Luxury Leather 101: Proper Shoe Care

Attention Beau Satchelle gentlemen readers… women adore an elegant dressed man!  Of course, young males in their twenties will covet a wardrobe leaning more urban street-wear which will include a vast collection of sneakers; yet, we submit, even young cosmopolitan men clearly understand the need to dress sophisticated for the right occasion in certain professional or social circles.    There is a reason debonair James Bond never had trouble attracting the ladies!

Certain clues present themselves with regards to a well dressed gentleman.  They can be spotted in the smallest details from head to toe:  His well groomed hair, a laundered crisp shirt, beautifully manicured nails, and unquestionably, proper care of his shoes.   A male of influence and refinement recognizes to wear  a pair of unkempt shoes will absolutely  spoil his entire ensemble.   Why invest in quality shoes if you are not committed to their suitable care?

Certain style professionals should be on your mobile speed dial or your assistant’s rolodex consisting of your tailor, your personal trainer, your manicurist, your barber and of course your shoe cobbler. 

Although a quick search on Google will pull up a number of local cobblers in your area, we would suggest this particular craftsman is better found through personal referrals or asking a well-dressed associate who they trust with handling their shoes.   The goal is to build a lovely, long term relationship with a cobbler who is skilful in replacing soles or retouching up worn leather, or even re-stitching.  Do you due diligence in meeting with a cobbler prior to leaving your expensive shoes.  Interview them on them on their experience.  Is the work done in-house or outsourced?   We have met know-their-craft “old school” cobblers who smoke in their shops- is that a deal breaker for you? Is their workplace neat and clean?  Look for certain signs in their environment as evidence of how well they’ll take care of your shoes.

A few reasons to allow a cobbler to handle your leather shoes:
–          Preservation of your shoe investment
–          Resoling correctly –the  average leather shoe can be re-soled  3 to 7 times
–          Addressing too tight or too big shoes – in case that one time you purchased off the rack shoes, (instead of having custom made dress shoes), cobblers have stretching machines for increasing both length and width of a shoe.  For “big’ shoes, methods of inserting thicker soles, tongue pads or heel grips to get provide a tighter feel.
–          Correct Waterproofing – protection from water, by applying repellents, is key to maintaining leather shoes for years.

Daily Shoe Care

For the duration of owning your quality leather shoes, a cobbler will be hired to do the occasional repairs,  however your everyday maintenance will enhance the length of time.  Care includes:

1.        Using a shoe horn as a ramp to slide your heel easily into the shoe and keeps the structure of heel intact longer. 

2.       When storing, use a cedar shoe tree to maintain shape and airing out the shoe from excess moisture and keep out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.

3.       Keep the shoes in their separate storing bags to keep from scratching when traveling

4.       Bespoke shoe makers suggest not wearing the same shoes two days in a row to allow for the leather to breathe.

5.       For laced dress shoes, untie your shoes before taking them off and take off your shoes with your hands, instead of prying them off with your other foot which will eventually ruin the heels.

6.       It is recommended to have your shoes shined by a professional.  However, if you have the appropriate tools, patience, and ability, plan out a routine once or twice a month, a moisturizing routine will keep your shoes in tip top shape until your next visit to a professional.

Steps to Polishing Shoes:

            –  Remove shoe laces and use a horsehair brush or a damp soft cloth around the edges  to remove surface marks, dust and dirt.

          –  Select the appropriate polish (shades can be manipulated by mixing different color polishes or purchase a neutral polish),  Waxes and creams are heavier and will feed the leather while providing protection from water damage. Liquid polishes can be use for a quick touch up shine.
          –  Using a clean soft cloth, apply polish in a circular motion allowing the leather to absorb.  A toothbrush or q-tip should be used for hard to reach places (i.e. cracks in the tongue)
          – Once polish is dry (15-20 minutes), apply addition layers , if necessary and  then brush off excessive polish with the horsehair brush.
        – Buff the shoes with a clean soft cloth to produce appropriate shine.  To take it a step further, try the “spit-shine” method, spray drops of water directly on the shoe, take a soft cloth and rubbing more layers of polish on to the shoe, dry and repeat, until you create your satisfactory shine.

         – Sites that offer a list of shoe shine kits and products

                   – Shoe Advisor 
                   – The Spruce  
                   – Pasquale Fabrizo – Hollywood’s esteemed shoe craftsman who offers an array of
                     leather care products.

7.       Avoid leather’s all-time foe, water.  If shoes become drenched, use a soft cloth to remove water and fill the insides with newspaper.  When drying, keep shoes away from direct heat (i.e. a fireplace) which will ultimately cause leather to crack

Working in the world of bespoke leather, our clients want to uncover the best ways to take care of their leather purchases, whether it be travel bags, a wine tote or a pair of shoes.   Although this blog is more focused on the care of men’s shoes, I would suggest to our women readers that the same rules apply. When owning a pair of quality leather shoes, (i.e,  that sexy pair of Louboutins)  they need to be kept clean, dry and away from the elements of weather.   -AJ

Share your thoughts in the comments section below or on Twitter!

Thank you to the following sites for content source

WikiHow – How to Polish Shoes

Hat Tip to the Pixabay and Pexel photographers featured

Thanh tung – men’s shoes in chair

Oberholster Venita – Vintage photo of African American shoe shiners

Anton Ty – England Shoe Shiners

LoggaWiggler –Turkish brass shoe valet

JamesDeMers – shoe polish

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