Right now you may be wearing your gorgeous dress shoes in challenging winter weather. Shoes get wet. You trudge through slush and snow. The fine leather is exposed to harsh salts and other chemicals used to melt ice and snow on streets and walkways. There’s also the potential for slipping and taking a tumble, which can scuff your shoes. But there are simple ways to help protect fine Belvedere footwear, even in such harsh conditions.
Drying Your Shoes
Dry off wet shoes as soon as possible, using a soft wash cloth. But resist the urge to dry leather shoes in front of a space heater, radiator, heating vent, or fireplace. Leather will stiffen and shrink if dried too quickly. Instead, let the shoes dry slowly and naturally. Fill the interior with balled-up newspaper or paper towels. Place them in a warm, dry place but not near a direct heat source. Once they are dry, replace the newspaper or paper towels with shoe trees made from untreated cedar.
Avoid Inferior Polish
Leather is porous, and water will penetrate and damage it unless you seal those pores. But when shoes are kept polished, the wax or polish applied to the leather helps to condition it, soften it, and seal it. The key is to use a higher quality shoe polish that just sit on the surface of the shoe but gets absorbed deep into the leather. Most polish comes in a tin as a hard cake that you add water to before applying. But that kind of polish dries on the shoe and again becomes a relatively brittle surface coating. It can easily crack or scuff away, leaving the shoe leather unprotected.
Use a Quality Shoe Cream
The best choice for dress shoes is a cream style shoe polish that is typically sold in small glass jars. Right out of the jar it has the consistency of a smooth paste. (Two examples of reliable brands are Meltonian and Saphir.) During wintertime, polish your shoes with this type of shoe cream but apply one or two extra coats. Polish them again after wearing them outdoors in inclement weather. Shoe cream frequently applied helps protect your shoe leather from both moisture and scuffs.
Leather Preservative Wax
But if you’re in severe weather, you need extreme protection. You can apply what is known as a heavy duty leather preservative. It’s a gummy coating made from natural substances like beeswax. You massage it into the leather and it leaves a film on the surface. That waxy coating can protect footwear from chemicals, salts, and water, and is often recommended for work boots that are constantly abused. Unfortunately, leather preservatives can permanently darken leather. So that’s a risky option for fine dress shoes.
Rubber Shoe Covers
A safer, simpler, and far superior strategy is to wear slip-on rubber galoshes or shoe covers. They’re the classic way to take care of your fine shoes, and men have used them for generations. That is the ultimate shield from the elements, and they are easily slipped on and off. They may not make a stylish fashion statement, but nobody’s scrutinizing your shoes while you’re sloshing through ice and snow. When you do remove the rubber covers, however, everyone will notice how dry and beautiful your dress shoes still look.