The Gentleman’s Handbook, Vol. 9.2: How to Winterize Your Shoes

A guide to breathing life back into mangled kicks

By The Editors

The Gentleman’s Handbook, Vol. 9.2: How to Winterize Your Shoes
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20 January 2016

This is the Gentleman’s Handbook, a recurring series on situational awareness, preparation and etiquette for the modern man. This month: Winter Survival.

Snowy sidewalks. Salty streets. Icy curbside lagoons of doom. When it comes to your footwear, winter is a gauntlet. Luckily, with a bit of prevention and the right aftercare, your spiffy brogues can make it through till spring with minimal bruising.

Here’s what to do:

Wrap ’em up
Whenever possible, protect your kicks with rubber galoshes, like these from SWIMS. Think of them like shoe condoms: prevention is cheaper than reparation(s).

Keep ’em polished
A solid polish not only makes your double monks look spiffy, it also acts as your first line of defense against the elements.

Dry effectively
Stuff wet kicks with newspaper to help keep their shape and dry them away from direct heat, lest they dry too fast and the leather crack. Unfinished cedar shoe trees draw the moisture out as well. Once dry, keep the leather supple with a generous application of leather conditioner.

Clean and maintain
Keep a horsehair brush (this kit comes with the conditioner too) to get rid of dirt and residue. Salt stains can be taken off with a cloth dipped in a 2:1 mixture of warm water and vinegar. A kneadable eraser will take care of scuffs on suede, and a brisk toothbrush scrubbing will bring back flattened nap.

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