You can tell the measure of a man by his shoes, as the old adage goes. So, what signals do your footwear send out? If the signs are less than favourable, it’s time to acquaint yourself with some simple shoe care.
With a little effort and a little-know, you can ensure that your footwear’s fabric and soles will endure whatever punishment your feet will inflict. And here’s what to do: -
There’s no getting away from the fact that if your shoes are leather, they must be polished.
Forget your liquid-filled sponge polish, though – serious footwear calls for serious cream-based polish. Why? Not only does polishing your shoes make them look good (a pristine shine will enhance any suit), but the polish moisturises and nourishes the leather, keeping it supple and healthy.
How often should you polish? Ideally, each time you put your shoes on. If that sounds like too much work, then at least rub them down before venturing out into bad weather.
For suede shoes, park the polish and, instead, look to a suede brush and eraser (essentially a small brick of crumbly rubber) for optimum maintenance. Each does as its name suggests: the erase rubs away any light markings while the brush is used to return the nap of the suede to its original state.
Trainers may be a more casual form of footwear, but the rules for cleaning are no less important. If they’re canvas, the best way to clean them is by hand using fabric shampoo and lukewarm water. Alternatively, apply a mix of baking soda and water using an old toothbrush. Tempting as the washing machine may be, a word of warning: don’t.
For leather trainers, small scuffmarks can often be removed by applying a few swabs of nail-polish remover and then wiping clean.
If your leather shoes are wearing, have a cobbler repair them at the first sign of damage. New heels and new soles will extend a shoe’s longevity significantly – and for far less than the cost of a replacement pair.
Like a good suit, a fine pair of shoes needs to be treated with care. Be sure to rotate you shoes in order to give them a ‘rest’.
Whether it’s a pair of Oxfords, some elegant wingtips, dapper loafers or designer trainers in nappa suede, placing wooden shoe trees inside them will enhance their ‘resting’ period, helping to absorb any moisturise and reduce or minimise any creasing in the leather.
If you spend a tidy sum on your footwear, it’s worth going the extra mile and picking up a pair of high-quality wooden shoe trees (ideally in cedar). They’ll prove a canny investment.
If you live in Ireland, it’s same to assume that your shoes will, irrespective of the season, get wet. And that’s where a protective spray comes in handy, especially if your footwear is made from suede.
While Dubbin may have been the product of choice a generation ago, look instead to a specialist leather protector designed for suede and nubuck leather. Easy to apply and similarly easy on the wallet, they can prove the difference between a long and a short shelf life for your shoes.
It’s best to apply water repellent prior to your shoes’ first outing. After the initial application, reapply it as regularly as instructed.
Experts tend to have conflicting views on how best to prolong the life of a leather-soled shoe. For our money, though, having a cobbler apply an additional rubber sole onto the original leather sole is a sure-fire way to increase their longevity. Handily, a rubber sole will also reduce the risk of an embarrassing slip on Grafton Street.
Remember: a house is only as solid as its foundations, so make sure to take the necessary precautions to ensure your soles are in tip-top shape at all times.
And there you have it. Now, go ahead and put your best foot forward.