Lots of folks have been emailing me about this New York Post story which reports that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has only two pairs of work shoes.  Of course, Bloomberg is extraordinarily rich, thanks to his business information empire, so he can afford as many pairs of shoes as he’d like, so the story is, “he’s so thrifty!”
There are only two problems with this narrative, in my mind:
A)  He has like half a dozen mansions, so… thrifty he ain’t.
B)  They’re both loafers.  Loafers with suits?  BOOO. 
Anyway, if you want to talk about true-blue political thrifty-shoe style heroes, it begins and ends with Adlai Stevenson.

Lots of folks have been emailing me about this New York Post story which reports that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has only two pairs of work shoes.  Of course, Bloomberg is extraordinarily rich, thanks to his business information empire, so he can afford as many pairs of shoes as he’d like, so the story is, “he’s so thrifty!”

There are only two problems with this narrative, in my mind:

A)  He has like half a dozen mansions, so… thrifty he ain’t.

B)  They’re both loafers.  Loafers with suits?  BOOO. 

Anyway, if you want to talk about true-blue political thrifty-shoe style heroes, it begins and ends with Adlai Stevenson.

HRH Prince Charles’ shoes, having been patched over several decades of service.

HRH Prince Charles’ shoes, having been patched over several decades of service.

Q and Answer: How to Care for a Leather Bag
An anonymous emailer asks: I’ve got a leather shoulder bag that I use a lot. how should I be  maintaining it? Does it need to be polished, too?
Generally speaking you won’t need to polish a bag - shiny isn’t the adjective you usually want attached to your luggage. 
For the most part, care for a leather bag is simple.  Once a year or so, clean it with some saddle soap.  If you feel like it, or it seems to be drying, rub it down with a bit of leather conditioner.  Be aware that this will likely darken the leather at least a little, but it’ll be in a nice way.  Enjoy it.
If your bag scuffs, a bit of polish can help cover it, just remember that there’s no need to buff.  If your bag gets damaged, a shoe repairman (who does purse repair) is the man to see.

Q and Answer: How to Care for a Leather Bag

An anonymous emailer asks: I’ve got a leather shoulder bag that I use a lot. how should I be maintaining it? Does it need to be polished, too?

Generally speaking you won’t need to polish a bag - shiny isn’t the adjective you usually want attached to your luggage. 

For the most part, care for a leather bag is simple.  Once a year or so, clean it with some saddle soap.  If you feel like it, or it seems to be drying, rub it down with a bit of leather conditioner.  Be aware that this will likely darken the leather at least a little, but it’ll be in a nice way.  Enjoy it.

If your bag scuffs, a bit of polish can help cover it, just remember that there’s no need to buff.  If your bag gets damaged, a shoe repairman (who does purse repair) is the man to see.

Q and Answer: Protecting Shoe Soles
A reader writes: I have quite an annoying problem that cause  my shoe  heals to wear unevenly, favoring the outside heel, at quite a rapid  pace.  It has something to do with how i walk I suspect. I have destroyed many a   shoe this way long before their time, is their anyway to to correct  this?
We talked with Raoul about this very subject for our second episode, but we just didn’t have enough time to include it in the final cut.  Here are the basics.
New shoes can be fitted with heel protectors, sometimes called “taps.”  These are kidney-bean shaped pieces of hard plastic which are nailed to the outside back of the heel, where heel wear is worst.  They’re cheap (usually about five bucks, including installation), and they can be removed and replaced as the wear away.  Sometimes similar protectors are installed on the forefoot - this is useful if you have a gait which wears one side or the other of the toebox dramatically more, but it’s much less common than heel protectors.
You can also have a sole protector attached.  This is a thin layer of hard rubber which is cemented to the sole of the shoe.  Sometimes it’s known by the brand name Topy, but Topy isn’t the only brand that makes sole protectors.  This will give you a bit of extra purchase on smooth surfaces, and is also easily replaceable when it wears down, saving your leather soles.  It does reduce the breathability of the sole slightly (one of the advantages of leather), and it’s generally a bit less attractive than a leather sole, though it should be all but invisible from the side view.  This is a bit more expensive, in the ten to twenty dollar range.
The most important thing to remember is that your sole and heel are both replaceable.  Take your shoes to the repairman before the bottom layer of the heel or sole is worn through completely, and he can replace that layer easily, particularly on good shoes.  A full sole replacement will be in the neighborhood fifty dollars, and a heel much less.

Q and Answer: Protecting Shoe Soles

A reader writes: I have quite an annoying problem that cause my shoe heals to wear unevenly, favoring the outside heel, at quite a rapid pace. It has something to do with how i walk I suspect. I have destroyed many a shoe this way long before their time, is their anyway to to correct this?

We talked with Raoul about this very subject for our second episode, but we just didn’t have enough time to include it in the final cut.  Here are the basics.

