Sunday, January 12, 2014

Essential Winter Shoe-Care Tips

We've done a post about the importance of taking care of your shoes, and just like that time, I'm going to avoid a general 'how-to' since a quick Google or YouTube search will get you all the info you need to know. However, there are a few extra tips that we felt were crucial enough to getting through the winter that we wanted to write up a quick post for y'all.

Shoe Trees
Cedar Shoe Trees | Men's Wearhouse
These are important all year, but doubly so in the winter. Mainly, they help the leather in your shoes maintain it's natural shape as it dries, avoiding creasing and cracking. Through the winter, you're just that much more likely to come back with some snow stuck to your soles, or slush in the seams of your precious leather footwear, so be extra sure to shove a pair of shoe trees in them as soon as you take them off. Shoe tress can get expensive, but there's really no need. Stick to cedar, and if possible get split toes, and you're good to go. Men's Wearhouse has a nice looking pair that goes for just $20, and you'll often be able to take a chunk out of that with a good sale. I get mine at Nordstrom Rack, where I think they run just $13.

While your stuffing your shoes with trees, it's also really important to give your kicks a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth as soon as you step inside. The salt that your local city or town or what have you applies liberally to the streets and sidewalks will do extra murder to your footwear, staining and drying out the leather in ways far worse than just water. Avoid any excess damage by wiping your shoes clean of any salt build-up before it has a chance to really set into the leather.

Save Your Suede
Combo Suede Brush | Allen Edmonds

Water and salt won't necessarily ruin suede as immediately as many people think, but it's still rough on the material. At the very least, you can end up with spots from the salt and weird lines from uneven exposure to water (or snow, or slush). We have two quick recs here: First, don't be afraid to fight fire with fire (or water with water, in this case). Often, applying a moist cloth evenly to the whole shoe will help remove stains and get rid of unsightly lines. Second, get a suede brush! The rubber nubs are great for working salt and other crud out of the leather, and the stiff wire bristles will restore the 'nap' of your suede to looking almost like new. Suede brushes are dirt cheap at shoe companies like Allen Edmonds (think $6.50 and free shipping), but in a crunch you can use a rubber eraser and plain wire brush.

Just some suggestions to help you make it through these cold and dreary months without stifling your style!

Ed. Note: Between writing and publishing this post, I also purchased waterproofing spray from Allen Edmond's. It's inexpensive at ~$7.00 a can, silicone free (better for your leather), and so far is working great on my suede boots. It's usually highly recommended around StyleForum, etc., and I'm inclined to agree.

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