March 14, 2012

Leather Boot & Shoe Care

I've long been inspired by menswear; I especially love reading men's style blogs and mags because the emphasis is on style, fit, & quality and how to care for those items, as as opposed to women's style magazines which are much more trend and brand-conscious.  That being said, I want to direct you to two resources: one by Aili's favorite magazine, Esquire, put together a pretty good shoe care guide and the other by menswear blog Put This On.  

Boots, in particular, can be some of the most expensive footwear you purchase, but are expected to rough it through the salt, snow, mud, and slush of fall and winter, so it's good to know how to take care of your investment.

1. Ikea Shoe Horn - My dad claims this elongated shoe horn from Ikea is the best purchase we've ever made. haha.  Ikea--making dads happy everywhere.  The shoe horn obviously protects the back of your shoe from crumpling and maintains the integrity of the shoe's shape.  I wasn't sold on the shoe horn until a trip to a traditional Korean restaurant, where customers removed their shoes and slipped them back on with the aid of the extended shoe horn. Brilliant innovation! Now there's no need to bend over when you need to slide your shoes back on. ($0.99)
2. A Soft Cloth or a sock that's lost its mate in the caverns of the dryer.
3. Wool Shoe Inserts - These inserts are dual purpose: comfort and warmth.  They can make your shoes feel a little tight, but if you're between sizes, then these might be a good option.   I picked mine up on a whim in a tran station for 1€, and they've held up pretty well.  Check out this well-rated pair on Amazon for around $13 including shipping.
4. Frye Conditioning cream & weather protectant - I picked up this one from Zappos (where it has 5 star ratings!), and I'm a big fan; it's a fairly simple product that weather protects, restores, and conditions leather.  Another plus, as far as I can tell, it's odorless.  I've used it on all of my leather shoes--from flats to heels--and I don't think it's discolored any of my own shoes; that being said, I'd caution you to test a little patch of leather and see how it looks before committing fully. ($9) | shop

I had a cobbler add a rubber sole to my the soles of a few pairs of my shoes that feature a smooth leather sole.  The extra tread is a good thing for a klutzy soul like myself.  Cobblers offer a full list of services that you might not have realized were available; among other services, they can stretch, restore, and condition shoes as well as replace zippers, soles,  heels, or heel tips.

Speaking of boots, have you checked out our winter boot picks

Finally, I'd like to turn the discussion to shoe trees and boot shapers.  

Boot Shapers - I know you can pick these up from anywhere from $8 on up, and if that's your thing, then go for it, but the poor man's boot shaper--a sturdy magazine (I especially love the Nordstrom catalogs because they're free and shipped straight to your door) or an empty wine bottle--does the job just fine.
Shoe Trees - I don't have one of these, but my favorite men's style magazines and blogs emphasize the importance of shoe trees for maintaining the integrity of the shoe's shape.  Do you have any experience with shoe trees?  Thoughts?

Finally, you might be interested in checking out this video about taking care of leather pumps, and in particular Christian Louboutins by Wendy of Wendy's Lookbook.  

I hope this wasn't too long and you found this information helpful!


  1. Great post! I especially enjoyed watching Wendy take off the sticker residue with peanut butter.

  2. Never use a hair dryer to dry your wet shoes. You must dry them in normal room temperature.
    You can also use a toothbrush to remove dirt from wet shoes.

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