New shoes can be fitted with heel protectors, sometimes called “taps.”  These are kidney-bean shaped pieces of hard plastic which are nailed to the outside back of the heel, where heel wear is worst.  They’re cheap (usually about five bucks, including installation), and they can be removed and replaced as the wear away.  Sometimes similar protectors are installed on the forefoot - this is useful if you have a gait which wears one side or the other of the toebox dramatically more, but it’s much less common than heel protectors.

You can also have a sole protector attached.  This is a thin layer of hard rubber which is cemented to the sole of the shoe.  Sometimes it’s known by the brand name Topy, but Topy isn’t the only brand that makes sole protectors.  This will give you a bit of extra purchase on smooth surfaces, and is also easily replaceable when it wears down, saving your leather soles.  It does reduce the breathability of the sole slightly (one of the advantages of leather), and it’s generally a bit less attractive than a leather sole, though it should be all but invisible from the side view.  This is a bit more expensive, in the ten to twenty dollar range.

The most important thing to remember is that your sole and heel are both replaceable.  Take your shoes to the repairman before the bottom layer of the heel or sole is worn through completely, and he can replace that layer easily, particularly on good shoes.  A full sole replacement will be in the neighborhood fifty dollars, and a heel much less.

Q and Answer: Belts
Eric writes: I understand that a belt should be roughly the same color as the shoes  it is paired with but are there other guidelines? What dictates a belts  width, texture, or buckle color and style? 
A standard men’s dress belt is about 1 1/4” wide.  That will look “normal” with almost any trouser.  Narrower than 1” and you’re wearing a fashion statement.  Wider than 1 1/4” and the belt is casual; more suitable for jeans or work wear than for dress wear.
As you say, the color of your belt should roughly match the color of your shoes.  They don’t need to be a perfect match (some even argue that a perfect match tries too hard), but they shouldn’t look dramatically different.  The hardware is usually either brass (or some other yellow-colored metal) or nickel (or some other silvery-colored metal).  Which you prefer is up to you.  There are those who match the metal of their watch to their belt buckles and cuff links, this is a bit much for me.  The buckle should be plain.  D-ring and fancy buckles are for casual wear.
As far as the finish of the belt, I prefer a rough match to my shoes, as well.  Dark brown suede shoes means dark brown suede belt.  This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though.  As with shoes, suede is more casual than smooth calf.
With summery shoes or sneakers, you have a few options.  You can go with a leather belt that roughly matches the leather on the shoes.  You can also go with a more casual belt.  During the warmer months, I often wear a braided rope belt with my canvas sneakers, and sometimes a colorful ribbon belt.  With off-white summer shoes, I often wear a surcingle belt, made of cotton or cotton and wool, with leather ends.
One slightly off-topic note: not many people realize that belts can be altered.  If you’ve lost some weight, take your belt to the shoe repair store, and they can shorten it for you.  They do this by removing the buckle, cutting down the buckle end, then re-attaching the buckle.  That way, you retain the same number of holes on the pointy end.
(Belts above are by the good folks at Narragansett Leathers.  We love them.)

Q and Answer: Belts

Eric writes: I understand that a belt should be roughly the same color as the shoes it is paired with but are there other guidelines? What dictates a belts width, texture, or buckle color and style?

A standard men’s dress belt is about 1 1/4” wide.  That will look “normal” with almost any trouser.  Narrower than 1” and you’re wearing a fashion statement.  Wider than 1 1/4” and the belt is casual; more suitable for jeans or work wear than for dress wear.

As you say, the color of your belt should roughly match the color of your shoes.  They don’t need to be a perfect match (some even argue that a perfect match tries too hard), but they shouldn’t look dramatically different.  The hardware is usually either brass (or some other yellow-colored metal) or nickel (or some other silvery-colored metal).  Which you prefer is up to you.  There are those who match the metal of their watch to their belt buckles and cuff links, this is a bit much for me.  The buckle should be plain.  D-ring and fancy buckles are for casual wear.

As far as the finish of the belt, I prefer a rough match to my shoes, as well.  Dark brown suede shoes means dark brown suede belt.  This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though.  As with shoes, suede is more casual than smooth calf.

With summery shoes or sneakers, you have a few options.  You can go with a leather belt that roughly matches the leather on the shoes.  You can also go with a more casual belt.  During the warmer months, I often wear a braided rope belt with my canvas sneakers, and sometimes a colorful ribbon belt.  With off-white summer shoes, I often wear a surcingle belt, made of cotton or cotton and wool, with leather ends.

One slightly off-topic note: not many people realize that belts can be altered.  If you’ve lost some weight, take your belt to the shoe repair store, and they can shorten it for you.  They do this by removing the buckle, cutting down the buckle end, then re-attaching the buckle.  That way, you retain the same number of holes on the pointy end.

