A well-polished shoe is something to behold. Regrettably, many of us don’t take the same care of our footwear as we do our clothing or other accessories. But with some very simple maintenance and minimal expense, the shoes on your feet really can go the distance.
The Shoe Shine
In urban areas such as Manhattan, shoe shiners are a dime a dozen, predominantly in areas with heavy foot traffic (think Grand Central Station). A shine runs about $3 to $4 and it’s customary to tip $1 to $2, depending on how generous you’re feeling that day. If you live in a suburban area without the convenience of street-side shiners, you’ll drop off your shoes with a local cobbler and return (typically) 2-3 days later to a freshly polished pair.
The Do-It Yourself Route
Having shoe shiners at your convenience doesn’t excuse you from knowing the fundamentals of a good polish. For the most basic job, all you need is a tin of shoe polish, a soft cloth and a bit of elbow grease. A cobbler is only necessary if you’re working against the clock. Just remember, each product has a purpose: polish protects leather, shoe cream removes dirt and wax restores luster.
Are the soles worn down? Do the heels need replacing? Don’t immediately trade in pair unless the leather is cracked (then, sadly, they’re doomed). Mending your shoes is considerably less expensive than replacing them and you won’t have to go through the pain of breaking in a new pair. Replacing a sole and heel will likely run you $75, with a turnaround of a week or two. You should do this about every two years, depending on how often you wear the shoes and the amount of abuse they take.
Consider purchasing a pair of cedar trees, which will help remove everyday moisture and odor from your shoes, while simultaneously helping to retain shape. Caught in the rain? Step in a puddle? Try stuffing your shoes with newspaper to help draw out the moisture. Most importantly, if you really want to do your shoes a kindness, try alternating their use, providing a full 24 hours of rest between wearing.