Over the years, I’ve gotten many emails like this one from readers that want to know the secrets of my shoe care:
I just got hold of a very special pair of shoes. They are very limited and beautiful. I know you have a fantastic shoe collection that you get a lot of wear out of, but is there ever a case to be made for not wearing a special pair of shoes? And, how do you take care of a very precious pair while still getting a good amount of wear out of them?
I’m a total shoe fanatic though I am fairly picky about what I buy. When I do add a pair of shoes to my collection, I take steps to make sure that they will last for as long as possible. Though some of the pairs I own are more fragile than others, I’m not a fan of collecting items only to leave them on a shelf to collect dust. Over time, I’ve discovered a few products and modifications that you can do to make your shoes last much longer.
My favorite brand of polish is Collonil Waterstop. The benefit of Waterstop over other polishes is that it has Goretex waterproofer mixed into the formula and a soft sponge applicator. Simply apply it straight from the tube, let it dry and then buff it out to a high shine with an old rag or even better, a horsehair brush.
Superfeet Dressfit insoles won’t make your shoes last longer, but they will add some much needed arch support. I love the Dressfit insoles because they never lose their shape and can be rinsed off when needed. Also, they are three-quarter length so that they don’t take up any precious toe room in dressier shoes. Pinched toes are never in style!
I always take my favorite shoes to the cobbler and have Vibram soles put on the bottoms. A lot of more expensive shoes have leather soles. Leather doesn’t hold up particularly well, especially in the rainy climate where I live. Having a layer of Vibram added not only provides extra traction but also makes the sole last about three times longer in my opinion. I have been doing this for years and on average, you should expect to pay about $40.00 US for this service.
If you own many pairs of shoes that are made of a smooth leather and need a quick fix, nothing works better than Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam. Made of natural oils and waxes, it features a sponge applicator. Simply rub on over scuffs and scratches, let it soak in momentarily and your shoes will be moisturized and gleaming. It goes on clear and works on any color of leather. Genius!
Lastly, if you need your shoes repaired, finding a good cobbler can be a real challenge. Before dropping off your most prized pair of Louboutins, it’s always worth the time to do a little bit of research. A good place to start is by reading reviews on Yelp or Citysearch. In Portland, I absolutely swear by Nob Hill Shoe Repair. They just put the Vibram soles on my Acne Atacoma wedges (above) and have always done impeccable work. In New York, my favorite shoe repair is Alex Shoe Repair, especially for crazy modifications. They’ve put some intense treads on my pointy boots and added eyelets and laces to my Chloe wedges. Best of all, they work super fast.
Readers: Do you have any secret shoe tips and tricks that you swear by?