One of the challenges of a growing shoe collection is that of caring for them. There is little point in spending time building up a great shoe collection if you are not willing also to give some time to maintaining them. Don’t buy a Porsche if you can’t cope with the maintenance bills.
This is of course easier than it sounds. I am at the moment trying to find olive green shoe polish for one of My Latest Acquisitions. It’s proving slightly more difficult than I expected. And those who say ‘just get some neutral polish’ fail to understand that neutral polish is ideally for light coloured shoes. On darker coloured shoes it leaves a light film behind, which whilst not visible while you polish the shoe will become visible as the leather flexes whilst you walk.
So how do you care for shoes like a pro? A number of simple but important steps:
- Always use a shoehorn. If you don’t you bend the back of the shoe each time you put it on and this will damage the shoe.
- Use shoetrees. If you’ve read my earlier post Shoe Trees for Each Pair? You’ll know I am a big fan of them. They help your shoes to keep their shape, help to dry them out, help to deodorise them and enable the shoe to be polished far more easily and properly. As a bonus they enable your shoe collection to be displayed far more attractively. The next time you buy a pair of shoes factor in the cost of the shoetrees you need to go with them.
- Give shoes a rest before the next wearing. Leather shoes should have at least one full day to dry out from natural foot perspiration so should ideally not be worn on two consecutive days. When not being worn insert a shoetree. Clearly rotating your shoes becomes easier as your shoe collection grows.
- Polish/clean your shoes regularly. Ideally polish your shoes before you wear them for the first time. This sounds counter intuitive, I know. However, the first polish is really quite important because it allows you to apply a protective coating to the shoe before it is exposed the elements. Regular polishing & cleaning will prolong the life of your shoe exponentially.
- Clean your shoes when you take them off. This need not be a major polish. It might simply be a quick spray with water and a buff to a shine. However, if you’ve been out in the rain and mud or spilt your lunch on them it is clearly better for your shoes to be cleaned sooner rather than later. The upside of this discipline is that whenever you go to the closet to get a pair of shoes they will be polished and ready to go. You’ll wish you had listened to me the next time you are in a hurry and the shoes you really want to wear are dirty from the last wearing.
- Build up a shoe cleaning kit. If you are a really keen shoe cleaner you can buy a kit from a good quality shoemaker. However, you are probably better served by building up the kit bit by bit so that you buy precisely what you need. The money you save by not buying an expensive shoe care kit can be spent on more shoetrees (or indeed shoes!). Your kit needs to include at least the following: small applicator brushes for each colour of polish you need to use (black, brown, tan, etc), large horsehair brushes for buffing to a shine, a spray bottle of water, polishing cloths and good quality polishes in each colour you need. Never use liquid polish. It’s easy to use but can damage leathers as it effectively ‘paints’ the leather rather than polishes it. If you have suede shoes you will also need suede cleaner and protector.
- Store your shoes in a cool dry environment, ideally not under your bed or stuffed into the bottom of your closet unless there is plenty space in either location. If there is sufficient space think about getting some shoe racks which allow the shoes to dry out more readily. That your shoes will be displayed more attractively on shoe racks is an added bonus
If you’ve got to the end of this post feeling none the wiser about the nitty-gritty of shoe care, take heart. My next post will go into greater detail about how to care for your shoes like a pro.
In the mean time I’ve got olive green polish to find…