Sunday is my day to catch up, recharge and prepare for the week ahead. Part of the ritual entails what I think of as “prepping my arsenal,” which includes cleaning, laundry, ironing and shining my shoes, which I demonstrate in this groundbreaking tour-de-force. Enjoy.
If I had to start my entire wardrobe over, I would start with shoes. Even a casual observation would tell you that, in terms of both choice and care, shoes are the part of many men’s wardrobes that don’t get appropriate attention. A lot of guys seem to think that shoes aren’t important, which is a mistake. A well-chosen and well-cared for pair of shoes says a lot about a man.
In this podcast, I talk about starting at the foundation of a good wardrobe with smart, classic shoes that will work in any setting, any year, from business to casual, with suits or jeans. Avoid any square-toed clumsiness with weird stitching patterns and chunky soles that look like a collaboration between Kenneth Cole Reaction and Herman Munster. Start with something simple, elegant and timeless: a lace-up oxford or wingtip, with solid construction, perhaps with a Goodyear-welt. For the record, my favorite shoes come from Church’s and Grenson in the U.K., and, in the U.S., Alden, Allen Edmonds, Johston & Murphy and Florsheim.
In the podcast, I also elaborate on how to take care of your shoes so that they last longer than you will.
My simple rules of shoe care:
- Never wear the same shoes two days in a row. They need a day off to dry and retain their shape.
- Keep cedar shoe trees in your shoes when you’re not wearing them.
- Shine your shoes every week with a nice shoe cream, like Meltonian. Every two weeks minimum.
- Get taps put under the toes and heels of your shoes.
After eight years of too-frequent wearing and basic-care neglect from not oiling, polishing or using shoe trees, I was about to kiss an old pair of boots goodbye. Instead, I took my kickers to the shoe repair to see if they could be resuscitated with new soles. Two days later, I’m happy to report that my boots have brand new leather soles, new heels and a new life, which will be prolonged even further now that I know how to care for them properly.
Shoe care is easy to take for granted. But well cared-for leather shoes last a lifetime. The craftsmen at fine American shoemaker Johnston & Murphy have offered some simple steps for taking care of our leather footwear that will keep them looking good and wearing well for a very long time:
- Always store leather shoes with moisture-absorbing cedar shoe trees, to prevent leather cracking and permanent creasing where the toe bends.
- Always use a shoe horn when putting on shoes to prevent the back of the shoe from breaking down. Never force feet into the shoes.
- Always keep shoes away from direct heat to prevent the leather from drying out. Leather should always dry naturally.
- Give shoes a rest between wearings. Leather shoes should have one full day to dry out from natural foot perspiration and should not be worn on two consecutive days.
- When polishing shoes, use only a high quality paste or cream that will help moisturize leather and keep it from drying out. Never use a liquid polish on leather shoes.
- Never use any type of cleaner that contains an acid or a detergent. Both are damaging to fine leather, and will age the shoe.
- If shoes become heavily soiled, use a mild application of Ivory soap on a damp cloth, wipe off, and allow to dry. Then apply shoe cream. This treatment should restore the original lustre without any damaging effects to the leather.