A great pair of dress shoes (or any shoes for that matter) is something no man should be without. Finding the perfect shoe to suit your style isn't half the task; it's maintaining them after the purchase has been made, in ensuring you get the most out of your brand new pair of shoes.
Lucky for you, we've compiled a short guide as to how to properly care and maintain your new shoes, to keep them looking clean, shiny and schmick for whatever the occasion.
Before taking your shoes for a walk, protect them with a water and stain protector, like Aquila's Aquila Eco Water & Stain Protector. This will help seal the leather and repel water yet still permit the leather to breathe and the moisture inside to escape.
Tip: Clean your shoes with a brush before coating them. This will prevent dirt from being trapped between the leather and repellent. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damage.
Cleaning and Polishing Shoes
Clean your shoes regularly to remove superficial dirt and stains. Use Aquila's Shoe Cream to keep your shoes well shined. Polishing not only covers and repairs the damage of daily wear and tear but it also nourishes and moisturises the leather, keeping it flexible and healthy. Use a soft, clean cloth to wipe the polish into your shoe in a clockwise motion. Alternatively, you may use a Shoe Brush to work the polish into your shoes. Finish by using a clean buffing cloth to wipe away any leftover cream.
The most common mistake men make in caring for their leather shoes is using too much polish. Excess polish creates a layer of build-up, which has a negative impact on the shoes. It not only covers the natural beauty of the leather but creates a grainy texture in the creases of the shoes and the build-up scuffs easily, and attracts dust. To avoid this, use only a small amount, spread thinly over the shoe to restore the colour and lustre.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to polish your shoes frequently. Often all that is required is a wipe-down with a brush and cloth to restore the shine.
Tip: Take your shoes with you when purchasing polish to get the best colour match.
Invest in shoe trees (experts say cedar is the way to go). Moisture and leather do not go hand in hand, with your feet producing over ¼ cup of moisture on a normal day, and up to ½ cup when active. Simply put, shoe trees are a must! Used consistently, cedar shoe trees can extend the life of your leather shoes up to three times their expected life span. They draw moisture out of your shoes; re-awaken the shoe’s natural structural memory; and prevent the leather from wrinkling and cracking, not to mention they leave behind a nice clean scent!
Tip: Be sure to put them in right after you take off your shoes, when the leather needs them the most.
Rest Your Shoes
Shoes need a day off! Even with shoe trees in, it takes a full day (about 24 hours) for your shoes to dry entirely after you’ve worn them. If you want your quality leather shoes to last longer, never wear them for two consecutive days – make sure you have at least two pairs of business shoes to alternate between.
Contact with water can sometimes cause full grain leather to form small raised areas called ‘welts’ (they look like tiny bumps). This is normal, and welts will recede once the shoes are allowed to dry. Wipe the shoes dry as soon as convenient, and allow to dry naturally.
If your Leather Shoes are very wet, stuff them with a small towel to draw out the moisture and allow to dry naturally.
Tip: Never place your shoes near a heat source, this can dry your shoes out and crack the leather.
Caring For Suede And Nubuck
We have to care for suede and nubuck a little differently than leather - it's super important to care for these guys, particularly in the winter months. Avoid getting your suede or nubuck shoes soaking wet - water is their greatest enemy. Do not use leather creams, oils, polishes or wax on suede or nubuck shoes as they will stain your shoes and may not be reversible.
We have a full post on caring for your suede and nubuck shoes here.
Through use, your leather soles are bound to wear out over time; this is normal and to be expected with leather footwear. To increase the longevity of your leather-soled shoes, we recommend rotating and resting your shoes regularly. Once your leather soles are starting to wear thin, then it is best to have them resoled, the good news is, most leather soled shoes can be resoled by a qualified cobbler.
Tip: The conditions in which you wear your leather sole shoes will determine the soles longevity. I.e, if you wear them on a daily basis, in all sorts of conditions, you will wear out the soles much quicker. Become familiar with the susceptible areas of the sole and have the necessary additions made BEFORE they completely wear through – once they wear through, there’ll be no saving your much-loved pair of leather shoes.
This may seem a lot to take in but once you establish a routine, you’ll become quicker and more efficient at maintaining your leather shoes. No matter how much effort you’ve invested in putting together a smart outfit, it’ll only take a scuffed pair of dress shoes to bring the entire ensemble down.