MASTERCLASS: THE SHOE SHINE

FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN ALIKE, KNOWING HOW TO SHINE A SHONE PROPERLY IS A SKILL THAT MUST BE LEARNT. IN THIS DAY AND AGE WHEN SO MANY THINGS ARE DISPOSABLE, WE LOVE TO SEE WHEN AN INVESTED PIECE HAS LASTED, ESPECIALLY CLOTHES. SHOES ARE PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ACCESSORIES YOU’LL OWN. BE WARNED, HOWEVER, THIS IS NOT A GUIDE ON HOW TO POLISH YOUR SHOES FOR THAT FLEETING SHINE…SO SET ASIDE A FEW HOURS (YES, HOURS) AS WE LEAD YOU THROUGH THE PROPER WAY TO POLISH YOUR LEATHER. WHILST THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A LONG TIME TO DEVOTE TO A SHINE, AS MY FATHER ALWAYS SAID: IF SOMETHING IS WORTH DOING, IT’S WORTH DOING WELL.

OUT WITH THE OLD

The number one step most people make with shining shoes it to deposit another layer of polish over the old one. While this may provide a temporary layer of shine, as the layers of wax polish dry at different speeds they crack and flake, leading to a quicker dulling of the polish as well as build up in those hard to reach areas.

Removing the old layer of polish is the first step, if you can find a proper shoe polish remover than fantastic, if you cant, use a watered down acetone nail polish remover and gently strip the old wax polish off the leather. Be careful not to scrub the wax off as this may take the top coat off the leather.

THE CONDITIONER

Regardless of how little you rub, acetone will of course put a great strain in your leather, so in order to make sure you dry it out to the point of cracking, use a good quality leather conditioner or mink oil shoe renovator and apply generously, making sure to penetrate every nook and crevice and paying special attention to areas of movement or strain. Take a tooth brush and work the conditioner into the weld and leave until completely dry or preferable overnight. If you try to apply polish over the oil, the wax won’t adhere to the leather properly and you’ll get polish marks everywhere.

IN WITH THE NEW

Once your leather in nice and supple once again, its time to start building your color and bringing your shoes back to life. Select a cream or renovator polish and with well-measured amounts, work the cream around the shoe generously. If you find that some areas, like the welting, are difficult to reach, use an old toothbrush and work the polish into the stitching. Once finished leave to try for a couple of minutes before buffing with a polishing brush until a faint shine appears, before leaving this layer to completely dry and then buffing again until shining.

THE WAX AND WATER

Once your renovating layer is nice and dry, its time to start building the wax polish to you leather. Be patient you won’t see results until the end. After giving your shoes another quick buff over the renovating layer, its time for the old school wax polish. Get prepared with a small dish of water, a old cotton rag (old t-shirts work well) and your polish. With the rag wrapped sturdily around your two index fingers, dab your ring finger into the water, before laying a few drops onto the leather. With minimal wax applied to the rag, rub the water away into the shoe. Repeat this process all around the shoe, before giving it a final light rub all over with the rag.

Repeat this step three or fours times, depending on how gloriously you want your shoes to gleam, but remember to let the wax dry for 20 minutes in between each layer. The idea to the ‘wax and water” AKA ‘spit shine’ technique is to fill the pores of the leather with the softened wax, until the layers cover the shoe with a healthy lost lasting shine.

The things you take care of in life take care of you in return, and this absolutely includes shoes.

About the Author

Luke Fussell

Editor-In-Chief, seeker of the peace, part time chandelier cleaner, a legend in his own time, oppressor of champions, soldier of fortune, world traveller, bonvivant, all round good guy, international lover, casual hero, philosopher, wars fought, bears wrestled, equations solved, virgins enlightened, revolutions quelled, tigers castrated, orgies organised, bars quaffed dry, governments run, test rockets flown, life president of the Liquidarian Society of Great Britain and Ireland (apply to website for membership).

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