Shoe Care

Shoes are a topic on which I am well versed. Afterall I have 100+ pairs, some of which I have had for many many years and are still in good shape. Why? Because I take care of my shoes – something I learned from my mother.


My shoes range in cost and brand from $40 to $300 (most of them ~$150 or so). Regardless, I maintain them all equally. I live in a climate that changes considerably with the seasons, which can wreak havoc on shoes – rain, snow, salt stains, etc. So here are a few tips in keeping your shoes looking like new.


Storage. First and foremost, store your shoes in boxes (if you have the space) to keep the shoes from getting dusty in the closet. Plus I find it’s a bit more organized. I had a friend who used to toss her shoes in a giant Rubbermaid bin – yikes! I have switched most of the cardboard store boxes for clear plastic boxes. This allows me to see what’s inside more easily and they stack perfectly one on top of the other. And they are affordable at $1 or $2 each (at Home Depot or Dollarama). The plastic boxes fit most “standard” shoe styles, but not all – shoes with a high ankle, platform or wedge are usually too big.


If you keep the cardboard boxes, I recommend labeling each with the contents. This is what I used to do. Label included colour, heel/toe style and shoe style – i.e. red almond toe pumps; nude high ankle sandals; black strappy platform sandal. A fun alternative: take a photo of the shoes and stick it to the outside of the box!


Shoe trees are good to maintain the shoe’s shape while stored. However, these can get costly. I opt to keep the paper/cardboard stuffing and/or plastic rods that come in the shoes when I buy them instead. For tall boots, shapers are highly recommended so they don’t flop when you take them off. I found mine at Winners in the checkout aisle, if you can imagine!


If you are really stretched for space, the over-the-door fabric hangers with the pouches – you know what I’m talking about? – are a good place to put flats. I hang other things on the door so I just double up the flats inside the clear boxes.


As I write this, I’m reminded of that Sex and the City episode where Carrie is looking for a new place to live when her building goes co-op. There’s a scene where she’s staring into a tiny closet with her realtor and she asks “Where do the shoes go?” and the realtor responds “In one of things you hang over the door.” The look on Carrie’s face – priceless!! LOL 

Clean & Protect. Listen, I hate it when sales clerks try to upsell me just as much as anyone. But shoe protection is one place where I succumb to the pressure. Given the size and variety of my shoe collection, I have accumulated every cleaner and protecting product that exists. For leather, for suede, for nubuck, for Uggs… I have polishes, salt stain wipes, etc. I generally use spray protectors when I wear new shoes for the first time, and then at the start of each season after that (i.e. 1-2x per year). For cleaning/polishing/wiping, I do it as needed (and in the winter, that could be 1-2x per week).


Each year, when the season changes, I switch my shoes from upper shelves to lower shelves so I can reach them easily. When I do this, I check that the outgoing season’s shoes are in tip top shape before moving them until next season.


Repairs. Find yourself a good cobbler. No I don’t mean pie. I mean a person who mends shoes. I have two: the affordable mall shoe repair guy who does simple things, like change worn heel ends. And then there’s the fancy expensive guy who can actually custom makes shoes, to do things like stretch (or tighten) knee high boots and mend torn leather heel stems – things that take a little more finesse. (Luckily I haven’t had many of these). When a shoe needs repair, do it before wearing them again, otherwise the problem just worsens. Side story: I was at an event once and a woman sitting near me was wearing black patent Louboutin pumps that were all scuffed and torn at the toe. What’s the point of having $1,000 shoes if you don’t spend $20 to maintain them? It looked awful.


Add Ins. Often, I use those little sticky insoles in my shoes – the ones that sit under the ball-of-the-foot – for some added comfort. Higher end shoes that have leather soles, although lovely, can be slippery on wet surfaces. For extra security, there are textured pads you can stick onto the sole of the shoe.


My Classy Tips

  • Rolling office chairs can wreak havoc on your heels!  Something to be aware of when you tuck yourself under your desk.
  • New shoes: pop leather shoes into the freezer 15 min before wearing them for the first time. The warmth from your foot will allow the cold shoe to “give” more easily.
  • To stretch leather shoes at the toe a little, moisten a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and rub it inside the toe of the shoe.
  • Satin shoes do not stretch! EVER! If they pinch your toes in the store, leave them there

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Shoe boxes: CANADA US

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