Men’s shoes can be quite the investment in your personal style. Taking care of them is more than just grabbing a quick shoe shine at the train station. How you care for your shoes involves discipline, forethought, and, yes, a little shoe polish. To this end, I pulled together my five rules of leather shoe care.
Check the Forecast
I’ve made the mistake of wearing my driving moccasins in the rain. I didn’t plan to, but was caught unexpectedly by a shower. I should have checked the forecast before choosing my shoes for the day. Luckily the bottom leather wasn’t damaged, but I don’t want to make that mistake again. Now I make sure to choose the right shoes for the right weather:
- Boots for snow and heavy rain
- Brogues or derbies for other wet conditions
- Oxfords for dry days
- Loafers for sunny days
- Sneakers for casual wear
Clean and Dry Your Shoes
When it comes to shoe care, a good rule to remember is that prevention is protection. Dirt and moisture can herald the death of leather. The longer they are on your shoes, they worse is it for the leather. Get your shoes dry and clean as soon as possible. Keep a cloth (even just an old t-shirt or cloth diaper) in your closet to wipe them down before putting them away.
Use Shoe Trees
Speaking of putting your shoes away, always, ALWAYS, use shoe trees. Wiping your shoes down dries the surface of the leather, but cedar shoe trees draw the moisture out and preserve the leather. This can significantly extend the life of your shoes. Additionally, shoe trees will eliminate odor in your shoes, and who doesn’t want that? They will also help the leather re-set into the correct shape instead of curling up, ruining the soles.
Rotate Your Shoes
I know it might seem a little counter-intuitive to take care of your shoes by not touching them, but rotating your shoes is another way to keep your shoes longer. Never wear them two days in a row. The leather needs time to rest and air out. Mixing up your shoes also has the added secondary effect of helping you rotate through your wardrobe. As you wear different colored shoes, you are more likely to vary your clothing choices.
Shoe Polish and Wax
Leather is skin. Obviously this isn’t the most pleasant thought, but it can help you understand how to take care of it. Just like taking care of your face, cleansing, toning, and moisturizing should play some role in your shoe care routine. My preferred combination is using conditioner, polish, and then wax to seal. I always recommend the products from Saphir. These are exceptionally high quality polishes and waxes that will add to the beauty of your shoes. Saphir is more expensive than high-alcohol brands like Kiwi, but Saphir polishes and waxes won’t dry and ruin your leather in the long run.
Quality men’s shoes are expensive. Taking some time each week to look after that investment is only smart spending. I’d much rather spend a little time and money on shoe trees and shoe polish than shell out a few hundred dollars for a new pair of shoes. Love your shoes and they will love you back.