Q and Answer: What Shoe Care Products Should You Consider (Part One)
Lookyoungspeakold writes us to ask: I just watched the PTO episode on shoes and am now working on picking up some shoe care supplies. What things do you guys recommend?
It’s probably best to break this answer into parts, so you know what’s important to have, and what’s just nice to have. Today, we’ll cover the important stuff.
1. Leather conditioner: Leather needs to be conditioned every once in a while, otherwise it’ll dry out and crack. For this, Saphir Renovateur is commonly said to be the best, but I’ve gotten equally good results with Allen Edmonds’ Conditioner & Cleaner. Some say you shouldn’t mix conditioners and cleaners (just as you shouldn’t mix shampoo and conditioner), but I’ve used this stuff for years and haven’t seen any ill effects. If you’re worried about it, you can turn to Lexol, who sells them in separate bottles, or get Venetian cream. 
For workboots, I really like Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP, which you can read about here, and if you have any exotics, Saphir makes a special conditioner called Reptan. 
2. Polishes and Waxes: To hide scuffs and build a shine, you’ll need an assortment of polishes and waxes. If you want to maintain your shoes’ original color, use a polish that best approximates it or go one shade lighter. To build a slightly more antiqued look over time, go with something a touch darker. For the most part, try to avoid neutrals, as they can sometimes build a white flakey residue. 
I use cream polish on all my shoes, but for any that need an extra layer of protection (e.g. winter boots) or a higher gloss finish (e.g. oxfords), I add a finishing layer of wax polish. 
Again, Saphir here is often said to be the best, and if you’re a shoe aficionado, these can feel a bit more fancy to use. You can get them from The Hanger Project (one of our advertisers), Exquisite Trimmings, A Suitable Wardrobe, and Gentlemen’s Footwear (the last of which is offering a free Saphir chamois cloth with any $50+ purchase of shoe care products this week). If Saphir is too expensive for you, however, I’ve gotten excellent results from Meltonian cream polishes and Lincoln waxes. 
3. Brushes: Obviously, to apply the creams and waxes, you’ll need some brushes. There’s some really nice stuff here by Edoya and Abbeyhorn, but they’re expensive. Check them out if you take a special interest in this stuff, but otherwise, know that you only really need a basic dauber and large horsehair brush, both of which you can buy for $5-15 from The Hanger Project and Allen Edmonds. 
4. Suede products: If you have suede shoes, you’ll want to get a couple of special products. First is a waterproofing spray, which will not only help protect your shoes from water, but also any stains that may come their way. A suede eraser can also be good for spot cleaning, and a suede brush is useful for rebuilding a nap. Suede brushes can come in crepe or wire. I really like the wire ones from Edoya, but Allen Edmonds has a much more affordable version for $6.50
5. Shoe trees and horns: Along with the leather conditioner, I think these last two products might be the most important to buy. First are cedar shoe trees, which you should always put into your shoes when you’re not wearing them. This will help maintain your shoes’ shape and minimize creases. You can buy them for about $11 a pair from Sierra Trading Post once you apply their DealFlyer coupons (they’re out of stock at the moment, but they’ll likely bring them back). Nordstrom Rack also sometimes has them in-store for about $12 a pair, and Jos A Bank will regularly do 3-for-1 deals. For boots, you’ll need something bigger to fill up the space. I recommend these from Woodlore. 
And lastly, you’ll want to use a shoehorn whenever you put on your shoes so that you don’t crush the heel counter. Abbeyhorn makes some really nice ones. For something more affordable, these basic metal ones will serve you fine, and if you’re ever in a pinch and find yourself without a shoehorn, try using your credit card or driver’s license. If you place it at the heel, just as you would with a shoehorn, your foot should slip in pretty easily.
Check back Wednesday for part two to this answer, where I’ll go over some stuff I think is nice to have, but not as essential as what’s mentioned above.

