The slumber party is coming to an end, thankfully. We’re all now sick to death of wearing our slippers ‘round the house and it’s finally getting closer to the day we’re able to dust off our beloved leathers, add a lick of polish, and head back to the office.
But where do we start? It's something we've discussed here at TGC. So, in this latest blog post I give you the shoe lover's guide to getting your leathers ready for the post-lockdown world.
Our Wordsworth Cap-toe Oxfords, a staple in any office worker’s wardrobe.
Do I need new shoes?
In 8 out of 10 cases, all you need to do is apply the steps we outline below. However, if there are holes developing in your sole, if there is structural damage, such as the back heel counter being crushed, or if you simply don't invest enough in your feet, it may be time to start looking.
If, up until this point, you haven’t invested much in your feet, you’re probably spent more buying cheaper shoes than you would have had you invested in a quality pair. Quality footwear, e.g. those made with full-grain leather and constructed via the Goodyear welt method, will last far longer than commodity footwear found in 90% of all Australian shoe stores.
This was me a few years ago. I enjoyed new shoes, but at $200 a pop, they never looked new for very long or lasted more than 12 months. The cost to repair them just didn't make sense. Then I discovered welted shoes. Who would have thought you could spend $400 on a pair of shoes that last 10 times longer and look better as they got a bit of wear into them?
I once heard a saying - ‘Life’s short, buy the shoes’, but honestly, if you're buying commodity footwear, life kinda sucks.
A pair of our Turon Stitchdown Service Boots that have been worn for around 6 months, and showing signs of ageing like fine wine.
Head over to our recent blog post How I’ve Saved Thousands on Men’s Leather Shoes, where we discuss the numbers when it comes to the Welted vs Commodity footwear argument.
Polishing and preparation
They say the key to doing something well, is preparation. So that’s where this guide’s going to start, preparing our shoes for tackling the outside world.
Let’s be honest, unless your name is Ringo Mok (FoxShineAU), Preston Soto (The Elegant Oxford) or Kirby Allison (kirbyallison.com), you and I are probably in the same boat: a closet full of leather shoes all in desperate need of care.
Lucky for us, my colleague Ringo recently wrote a detailed blog on shoe polishing - How to mirror shine with Boot Black, which goes into great detail on achieving the ultimate mirror shine, the piece de resistance of shoe polishing.
For now, I’m going to leave that to the experts, and head right back to basics with some simple shoe care.
1. Clean your shoes
By now your shoes will be quite dusty from sitting in the bottom of the wardrobe for the past 8 weeks. A quick brush with a horsehair shoe brush to remove these particles will do the trick.
2. Nourish the leather
Leather, unlike synthetic stuff, requires nourishment. Leather conditioner is our best friend here. A small amount (roughly a 10 cent piece per shoe) rubbed gently into the surface with a cloth will do the trick.
3. Wait. Seriously... Just Wait.
This is the most important part of good shoe care, and I can’t stress this enough. You must wait for the polish to dry. Overnight is ideal for conditioner, however, no less than 4 hours if you’re short of time.
4. Rejuvenate your shoes
This is the secret weapon of the shoe industry. Contrary to what your local supermarket has told you since you were a kid, wax polish in the tin is not the only way to care for shoes. If the colour in your shoes is beginning to fade, or you have some light scuffing, pigmented cream polish is king here. Apply a small amount and again, let it dry overnight.
5. Protect your shoes
Wax polish is the final layer that protects your shoes from the elements while making them shine like grandma’s finest silverware. Although this step is optional, personally, I’d say it’s a must for any lace-up Oxford / Derby. Begin by applying a small amount of wax polish in very light layers, allowing the shoes at least 10 minutes to dry between layers. Avoid applying too much wax in areas where creases form, otherwise, the wax will crack.
Thank you for reading Blog #1 of our Shoe lover‘s guide to returning to work post-COVID-19 series. If like us, you’re chompin’ at the bit to finally wear a pair of shoes and step outside, stay tuned to our next few blog posts as we explore life post-COVID.