Saphir Shoe Polishing Kit for $45
Several years ago, my parents bought me a shoe-polishing kit for Christmas that sat unused in my closet until I finally bought a real pair of dress shoes that required polishing. Since then, it’s been a practice that I’ve found enjoyable and really ought to do more often. 
If you’re looking for a way to get a start on polishing your shoes and don’t have the basics yet, consider picking up this shoe polishing starter kit from Bespoke Post that features Saphir products. 
For $45 you get a tins of Saphir Renovateur, black and brown polish, pate de luxe neutral wax, two applicator brushes, a buffing brush, a shoe bag and some spare laces. 
The tins are the standard line of Saphir products (not the Gold Medal line, which is typically three times more expensive), but it’s more than enough to get you started. If you begin to run out, then you can always pick up Gold Medal Saphir from Hanger Project or A Suitable Wardrobe Store. And, of course, if you need a quick primer on how to shine your shoes, check out Put This On Episode 2 of Season 1.
-Kiyoshi
(Thanks to sashu for the head’s up on this deal. And thanks also to Will Boehlke for telling me the difference between the standard and Gold Medal line of Saphir.)

Saphir Shoe Polishing Kit for $45

Several years ago, my parents bought me a shoe-polishing kit for Christmas that sat unused in my closet until I finally bought a real pair of dress shoes that required polishing. Since then, it’s been a practice that I’ve found enjoyable and really ought to do more often. 

If you’re looking for a way to get a start on polishing your shoes and don’t have the basics yet, consider picking up this shoe polishing starter kit from Bespoke Post that features Saphir products. 

For $45 you get a tins of Saphir Renovateur, black and brown polish, pate de luxe neutral wax, two applicator brushes, a buffing brush, a shoe bag and some spare laces. 

The tins are the standard line of Saphir products (not the Gold Medal line, which is typically three times more expensive), but it’s more than enough to get you started. If you begin to run out, then you can always pick up Gold Medal Saphir from Hanger Project or A Suitable Wardrobe Store. And, of course, if you need a quick primer on how to shine your shoes, check out Put This On Episode 2 of Season 1.

-Kiyoshi

(Thanks to sashu for the head’s up on this deal. And thanks also to Will Boehlke for telling me the difference between the standard and Gold Medal line of Saphir.)

It’s On Sale: Allen Edmonds Shoe Polish
Allen Edmonds is having a closeout sale on select tubes of shoe polish. $1 per tube, with free shipping to boot. If you want to know what those colors look like, you can sort of get an idea from these teensy weensy swatches at The Shoe Mart.

It’s On Sale: Allen Edmonds Shoe Polish

Allen Edmonds is having a closeout sale on select tubes of shoe polish. $1 per tube, with free shipping to boot. If you want to know what those colors look like, you can sort of get an idea from these teensy weensy swatches at The Shoe Mart.

Shoe Project: Florsheim Imperial Longwings
When I travel, I prefer to take only one pair of dress shoes - it leaves me room for a pair of sneakers for casual wear and long walks and once in a while a pair of crepe-soled chukka boots. For the past few years, my travel shoe of choice has been a pair of vintage Florsheims. The shell cordovan leather is tough to beat in all kinds of weather, the double soles are indestructible, and they’re aesthetically at home with a suit, a sportcoat or even jeans.
The pair I wore was a little dried-out when I got them (at a thrift store some years ago), and has started to crack at the stress points. It’s a problem endemic to old shell cordovan - if it wasn’t cared for, it gets dry, and when it gets dry, it cracks. Cordovan is in many ways dramatically more durable than calf, but this is the one exception. If you buy old cordovan, condition before you wear, and watch out for crazing along the flex points.
There’s not really a way to repair cracking, so I’d had a saved eBay search for a pair in my (narrow) size. A couple of weeks ago, a pair of 12Bs showed up, and I pounced, scoring them for about $75.
You can see them above, after some Venetian Shoe Cream (the best conditioner for cordovan) and a spot of Saphir polish, plus a pair of vintage rayon shoelaces and a couple of Florsheim trees I found at an estate sale. Ready for action!

Shoe Project: Florsheim Imperial Longwings

When I travel, I prefer to take only one pair of dress shoes - it leaves me room for a pair of sneakers for casual wear and long walks and once in a while a pair of crepe-soled chukka boots. For the past few years, my travel shoe of choice has been a pair of vintage Florsheims. The shell cordovan leather is tough to beat in all kinds of weather, the double soles are indestructible, and they’re aesthetically at home with a suit, a sportcoat or even jeans.

The pair I wore was a little dried-out when I got them (at a thrift store some years ago), and has started to crack at the stress points. It’s a problem endemic to old shell cordovan - if it wasn’t cared for, it gets dry, and when it gets dry, it cracks. Cordovan is in many ways dramatically more durable than calf, but this is the one exception. If you buy old cordovan, condition before you wear, and watch out for crazing along the flex points.

There’s not really a way to repair cracking, so I’d had a saved eBay search for a pair in my (narrow) size. A couple of weeks ago, a pair of 12Bs showed up, and I pounced, scoring them for about $75.

You can see them above, after some Venetian Shoe Cream (the best conditioner for cordovan) and a spot of Saphir polish, plus a pair of vintage rayon shoelaces and a couple of Florsheim trees I found at an estate sale. Ready for action!

