Months and months ago I started a series on shoes, based off of my experience working with them for years. It started with this piece on fitting your shoes, and was supposed to follow up immediately with this piece. But of course…that's when everything got crazy cakes…and here we are…following up. Better late than never right?
Shoes are troublesome things…ever fallen in love with a pair, you wear them so so much you end wearing them, literally into the ground? It happens – but here are my tips to prevent "premature aging", protect against stains and generally aid in the well-being of your shoes!
Protect Your Sole
Leather soled shoes, the sign of an expensive, well made, elegant pair of shoes, but also, very quickly the sign of a pair of shoes that have actually been worn, and often treacherous to wear.
The first thing I do with a pair of leather soles…might make some of you cry, especially if you're a red sole fan…. I grab a pair of scissors and I "score" the sole, making criss cross patterns. This serves a dual purpose, creating a grip so you don't take a tumble on a shiny surface and makes the leather porous, vital for your next step.
Ever protect the topside of your shoes? Well guess what – if the sole is made of leather, you should protect that too! You can use your standard waterproofer, in the UK you can purchase a specific product called 'Soleguard' which I cannot find here in the US.
Just remember the varnish on a leather sole isn't designed to remain intact, it's only purpose is to look pretty before you purchase. Leather soles will eventually need replacing – which isn't cheap. Don't leave it too long – once the toe of the sole wears down too much, you risk the toe of your shoe wearing down, and then replacing the sole becomes nay impossible.
You can of course pre-empt all of this by protecting the sole before wear with a thin rubber sole – not always the most attractive choice but probably the most practical and definitely cheaper than replacing a leather sole down the line.
Protect Your Skin
You know when you don't moisturize, and your skin starts to look dull and maybe even cracked and flaky? Well I hate to break it to you, but your shoes (for the most part) are also made of skin. Eww.
Moisturizing your leather goods is just as important as moisturizing your skin. You can do this with a polish or shoe cream, and you should do it regularly. My favourite product, which again, has proved difficult to obtain in the States, is an "aniline" cream – it not only moisturizes but removes dirt extremely easily (especially great on trainers – and also fantastic for cleaning and brightening the rubber on trainers!) If you can't find an aniline cream (if you find it let me know!) then a shoe cream will suffice.
Always protect any leather goods (not just suede!) with a waterproofer at least 24 hours before wear to prevent stains – no point in spending hundreds of dollars on shoes and ruining them with an errant puddle!
Some parts of your shoes are not meant to last forever, the top piece, or heel cap, is one of them – notice many shoes now come with a spare pair! This part of the shoe wears down very fast, and the key is not to wait too long until you replace them. If they come off altogether and you continue to wear them you risk permanent damage to your heel – which is usually covered with leather – no one like peeling, scrubby heels! You can usually replace them at your local cobbler for less than $10 – much cheaper than new shoes!
Other Leathers and Fabrics
Contrary to popular belief, other shoe materials also need protecting, fabric, PVC and patent leather all need protecting, with a rainproofer. Patent leather also needs moisturizing – you want to look for an oil based cleaner – you can even use a mineral oil, or a vegetable oil, just make sure you do a spot test first, especially on coloured or pale patent.
You can clean up fake suede with trainer or fabric cleaners – it works a treat and fake leather can be cleaned the same way as real leather.
I hope this helps you preserve your babies, yeah, my shoes are my babies- what of it?!