I’m old fashioned when it comes to caring for my shoes. I’m also pretty straightforward in my approach. I use two basic items, a white cotton tee shirt for application (which I’m considering marketing, think 70′s tie dyed).
And my grandfather’s old and well worn horsehair brush for shining.
I know a lot of people polish their shoes with the shoetrees inside but I prefer to take them out. That way I can put my hand inside and keep a better handle on the shoe.
If the shoes have laces, I remove them before I begin. This satisfies two objectives. It allows me to polish the tongue and prevents polish from ending up on the laces.
I begin with an application of Saphir Renovateur in order to clean and moisturize the leather. This is a very important step in my opinion. It’s always amazing how much dirt is removed from the surface and how much better the leather looks after being conditioned. It almost looks like it plumps up a bit.
To apply the Renovateur I wrap my tee shirt around a couple of finger and apply very sparingly over the surface of the uppers. I like using a cloth versus an applicator brush because I have better control over the product. I always use small amounts rather than a large glob which is A) messy and B) a waste of product.
I work the Renovateur into the leather but I don’t rub very hard, it’s not really necessary as the product does most of the work. After applying to both shoes I wipe them off with the tee shirt to remove excess créme.
I’m a wax lover and use it almost exclusively. I find it redundant to use créme after the Renovateur. I will use créme if I need to add color back since it has more pigments. I don’t really play around much with colors (again old fashioned). I use black wax on black of course and neutral on most non-black shoes. Occasionally I’ll use a color close or darker than a leather color to “enhance” it a bit. My feeling is if I liked a leather color to begin with why change it? I prefer to let it develop on it’s own.
I apply small amounts of wax with the tee shirt usually starting with the toes where I push the polish in, then move to the heel counters doing the same. The vamp and waist get a lighter, gentler polishing (so a wax build up doesn’t occur). After I polish one shoe I move to the second. I let the first rest and after the second is polished I usually apply another application to both.
I don’t like highly shined toes (bulled) so I don’t use the wax + water method for a high gloss finish.
The brushing is my favorite step. I put my hand in the shoe and brush quickly and lightly back and forth across the toe and work back to the vamp, waist and heels. I prefer brushing to shining with a cloth because the bristles brush away any excess polish that gets into seams and brouging. I know I said I don’t bull my shoes and I don’t but once in a while when brushing I do spit on them, don’t ask me why I probably saw it in an old movie once….
Gaziano & Girling Mitchell in Vintage Maple
Replace laces and trees and voila! Mission accomplished. I polish my shoes at least once a month even if I haven’t worn them. I do the same with the shoes on display in the store. They need the conditioning even more sitting under lights all day.
And that’s about it. It’s not brain surgery and you really can’t mess up too much. Personally I find the process relaxing and satisfying. I encourage you to try it for yourself. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions I’m happy to help.