How to look after your shoes
This is the first in a series of videos that we will be doing over the coming months, looking at caring for good clothes.
They will be instructional, but not too technical, and we plan to build them up slowly over the year - so for example, not trying to cover shoe brushing, polishing and glacage in a single video.
This first one was done with Edward Green in the Jermyn Street shop. It looks at the basics - not wearing shoes every day, using shoe trees, and brushing daily.
I hope you like it.
For those that want to know, my clothes are:
- Oversized drop-shoulder herringbone overcoat: Connolly
- Bespoke grey-flannel double-breasted suit: Edward Sexton
- Bespoke blue spread-collar shirt: Luca Avitabile
- White printed-silk tie: E Marinella
- Dark-brown monk-strap shoes: Edward Green
Great! I’m looking forward to those videos!
A few years ago I purchased a pair of leather slippers by Churchs’ in the sale for the insanely low price of £20.For some reason I did’nt wear them for years and when I did I noticed that the faux leather soles had split.This made me think.Perhaps we should periodically apply shoe cream to soles just to prevent this type of eventuality. Any thoughts?
Generally you don’t need to apply cream to soles, and if you do there’s a risk you make them moist, then walk on them and wear them down that way.
Perhaps if you’re literally not wearing something for years it might be worth a little cream, but that’s all. And if it’s a faux leather anyway, it may not even take the cream.
Interesting point about the moisture, I just put a small amount of cream on the heels of a pair of Crockett and Jones shoes (about 5 minutes before I read this coincidentally). I saw either a John Lobb or C&J recommending it. It made sort of intuitive sense to me I.e. if the rest of the leather benefits from the nourishment of the cream then why not the sole?
The sole is a different type of leather, particularly in terms of tanning and thickness, and is used differently. Make sure if you put any on the sole that it has plenty of time to dry out
Hello, for the sole, after a walk on a wet ground, put grease, and let it dry.
If you haven’t use the shoes for a while, I recommend to moisten a bit your sole, and then add the grease, and let it dry. That is the best sole caring I know, and it does work pretty well.
While buying some other Saphir product today I noticed they now in fact make a vegetable oil based “Sole Guard” product. They claim it provides waterproofing and salt protection without being greasy, and given the performance of their other products I have no reason to doubt this. I may give it a go on my next Saphir buying round.
Interesting, thanks Simon
I thought this video was simple and easy to understand.
Great work, I can’t wait for more.
Cashmere sweater care and maintenance would be great.
It is a nice video and of course a nice suit. But it is a little bit too basic for most Permanent Style readers.
I have seen some shoe care videos on YouTube made by The hanger project, which I found pretty useful for learning how to properly polish a pair of shoes.
Thanks. Yes, it is very basic. As with other things like the cloth guide, the idea is to build up into cream, polish and everything else
I’ve said it before, but for me this suit, of all those you have featured over the years, is an absolute beauty.
While your point is well taken I do, however, respectfully disagree in the sense that Mr Simon states the series “will be instructional … not too technical … [with] a plan to build … slowly over the year.” My impression is Mr Simon offers up the quintessential overture to all viewers, seasoned PS guests or otherwise. As for the ES suit, well … it speaks for itself.
Apologies Mr. “Simon” Crompton. I’ve only visited PS, the best of the best, 300+ times in the last few years. The laugh is on me.
Look forward to the rest of the series. Any tips on where to get a good shoe brush / suede brush?
The shoe shops all offer them, and places like The Hanger Project have a range. You don’t need to pay a lot for them though
Do you personally recommend EG shoetrees for EG shoes?
The fact they are generic and the price they are charging is a difficult one for me. Good to hear on your feedback….
No, any shoe tree that fits well is fine. It’s nice to have one from the maker, and it may well be higher quality, but as long as the shape of the tree is not distorting the shape of the shoe at all, it will be fine
The coat.. The coat. Lovely!
