As we know quite well here at AllSole, every great look is built from the bottom up. Your shoes are the cornerstone of your outfit, the first thing you will be judged on, crucial to making a lasting first impression whether on your new boss or your latest Tinder date. Looking for a life hack to make a better impression on friends, foes and family? Simply invest in a beautiful new pair of shoes and watch your reputation soar. But buying those new shoes is only the start; it is crucial to keep your new kicks in pristine, fighting shape—which isn’t easy given the UK’s tumultuous climate. To help you continue to make the best first impressions, AllSole offers our guide of tips and tricks on how to take care of every shoe you own.
Invest in the Ultimate Shoe Care Kit
If you want to keep your shoes looking sharp, a wipe down with an old flannel just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Pull together a professional shoe care kit made up of most of the following:
- Great Polish: The market is awash with mediocre shoe polishes, but quality polish pays. A high-quality polish will moisturise and waterproof the leather, ensuring your new shoes will last a lifetime.
- A Horsehair Brush: Soft enough to not scratch your shoes yet stiff enough to give a professional shine, a horsehair brush will also make the shine last long between polishings (meaning less time spent actually polishing your shoes).
- Polishing Cloths: An often neglected but important phase of the polishing process, your polishing cloth will complete your polish by helping to bring up a brilliant shine.
- Leather Balm: The combination of waxes and oils in a leather basalm helps clean, nourish, condition, waterproof and polish leathers, restoring its original softness and extending its lifetime.
- A Shoe Horn: It might look like something from the Victorian era, but a shoe horn is vital to lengthening the lifetime of your shoes and retaining its carefully crafted silhouette. Without one, you either have to shove your finger in to the back and pull it on to your foot (stretching the shoe in the meantime) or you might try to go no hands by sliding your feet in (crushing the heel counter as you do so). A quality shoe horn is the key to retaining the shape, structure and integrity of your shoes.
- Crème Polish: This will not give you shoes as good as a shine (this is what the polish is for after all), but a good quality crème polish soaks into the leather and allows your shoes—and consequently your feet—to breathe.
- Baby wipes: Perhaps not the most technical product on this list, but baby wipes are the quick and easy solution to removing surface grime from your shoes. Never, ever use a sponge for this; sponges are not only less effective, but can also contain ingredients that are harmful to your shoes.
Know Your Suede
As we all well know, suede requires specialist treatment to be taken care of properly. A delicate material that is easily dirtied, suede is actually a lot easier to clean than we tend to think. Here’s the best way to clean your suede:
Step 1: Brush
Use a suede brush vigorously in both directions to remove any dirt and stains. As a rule of thumb, the longer your suede, the softer your brush will need to be.
Step 2: Shampoo
Treat your suede to some shampoo treatment. Suede shampoo removes dirt, nourishes the leather, and helps bring out the shoe’s original colour to look as good as new.
Step 3: Seal & Protect
Once your suede has been cleaned and treated, use a suede protector to help seal the fabric and protect it against the elements. Leave your shoes overnight so that the fabric can absorb the protectant before you head out.
Take Care of your Sole
Keeping an eye on the condition of your sole and ensuring it is in good repair is crucial to caring for your hoes. As a loose guide, there are three ways to identify if your sole needs to be replaced:
- Press your thumb into the centre of the sole. If the sole feels spongy or weak, replace it.
- If you see the appearance of a circular wearing pattern on the bottom of the shoe.
- Take a look at the edge of the sole where it meets the welt. If there is uneven wearing due to pronation, it is time to replace the sole.
If your shoe has a leather sole, you can lengthen its lifetime by adding an additional rubber sole. This will protect your leather outsole while also adding extra traction.
As much as we might try, it is virtually impossible to avoid the rain over the course of the year. Ensure you take care of your shoes immediately after any downpours by filling them up with newspaper and storing them in a warm but ventilated place to dry out properly. The sooner you are able to dry out your shoe fabric, the better. But please, whatever you do, never resort to the hairdryer…
Taking Care of Canvas
Contrary to common myth, the best way to clean your canvas sneakers is NOT by shoving them in the washing machine. Always handwash your canvas shoes using a specialist fabric shampoo.
Treating Coloured Leathers
Our taste in coloured leathers is more eclectic now than ever, but treating this rainbow of fabrics is tricky business. When possible, try to find a polish that matches the shade of your shoe that will help bring out the fullness of the material’s colour. If you are unable to find the exact colour, opt for a clear polish.