The one thing that all your shoes have in common, regardless of if they are platform sneakers, high heals or slip ons, they all need taking care of properly, otherwise they will end up in the trash, sooner rather than later.
Two easy things you can do to prolong the life of your much loved footwear is to clean and condition the leather. So, take them off your feet, get them out of the closet and give them some much needed love.
How to Care for Soft Leather Shoes
As gorgeous as soft leather is, it can be prone to scuff marks. If your favourite soft leather shoes have seen better days, then read on. A deep and dark scuff can’t be totally repaired, but you can save your shoes so that the look of it is not too dramatic.
Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you have all the tools you’ll need. They are:
- leather cleaner;
- clean white cloth;
- a well-ventilated area;
- an area that you’ve either covered or won’t matter if it gets a little dirty (don’t try this on carpet!); and
- refinishing spray; and
- leather preparer, if your refinishing spray says you require one.
Step 1: buying the products
When you buy the leather cleaner, check that it is appropriate for the leather your shoes are made out of. Do a patch test on a discreet part of the shoes to ensure that it won’t damage your shoes. When you buy the finishing spray make sure you take your shoes with you because you will need to match it to the colour of your shoes. Again, a very small patch test on a discreet part of the shoes is recommended.
Step 2: setting up your workspace
When you get home, set up the area you are going to work in, making sure that you have a sort of drop-sheet to catch any of the colour that may drip.
Step 3: cleaning and preparing the shoes
Following the instructions on the leather cleaner you have purchased, clean the pair of shoes. Then apply the leather preparer as per the instructions and let them dry.
Step 4: applying the refinishing spray
Once they are completely dry, masking tape the shoes except for the areas that are scuffed. Evenly spray the area with the refinishing spray. You may need more than one layer, in which case let the first layer dry, then apply the next. Once you’ve finished and the refinishing spray is completely dry, remove the masking tape from the shoes and polish the shoes.
If the scuff is just on the surface and you need a quicker solution, you can try simply using some shoe polish or cream leather conditioner.
How to Care for Patent Leather Shoes, and Why Prevention is Key!
It’s a shoe-lovers worst nightmare. Those favourite pumps, in their lustrous gleaming patent leather, have been tarnished, usually by other shoes. Unfortunately it’s hard to rectify, but thankfully, it is easy to avoid.
Leaving my nude patent leather unprotected against another darker coloured material has caused the nude patent leather to absorb some of the darker colour, irreversibly marking the material which, of course, was devastating. I tried every piece of advice — rubbing with non-acetone nail polish remover, vegetable oil, toothpaste — but the stain is too deep to come out.
So, my advice to you is prevention: if you have patent leather shoes (particularly in a light colour) please make sure you keep them in their shoe bag and preferably in a shoe bag like our latest one that has a divider inside the bag to keep the shoes from pressing directly against one another!
GENERAL CARE TIPS
In terms of more general care for soft leather, generally speaking, creams, oils, beeswax (that you rub into shoes with a clean, dry, soft white cloth) are great for conditioning and waterproofing soft leather – so visit your local cobbler or department store to pick up some of these products to keep your heels looking fabulous.
When to Repair your shoes
Knowing when to bring shoes in for repairs might be considered somewhat of a challenge, but in essence it is merely a case of observing.
First let us examine the parts to a shoe:
- The upper – this is the part that most people get to see – this shows the colour and style of the shoe
- The welt – this is the part of the shoe that shows (and is sometimes hidden from regular view) the shape of the sole. The welt is mostly used to keep the shape of the shoe to the sole
- The heel – the heel is really two parts – (a.) is the stack, or the part of the heel that is between the sole and the piece that touches the ground, and (b.) is the heel itself. The heel is also known as the tap or toplift – but for expediency’s sake we will stay with a simple term – HEEL
- The sole – this is the part that goes from front to back and side to side, under the foot, and touches the ground
The first thing to look for is how much wear and tear is showing on the heel itself.
The best thing to do is stop wearing the shoes if the rubber heel has worn down and is showing about 1 millimetre before it gets to start exposing the heel stack. The reasoning behind this is twofold:
- Firstly if the heel stack has been worn down it has to be built up and made flat again to accept a new heel.
- Secondly, if the heel stack has to be repaired then it is flawed. This is not the end of the world, however, most times when a heel stack has been repaired, it will show.
So to avoid unnecessary costs on your repair, stop wearing the shoe, and bring it in, once the heel shows that it is close to wearing into the heel stack.
Checking the soles is a little more complex than a mere observation. Apart from the obvious holes, the next thing to do is to push on the sole – in the center – and if it is “spongy” then it is probably time for a half sole replacement