Keep your elevator dress shoes looking nice for as long as you own them with our tips for shining, conditioning and repairing formal leather footwear.
Caring for Dress Shoes
A good pair of shoes is essential to a good outfit. But as is the case with many things in life, quality often doesn’t come cheap. In most cases, you’re looking at a minimum of $100 for a good pair of men’s leather dress shoes; higher-end models can run $300 to $500. If you’re investing in fancy footwear, then you want it to look fancy as long as possible. Our expert tips will help you take care of your formal elevator shoes as long as you own them.
Waterproofing Your Shoes
Whether from rain, puddles or spills, water will eventually get on your dress shoes. Excessive water exposure can lead to dry, cracked leather and permanent stains. Therefore, you should apply a waterproofing spray or polish on a regular basis. This could mean anywhere from once a month to once a week depending on the climate where you live. You can tell your shoes need a new coat of repellent if water stops beading on the surface.
Wash & Brush Your Shoes
Just like with hair, a lot of long-term wear can be prevented by routine shoe maintenance. Everyone who owns dress shoes should also own a horsehair brush. Use this tool to gently brush off dirt and debris or to remove the dust if they’ve been in the closet for a few months. (The brush can also be used to apply polish and conditioner.) What to use for a more thorough cleaning depends on the shoe material. Use saddle soap on leather shoes; if you have suede dress shoes, mix two parts water with one part vinegar to spot-clean stains.
Condition & Polish Regularly
Even if you wash leather regularly, it can still end up stiff and dull from prolonged use. Keep some leather conditioner and shoe polish on hand to renew your shoes. Conditioner creams will restore softness and flexibility to the leather. A color-matched conditioner will also cover up small scratches and scuffs. Polishing your shoes regularly with either a neutral or color-matched cream also helps fix light damage while shining them up like a silver dollar. Try buffing the polish off with some panty hose if you really want them to shine!
Blast the Horn & Climb a Tree
No, we’re not talking about some new kid’s game. Shoe horns and shoe trees can prolong the life of leather footwear. Using a shoe horn to put your shoes on helps the heel keep its form and reduces wear. In between uses, put a shoe tree inside of your shoe; this holds its form, preventing creasing and shrinking. Wood shoe trees, particularly cedar, are best because they also absorb excess moisture and odor.
Look Out For Your Mortal Soles
Much of shoe care focuses on the uppers, but the house needs a good foundation to stand on. So take care of the soles as well. For shoes with leather soles, you can follow many of the care tips above. Rubber soles can be cleaned by soaking them in water and mild dish soap; use a toothbrush and toothpaste for tough stains. When your soles wear out — which typically happens much sooner than the upper — cobblers and shoe manufacturers can replace soles for anywhere from $30 to $80. This is usually cheaper than buying a new pair if the uppers are still in good shape.