All wise men would agree that having a good pair of formal shoes is like having a relationship. All relationships start with a certain affinity towards each other, a connection. This is the first stage where you chance upon that one particular shoe that somehow stands out more to you than the hundred others on the rack. Once that affinity is acknowledged by your wallet’s ability to take that shoe out for a little date, the second stage begins. This is when you test if the fit is too tight, or if there’s space for more feelings to grow. When your feet fill out the shoe like it was designed by man to be your second skin, you know you’ve found the one to plan your future with.
But with formal shoes for men, that’s where the honeymoon ends. Now starts the tough part – the third stage. This is when you nurture the relationship, when you invest your time and effort to keep the relationship healthy and happy. This is when you care for your shoe so it can walk with you a little while longer. If you don’t pay attention to the shoe in this stage, it will embarrass you and leave you disappointed with its shabby, unkempt lifestyle. Don’t let your formal shoes become a dead-end relationship. Take our advice and show your beloved shoes some tender loving. Here’s how:
To begin with, you need to have the right set of tools to pamper your shoes and maintain their durability. The ultimate shoe care kit should include the following:
- Horsehair brush
- Suede brush
- Saddle soap
- Polishing cloths (can also be substituted with old cotton t-shirt with no lint)
- Polish (either wax or crème)
- Edge dressing
- Latex gloves
- Unvarnished cedar shoe trees
For leather shoes
In the world of shoes, leather is like a needy girlfriend that demands constant attention and care. Leather shoes need cleaning even when they’re not particularly dirty. They also need adequate amount of nourishment to protect the material from cracking. To keep your leather shoes happy and healthy, follow this 3-step ritual religiously:
- Cleaning: Use the horsehair brush to remove any debris or dust that may have accumulated on the surface. You should make this a habit after every use as it keeps the shoes clean and free of gunk. If the light dusting is not enough, wash the shoe with a saddle soap to remove any layer of unwanted sediment from the surface without ruining it.
- Conditioning: This is a very important step to follow to ensure that the leather is supple and shiny, instead of cracked and dry. You should condition your shoe whenever you feel like it lacks moisture. However, if you are unskilled to gauge that, a general rule to follow is to condition every 5-10 wears in hard conditions, and every 15-25 otherwise. Use a soft cloth to buff the shoe with the conditioner in concentric circles to rub it deep inside the surface. Apply in small layers and remove the excess conditioner with a cloth.
- Polishing: Polishing your leather shoes is essential to achieve that mirror-shine to make you look straight out of a successful million-dollar business deal. Don’t skip out on polishing and never forget to match the shoe polish with the colour of your shoe. Similar to conditioning, apply shoe wax in small layers of using the horsehair brush. Maintain a steady pace of tight circles all over the surface. A wax-based polish will enrich the colour of your leather and also give a smooth finish to the shoe.
For suede and nubuck shoes
If suede shoes were human, they would be that man whose hair looks effortlessly casual but has actually been styled meticulously for two hours. Suede shoes look great but they can be difficult to maintain. Unlike other leathers, these won’t need polishing as much as they need cleaning. There are three simple ways of treating them right:
- First, make sure the shoes are dry. If not, allow them to dry out in the open air before cleaning to avoid any stains. Once dried, use a suede brush to dust off any built-up debris and dirt on the shoe. Following this, using the rubber bristled side of the brush, give the shoe a nice buff. As a routinely habit,ensure you give the shoe a gentle brush after every use. That would keep the shoe clean and the fibres healthy.
- Next comes out the suede protector spray. Use it and spray evenly all over the shoe. Look for a silicone-based protector spray in a similar colour as your shoes, to ensure that your suede shoes are weather proof and water-resistant. Don’t oversoak the shoe with too much spray, instead apply on the upper parts of the shoe and allow it to absorb the spray while it dries.
- Suede and nubuck shoes aren’t meant to be worn in rainy or snowy conditions. So be smart and avoid putting them through situations that are out of their comfort zone. Or at the very least, get them rain/stain repellent as an extra protection against the elements.
For that shape you love
While there is no one right shape, a healthy and fit body attracts all. The above tips will ensure that your shoe remains in the best of health, but for that irresistible body, gift your shoe the personal trainer it needs – a cedar shoe tree. Investing in a good cedar shoe tree with split toe and heels will help you retain the ideal shape and strength of the shoe. After you take off your shoes, keep the shoe trees inside your shoes for maximum of two hours. This will allow the tree to hold the leather’s shape, absorb moisture and freshen up the shoe. Make sure it’s an unvarnished cedar tree as varnished ones look good but are pretty much useless for moisture absorption. They’re like a tanned gentleman bulked up on steroids – your shoe deserves better. However, you can also choose the old-fashioned, cheaper way by using old newspaper as a stuffing.