Yeah, more coming on the coat. A very interesting piece on the benefits of structure v cut
One other good tip I learnt years ago (from my first tailor, who was in the trenches in WWI): if your shoes get very wet, stuff them with newspaper and clean them with saddle soap. This removes the white encrustation on the surface and helps condition the leather. Then insert the shoe trees to prevent the toes from curling up &c. and follow with your usual polish routine leaving them to dry out slowly (and never next to a direct source of heat).
Thanks. Yes, we’ll do more on wear shoes, stains etc. There are specialist treatments other than saddle soap for those salt stains, but saddle soap works too. Also good to dry the shoe on its side, as the sole is the wettest part and this helps it get more air
I’d have that thought that getting white water marks on your shoes would be the least of your worries if you were fighting in the trenches!
But seriously, wiping over with a small amount of vinegar (the stuff you put on your chips will do) and then immediately wiping over with a damp cloth will also shift white marks caused by water and snow.
Thanks. I find that’s good with light stains but not heavier ones or where the leather has swollen with the wet. Then I find I need a specialist product
Trench boots were usually treated with dubbin, and trying to keep them waterproof was an important hygiene issue. But parade shoes had to look smart and good army training has always instilled a respect for well-maintained footwear (look at all the mirror-shine toe caps at The Rag!).
Simon – thanks for the instructive video.
I love the Sexton suit, and have been viewing Michael Browne’s departure from C&M with interest. My impression, based solely on his Instagram account, is that his cut is as dramatic as Sextons. Could you please share your opinion of his capabilities and cut?
Thanks – DJ
Yes, it certainly is. Have you looked up the navy SB he made for me?
Thanks. I do recall the navy suit from C&M but did not realize that was due to Michael’s efforts (I assumed Joe Morgan was the cutter / fitter).
I’ll take another look.
Joe cut it, but they both fitted it. There will be minimal difference
talking about leaving, is it true that Dan has gone from GB?
Hi. Yes, he’s left to set up with Richard. Just Russ now
Who do you think are the 5 best dressed men alive today
See our awards nominations last week….
Nice video, Simon. By the way, new watch?
I don’t think you can see my watch in the video… that’s not me!
If my shoes have got wet I put the trees in and then position them upside down – using something to stop them falling over. The water then tends to evaporate upwards out of the soles and you avoid any salt stains unless they have got really wet and the water has already soaked into the upper.
Hi Simon, great video. I tend to wear down my heel much quicker than the sole. So much so it’s hard to justify paying a factory refurb every time the heel needs replacing. You mention taking to a good cobbler? I am sure that I have been falsely notified, but I thought once another cobbler had worked on the shoes, a factory refurb later on would not be achievable?
Most shoemakers will still do a refurb later in my experience – and particularly if all you’re doing is replacing the rubber heel.
Perhaps you will cover this in a later video, but I’d appreciate to know when to refurb/replace a heel. When the top layer (or two) of rubber have worn through at the point of heel strike, so leather is now starting to be impacted? Or should one week wearing the shoe until there’s wear through all layers of the heel stack and the whole heel can be replaced?
Ideally replace when the rubber is all worn through, not until it’s affecting the leather as well
Thanks Simon. Just to confirm I understood correctly–when the rubber has worn through at the back edge of the heel and about to show (or is just starting to show) the leather underneath?
Tangentially, do you have any opinion on a full rubber heel v. a combination/quarter/dovetail rubber heel?
Generally nicer to have a leather stack with rubber just on the bottom. And I’d usually only have the back – dovetail – but it’s not a big point.
A somewhat related question Simon. In terms of putting away the shoes at the end of the day how do you store your shoes at work?
