Drying Off
It started raining in the Bay Area this weekend. Really turbulent winds and heavy showers meant that every time I went out even for a few moments, I came home soaking wet. In such weather, it’s good to remember how to properly take care of your possessions.
For jackets and coats, you can brush off most of the water with your hands or a Kent clothing brush. Don’t stick your clothes in the closet afterwards just yet, however. You want to put them in an area with some good circulation, so they can dry properly. The risk with wet clothes is that they might develop mildew, which is really difficult to get rid of. A night out on a coat rack or something should be enough time to let them recover. After that, hang it in the closet with a hanger that has thick, moulded shoulders. I like the ones from The Hanger Project, but there are other merchants as well, such as A Suitable Wardrobe and, more affordably, Wooden Hangers USA.
Likewise, umbrellas should have time to dry before being furled up again. I shake mine off gently before coming in, and then open it again once I’m indoors and set it on its side. The material used for umbrella canopies are usually quick drying, so this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.
Finally, for shoes, I brush off the big drops, stick in cedar shoe trees, and then lay my shoes on their sides, like I’ve pictured above. I used to think the last step was kind of unnecessary, until I noticed that my wet shoes were sitting in puddles when I left them on their soles. Moisture can really weaken leather, so you need to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. Setting them on their side helps aid that for the parts that are likely to be most damaged.
Whatever you do - whether for clothes, umbrellas, or shoes - avoid the temptation to hasten the drying process by setting things near a heater. You’re likely to over-dry your items, which can crack leather and make wool brittle. Heaters can rob these materials of their natural oils, so make sure you leave everything to dry at room temperature. Being patient, as usual, is the way to go. 

Drying Off

It started raining in the Bay Area this weekend. Really turbulent winds and heavy showers meant that every time I went out even for a few moments, I came home soaking wet. In such weather, it’s good to remember how to properly take care of your possessions.

For jackets and coats, you can brush off most of the water with your hands or a Kent clothing brush. Don’t stick your clothes in the closet afterwards just yet, however. You want to put them in an area with some good circulation, so they can dry properly. The risk with wet clothes is that they might develop mildew, which is really difficult to get rid of. A night out on a coat rack or something should be enough time to let them recover. After that, hang it in the closet with a hanger that has thick, moulded shoulders. I like the ones from The Hanger Project, but there are other merchants as well, such as A Suitable Wardrobe and, more affordably, Wooden Hangers USA.

Likewise, umbrellas should have time to dry before being furled up again. I shake mine off gently before coming in, and then open it again once I’m indoors and set it on its side. The material used for umbrella canopies are usually quick drying, so this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.

Finally, for shoes, I brush off the big drops, stick in cedar shoe trees, and then lay my shoes on their sides, like I’ve pictured above. I used to think the last step was kind of unnecessary, until I noticed that my wet shoes were sitting in puddles when I left them on their soles. Moisture can really weaken leather, so you need to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. Setting them on their side helps aid that for the parts that are likely to be most damaged.

Whatever you do - whether for clothes, umbrellas, or shoes - avoid the temptation to hasten the drying process by setting things near a heater. You’re likely to over-dry your items, which can crack leather and make wool brittle. Heaters can rob these materials of their natural oils, so make sure you leave everything to dry at room temperature. Being patient, as usual, is the way to go. 

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!

From “Late Night with David Letterman: The Book”
Check out the patent for the modern monkstrap shoe (Baltimore, 1924). 
Also, for uber shoe nerds, here are the patents for the modern glued on feather in welt construction (Baltimore, 1921), elastic button shank (Baltimore, 1885), and adjustable shoe tree (Baltimore, 1903).
(all via Ron Rider’s Twitter)

Check out the patent for the modern monkstrap shoe (Baltimore, 1924). 

Also, for uber shoe nerds, here are the patents for the modern glued on feather in welt construction (Baltimore, 1921), elastic button shank (Baltimore, 1885), and adjustable shoe tree (Baltimore, 1903).

(all via Ron Rider’s Twitter)

I went thrifting in Palm Springs the other day.  Didn’t buy much, but I did pick up a couple new (old) pairs of shoe trees.

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.