(Belts above are by the good folks at Narragansett Leathers.  We love them.)

Frank writes (from Germany) about shoelaces:
I recently bought a bunch of shoe laces.
One of the leading German shoe-cleaning experts Rainer Ehrsfeld (http://www.schuh-lexikon.de/kolumne/kolumne.html) suggested “always have extra shoe laces with you when you travel. A  disaster, if your lace breaks on travel right before an important meeting (and  they always tend to tear exactly on these occasions, don’t they?)”.
I was not sure what brown was the right one, since it was hard to tell the colour just by a  small pic on the net, so I ordered a bunch. I mean a lot. Sort of got carried away… but they were only 1-2 bucks a piece so I figured why not buy a whole lot of them.
When they arrived, I thought: OMG what have I done! I will never need those.
But then I spend a whole great evening trying out different laces with various shoes.  I was thrilled by how a shoe changes by just changing the laces!  So this is a great way of changing the looks of your shoes for just a buck!
I agree.  I’m a big estate sale-goer, and I always buy the laces I find at the bottom of a drawer.  They usually give them to you for a quarter a piece.  As Mr. Ehrsfield suggests, I always have some extra laces (along with some collar stays and a pair of cuff links) in my toiletry bag.
My personal favorite shoe fasteners are flat dress laces, which can be surprisingly difficult to find these days, but always lend a nice tone to your dress shoes.  Waxed laces can lend a bit of extra grip, too.  Your local shoe repairman probably has a wall like the one pictured above - don’t be afraid to spend ten bucks trying out some new styles.

Frank writes (from Germany) about shoelaces:

I recently bought a bunch of shoe laces.

One of the leading German shoe-cleaning experts Rainer Ehrsfeld (http://www.schuh-lexikon.de/kolumne/kolumne.html) suggested “always have extra shoe laces with you when you travel. A disaster, if your lace breaks on travel right before an important meeting (and they always tend to tear exactly on these occasions, don’t they?)”.

I was not sure what brown was the right one, since it was hard to tell the colour just by a small pic on the net, so I ordered a bunch. I mean a lot. Sort of got carried away… but they were only 1-2 bucks a piece so I figured why not buy a whole lot of them.

When they arrived, I thought: OMG what have I done! I will never need those.

But then I spend a whole great evening trying out different laces with various shoes.  I was thrilled by how a shoe changes by just changing the laces!  So this is a great way of changing the looks of your shoes for just a buck!

I agree.  I’m a big estate sale-goer, and I always buy the laces I find at the bottom of a drawer.  They usually give them to you for a quarter a piece.  As Mr. Ehrsfield suggests, I always have some extra laces (along with some collar stays and a pair of cuff links) in my toiletry bag.

My personal favorite shoe fasteners are flat dress laces, which can be surprisingly difficult to find these days, but always lend a nice tone to your dress shoes.  Waxed laces can lend a bit of extra grip, too.  Your local shoe repairman probably has a wall like the one pictured above - don’t be afraid to spend ten bucks trying out some new styles.

Q and Answer: Shoe Repair
Jacob writes: After a most successful vintage shopping trip in San Francisco, I found myself with a pair of exceptionally made Church brown oxfords. They’re in mostly good condition, but have some wrinkle and wear near the front, some scuffs here and there and some scratching near the back. Even in this condition, at $28, they’re wearable as a dressed down nice shoe, but I was wondering what my expectations can be to salvage them into an even better state.
A cobbler can do all kinds of things to your footwear - replace your soles and heels, add protectors to your shoes and even stretch your shoes.  On thing he can’t do is replace the panels of your shoes’ uppers.  Creases will remain creased.  Mild scratches and scuffs can be buffed and polished out to some extent, but deep scratches and scuffs are there for good.
Stop by your local cobbler and ask what he can do.  Some cobblers are better than others, and you might be surprised at what a good one can accomplish, but none have magic powers.  Ask around for the best guy in your area, and stop by.

Q and Answer: Shoe Repair

Jacob writes: After a most successful vintage shopping trip in San Francisco, I found myself with a pair of exceptionally made Church brown oxfords. They’re in mostly good condition, but have some wrinkle and wear near the front, some scuffs here and there and some scratching near the back. Even in this condition, at $28, they’re wearable as a dressed down nice shoe, but I was wondering what my expectations can be to salvage them into an even better state.

A cobbler can do all kinds of things to your footwear - replace your soles and heels, add protectors to your shoes and even stretch your shoes.  On thing he can’t do is replace the panels of your shoes’ uppers.  Creases will remain creased.  Mild scratches and scuffs can be buffed and polished out to some extent, but deep scratches and scuffs are there for good.

Stop by your local cobbler and ask what he can do.  Some cobblers are better than others, and you might be surprised at what a good one can accomplish, but none have magic powers.  Ask around for the best guy in your area, and stop by.