Few things are as comfortable as a nicely broken in pair of shoes. Conversely, few things are as unattractive as a tattered pair of shoes. How do you ensure that you can enjoy the comfort of a pair of shoes that has formed to the curvature of your feet while also looking dapper and kempt? Proper shoe care is key and if you learn what to look for when purchasing dress shoes and how to properly maintain them once purchased then you can enjoy the same pair of shoes for many years and, in some cases, decades.
Stitches Are Better Than Glue
You will pay a little more upfront for a pair of dress shoes that are stitched together as opposed to those that are glued together but consider it an investment as a properly stitched pair of dress shoes can last longer and can be rebuilt if needed. Glue degrades due to age, heat, and moisture and cheaper shoes will come apart over time. Stitching is not degraded by these elements and should the years take their toll on a properly constructed pair of shoes, you can have a cobbler mend them relatively cheaply.
Some men favor rubber-soled dress shoes but leather-soled dress shoes can still offer comfort if the insole is properly designed. Rubber-soled shoes are a one-and-done purchase, whereas a leather sole will last longer and when it does wear out you can always simply have the shoes resoled. Consider a pair of leather-soled dress shoes a long-term investment as they can last forever with proper care.
Buy Classic Shoe Styles
Avoid overly trendy shoe styles when shopping for a lifetime pair of kicks. Stay away from shoes with pointy or boxy toes and remember that moderation is the key to an enduring fashion. Traditional cap toe and wingtip shoes with a round toe are the safest choice for shoes that will still look good in five or ten years.
Rotate Your Shoes
Do not wear the same pair of shoes daily. Doing so does not allow them time to breathe and results in premature degradation of the leather uppers, insoles, and soles. Never wear the same pair of dress shoes two days in a row and you will ensure you avoid rough looking and worse smelling shoes.
Use Shoe Trees
Shoe trees are one of the most overlooked things a man can own. Always put shoe trees in your dress shoes. Plastic shoe trees will maintain your shoes’ shape, keeping the original form of the vamp and preventing cracks in the leather but wooden shoe trees will also absorb the moisture that accumulates inside of your shoes, fighting odor and wear.
Water Is Your Enemy
This should go without saying, but avoid standing water at all costs. Shoes that are completely submerged in water are hard to dry out and are prone to losing their shape, premature cracking, and staining.
There is no right or wrong answer regarding how often a man should polish his dress shoes but, unless you’re truly OCD, you are probably not doing it as frequently as you should. Many men think that polishing their shoes is merely done for aesthetics but shoe polish adds a protective layer to your shoe’s leather, making the shoe more resistant to scuffing, cracking, and staining.
Tap Your Heels and Toes
Put heel taps on all of your dress shoes. These small metal plates will help keep your heels from prematurely wearing down, especially if you inadvertently drag your feet or walk unevenly. Toe taps will also keep you from wearing down the front sole of your shoe but are not as common and not as necessary as heel taps. These taps can greatly extend the life of your shoes but you should remember to scuff the taps on dry concrete a few times before wearing your shoes to make sure that the metal plates get a gritty texture which will keep you from slipping on wooden and tile floors.
More from this contributor:
J Crew Partnering with Birkenstock: 4 More ’90s Shoe Icons Poised for a Comeback
Three of the Best Throwback Sneakers and How to Wear Them Today
Made in the USA: Quality Men’s Leather Dress Shoes With an American Sole