A good pair of leather dress shoes can last you for years to come, and sometimes longevity — not just the total price — is what makes a purchase a smart buy. But most dress shoes will only live long enough if you give them the TLC they need.
Last month we discussed how to care for men's dress shoes, with a brief reference to shoe polish. Now, we get into the nitty gritty of the practice with a how-to and product suggestions. The good people at Park & Bond — Gilt's high-end men's retail site — have provided this useful guide to the specifics of polishing your shoes.
Fortunately, the upkeep on your favorite leather footwear isn't going to break the bank. Some of the tools you'll need could be as simple (and free) as cutting up an old T-shirt you really should have gotten rid of 10 years ago. If every piece of your wardrobe is precious to you (hey, some of us want proof that we once ran a fun run in 1994), you can avoid taking a pair of scissors to your tees and buy a chamois. This 17" x 13" Chamois Cleaning Cloth is an inexpensive option ($3.99 with free shipping, a low by $2), although we've seen it for cheaper in the past. Park & Bond recommends using a cloth or T-shirt to clean the shoe first, then apply the wax, and then use the chamois or T-shirt for finishing touches.
There are two types of polish you can use, and it makes sense to have both on hand and alternate. Cream polishes — like this Scout Boot Cream Polish ($4.99 with $5.95 s&h, a low by $3) or this Job Site Boot Cream ($4.49 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $6) — will do wonders to make the leather soft and supple, while waxes will help keep them water resistant. A good line for wax-based polishes is Kiwi, which includes the basic Kiwi Shoe Polish in Black ($5.99 with free s&h w/$25) and other colors ($6.40 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $2). As a side note, if we're to gather anything by the stores that carry the largest selection of these products right now, it's that the majority of men who polish their shoes these days are cowboys and military men.
After applying the polish, you'll need a brush to shine and remove it. This Executive Imperials 7" Black Buffing Brush is among the cheapest we could find ($3.95 with free shipping, a low by $3). Finally, use the chamois to get any lingering polish.
So, with a little bit of attentive care, a dress-shoe bargain you scored on dealnews could last you for many years. And if you're still looking for that perfect pair, keep an eye on our men's shoes section or set up an email alert. [Park & Bond]
Front page photo credit: Ben Gillin via Flickr