Shoe Care 101

Shoe Care 101

Posted by Bill Kavanaugh on Aug 17th 2023

Over time, a quality pair of dress shoes can become like an old friend.

Wearing after wearing, they provide that special combination of practicality, comfort and elegance, making them one of the most important and worthwhile clothing investments one can make. However, like other investments, such as a car, or home, they need a little maintenance to keep them at their best. But here’s the good news: Anyone can do this! All it takes are a few simple accessories and a minimum of time.

Below are four practices to help you on your way:

Rotate your shoes-

I know this may be an unpleasant topic, but we’re all keenly aware of it. So here it is: our feet perspire. Yup, they sweat….sometimes a lot. And one of leather’s wonderful qualities is its ability to breathe and absorb perspiration. Therefore, after each wearing, shoes need time to dry and return to shape. To this end, it’s important to avoid wearing the same pair on consecutive days. For some, this will require a second pair, perhaps in a different style or color, which will add variety to your wardrobe and help keep outfits looking fresh.

Shoe trees-

At the end of each day, immediately after removing your shoes, get in the habit of inserting shoe trees. Many of the better ones use cedar wood and are available in multiple sizes. Once inserted, they provide that ideal blend of tension and form, helping shoes return to shape as they dry.

Exercising these practices will go a long way in preventing your favorite dress shoes- from becoming a misshapen, malodorous, mess.

Use a shoe horn-

When customers try on shoes at Harpers, they’re often handed a shoe horn. Some are well acquainted with this ‘old-school’ device and know what to do. But with others, it’s not so clear. “What’s this thing?” they’re saying to themselves, as they rotate it slowly in their fingers, curiously turning it this way and that, as if searching for the “ON’” button.

If you fall into the latter group, don’t despair, because we’re all learning about this thing called ‘dressing better’ and this one’s for you!

Simply put, the shoe horn allows the foot to slip gently into the shoe, without crushing the heel counter.

It takes only seconds, but will help preserve the integrity and appearance of your shoes. Yes, you really do need one.

Leather care-

For leather to remain supple and looking good, it usually needs some periodic cleaning, conditioning and/or polishing.

Many fall into the trap of thinking that no one will notice if their shoes are neglected because they’re…well…down there.

But they do notice. And no matter how expensive and well-fitting your outfit, a scruffy pair of dress shoes will reduce its dazzle, like a fly on the icing of a wedding cake.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of on-line information on the topic. First, determine what your shoes are made of. Are they suede? Calf skin leather? Shell cordovan? Each requires different care. Many manufacturers offer maintenance tips on their website. So, find out what your shoes need, and follow through.

A good pair of dress shoes is one of the finest clothing investments one can make. And providing just a little time and care, will have you stepping confidently into each day, always putting your best foot forward.

Harpers is thrilled to welcome accomplished writer, teacher, and fisherman Bill Kavanaugh to our team. Find his insightful and vivid commentary here on the Harpers blog.