Gentlemen whether you live on the East Coast on the seducing beaches of the West Coast, every man needs to know how to properly shine and protect his shoes. Chukkas, brogues, and Oxfords to name a few, they’re all shoes and boots, but they deserve to look great and be treated well. Every man’s shoes and boots are an investment, especially if you pay for high quality. In this article we will guide you through the needed steps to properly shine your shoes and protect them from the ongoing elements of rain, snow, mud, and dirt.
Before we move into this any further, let us remind you that polishing your footwear takes time and patience. If you are currently polishing your shoes in 10-20 minutes tops, we are sure they look nice, but are lacking the proper needs. Simply put…there is no way to shine and protect your shoes quickly.
Step #1: remove the current.
Let’s be honest. The majority of men, not all, but the majority of them, dust off their shoes or boots and begin by adding a new layer of polish. What we don’t really tend to see physically,` is the caked on layers of the previous shoe polish. When this happens the excess polish remains and actually sets into the shoe leather or material it is made of. We don’t want this happening.
First remove the laces from the shoe itself. The reason for this is because we don’t want those laces coming in contact with the polish. Next, take your time to remove the excess shoe polish. The best way to do this to take some nail polish remover and an old rag. Place a little of the nail polish remover in the rag and apply it to your shoes to remove the caked on shoe polish. Please be careful with whatever liquid you choose. It can take the finish off if you rub with too much intensity. The next step after your shoes have dried, is to take a horse hair brush and remove the remaining dust and dirt.
step #2: replenish the goods.
It’s important to replenish your leather after you have removed everything. There are several products out there on the market. The choice is obviously yours, but we do have a personal suggestion. When replenishing my shoes I like to use mink oil. The reason this should be done, is to soften the leather and it enables it to absorb the polish. The best way to do this, is with an old rag and your two fingers.
I suggest wrapping your two fingers of choice in the old rag and tying it to your hand. This prevents the rag from falling off your fingers and enables you to apply the mink oil properly. Please make sure you use separate rags for when cleaning your shoes, applying replenishing oils, and shoe polish. If you cross-contaminate you will destroy your boots or shoes.
step #3: apply the polish.
Most guys who polish their shoes are accustom to applying one layer. In this step you will be applying three different layers so pay attention. For the first layer you will apply a cream-based polish. The reasoning behind this is, because we want to bring back any color in the shoe or boot that has been previous lost. We suggest you use an applicator brush to apply this layer. If the bristles of the brush are hard, ditch it. Buy yourself a brush with soft bristles so you don’t damage your shoes.
When you apply the cream-base, you want it to be put on in a thin layer and evenly around the entire shoe or boot. Before you commit to polishing your entire shoe with this particular color, place a small amount towards the back of the shoe to see how well it blends. Give it time to dry and then begin applying if that is the desired color.
For the next layer we suggest you use a wax-based polish. This is where the “shine” for your shoes will come from. Please use a cloth or old rag for this application. Once you have polish on the rag, you will need to apply it in little circular motions to the shoe or boot.
Once you have added this layer, allow it to set for about 5 minutes. Then prepare yourself to add another layer of the wax-based polish. Once you have done this allow your shoes to rest for 20 minutes. While you are waiting for that 20 minutes to pass, go collect a small amount of water. Not a heaping bowl, just a small amount.
The final step will not be an easy one. By now you have committed to applying several layers of shoe polish to your shoes or boots. The next step will be to add a few drops of water to your shoes or boots. This will help enhance the shine you are looking for. Take a separate rag, lightly dab your finger into the container of water. You want just enough to get a drop. Once you have dabbed your finger into the water, you will then immediately dab your fingers again (Yes with water on the tip) into the wax-based polish.
Finally, rub this combination on your shoes or boots in a circular motion in a light manner. Please do not “soak” your leather with the water. It’s just a drop. This process may take you up to an hour depending on the size of the boot or shoe.
When it comes to footwear gentlemen we cannot afford to take shortcuts. Whether you’re dressing your feet in a stylish pair of Oxfords, Chukkas, Brogues or Bluchers, they deserve the best. With a little preparation and care, you can wear presentable footwear and protect them at the same time.