Give ’em the love they deserve.
Speaking of all things wardrobe related, one question that a few of you have asked in the past is how to look after your leather shoes. Given how exposed to the elements our shoes are, and how much we depend on them for comfort as well as adding that extra pop to an outfit, looking after them is absolutely essential. We thought it only right to give you our tips and tricks – particularly useful if you’ve just invested in your first pair of The Simple Sandals! These rules apply to all your tanned leather shoes (but not suede), so you should consider them when you buy any new leather shoes whether they be sandals, heels or boots – these are investment pieces that you want to last forever! And with a little elbow grease (and actual grease) they can.
How To Care For Your Leather Shoes
- Leather balm
- Hand Wash
- Clean Cloth
- Shoe Brush
Waterproof Before Wearing
Although we’ve all experienced the urge to try on something we’ve ordered online faster than the courier can get out of the door, it’s well worth protecting the leather of your shoes as soon as you take them out of the box. You can do this by treating the leather upper with a leather waterproofer. Wipe your shoes down with a warm sponge and add the product of your choosing. There are spray repellents, but we prefer a beeswax-based paste. The initial ‘wash down’ warms the leather, making it more porous and improving its ability to absorb the product. Using a soft, clean cloth, rub small amounts of leather balm into the material until it is fully absorbed – make sure to do pre-test in an inconspicuous area on the shoe before applying it to the entire surface area.
Wear Them In (Gently)
Leather is a natural material and will stretch over time. Which is something to remember when you’re buying your shoes, although you don’t want them to be uncomfortably tight, a snug fit will allow them to mould to your feet after the first few wears.
Condition Between Wears
If you can, it’s best to let your shoes rest for a day between wears (or a few days between intense wears like when you’re on holidays) and allow them to breathe for 15 minutes before putting them away. You should also condition the leather to maintain sheen and lustre ever few months, by liberally applying a cream conditioner into the shoe with a cotton cloth (use different rags for different shoe colors). Work it into the leather in circular motions. Let them sit for 20 minutes, and then rub with a shoe brush to remove any excess cream.
If your shoes become saturated with water (like when you’re caught in a freak rainstorm when it was perfectly sunny a second ago), blot away excess moisture using a cloth and allow them to dry completely in natural light before storing or wearing. Make sure you keep them away from heat sources like heaters which may crack the leather.
Have you ever experienced those times when you find a quiet minute in the taxi or on the train and you finally look down at your shoes long enough to notice that they aren’t quite as sharp as they once looked and need a little resurrecting? If you notice any discolouration or salt stains, dampen a soft, clean cloth with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and using circular motions, gently wipe the leather making sure not to saturate the leather in the solution.
For stains, lightly brush away any dirt or solid particles with a soft shoe brush. Mix a few drops of hand wash in lukewarm water and using a soft, clean cloth, rub the solution over the affected area until removed. Then wipe away all remaining soap lather. Allow the sandals dry in natural light (but not in direct sunlight) before wearing again. As tempting as it may be, it’s best not to put leather sandals in the laundry.
Polish (if necessary)
For sandals and other shoes with less leather up surface area we find that conditioning works well enough. But if you find your shoes (or even your sandals) have lost their shine completely, polishing is a good idea. To do this you’ll need a shoe polish in a colour that matches your shoes, a brush and a soft cloth. First clean your shoes so there isn’t any dirt or dust. Then liberally apply a polish with the cloth in a circular motion. Let dry for half an hour and then use the brush to buff the polish off. Finally, use the other side of the cloth to give them a final rub down. All done!
Notes on Calf Hair Leather
Pony skin leather shoes (such as the leopard print simple sandals) are made from leather with the pelt left on, which makes them supple and chic but you do have to approach them differently to regular tanned leather. Try to avoid oil or excess water getting on them, and if that does happen wipe it dry with a dry paper towel or wait until it dries and use a dry brush to remove. You can spray the shoes with a very thin layer of hair spray to keep the hair down and also add a layer of protection against the elements.
Unboxing, my favourite thing to do. xx
Photos by Bryant Lee. Illustrations by Annie Huang.