Do you know how to shine your shoes?
Do you even shine them at all?
Most men don;t have a clue...
When talking about leather shoes with most men, it's either you shine them regularly and wear them or you don't.
Rule of thumb with leather shoes is that you should polish them like you mean it.
It takes great craftsmanship and discipline to master the true art of shoe-shining, but it'll make your leather shoes last and look great.
A quick word...
The proper way of shining shoes is a skill every grown man must know.
Besides, you wouldn't want to go all neat and sleek at the top and look worn out and dull down below. As simple as it seems, achieving a nice and shiny finish for your shoes can be a very challenging task.
See our post on business attire basics if you want to know more about the important of a shined shoe in an outfit!
Read on and learn how real men shine their shoes and a little more about shoe shining...
Shoe shining history (fun facts)
The practice of shoe shining began in the early 19th century. But shoe shining products back then had very limited effects.
Polishing products back then were mostly made of vinegar, black dye, sugar, and tallow and were only capable of making the shoes black or at least improve the dark hue of footwear.
Later, polishing materials were produced to help condition the leather and improve waterproofing. New products included carbon dye, wax, lanolin, naphtha, and turpentine.
Shoe shining became a military discipline through the deadliest wars in our history. During WWI and WWII, cadets and military personnel were required to maintain a snappy outfit, which included well tucked and ironed uniforms matched with glossy jet-black shoes.
Since then, the art of shoe shining grew more and more popular among men not just in the armed forces branch, but also to those in both private and government working sectors.
Today, well polished shoes are an important fashion staple among men for both semi-formal and formal occasions.
Reasons and benefits to shoe shining
Whether you wear your leather shoes on special occasions or at work, you should be able to know how to take good care of them.
Here are the reasons why it's important to shine your shoes:
Watch this video to learn how to shine your shoes by leading shoe polish company, Kiwi:
Shoe shining tools (and why you need them)
You simply can't spit-shine your shoes with a flick of a wand. Here's a list of some of the basic tools you need to give your shoes a shiny finish:
Horsehair brush - Basically, you need a brush to help remove those excess dirt and debris that got stuck on the surface of your shoes. Horsehair brushes are used before and during the shoe shining process. A brush is an effective tool in bringing the luster out from your shoes after applying a polish.
Leather cleaners and conditioners - Oftentimes, brushing isn't enough to clean your leather shoes thoroughly before applying a polish. Leather cleaners are used to effectively remove stubborn dirt as well as old polish. Conditioners on the other hand moisturize the leather. In most cases, a used cloth is more than enough to thoroughly apply the cleaner over the leather's surface. Cleaning your shoes with these products is critical to prepare the leather in properly absorbing the polish. You can either buy leather cleaners and conditioners separately or as a two in one solution.
Polish - Polishes are the ones mainly responsible in bringing out a good shine from your leather shoes. Nowadays, there are three types of polishes that can be used in shining shoes and these are the wax, cream/paste, and the liquid polish. The wax polish offers an extra waterproofing advantage but can easily dry up the leather material of your shoe. The cream or paste polish comes with moisturizing effects which makes it possible to be used without the aid of a leather conditioner. Liquid polish on the other hand is easiest to apply and an ideal choice for those in need of a quick fix.
Cloth - You will need a piece of soft cloth in appropriately applying a good amount of leather cleaners, conditioners, and polish unto your shoes. You can use an old sock but an unused shirt does the trick best.
Other Tools - With the aforementioned tools, you are definitely set to give your shoes a good shine. However, there will always be a room for that extra help. You can use a sponge as an effective alternative or support for the rug because of its porous nature. You can also opt to keeping a pouch or two of shoe wipes in your bag. These are pocket sized pieces of cloth that have been pre-treated with leather cleaner and conditioner. Shoe wipes are a nice shoe shine solution for frequent travelers.
Putting it all together: How to shine your shoes
Before start working on your shoes, you should first prepare the space where you will do the polishing. Bring out an old newspaper and cover the surface of the floor or table, then...
How to polish your shoes:
- With the help of a horsehair brush, sweep off all those dirt on your shoes.
- In cases of stains and stubborn dirt, wipe your shoes with damp cloth and let it air dry for a couple of minutes.
- With a clean cloth, apply an ample amount of leather cleaner and conditioner respectively throughout your shoes.
- Depending on the type of your shoe's leather, apply polish in circular motion.
- Work first on the heel portion towards the other end of the shoe.
- Using a different cloth with smoother surface, rub the polish gently but in faster motion until you are able to bring out the needed level of luster from your shoes.
- Depending on your personal preference, you can also use your brush with light and quick strokes to achieve that smooth and shiny finish.
- Enjoy looking sharp, top-to-bottom my friend!
- Even if you are not planning on polishing your shoes just yet, it is important to immediately clean off those stains, mud, and other types of sticky dirt or debris on your shoe as soon as see them. Use shoe wipes or a small piece of clean cloth if the former is unavailable.
- Before you start on polishing your shoes, make sure that you remove its shoe laces. This will help you make sure that you reach those tight spots in the tongue and between the eyelets.
- If you haven't used your leather shoes for a long time and you see mildew on it, the best way to deal with it is to wipe it off with a water and alcohol solution (1:1) and let it air dry. Make sure to follow up with a leather cleaner and conditioner. Proceed with the polishing.