Okay, there we have it. From now on, if your shoes look like a mess, you’ve only got yourselves to blame. However, if they look great, then all hail to us! Alright, and you too!