Q and Answer: What Shoe Care Products Should You Consider (Part One)

Lookyoungspeakold writes us to ask: I just watched the PTO episode on shoes and am now working on picking up some shoe care supplies. What things do you guys recommend?

It’s probably best to break this answer into parts, so you know what’s important to have, and what’s just nice to have. Today, we’ll cover the important stuff.

1. Leather conditioner: Leather needs to be conditioned every once in a while, otherwise it’ll dry out and crack. For this, Saphir Renovateur is commonly said to be the best, but I’ve gotten equally good results with Allen Edmonds’ Conditioner & Cleaner. Some say you shouldn’t mix conditioners and cleaners (just as you shouldn’t mix shampoo and conditioner), but I’ve used this stuff for years and haven’t seen any ill effects. If you’re worried about it, you can turn to Lexol, who sells them in separate bottles, or get Venetian cream.

For workboots, I really like Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP, which you can read about here, and if you have any exotics, Saphir makes a special conditioner called Reptan.

2. Polishes and Waxes: To hide scuffs and build a shine, you’ll need an assortment of polishes and waxes. If you want to maintain your shoes’ original color, use a polish that best approximates it or go one shade lighter. To build a slightly more antiqued look over time, go with something a touch darker. For the most part, try to avoid neutrals, as they can sometimes build a white flakey residue.

I use cream polish on all my shoes, but for any that need an extra layer of protection (e.g. winter boots) or a higher gloss finish (e.g. oxfords), I add a finishing layer of wax polish.

Again, Saphir here is often said to be the best, and if you’re a shoe aficionado, these can feel a bit more fancy to use. You can get them from The Hanger Project (one of our advertisers), Exquisite Trimmings, A Suitable Wardrobe, and Gentlemen’s Footwear (the last of which is offering a free Saphir chamois cloth with any $50+ purchase of shoe care products this week). If Saphir is too expensive for you, however, I’ve gotten excellent results from Meltonian cream polishes and Lincoln waxes.

3. Brushes: Obviously, to apply the creams and waxes, you’ll need some brushes. There’s some really nice stuff here by Edoya and Abbeyhorn, but they’re expensive. Check them out if you take a special interest in this stuff, but otherwise, know that you only really need a basic dauber and large horsehair brush, both of which you can buy for $5-15 from The Hanger Project and Allen Edmonds

4. Suede products: If you have suede shoes, you’ll want to get a couple of special products. First is a waterproofing spray, which will not only help protect your shoes from water, but also any stains that may come their way. A suede eraser can also be good for spot cleaning, and a suede brush is useful for rebuilding a nap. Suede brushes can come in crepe or wire. I really like the wire ones from Edoya, but Allen Edmonds has a much more affordable version for $6.50

5. Shoe trees and horns: Along with the leather conditioner, I think these last two products might be the most important to buy. First are cedar shoe trees, which you should always put into your shoes when you’re not wearing them. This will help maintain your shoes’ shape and minimize creases. You can buy them for about $11 a pair from Sierra Trading Post once you apply their DealFlyer coupons (they’re out of stock at the moment, but they’ll likely bring them back). Nordstrom Rack also sometimes has them in-store for about $12 a pair, and Jos A Bank will regularly do 3-for-1 deals. For boots, you’ll need something bigger to fill up the space. I recommend these from Woodlore.

And lastly, you’ll want to use a shoehorn whenever you put on your shoes so that you don’t crush the heel counter. Abbeyhorn makes some really nice ones. For something more affordable, these basic metal ones will serve you fine, and if you’re ever in a pinch and find yourself without a shoehorn, try using your credit card or driver’s license. If you place it at the heel, just as you would with a shoehorn, your foot should slip in pretty easily.

Check back Wednesday for part two to this answer, where I’ll go over some stuff I think is nice to have, but not as essential as what’s mentioned above.

