Taking care of premium leather shoes is fun, relaxing and darn it – just plain sexy. Whether you are caring for shoes right out of the box, or you picked up some fine shoes from eBay, or Goodwill (yes, I have found some amazing gems from the Goodwill store) We have tips, tricks and instructions — using the proper shoe care supplies to enjoy them for years to come.
Taking care of high quality footwear, using proper shoe care supplies will ensure they you get enjoyment for years to come. Not to mention, getting folks (ok, the ladies) to take notice of your choice in footwear. It has been proven over and over, that shoes are what are first thing noticed on a well-dressed man. So, it is not only important, but essential to make certain they are well taken care of. With the right polish, wax, brushes and products expect to up your shoe game in the arena of “The well styled Gentleman”.
The following are some basics in each category. In future posts we will deep dive for a more specific look, but here is a brief overview of shoe care supplies.
Table of Contents
BENEFITS OF SHOE TREES
I have listed shoe trees as the first item regarding shoe care supplies. The wooden (cedar) shoe tree is probably the most important supply for the care of premium leather shoes. Stay away from plastic shoe trees, for the small difference in price the benefits that cedar shoe trees offer far outweigh the cost savings vs their plastic counterpart.
Benefits of cedar shoes trees: 1) After wearing your shoes for hours, or even a full day the cedar shoe will help wick away moisture. 2) They will help your shoes maintain their shape. Especially assist in protecting the toe cap from being crushed in the event that something in the closet falls on top of them. 3) They will help diminish foot odor and absorb sweat. It is best once removing shoes, immediately insert shoe trees – while the leather is still warm and supple. If you would like to get a more in depth discussion on shoe trees check out our more detailed description of Cedar Shoe Trees.
HEEL AND TOE PROTECTORS
There are two major wear points on shoes – the toe and the heel. Adding heel and toe protectors will significantly add length between sole and heel replacements. The position of the toe protector installation goes on the end of toe, the position of the heel protector will depend on your walking/wear pattern.
Go into your closet, check a fairly worn pair of shoes – it will be evident if you wear the inside corner heel, center heel, or outer corner heel. The wear area is the location that first hits the ground as you are walking. Now, you can go to your local shoe cobbler and have these installed, or can be easily purchased online and self-installed. I would recommend the nailed in protectors vs the protectors affixed with adhesive.
Before you polish or wax your premium shoes, you definitely want a clean palette. If the shoes have had very light wear using a horse hair brush should be enough. If your shoes have had a few days of wear, or have had a couple of applications or wax or polish since the last cleaning – it is time to clean the leather.
We recommend using a premium saddle soap for cleaning calfskin leather. Open the tin container exposing the saddle soap, add a few sprays of water then lather up with a horse hair dabber. Get it all frothy. Use the frothy dabber getting into all the nooks and crannies of your shoes. Have a soft cloth, old t shirt works just fine, and wipe off the saddle soap before it soaks into the leather too much.
You must remember – Leather is just a skin, it breathes, stretches and absorbs sweat. It is susceptible to the elements such as heat, cold, rain, dirt, snow and the occasional spilled glass of Cabernet souvignon. And like skin, it can dry and needs to be moisturized. Conditioner keeps the leather supple, keeps the skin flexible. The best occasion to apply conditioner is after a cleaning with saddle soap. There are various types of conditioners we will review. Don’t skip the conditioner – an important step.
SHOE CREAM POLISH
Shoe cream polish is an important product within your shoe care supply arsenal. Shoe cream polish should be matched best as possible to the shoe color. When in doubt error on a shade darker than lighter. A quick tip to see what the polish will look like. Lightly touch index finger to cream polish, smear in a circular motion on a piece of plain white paper. This will give the true color of the polish, rather than inspecting while concentrated in its container. Compare this swatch of color to your shoe.
Shoe cream polish is great for slight moisturizing effect (not as excellent as Shoe Conditioner), but better than waxes alone (which used over time tend to build up and dry the leather) While during a thorough shoe care regiment, using cream polish and shoe wax in tandem is best. For a quick shoe shine touch up shoe cream polish is just what the cobbler ordered.
SHOE WAX POLISH
When people think of a shoe shine, the tin of shoe wax will typically be the first thing that come to mind. Shoe wax polish, or just known as shoe wax is used to produce a shine in the shoe shine. Shoe wax has a high concentration of hard waxes that produce the “shine” that we attribute with a shoe shine.
There is a wide range of shoe waxes. The Kiwi wax that you will find in any grocery store. To premium waxes we will introduce you to within this site. The best practice is to overlay shoe wax, over the shoe cream polish for a high gloss shine.
HORSE HAIR BRUSHES
The purpose of the Horse Hair Brush is it is stiff enough to remove surface dirt, but gentle enough as to not damage or scratch the calfskin. The Horse Hair Brush secondarily is used to work the shoe cream polish up to a nice subtle shine.
Shoe brushes are available in exotic materials – Goat hair, yak hair, pig hair – Horse Hair is the most versatile and commonly available and the most ideal and well-balanced bristle for shoe care. The brush should fit comfortably in your hand, not too small where you have a difficult time keeping a grip on it. Later in the site we will discuss different brands and options for the horse hair brush.
SOLE EDGE DRESSING
After your premium shoe shine, the sole edge dressing is the finishing touch to complete the job. You may hear some use shoe wax, or shoe polish for the edges – but, they won’t tell you the horror stories of the wax or polish transferring to other materials like the beige carpets in their automobile. The right tool for the right job, stick with sole edge dressing – this is what it was made for.
The polishing cloth is used to buff the applied polish to give your shoes a brilliant shine. While they come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes – micro fiber towels have been coming to the forefront as a great option to perform the task. But, there is something to be said about tradition, and snapping the polishing cloth – well it’s just “tradition”
Shoe horns are another important accessory of the well dressed man’s shoe care supplies. The shoe horn allows the foot to easily slip into leather shoes without crushing or compromising the heel counter. If you are blessed enough to be wearing bespoke shoes, the shoe horn is essential.
Shoe horns come in a variety of lengths, materials, and of course pricing. There are long shoe horns that allow the shoe horn to be used while standing. This is especially helpful if you suffer from mobility issues, such as a tight back. Short shoe horns are most common and travel easily. Shoe horns are offered as simple as plastic, basic metal (not fun or sexy). As exotic as stag, ox, or ram horns.
Shoe bags typically are made of a cotton/flannel material. Individual bag for each shoe, this ensures the shoes don’t scuff each other while in transport or from being jostled around. This will protect them from dust, debris and inadvertent scuff even in the closet.
Taking care of one’s shoes