A beautiful pair of shoes does more than elevate your look. Quality footwear sends a powerful message about your taste, style and—according to a recent study—perception of your personality.
So consider fine footwear an investment—one that, with simple care, will return years of stylish service.
Here’s how you can enhance the beauty and extend the life of your boots, flats and heels.
1. Clean and Condition. To keep them looking their best, condition new leather shoes before wear, and then clean and condition them regularly. Use a soft, clean cloth or rag to wipe off visible dirt, oil and debris. Ask a shoe repair professional for recommendations on shoe conditioners that restore and maintain leather’s moisture and luster. Before applying conditioner, test on a small, less visible section of your shoe to ensure the conditioner does not discolor leather. All systems go? Apply with a soft, clean rag, using circular motions to cover one small area at a time. Continue until you’ve conditioned the entire shoe. Wipe away the excess with another clean cloth. Leave shoes to dry—away from radiators and direct heat, or risk cracking the leather—for 30 minutes, then polish, using instructions below. To care for suede, use a suede brush to whisk away dirt and raise the nap. Need deeper suede cleaning? Ask your shoe repair pro for their favorite suede cleaning product and follow label instructions.
2. Polish. A buffed coat of cream-based polish leaves shoes with a lustrous sheen—while providing an additional layer of moisturizing protection. Once more, ask your shoe repair pro for suggestions on a cream or wax shoe polish that matches your shoe color. Before polishing, slip shoe trees into shoes or stuff them with newspaper. Use a soft cloth to rub off old built-up wax or polish. Next, apply a fresh coat of cream polish, rubbing into the leather in circular motions, one small area at a time. Repeat until the entire shoe is coated with polish. Use a soft shoe brush to gently brush away excess polish. Switch to a clean, soft cloth—not the one you used to apply the polish—to buff leather to a sheen.
3. Dry wet shoes immediately. Water in all its forms—rain, snow, ice, spills—is the enemy of leather. Take special care to avoid getting shoes wet, and dry them immediately upon contact with water. Caught in a storm? Follow these steps. • Blot moisture from shoes using a dry cloth. • Stuff with newspaper or tissue paper. • Lay shoes on their sides to dry the soles. • Park shoes away from direct heat—no radiators or stove tops!—and leave to dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours. • Slide wooden shoe trees into shoes or re-stuff with clean tissue paper before storing.
Thinking about quick-drying shoes with your hair dryer? Banish the thought. As mentioned, dry, direct heat is almost as damaging for leather as moisture.
4. Use wooden shoe trees. It’s one of the best ways to maintain the life of your shoes. The initial cost of wooden shoe trees is far outweighed by their benefits. Shoe trees… • Wick moisture. Not-so-pretty little secret: Your feet perspire. A LOT. And moisture can soak into and dry shoe leather, causing stains and cracking. Wooden shoe trees prevent damage by absorbing moisture. • Maintain the shoe’s original shape. Shoe trees reshape your shoe, smoothing unsightly (toe-shaped) bumps and bulges as well as creases caused by wear. • Deodorize. Cedar and other wooden shoe trees absorb odors and sweat. • Aid polishing. Shoe trees provide a resistant surface that allows you to buff shoes to a high gloss. Tip: Saving your pennies for wooden shoe trees? In the meantime, stuff shoes with tissue paper. Your Vince Camuto shoes come filled with shoe-shaped tissue. Save and reuse the tissue paper inserts.
5. Make friends with your cobbler. A good shoe repair professional can improve the look, feel, fit and wear of your shoes immeasurably. In addition to advising on conditioners and polishes, a cobbler can make repairs, add inserts to gaping heels, place taps on soles that wear unevenly, dye and restore shoe leather and perform dozens of customized “alterations.” Note: If you routinely need shoes stretched for a perfect fit, this service is provided free when you purchase shoes at Vince Camuto Retail stores.
6. Protect proactively. As well as maintaining shoes, you can take a number of steps to stop shoe damage before it starts: • Use a shoe horn to ease feet into pumps, lace-ups and slip-ons. This inexpensive tool keeps your foot from damaging the shoe’s counter—the stiff part of the shoe that wraps around your heel. Intact heel counters not only keep you from looking “down at the heel,” but they maintain the overall structure and shape of your shoe. • Rotate at least every other day. To keep shoes refreshed, deodorized and in proper shape, avoid wearing the same pair two days in a row. • Watch the weather and choose shoes accordingly. A single downpour can ruin those favorite buttery suede stilettos. Install a weather app on your phone and check it daily before choosing footwear. Keep at least one pair of rain and snow boots in your closet. The Hinch moto rain boot is our current favorite.
With your shoes cleaned, conditioned and polished you’re ready to put your best foot forward—and make a great first impression.
Looking for a new shoe for work, weekend or the holidays? Check out our huge selection.
Source: University of Kansas, “Shoes as a Source of First Impressions,” Journal of Research in Personality.