I love my brown Cleverleys – the first bespoke shoes I owned – but I’ve never been that happy with the colour. Cleverley are good at many things, but patination is not one of them. George Jr has looked at introducing a patination service, but it’s not something that’s readily available yet.

I was thinking this while talking to Deborah Carre of Carreducker recently, and that led to a discussion of how one could do a little repatination oneself. Taking the surface of the shoes off is fairly easy – using a deglazer – and then if a polish is used rather than a dye on the exposed shoe, the effect is subtle and hard for a novice like me to mess up.

Nonetheless, we decided it would be best to attempt this first under close supervision. So Luke Carby (pictured, top and I went up the cosy Carreducker studio in London during one of their shoemaking classes, and tried repatination under Deborah’s watchful eye.

Getting the surface of the shoe off is fairly straightforward. A few swirls of deglazer and the surface turns matte and slightly muted in colour. We repeated the process two or three times until that process was thorough: on the heel initially, as that is less prominent, and then on the toe.

Then we worked in a few layers of black polish. In streaks to begin with, to get enough on, and then swirls to work it in. Each layer was left to dry for a minute before another was applied. Luke worked on one shoe and me on another – though we swapped halfway to avoid a difference in the patination ‘style’.

Once complete, we used more polish and some water to work them up normally. The result was subtle, but definitely noticeable. There is a definite difference between the cap and shoe, and a slow gradation at the heel. A close inspection reveals one or two of those streaks as well.

My only regret was that I didn’t also do some around the laces. But I’ve bought my own deglazer now, so this could be the start of a dangerous trend…

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Hi Simon,
You could have been a good chemist too! You definetly love experimenting new things! Personally, I simply wouldn’t have made the try. Instead, I would have simply used from to time various types of wax.
Carreducker is of course the right place in London for a biginner who takes things seriously like you!


Hi Simon,
I agree about Cleverley and patination / colour. Perhaps it has been seen as not very English!! They are fantastic at everything else. I have found Lobb [bespoke St James’s] the same. I practised on a nice pair of Edward Green’s with some success, but don’t think I will risk the Cleverley ones. By the way, I would like to be able to contribute as a person but can’t seem to do it – not normally a failure at on-line things but any hints would be appreciated. I don’t have a personal URL.
Permanent Style is so informative, thank you.
Best wishes
Ian Franklin


Hi Simon
What’s the name & make of the deglazer you use? Will see if I can find it online.
P.S. How’s it going for Team B Spokes?


Thanks Simon.

Just out of interest, what do you ride? I’m looking with interest at cyclocross bikes right now.

Keep up the great work!



I have a pair of Oak-colored Adelaides from Alfred Sargent, and I am looking for some advice about darkening them. By using black and dark brown cream-polish, I can darken them, but the creasing along the vamp comes out in the underlying, light color (similar, maybe, to your Foster and Son banana-shoes).

I am not looking for anything particularly artistic (Berluti, Corthay, etc), just uniformly darker. Would stripping back and then dyeing the shoes be feasible, and would you recommend it?

Many thanks for the blog, Simon. It is a wonderful resource.



Do you know of anyone in the US?

And I know Justin (the shoe snob) has dyed shoes darker himself. The only reason I push back is that I’m not particularly going for artistically subtle. I’m aiming for quite dark brown. Unless you mean the dyes themselves can physically ruin the leather


Ok. İ was thinking I would darken with dye, and use polishing plus time to build depth and character.

Thank you for the back and forth. The interaction s between commenters and author are (nearly) as informative as the articles themselves