Keep Your Kicks Fresh

I started working this past January, right in the middle of winter. I work in the Northeast and having lived in California, Florida, and Arizona over the past few years I was blindsided by the harsh winter. At the time I had a 5-10 minute walk to the public transit station and then another 5 minutes after getting off the train. At the time I thought that my body was suffering through the cold and the snow the most. After a few weeks though I noticed that my shoes were actually suffering more than I was. I did some research and with the help of GQ and Esquire I found ways to both take care of your shoes and help repair the damage you've already done to them. Below are my four favorite tips.

1)Whenever you aren't wearing your shoes ALWAYS put shoe trees in them. This is really basic but it makes all the difference in the world. Shoe trees keep the form and shape of the shoe and keep them sturdy. Even if you're really tired when you get home from work and kick off your shoes while settling in to watch The Voice (Team Blake!), make sure to put your shoe trees back in.

2)Alternate shoes. Again, pretty basic but something I didn't realize when I started working. I wore the same pair of dress shoes for several weeks and noticed they were getting softer and softer. Once I started switching which shoes I wore the process stopped and all my shoes now feel broken in without losing their shape.

3)If your shoes get wet, don't put them next to a heater. I learned this one the hard way, I stepped in some snow on the way home after a blizzard and my shoes were soaked. I went and put them next to the radiator and when I came back the leather was dried up, stiff, and discolored. If your shoes get wet the thing to do is stuff them with paper and let them dry on their own.

4)When you get salt stains on your shoes from the road, take a Q-tip, dip it in a little bit of water and vinegar, and gently swab the stains. This should remove most of the debris and leave your shoes looking great.

The other key is to make sure you buy high quality shoes. While the prices may seem steep, springing for a well-made shoe is the smart long term play. A top quality pair will last you for years, provided that you take care of them correctly. Unfortunately I had to learn how to take care of my shoes the hard way but hopefully these tips help save your shoes a little bit.

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Comments (39)

Best Response
Nov 11, 2013 - 9:49am

For #3, I find dryer sheets mixed in with the paper to be especially effective and helps with smelly feet.

Also, having a Shoe Shine Sponge on hand is a must. I usually do it each day for a quick shine to remove any dust/dirt buildup.

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
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Nov 15, 2013 - 10:14am

A little bit of Gold Bond either on the bottom of your shoe or inside your sock will do wonders as well for the smelly feet problem.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
Nov 11, 2013 - 11:19am

Agreed with everything here, especially the shoe trees, but to add on to that get cedar ones, not plastic ones. Shoe polish/some mink oil is a must to keep your shoes looking up to par. Something that can extend the life of your soles (and prevent slippage!) is to add a rubber topy. As long as you go to a reputable place it can really help.

Nov 11, 2013 - 11:43am

NuclearPenguins:

Agreed with everything here, especially the shoe trees, but to add on to that get cedar ones, not plastic ones. Shoe polish/some mink oil is a must to keep your shoes looking up to par. Something that can extend the life of your soles (and prevent slippage!) is to add a rubber topy. As long as you go to a reputable place it can really help.


Topys ain't classy dou.
  • 1
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Nov 11, 2013 - 12:19pm

I would also suggest simply getting your shoes shined at any local shoe shiner. I've taken my beaten up shoes to the shoe shiner in Penn Station a number of times and always come out impressed on how well they can get my shoes to look for 5 dollars and less than 5 minutes.

The error of confirmation: we confirm our knowledge and scorn our ignorance.
Nov 11, 2013 - 12:20pm

Toe and heel caps/plates/guards are a good way to extend the life of shoes.

Yekrut:

I would also suggest simply getting your shoes shined at any local shoe shiner. I've taken my beaten up shoes to the shoe shiner in Penn Station a number of times and always come out impressed on how well they can get my shoes to look for 5 dollars and less than 5 minutes.

This is a must. I usually shine them myself but do like the "professional" job every now and then

Nov 11, 2013 - 1:53pm

Pretty simple one that I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet, keep a pair of "street shoes" with you and change into them whenever you are not in work mode or the weather is inclement.

PS, does anyone know of a good place in NYC to get good quality loafers for cheap? I'm talking like $400 loafers for $150 type of cheap. I checked out Century 21 but that has a distinct 'rummaging through garbage' feel.

Nov 11, 2013 - 2:30pm

This place called ebay. Heard it's on this thing called the internet.

:)

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
Nov 12, 2013 - 7:57am

yeahright:

This place called ebay. Heard it's on this thing called the internet.

:)

Hmmmm yeah...the thing is I'm kind of a big brick-and-mortar guy and I don't like surprises or hassles with returning. That being said I was looking through Ebay and the particular shoe I searched (cole haan air giovanni penny) wasn't there for much cheaper.

Nov 12, 2013 - 11:29pm

Going Concern:

Pretty simple one that I'm surprised no one has mentioned yet, keep a pair of "street shoes" with you and change into them whenever you are not in work mode or the weather is inclement.

PS, does anyone know of a good place in NYC to get good quality loafers for cheap? I'm talking like $400 loafers for $150 type of cheap. I checked out Century 21 but that has a distinct 'rummaging through garbage' feel.

Try an outlet store, e.g. Off Saks or Nordstrom Rack. I got a nice pair of To Boots at Off Saks for about $150, retail about $325. Also, head to Nordstrom and try on the shoes you like. They have a once a year (maybe twice a year) sale when many of the shoes are discounted. Picked up a pair of Ferrogamos for about $325, retail $525. Not as discounted as you mentioned but still a good deal. AEs at the same sale were under $200. I also check Zappos frequently, but haven't purchased yet.

