“How do you keep your shoes looking so new all the time?!”
I get this question quite a lot – most often when I’ve posted a shoe photo on Instagram or something – and I always worry the questioner is going to be disappointed with my answer, which basically comes down to this:
I have a lot of shoes. Like, a lot of shoes.
There are other contributing factors, too, of course. The fact that I work from home is a big one: it means I’m not wearing my shoes all day long, as most people do, and when I do go out, I’m mostly wearing them on relatively clean, paved surfaces, so they don’t suffer a lot of wear and tear. When I worked in a regular office job, I found my shoes wore out much faster, mostly because I’d be wearing the same couple of pairs constantly, and no matter how much time and money you spend on shoe care, you’re never going to be able to keep them pristine for long. These days, however, I’m fortunate to not have to do that, so shoe care is easier. I do, of course, go through phases where I’ll wear a particular pair of shoes to death, and when that happens, my other big “secret” is this:
I just don’t take photos of those pairs for my blog/Instagram.
Because no one wants to see close-ups of old, worn-out shoes, do they? (Well, not other than certain fetishists, who will keep on trying to involve me in their fetishes, no matter how hard I try to make it clear that I’m not interested: but that’s another story altogether…) Seriously, though, I think people assume all of my shoes are in pristine condition, because the ones I show on my blog are, but, of course, my blog doesn’t give you the full picture: I have plenty of pairs of shoes that don’t look so great – I just don’t often post close-up photos. Blogging: it’s all just smoke and mirrors, huh?
With all of that said, however, it might be a whole lot easier to keep shoes looking new when you work from home and are fortunate enough to have a large collection of shoes to rotate through, but I do have some more general shoe care tips that could apply to just about anyone. Things like…
01. Keep them clean
This sounds really obvious – because it IS really obvious – but if you want to keep your shoes looking pristine, you have to look after them. This doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive: I have a very basic shoe care kit (I’ve had this for years now, and have no idea where it came from, but I suspect it was probably just the supermarket!), but to be totally honest, I don’t use it all that often. Because I’m normally walking on fairly clean surfaces, my shoes don’t get particularly dirty, so they rarely require a specialist kind of clean, but every time I wear them, I’ll quickly check them over before putting them back on the shelf, and clean them if I need to. The fact that my shoes are mostly stored on open shelves really helps here, because I obviously don’t want to put dirty shoes back on the shelves, but it’s a good idea to make a habit of never putting shoes away dirty: investing in some basic cleaning products also helps, here.
02. Always carry replacements, if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking
As I said, one of the main reasons I find it fairly easy to keep my shoes looking nice is that I’m not normally walking around for hours in them. (The exception to this would be whichever shoes I take on vacation with me: those rarely last more than a couple of summers!) If I am planning on doing a lot of walking, I’ll wear flats, or other shoes I don’t mind wearing out, and then change into my “proper” shoes once I reach my destination. I normally just carry a cheap pair of ballet flats for this purpose, but you can also buy lightweight, fold-up flats, which are easier to carry.
03. Find a good cobbler
Cobblers are the shoe-lover’s best friend. I’ll hold my hands up here and admit that I don’t visit one nearly as often as I should, but if you want to keep your shoes looking pristine, regular shoe care should be something you build into your budget – especially for more expensive, or “special” shoes. So find a good cobbler, and take your shoes in for some TLC! Alternatively, there are plenty of small repairs you can do at home: I already have some protective rubber soles in stock for the shoes at the top of the page, for instance – I just haven’t gotten round to fitting them yet, so maybe I’ll make that a project for next week!
04. Sort out your shoe storage
Finally, a point that should probably have been #1 on the list – storage! I’m lucky enough to have plenty of storage space for my shoes, and I find it really helps keep them looking their best (and no, I don’t have to dust them constantly: I do dust the shelves, and sometimes the shoes themselves, but it only takes a few minutes, and as the room they’re in isn’t in constant use, I don’t have to dust them as often as the rest of the house…). Before I had my first set of shoe shelves built, my shoe storage was a bit of a mess, really, and a lot of my shoes would end up in a pile at the bottom of the cupboard. Because of that, those shoes didn’t last as long, or look as good as they do now that I have decent storage: they always seemed to end up dusty and scuffed, so it’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about storage, and finding something that works for whatever space you have available – your shoes will thank you for it!