Stuck Inside? It’s Shoe TimeWriten by Gavin Humphreys
In these crazy days of deadly viruses, working from home, self-isolation, quarantines, and zombies (ok, no zombies, yet) we have the perfect excuse to spend some time with our shoes.
If you have good quality leather shoes, let’s give them a spring clean. And not just shoes - boots, sneakers, bags, belts - all leather goods need some TLC, now and again. If you find yourself with a little more time than normal on your hands, this is exactly the opportunity you needed.
Devoting attention to your shoes is not only necessary, but it can also be a pleasure. It’s shoe meditation! It’s a peaceful way to pass time and focus on your tasks, away from the stresses around us.
One of our favorite YouTubers, Kyle Ingham of Distilled Man, recently posted a Shoe Care 101 video, which is an amazing overview of all the things you need to think about when you want your shoes to stay in top form.
I’m practicing as I preach, and I’m giving some (overdue) attention to my Balmoral Boots. I wear them in all weather because their design is basically hill boots Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, had made for their wet Scottish estate, Balmoral.
That said - they are leather, and when it rains leather gets wet. This is exactly what happened last week. As Kyle suggests in the video, I put in a cedar shoe-tree and left them to dry (in indirect light). The trees help the leather keep form, and the wood also absorbs a little of the water.
As you can see in the photos, one undesirable side-effect of wearing these in the rain is that it leaves watermarks. I’ve had this happen several times, and it’s not a disaster. The marks are not impossible to remove, although usually leave a slight change in the leather - which I am happy with because it is part of what makes older shoes and boots more attractive - the patina.
My plan was to revitalize the leather, and then add a layer of protection.
I took the laces off and rubbed in some leather cream. You can use a cloth, or even your fingers if you don’t mind them being stained! (I went for a thin rag I tore from some old PJs). I applied a good couple of layers.
I was surprised to see that my leather looked dry in some corners, (perhaps because of getting wet and then drying out). Again, this is why creams are essential - they rejuvenate the leather.
It’s then good to leave the cream for at least a half hour (I left mine for about three hours) then give a light brush. This just takes off any excess before the cream totally dries.
The next day I gave a good polish - the way I see it, 10% to look good and 90% to protect the leather. The creams do the nourishing, and the polish or wax adds a layer on top which protects it from the elements.
I put on a thick coat of polish, left half an hour, then polished it off. I then repeated this step, but this time I used my finger to get the polish where it was needed. The body heat helps!
They might not be ready for parade - but they are certainly a lot healthier than before, and I’d say they’re good to go for battle. Ideally, I would put them through the same treatment again in a few days - but I have my other shoes to do first!
Leather care takes time, so my final advice is don’t rush it. Put on some good music, or a TV show in the background, and enjoy it.
Make the most of social distancing and self-isolation, and care for your wardrobe.
I really enjoyed your article on full grain leather boots. I was getting bogged down on what is full grain leather, oily Pull Up leather & topt grain leather. I spent 400 euros on boots which I believe are full grain leather.
It can be all very confusing. When buying boots shoes it is not always easy to ascertain wither one has calf leather, cow leather, or goat leather.
Also enjoyed update on leather care.
Noel Finn Cork Irl.
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