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Nov 11, 2013 - 2:23pm

Like someone above said buy galoshes and use them when walking in the rain. Also, in case your shoes get wet you should get cedar shoe trees with the surface of the wood as little treated as possible, as the wood will absorb the moist. This might mean having shoe trees from a different brand of the shoe. Personal favourites are allen edmonds, surface totally untreated. So for example I might buy C&J shoes and use AE shoe trees.

Nov 11, 2013 - 4:38pm

5) Buy a pair of Lands End duck boots for winter months. Throw your dress shoes in your Filson bag or tot for the commute and you're good to go.

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Nov 12, 2013 - 1:49am

Great thread. Tons of great advice. Good shoes are like fine wine...they only get better with age, so long as they're treated right.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."
Nov 12, 2013 - 9:00am

In addition to using cedar shoe trees, I've also found the shoe bags that come with most high-quality shoes to be pretty useful as well. They keep dust away if you leave a pair of shoes out of your rotation for a while and they're perfect for protecting your shoes when you stuff them into your luggage for a flight or road trip. Seems like pretty generic advice but I found myself neglecting to use them at first since I never really had any nice things in college and didn't know how to treat my stuff with care.

Nov 14, 2013 - 3:25pm

@BTbanker , WOW those are some prestigious looking shoes my friend.

I hope this is better than the last batch of shit you gave me. Produced more wood than Ron Jeremy. I don't want you to yell, "Reco!" anymore. Know what you should yell? "Timber!" Yeah, Mr. Fuckin' wood.
Nov 14, 2013 - 5:16pm

Is it just me or is Nordstrom Rack not too much better than Century 21. I just went to the Union Square location and there was basically nothing I would buy there. Is another location better?

Get busy living
Nov 14, 2013 - 5:21pm

UFOinsider:

Is it just me or is Nordstrom Rack not too much better than Century 21. I just went to the Union Square location and there was basically nothing I would buy there. Is another location better?

Every once in a while you find a nice pair of real-deal Polo or odd model AEs, but yeah, the pickins are typically pretty slim.

Nov 15, 2013 - 1:40am

After college, first job, moved to a beautiful place that never snows. First time in my life living in a warm climate. I love that I don't have to deal with snow anymore, I LOVE IT!!

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right." -Warren Buffett
Nov 15, 2013 - 10:36am

@ TDSWIM - WOW the Neos look like a great idea, I've never heard of them until right now and I'm buying a pair

Get busy living
Nov 16, 2013 - 2:49pm

UFOinsider:

@ TDSWIM - WOW the Neos look like a great idea, I've never heard of them until right now and I'm buying a pair

http://www.overshoesonline.com/unx1/NEOS-Uptowner-X-Overshoe.htm

I got the Uptowner Xs. Goofy looking no doubt but for Chicago winters they really do the trick. Also less likely to fall down on a patch of ice while wearing these.

Nov 16, 2013 - 2:58pm

TDSWIM:

UFOinsider:

@ TDSWIM - WOW the Neos look like a great idea, I've never heard of them until right now and I'm buying a pair

http://www.overshoesonline.com/unx1/NEOS-Uptowner-...

I got the Uptowner Xs. Goofy looking no doubt but for Chicago winters they really do the trick. Also less likely to fall down on a patch of ice while wearing these.


Coool. What do you think of these? I'm thinking I can use them for hiking too.
http://www.overshoesonline.com/exsg/NEOS-Explorer-Stabilicer-Overshoe.h…
Get busy living
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Nov 16, 2013 - 4:32pm

TDSWIM:

UFOinsider:

@ TDSWIM - WOW the Neos look like a great idea, I've never heard of them until right now and I'm buying a pair

http://www.overshoesonline.com/unx1/NEOS-Uptowner-...

I got the Uptowner Xs. Goofy looking no doubt but for Chicago winters they really do the trick. Also less likely to fall down on a patch of ice while wearing these.

The only main issue you might have is if you wear boots while hiking and loafers to work. The loafers will likely slide around a little inside if they're big enough to fit the boots. I know I can't put my boots inside my Uptowners, a normal cap toe fits perfectly, and a loafer will be a little on the roomy side so you have to tighten them up a bit.

I'm not sure what the material is like on the inside of those ice shoes you found. If it's rubberized on the inside it could scuff at the polish whereas the ones for dress shoes kind of clean them as you walk.

Nov 15, 2013 - 3:14pm

You need to buy a pair of overshoes for inclement weather. This looks much better--and is not to mention more convenient--than wearing boots and changing out of them when you get to work, or wearing crappy old shoes every time it rains:

http://www.tingleyrubber.com/product/dress-rubber-overshoes.html

Also, I think shoe trees are only really necessary for the first 24 hours after you finish wearing the shoes.

Also get some cleaner/conditioner (allen edmonds has some good stuff) to use on your shoes if you have trouble shining them regularly.

  • 1
Nov 16, 2013 - 3:00pm

For shoe care, does anyone use saphir? Up until now I've just gotten my shoes shined when they get cruddy, but I want to start doing the maintainance so I don't have to waste money buying new stuff later on. Everything online indicates this is far and away the best product line. Can anyone confirm?

Get busy living
  • 1
Nov 16, 2013 - 8:30pm

UFOinsider:
Is it just me or is Nordstrom Rack not too much better than Century 21. I just went to the Union Square location and there was basically nothing I would buy there. Is another location better?

Went to Nordstrom Rack Union Sq earlier today actually...not too pleased to see all the garbagey shoes lining shelf after shelf. Ugh. I honestly think Nordstrom Rack is even worse than Century 21.

Personally, I'm basically looking for shoes that look similar to this but for as cheap as possible...any suggestions welcomed

http://www.ferragamo.com/shop/en/uk/men/shoes-3074457345616734342--1/mo…

Nov 16, 2013 - 11:32pm

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Nov 20, 2013 - 7:14pm

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