Recently a commenter, Ketan Vyas, mentioned how important it is not just to own shoes, but also to take care of them. I promised him a post on the same. And here it is!
Till a few years ago, the life of a shoe owned by me was rather short. It was not that I did not look after them, but rather more about how I wore them and walked in them. I did not treat them well, twisting them out of shape when bored. Now, of course, I am more careful.
But that did not mean my shoes were bad to look at. They just tore early because of the friction they faced. I have always maintained that Cracked, Dusty shoes look horrible. Shabby, even. That does not mean you need to take out the shoe polish and spend an hour on those precious leathers every day. Just take care of them!
There are a few simple rules that make it easier to look after your precious shoes – and feet. And no, they are not all about cleaning and polishing and shining those shoes. Some are very simple, doable activities, especially in a dusty country like India. Here is my tuppence on what you can do to increase the life of your shoes.
#1 Watch where you walk
I am the few disreputable ones who does not polish their black shoes everytime I wear them. But then, most times I dont need to. Its simple. I try and watch where I walk. Avoid puddles, roads dug up, definitely avoid cattle. The thing that I find difficult to avoid are the roads in India where the pavement is lose and there will be a sudden crater of dust – just that point where you need to step on to and enter that car/taxi/bus/shop. So you go on to next rule.
#2 If you must, walk lightly
Try not to walk with a full step and weight onto delightless items as those mentioned above. So, it rained. So, there are puddles. That does not mean one need wade over them. You can lightly jump over them to dry ground, or lightly walk to avoid the water splashing on top and spoiling more than need be.
#3 Store them well
And I cannot stress this one enough.
#3 a) A lot of dust on shoes is from shoes themselves. Keep a shoe on top of another, and its a sure fire way of ensuring dust on your pair. All the mud the sole of your shoe accumulated is now being deposited on the top of the other. So, DONT store them on top of each other.
#3 b) The other advantage of not storing them as a tower is, the shoes maintain their shape. They dont get squashed from top, lose their creases at the sides or need extra effort wearing. Good shoes dont need to be coaxed into your feet.
Keep each pair in rows, next to each other. Boots need to be kept horizontally if they are of a soft material since then they may crumple down. If the boots are of hard leather, you can keep them standing. If you have the plastic shoe-shapers, keep them inside the shoe – they will maintain the shape of the foot for the boot.
#3 c) Another source of dust on shoes is your own home. In India, dust is everywhere. Keep your shoes covered as far as possible, unless you are wearing them daily. I use a shoe closet, and for those that dont fit in, I keep the shoe boxes. The special shoes worn once in a while are in boxes which I open to take them out. This ensures that not only do they not rest on each other, but also dont accumulate dust from all over the place and look pretty.
#4 Clean shoes with dry dusting
Once in a while, while wearing the shoes, dry dust them with a brush or a soft cloth. You may not have time to polish, but even this one moment rub down of your shoe keeps the shine alive and dust away.
#5 Really Clean them
This I cannot stress enough. Once in a while, take out all your shoes. Spend a Sunday on shoes if need be. Inspect them and in case of any part that needs to be repaired, keep it aside to get it repaired. Clean the shoes with a dry duster, then polish them with a shoe polish, and then neatly rearrange their shape if they have for some reason got misshapen. For suede shoes, keep a different brush to take care of the hair/wool that can stick to them. Check the heel tips, the toes for friction marks, polish these regions as well. If the shoe has an insole that is wearing out yet the shoe itself is fine, you might want to either get rid of it or invest in a shoe insole which you can use with multiple shoes. Dr. Scholls makes them well, with many varieties – and some especially for women. Gladiators too need to be brushed and cleaned. Polish the straps, especially if they are leather. Chappals, especially Kolhapuri leather chappals also need their fair share of polish. Sports shoes also need care. Wash them regularly!
Then keep the shoes back.
This not only ensures that your shoes are well cared for, but also makes you suddenly realise the contents of your closet. Old shoes emerge, new shoes get identified, sometimes missing pairs are found and sometimes you will realise there are shoes that can be thrown away.
A last note: many women dont wear socks. Its fine as far as women’s shoes go, but if you are wearing closed, laced up shoes of any kind, you might want to invest in socks for the well being of your feet. Even otherwise, peds, ankle length socks or stockings can be of help for the strappy shoes and saving you from undue shoe strain or even slipping them on easily.
So go ahead, spend a day with your shoes, and remember, the real secret to maintaining any of your shoes are a little regular care!