I have a locker with a stack of three shoe boxes. An hanging rail above. The boxes are actually old Lodger ones that were built like drawers, which is helpful, but with regular shoe boxes it would work too, just more stacking and unstacking
Nice video to kick off this series. One thing that I was advised by an English Shoemaker in London aside from using the shoe trees was to actually do up the laces when you’ve inserted them. Not sure what you’re views are on this and I didn’t notice this advice mentioned in the video but I have found that this did make a noticeable difference to the shape retention as it keeps the upper nice and tight over over the tree.
The only down side I found was when I needed to shift out the house quickly, which is usually this case first thing in the morning!
Thanks J, interesting tip. I generally don’t do this and I can’t say I’ve noticed any problems with shape retention. It helps if the shoe tree is a good fit though
Helpful as ever. Thank you!
I have a paid of chelsea boots that I wore the heck out of before I knew what I was doing. As a result, the leather has some deep creasing that drives me nuts. I saw this link on the shoe snob blog (http://www.theshoesnobblog.com/2017/05/restoring-old-shoes.html) where he gently uses a heat gun to warm the leather and then rub the creases out with his hands.
What are your feelings on this? Worth a try or just crazy?
I’d say only worth trying if you would never wear the boots otherwise, and therefore there is no risk in trying
Harris, this does work and can be effective however if you have never done this before do NOT buy a heat gun… try simply with a hairdryer first, you will not know how much heat the leather will take. If they are black or dark brown, especially black you cannot do too much damage but any lighter be careful. Especially as it can heat up some of the surface colour (if they are crust leather that has been antiqued you may take some of the colour off basically) I would also say it’s not a complete cure for the creasing – it happens, but it’s rather like Botox – does the job for a while.
Great video. Actually can’t wait to see the documentation video of shirtmaker symposium
The Shoe Snob reference seems contain a case study of how not to treat shoes: immersing in water, drying in front of the fire, using a blow torch! If you want to ruin your shoes, this is the way to do it.
Simon, you may want to be a bit more vigorous in brushing your shoes.
The brushing in the video is very much for light scuffs. As I say in the narration, you should judge how fast and hard to brush by whether those scuffs come off
I was wondering if you could comment on boots — and in the office.
In this icy winter i find my normal oxfords increasingly uncomfortable and, with their leather soles, almost a death trap. I am one slip away from broken bones.
So i was wondering to get some
Crockett and Jones Northcote. Thinking is that those would look ok with semi-formal office wear and work well when i have both site visits and „normal“ office things to do in a day.
Can you advise?
I wouldn’t get boots from a practical point of view – rubber soles on normal shoes would deal with slipping. Unless the discomfort is from cold.ankles?
I love boots, but largely from an aesthetic point of view rather than a practical one
Rubber soles will have little if any impact on grip In icy conditions I’m afraid. You will need soles that are sighed if you want a bit of protection against slipping.
Sorry, should read siphed.
Great coat – easy to get tempted into buying overcoats I find.!
Do you have any experience of Connolly chinos? Compared to – say- Incotex or Marco Pescarolo?
I’ve just had a look at G&G offerings on their online website and there seems to be a preponderance of wholecuts which I personally dislike (the shoe is too bare of detail) and their lasts look to be very slim.Very slim lasts,to my eye at least,don’t look very balanced in classic men’s style…..almost effeminate. What do you think?Also,(I’m sorry about going on like this) slim fit shoes might seem comfortable in your twenties or thirties but feet change shape over time and all those expensive shoes you purchased as a youngman become unwearable in your forties and beyond.I’m reminded of Colonel Stok’s declaration in Len Deignton’s novel Billion Dollar Brain that youngmen do’nt realize the joy of removing tight fitting footwear!
Two points there I guess. Feet certainly widen slightly over the decades, but it’s hard to take that into account when buying shoes. I’d always recommend guys buy the right fit for their feet right now, although more generally men do have a habit of buying shoes that don’t fit correctly, and are too narrow. This should be avoided, for health and immediate comfort as much as longevity.
On the second point as per G&G, they certainly have quite slim and sculpted lasts. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are too slim in the foot and the wrong fit for anyone – that impression of slimness is often achieved with greater length, or subtle lines to the toe.