Q and Answer: Indochino Suits - Worth Buying?
Michael writes:  Have you heard of Indochino? The prices are tempting, as is the  customization. Any thoughts?
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about Indochino on the men’s clothing message boards lately.  They offer a pretty compelling proposition: a made-to-measure suit, over the web, for less than $400 (or even less, given their frequent sales).
I haven’t tried any of Indochino’s pieces myself (not that I’d turn one down, hint hint), but a consensus seems to be building on the forums.  The suits are made from fabric that would best be described as of “fair” quality, and their workmanship is similarly acceptable-but-unremarkable.  That said, they do offer at least surface-level markers of quality (horn buttons, full canvassing), I’ve read nothing but great things about their customer service, and they offer a credit to have a local tailor adjust your suit if it isn’t to your liking when it arrives.  There are certainly things that you might not be able to measure on yourself, like say shoulder pitch, that are tough to adjust post-facto, but most fit issues should be addressable either in the measuring or by an in-person tailor.
So: if you’re comfortable hunting for bargains, and you’re not too tough to fit, there are probably better values out there.  At that price point, you can probably get a better-made suit at a discounter like the Nordstrom Rack or Saks Off 5th.  However, if you’re particularly tough to fit, and working with a tight budget, this looks like a great option for you.  I think it’s also a good option for more casual and summer suits - cotton and seersucker, for example - an alternative to the usual J-Crew-on-sale and H&M options for knockaround suits.
(note: as of this writing, Indochino are running a 25% off special, plus one free shirt and one free accessory, with the code REDFLAGDEAL)

Q and Answer: Indochino Suits - Worth Buying?

Michael writes:  Have you heard of Indochino? The prices are tempting, as is the customization. Any thoughts?

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about Indochino on the men’s clothing message boards lately.  They offer a pretty compelling proposition: a made-to-measure suit, over the web, for less than $400 (or even less, given their frequent sales).

I haven’t tried any of Indochino’s pieces myself (not that I’d turn one down, hint hint), but a consensus seems to be building on the forums.  The suits are made from fabric that would best be described as of “fair” quality, and their workmanship is similarly acceptable-but-unremarkable.  That said, they do offer at least surface-level markers of quality (horn buttons, full canvassing), I’ve read nothing but great things about their customer service, and they offer a credit to have a local tailor adjust your suit if it isn’t to your liking when it arrives.  There are certainly things that you might not be able to measure on yourself, like say shoulder pitch, that are tough to adjust post-facto, but most fit issues should be addressable either in the measuring or by an in-person tailor.

So: if you’re comfortable hunting for bargains, and you’re not too tough to fit, there are probably better values out there.  At that price point, you can probably get a better-made suit at a discounter like the Nordstrom Rack or Saks Off 5th.  However, if you’re particularly tough to fit, and working with a tight budget, this looks like a great option for you.  I think it’s also a good option for more casual and summer suits - cotton and seersucker, for example - an alternative to the usual J-Crew-on-sale and H&M options for knockaround suits.

(note: as of this writing, Indochino are running a 25% off special, plus one free shirt and one free accessory, with the code REDFLAGDEAL)

