Clients and blog readers alike will be familiar with my propensity to spend a little more on something that I know will last a long time like the $650 shell cordovan shoes that last 50 years. In terms of cost-per-wear, that's a heck of a payoff. But like anything that stands the test of time, shoes need some maintenance to get your money's worth.
The job of polish is twofold: (1) it covers blemishes on the shoe and makes it shine and (2) it lubricates the leather. In the same way you have to treat and care for your leather seats, your shoes need some TLC to prevent them from drying out over time.
Cedar Shoe Trees
Shoe trees are amazingly important in caring for your shoes. The wood absorbs excess moisture that can rot the stitching or cause fungal/bacterial odors. The cedar smell also serves as a deterrent to would-be bugs and pests.
You're going to want a genuine horsehair brush to remove the polish and heat up the leather. A good lint-free cloth is also an asset, especially when applying Rénovateur and cordovan care cream.
Hands down one of the industry's best leather treatments, this pigment-free renovation cream is made from a mink oil and beeswax base that is great for moisturizing and repairing even the most difficult pull-up leathers like chromexcel.
How to Strip Polish Off Leather
In the event that you get a little too carried away with your polishing, isopropyl rubbing alcohol is a great tool for removing everything down to the bare leather. I had to do this after applying too much cordovan care cream and it took me a couple hours. Take every precaution to go slowly as the last thing you want to do is damage the leather.
Heel and Sole
As you walk you may notice the edges of the sole will get scuffed by curbs and debris. Allen Edmonds Heel & Sole is a great solution to re-dying the rim back to a factory finish.
Shell cordovan is one of the easiest materials to maintain and can really take a beating, but it's still important to take care of heirloom quality goods. Cordovan shoes don't really need to be polished like calf skin shoes, but when they get scuffed you'll want to spot treat them with some cordovan care cream. You'll also want to make a habit of brushing the shoes about once a week--the heat build up will release the oils of this naturally lubricating leather.
Joshua Davis is a full time image and lifestyle coach helping clients take control of their image as a tool for good communication.