If you’ve spent some time on any men’s style message board or forum, you might think owning a pair of decent quality dress shoes requires hours upon hours of care, cleaning, and effort to maintain. Bull-feathers. It’s just not true. The guys who spend all that time detailing their shoes do it because they like it. It’s similar to the dudes who spend hours babying a fancy car in their garage. Fun for them, but unnecessary. Basic, smart care can keep your investment looking good, all while allowing you to get out the door without too much delay. Here’s how to do it.
- Use cedar shoe trees. Shoe trees are like good hangers for your suits and sportcoats. They support the structure of the shoe when not in use. Plus, cedar smells good and helps soak up any leftover moisture your feet have left behind.
- Consider dust bags… maybe. But only if your unworn shoes spend lots of time out in the open, and you go long periods between wearing them. To some, bags just add to clutter.
Like a bra for your shoes. They help support and maintain shape.
- Supplies: Horse hair brush. Daubers (optional). Old socks, rag, soft cloth, or t-shirt to buff with. Shoe creme (Meltonian does the job well for cheap).
- Clean: Brush any dust/dirt off your shoes with the horsehair brush. Use a slightly damp rag for tough stuff. You can also use a leather conditioner/cleaner, but I have yet to actually use any of that stuff. Ever. In my life.
- Apply: Using a dauber or old sock, apply a thin layer of matching shoe creme to the leather. It should look kinda cloudy once applied. Just don’t gob it on.
- Wait: Wait 10-15 min. for the creme to dry. Go make a sandwich or something.
- Brush: Brush the now dried, thin layer of creme with the horse hair brush. Use some some speed/light force.
- Buff: Buff to a shine with a soft cloth or old sock. Tip: Put your foot in the shoe, and elevate it on a sturdy surface like a stair or shine box.
And that’s it. Eat sandwich. Go outside and play.
You really don’t need more than this, and you certainly don’t “need” the box.
Find an honest to goodness cobbler. You’ll most likely need new heels before you need a new sole (assuming your shoes can be re-soled). When you do need a new sole, consider their re-crafting service of the maker, if there is one (such as Allen Edmonds.) Nobody knows their own shoes like the manufacturer. Otherwise, look for a cobbler who has been around for a while.
And a heads up: Unless you drag your feet, you’ll need soles a hell of a lot less than you might think. I bought my first pair of Goodyear welted Allen Edmonds in… 2008? 2009? A pair of black Weybridge Oxfords. I’ve worn them a ton since then. They’re my go-to black dress shoes. They haven’t had to be re-soled yet, and neither have any of my other Goodyear welted shoes.
Heels will wear faster than soles, which should take a while to wear down.