Q and Answer
Chris S. writes:
What considerations are necessary in the cuff/sock/shoe colour/pattern decsisionmaking flowchart?
A good question, Chris.
We can start with this: gym socks are for gym shoes.  If you’re wearing basketball sneakers, you’re probably off to play basketball, and you should wear athletic socks to do so.  Same goes for other athletic endeavors.  I buy my gym socks at Costco, and I always buy the same kind so I don’t have to worry about losing one in the wash.
For casual wear, gym socks are dicier, but most padded athletic shoes would look silly with any socks but gym socks.  (Excepted: the simplest classic canvas and leather sneakers are usually more suited to a finer colored sock.)  If you’re wearing shorts and athletic shoes, no-show athletic socks (the kind that encircle the lowest bit of your ankle) are the most appropriate.
Once you’re wearing proper shoes, the basic rule is to match your socks, more or less, to your pants.  The basic principle behind this is that you’d rather lengthen the appearance of your legs than the appearance of your shoes.
In dress situations, you should never show bare leg.  That means that over-the-calf dress socks are best - you can buy them at most reputable men’s stores, though shorter socks are the norm.  I’ve found great pairs at great prices at the Nordstrom Rack with some regularity.  You can also find solid quality plain men’s dress socks (Gold Toes, for example) at warehouse stores like Costco.  A few pairs of plain charcoal grey and a few pairs of navy will build the foundation of your sock wardrobe.
We’re big supporters of colorful and patterned socks, generally, but stay away from novelty socks.  Argyle is a wonderful choice, with the color pallette varying by season, though we would be disinclined to pair argyle with a suit.  Obviously, too, the color, weight and feel of the sock should be consonant with the rest of your outfit, particularly your shoes and pants.  Patterned socks can be quite nice with casual pants and an odd jacket.  We’ve had good luck with sock sales at Banana Republic, which often get down to $2 or $3 per pair in-store.  These usually won’t be very tall, but that’s less important in a more casual context.
Bright socks are wonderful, but they are most effective when used as an accent in an otherwise conservatively styled outfit.  Perhaps purple socks with a navy suit and dark shoes pick out a color in your necktie, perhaps they’re just fun.  But that’s Advanced Placement dressing.  Get your no-skin-showing, no-gym-socks game tight before you start in on stuff like that.
And no socks?  We’re no Sartorialist, but we’re fine with that when the weather’s warm.  We do prefer loafer or “no show” socks, which will protect your shoes a bit from sweat and your feet a bit from blisters.

Q and Answer

Chris S. writes:

What considerations are necessary in the cuff/sock/shoe colour/pattern decsisionmaking flowchart?

A good question, Chris.

We can start with this: gym socks are for gym shoes.  If you’re wearing basketball sneakers, you’re probably off to play basketball, and you should wear athletic socks to do so.  Same goes for other athletic endeavors.  I buy my gym socks at Costco, and I always buy the same kind so I don’t have to worry about losing one in the wash.

For casual wear, gym socks are dicier, but most padded athletic shoes would look silly with any socks but gym socks.  (Excepted: the simplest classic canvas and leather sneakers are usually more suited to a finer colored sock.)  If you’re wearing shorts and athletic shoes, no-show athletic socks (the kind that encircle the lowest bit of your ankle) are the most appropriate.

Once you’re wearing proper shoes, the basic rule is to match your socks, more or less, to your pants.  The basic principle behind this is that you’d rather lengthen the appearance of your legs than the appearance of your shoes.

In dress situations, you should never show bare leg.  That means that over-the-calf dress socks are best - you can buy them at most reputable men’s stores, though shorter socks are the norm.  I’ve found great pairs at great prices at the Nordstrom Rack with some regularity.  You can also find solid quality plain men’s dress socks (Gold Toes, for example) at warehouse stores like Costco.  A few pairs of plain charcoal grey and a few pairs of navy will build the foundation of your sock wardrobe.

We’re big supporters of colorful and patterned socks, generally, but stay away from novelty socks.  Argyle is a wonderful choice, with the color pallette varying by season, though we would be disinclined to pair argyle with a suit.  Obviously, too, the color, weight and feel of the sock should be consonant with the rest of your outfit, particularly your shoes and pants.  Patterned socks can be quite nice with casual pants and an odd jacket.  We’ve had good luck with sock sales at Banana Republic, which often get down to $2 or $3 per pair in-store.  These usually won’t be very tall, but that’s less important in a more casual context.

Bright socks are wonderful, but they are most effective when used as an accent in an otherwise conservatively styled outfit.  Perhaps purple socks with a navy suit and dark shoes pick out a color in your necktie, perhaps they’re just fun.  But that’s Advanced Placement dressing.  Get your no-skin-showing, no-gym-socks game tight before you start in on stuff like that.

And no socks?  We’re no Sartorialist, but we’re fine with that when the weather’s warm.  We do prefer loafer or “no show” socks, which will protect your shoes a bit from sweat and your feet a bit from blisters.