Go Easy on the Wax
I recently bought a new pair of Crockett and Jones Belgraves from a seller I found online. I was able to get them at a nice discount, but when they arrived, they had thin white creases in certain parts of the leather. I figured the leather must have been just dry, so I treated it with some conditioner. Even after a few treatments, however, they didn’t go away. In fact, when I worn them around a bit, awful white lines would appear wherever the leather would bend. 
Then it occurred to me - the seller must have caked on a bunch of neutral shoe polish wax. He didn’t know how to properly shine shoes. The result is something like the picture you see above, even though the shoes were new. 
The best way to get rid of heavy wax build-up is to use Lexol leather cleaner. “Mixed” solutions such as Allen Edmonds conditioner and cleaner won’t be enough (though they’re still good for regular maintenance). If the build-up is especially bad, you might even have to run your fingernail over the stitches and around the pinking (the zig zag detailing). That’s what I found myself doing last night for about an hour.
The problem with having so much wax build-up is that it not only creates ugly creases (particularly if you use a neutral wax), but it also prevents the leather from absorbing any conditioner, which means it will eventually dry out. To avoid this, go easy on the wax, and every once in a while, use some Lexol leather cleaner to wipe away any build-up. Remember that a little wax goes a long, long way.
Or, if you prefer, just stick to cream polish. You won’t get as much protection from the elements, or perhaps even as high of a shine, but at least your shoes will never look like the ones above. 

Go Easy on the Wax

I recently bought a new pair of Crockett and Jones Belgraves from a seller I found online. I was able to get them at a nice discount, but when they arrived, they had thin white creases in certain parts of the leather. I figured the leather must have been just dry, so I treated it with some conditioner. Even after a few treatments, however, they didn’t go away. In fact, when I worn them around a bit, awful white lines would appear wherever the leather would bend. 

Then it occurred to me - the seller must have caked on a bunch of neutral shoe polish wax. He didn’t know how to properly shine shoes. The result is something like the picture you see above, even though the shoes were new. 

The best way to get rid of heavy wax build-up is to use Lexol leather cleaner. “Mixed” solutions such as Allen Edmonds conditioner and cleaner won’t be enough (though they’re still good for regular maintenance). If the build-up is especially bad, you might even have to run your fingernail over the stitches and around the pinking (the zig zag detailing). That’s what I found myself doing last night for about an hour.

The problem with having so much wax build-up is that it not only creates ugly creases (particularly if you use a neutral wax), but it also prevents the leather from absorbing any conditioner, which means it will eventually dry out. To avoid this, go easy on the wax, and every once in a while, use some Lexol leather cleaner to wipe away any build-up. Remember that a little wax goes a long, long way.

Or, if you prefer, just stick to cream polish. You won’t get as much protection from the elements, or perhaps even as high of a shine, but at least your shoes will never look like the ones above. 

Q and Answer: Episode 2 Followups
Amar writes: Where can I get some of the shoe care items (like polish and conditioner) that you show in the video?  Also, where can I get the different types of brushes you used? I have a  cloth for buffing/polishing and I’m wary of taking a brush to the fine  leather instead.  Finally, I have one pair of shoe trees but 4 pairs of shoes on rotation.  Does this mean I should get an additional 3 pairs of shoe trees, one  for each shoe? Or is one fine to use after wearing a pair?
That’s a lot of questions, Amar.  Luckily, they’re pretty easy to answer.
Any shoe repair shop will have a wide range of colors and types of shoe polish, leather cleaner and conditioner.  If for some reason you live in a place with no shoe repair shops (underwater city?), there’s usually a pretty fully stocked shoe section in any large grocery store or pharmacy.  You can also order online from any number of shops, though shipping charges can be as much as the cost of the item being shipped.  The usual brands are Kiwi and Meltonian, and while some have fancier preferences, I don’t see much difference.  Brushes can be found in the same places - usually a grocery store will have one dauber and one larger brush, while a shoe repair store may have a few more choices.  They certainly won’t harm your leather.
Good shoes should be stored with shoe trees in them at all times.  You can buy shoe trees at most decent shoe stores or department stores, or at closet shops like The Container Store or Bed, Bath & Beyond.  At full retail, they usually run about $15 or $20 a pair.  They sometimes pop up for a discounted price at Costco, as well.  If you live near a Nordstrom Rack, they always sell discounted cedar shoe trees that are of very good quality for about $10 a pair.  I buy most of my trees at thrift stores and estate sales - usually they don’t cost more than about $4 a pair that way. 

Q and Answer: Episode 2 Followups

Amar writes: Where can I get some of the shoe care items (like polish and conditioner) that you show in the video?  Also, where can I get the different types of brushes you used? I have a cloth for buffing/polishing and I’m wary of taking a brush to the fine leather instead.  Finally, I have one pair of shoe trees but 4 pairs of shoes on rotation. Does this mean I should get an additional 3 pairs of shoe trees, one for each shoe? Or is one fine to use after wearing a pair?

That’s a lot of questions, Amar.  Luckily, they’re pretty easy to answer.

Any shoe repair shop will have a wide range of colors and types of shoe polish, leather cleaner and conditioner.  If for some reason you live in a place with no shoe repair shops (underwater city?), there’s usually a pretty fully stocked shoe section in any large grocery store or pharmacy.  You can also order online from any number of shops, though shipping charges can be as much as the cost of the item being shipped.  The usual brands are Kiwi and Meltonian, and while some have fancier preferences, I don’t see much difference.  Brushes can be found in the same places - usually a grocery store will have one dauber and one larger brush, while a shoe repair store may have a few more choices.  They certainly won’t harm your leather.

Good shoes should be stored with shoe trees in them at all times.  You can buy shoe trees at most decent shoe stores or department stores, or at closet shops like The Container Store or Bed, Bath & Beyond.  At full retail, they usually run about $15 or $20 a pair.  They sometimes pop up for a discounted price at Costco, as well.  If you live near a Nordstrom Rack, they always sell discounted cedar shoe trees that are of very good quality for about $10 a pair.  I buy most of my trees at thrift stores and estate sales - usually they don’t cost more than about $4 a pair that way.