Hi Dr J and Simon.
Regarding your comments on Michael Browne. I just picked up
a beautiful bespoke suit from
Edward, his signature suit.
I would add, that everything you see from Michael, Joe Morgan and possibly Thom Sweeney has its genisis with Edward. I would further add that I am still wearing a couple of suits Edward made for me 35 years ago, which he recently valeted, which still look fantastic and regulary receive flattering comments.
Thanks Stephen. I completely agree, and Edward has a lot to take credit for. Michael has added a few things of his own over the years though, only the most obvious being Milanese buttonholes (one of the first people on the Row to do them)
Whilst I appreciate there are no quick fixes when it comes to looking after fine shoes, however I am father of two small children and I don’t have a lot of time. In light of that, do you have any tips which might allow me to care for my shoes but isn’t necessarily two hours of polishing every Sunday night?! Ta.
I’d say just do the basics – shoe trees, brush down whenever you can, and shoe cream now and again. Its unlikely you’ll be able to maintain a good polish so prioritise the other points
Simon, upon investing $300 in Saphir products (just the basics) and realizing I could easily spend $300 more to get everything I want… I realized that the cardboard shoe box I continue to utilize for storage is woeful. In your travels have you encountered offerings which garnered your attention?
Some forums indicate that men purchase wooden machinist boxes with small tool drawers and re-purpose them to store their creams, waxes, brushes, cloths, etc. Have you seen any trends with men putting their resources toward more presentable boxes… even though the boxes don’t leave the closet?
Not particular trends, but there are some nice ones. Turms has some good ones
Hi Simon. I’m jumping the gun here, but how do I keep the mirror shine on my toe cap and heel counter if I transport my oxfords in a shoe bag, before wearing them at work? Thanks.
It should be kept pretty well of covered like that, but you can try also wiping them at the other end or rubbing down with a pair of tights
May I ask which cloth this flannel is?
11oz from the Smith’s Luxury Flannels bunch – details on this post
Hello, I recently bought two pair of John Lobb shoes (Marldon and Beckett) from the factory store in Northampton. They didn’t come with shoe trees. Do I/must I/should I be using John Lobb shoe trees or are any generic ones just as good or are there non John Lobb types which would work with the lasts on my new shoes?
Most generic ones should be ok, though it will depend a little on the last shape of the shoes. Take them into a shop that sells shoe trees and try a pair. Or order some from a place that does free returns
Apologies if I’ve missed this advice elsewhere on the site but can I ask: where do you get your Aldens resoled? They have such a particular last shape and–maybe just as important to their ‘look’–a very specific design to the welt. Do you send them back to the States (presumably at quite a cost) or have you found a London-based independent place that can do them well; possibly one you’ve recommended in the list covering repairs, etc?
Being able to have them repaired is, as you’ve long said, one of the main advantages of quality shoes, so I must admit it’s what’s put me off buying them; with Edward Greens you can just send them back to Northampton, or even drop them off at Jermyn St.
To be honest, I’ve never had to resole my Aldens so far, so I haven’t had this issue.
Interested what you or anyone else has found though.
I’ve had a pair of Barker shoes which have been re-soled twice with leather soles. I’m considering a third and final re-soling but with a Wensum rubber sole by someone like the Valet.
Is it possible or am I “flogging a dead horse” here? The shoes have done well and are around 10 years old now.
It depends a lot on the state of the shoe Lindsay, it’s hard to say remotely. Id ask the Valet and see what they think
Hi Simon, should I polish brand new oxford shoes or enjoy them as they are?
If they haven’t already been polished much in the shop, give them a polish
From your experience, did you need extra polish for the new Edward Green’s black calf leather?
Sorry, did you find the shoes required polish when you first bought them?
Ah, yes but that will vary a little – sometimes if they’ve been on display in the shop they will have had some polish on them already