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Wearing in, TLC and Storage: Everything You Need to Know About Taking Care of Your New Shoes

Shoes are an essential staple in every man’s wardrobe and there are a variety to choose from, including Oxfords, chukka boots, moccasins and more. They are an investment, and when you take care of them correctly, they make every outfit, whether you’re wearing men’s suits, a tweed jacket or a pair of jeans, look stunning and complete. When taken care of, they can also last for years.

Care is the important word here. There are many steps to this, including wearing in, storage and cleaning them. TLC (tender loving care) is required to get the best return on your investment. Not sure where to begin? Here are a few tips for making sure they last for as long as possible.


Wearing Them In

When you purchase a new pair of shoes, no matter what kind, they are going to be rather stiff. If you attempt to wear them for an entire day of work right off, you may find that your feet are sore and hurting by the time you remove them. The trick is to gradually wear them in over the first few weeks. This doesn’t mean you should wear them every day all day for the first few weeks. Your best bet is to wear them only for a few hours at a time three to four times a week.

Over time, they’ll gradually become more comfortable.


Rest Them

Once you wear in your shoes, it may be tempting to wear them with every suit, tweed jackets, pair of jeans and blazer you own. You’ll want to show them off. However, in order to keep them looking their best, you need to make sure they have time to rest, especially if they are made of leather. Letting them sit for a day between each wear lets the material readjust to its original shape. Over time, the leather will open up and compliment the fit of your foot so they easily slide on and off.

For the best results, give them at least 24 hours to rest between each use. Try not to wear them more than three times each week.


Storing Your Shoes 

If you want your shoes to last and compliment your suits, men’s tweed jackets and trousers, take care of them when it comes to storage. Choose a dry location away from light, like your cupboard. Hang them on shoe trees, which helps keep them open and to the air so they can easily let go of odours and moisture.

Not sure which shoe trees to choose from? Wood, preferably cedar, is always the best bet. This type of wood absorbs moisture and sweat, keeping odour to a minimum. They also help you maintain the shape of the shoe.


If you’re storing the shoes for long periods of time, avoid placing them in plastic bags. This can trap moisture and odour, leading to mould problems. Instead, use cloth shoe bags instead. These let air in and out, but prevent dust from settling on your shoes.

To keep your Oxfords in shape, but don’t want to store them on a shoe tree, stuff them with acid-free paper. While your grandfather may have used old newspaper for this job, the ink can rub off onto the shoes, ruining them. Keeping them in their box when not in use can help prevent dust from settling on them as well.


Daily Cleaning

The cleaning regimen your shoes need depends on the material they are made out of.


  • Full Grain Leather- Removing dirt from full grain leather requires a dry cloth. Gently wipe away the dried on dust and dirt, then dampen the cloth with a bit of warm water and wipe some more. Let the leather dry naturally; do not place the shoe in direct sunlight or near a heater.


  • Patent Leather- To remove dirt and dust, use a soft cloth dampened with warm water and a small amount of mild soap. This will remove any haze produced by dirt.


  • Suede- Rubber erasers are excellent tools for removing smudges and dirt on this type of leather. Once done, use a shoe brush and brush the shoe’s exterior, making sure to brush in the same direction every time. For this type of leather, never use polish or a wire brush.


Polishing Your Shoes

Leather craves moisture. It needs it. Adding moisture to leather keeps it supple and prevent it from cracking. You do this through polishing, a job that should be done about every two weeks.

While this may seem like a simple task, many individuals make common mistakes that prevent their shoes from looking their best after polishing.


  • Give the polish some time. It needs to sink into the leather and really feed it. If you rush the process and brush it off before it’s time, you’ll end up with shoes that look half-done. This isn’t going to make the rest of your ensemble, whether it’s a pair of jeans and a tee shirt or a pinstripe suit, look good.


  • Choose the right type of polish for the leather. For patent leather and suede, polishes with silicone in them work well. However, silicone-based polishes aren’t the right choice for full grain leathers.


  • Know the difference between cream and wax polish. They both work well on leather shoes, but cream polish should never be used on suede or nubuck. Cream polish also doesn’t add as much colour and shine as wax polish.


After cleaning your shoes and polishing them, let them dry at room temperature. Heaters may speed up the drying process, but they can also cause the leather materials to become brittle, leading to a shorter shoe lifespan. Heaters can also melt the adhesives that keep the shoes together; this can cause the shoe to fall apart.

Want to look your best in men’s suits or even a pair of denim jeans? Make sure your shoes are well taken care of. With a little bit of an effort, you can get the best return on your investment and make them last for years.

By Brook Taverner 25 July 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments