4 steps to protect your designer shoes

Designer doesn’t always mean better. But for those who walk a lot, a high-quality designer shoe can make a big difference. Here are some tips to keep your most stylish shoes shining and functional!

#1: Put Rubber Soles on New Shoes

Leather soles may look beautiful in the box, but are slippery and downright treacherous in real life. Not waterproof, they also wear down and develop holes that require resoling the entire shoe. Google your local cobbler and ask them to put on rubber soles. They give you traction on a busy train platform and add a little cushion for weary feet. Even rubber soles will wear down eventually, but much more slowly than leather. Replacement is also much faster and cheaper.

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Here are my new Isabel Marant boots before adding a rubber sole. (Updated: with photo of rubber sole and heel. It looks a little blue in the photo but it’s black I promise. It took about a week to put on and cost $55).

#2: Taking Old Shoes Out to Play Again

With fall right around the corner, it’s time to take out those beloved fall boots! These Valentino boots have seen two wet and wintry seasons. As you can see the rubber sole is still looking good.

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Shoe care should really be a year-round process. Before putting these away for the summer, I cleaned the soles with a moist paper towel, wiped the leather uppers with a leather cleaner and applied leather conditioner, wiped the inside sole and finally, let them air out thoroughly before putting back in their box. Having done that, preparing them for fall is quick and easy.

(Note these instructions are for smooth leather shoes only. Suede shoes require products made especially for suede.)

  • First, wipe with a dry paper towel to get rid of any dust, etc.
  • Second, squeeze out a small dollop of leather conditioner onto a piece of paper towel. You can also use a chamois or microfiber towel. I use leather conditioner and cleaner from Pinnacle, a well known auto-care brand. If it’s good enough for leather seats, why not leather shoes!

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Use conditioner sparingly! Too much can cause staining and even ruin the texture of the leather. This little dollop is just to freshen up the leather after being in storage.

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Wipe conditioner evenly over the shoe. The conditioner should disappear into the leather, leaving no white streaks. Let the shoes dry/air out for a few hours after conditioning.

When the leather is not sticky or wet and feels smooth to the touch, its time for the third step:

  • Spray on protectorant. Multiple fine layers work best. The leather will look ‘wet’ when you spray but that should go away within a minute or so. Make sure you do this outdoors where there is plenty of ventilation. These are chemicals best kept out of your lungs and off your skin.

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I use Collonil Waterstop which is a tried and true classic. Apple Brand Garde Rain & Stain Repellent is another popular choice for both shoes and handbags.

Wipe any metal studs, buckles, etc. to remove any wayward protectorant. Let your shoes air out some more and voila! They’re ready for the new season.

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September 22, 2016
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