31. Super fine sandpaper (the finest possible – P1200) is good for cleaning dirty suede. Just don’t go gung-ho as like anything, going extreme will have it’s adverse effects.
32. Fit is and always will be subjective to personal taste. Much of this personal taste will stem from cultural ideology. This is why 3-D scanning technology will never replace bespoke shoemakers, as a machine cannot interpret people’s needs/likes. For arguments sake let’s say that we took 3 people, one from the US, one from France and one from China and let’s give them identical feet. I would wage most of my money that they would all take different sizes even having the same exact feet. And I have said this before and will say it again, sticking your finger in the back of your shoe means nothing.
33. Heel stiffeners will cause a new shoe to feel loose in the heel as the leather is rigid and your ankle just slides up and down it. An oxford due to its laces will lock you in and you may not notice but it becomes greatly more apparent in a loafer. Once formed and your foot rests into the corked insole, the heel should start being gripped by the heel stiffeners as they would have had time to mold to your feet. Therefore don’t be frightened by a tiny bit of heel slip. It doesn’t always mean you need the next size down, especially in a loafer.
34. Despite grain usually appearing heavier and thicker as a leather, it is actually one of the softest and easiest to break in.
35. It will sound obvious, but the more shoes you have the longer they will last. The reason I say this is for those that go buy an expensive shoe, wear it day in a day out without rest and then it breaks down in 2 years and moan that they spent a lot on a shoe that just broke down. Well that was your fault, not the shoe nor the manufacturer. Get more shoes and rotate them. Shoes are made out of leather not adamaantium.
36. Gone are the days that one needs to wear a patent shoe to a formal occasion or ball. That is just silly. A high shined oxford (or smart derby) will suffice. And it can be a brogue providing a high shine and clean looking overall. Don’t waste your money on something that is not necessary.
37. The better a shoe tree fits the shoe the harder it is to put in and take out. Lasted shoe trees can be a big pain. But it is much better to have the best fitting shoe tree in order to help maintain its shape. Let me rephrase that: One does not “need” lasted shoe trees, but the better that they do fit, the better they will be for maintaining your shoes elegant shape (providing it has one). Therefore if your shoe trees are too easy to put in, that is not a good thing. That means they don’t fit well.
38. Mink oil is good for your leather. If you read the opposite online that is because the people applying it are doing it wrong. It is a concentrate product so if you apply too much and cake it on (as I am sure most people do) then it will of course have it’s own adverse effects. If you apply it right (in small quantities and evenly around the shoe) it will help to always keep your leather nourished and thus healthy and long-living.
39. Good suede does not need to be sprayed by anything. It is a myth to think that you will forever keep your suede in pristine condition so first just accept that as fact. But I have gone through the rainiest days ever in a pair of suede shoes/boots without ever spraying them with anything and they dried evenly and just fine not leaving any trace of . Only cheap suede should be sprayed. The less chemicals that you put on your shoes the better for them.
40. Closed channel soles, while looking nicer than the open channel counterparts, have an aesthetic weakness. In order to create the closed channel, you can to cut into the sole at a slanted angle in order to create a flat of leather that can lift up and then be glued back down. This flap is often thin and weak in the grande scheme of things. Therefore, sometimes if not cut properly (i.e. too thin) or glued properly, this flap can either come loose (esp. during wet days) or easily chip off if walking a lot on loose gravel or rocks. And if it does, it means nothing in terms of function (i.e. makes your shoe weaker or anything) but rather just now shows the channel and stitching. So if this happens to your shoe, do not worry, nothing is wrong with it. It just happens.
I like all of the advice except 36. Brogues at any social, formal, evening event looks bad, very bad.
Thank you for the advice.
May I ask how to use mink oil? As an alternative to conditioner like Saphir leather balm “crème uinverselle” or as a complement? How often do you recommend to apply it and at what point in the shoe maintenance process? After using saddle soap? After applying leather balm? Maybe it doesn’t even matter?
As always. An education. Life is all about learning and passing on the knowledge. Cheers.
Really like this series. Do you have a recommendation for the equivalent of mink oil for suede shoes? I can only find suede shampoo and waterproofing sprays (and following your advice I avoid the waterproofing sprays).
What do you think of Gravati shoes, I believe they are blake stictched. The stitching goes around half the sole on the bottom of the shoe, not 360 degree like Allen Edmonds. The leather is high quality. What are your thoughts on the brand.