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.

The Necktie Series, Part VIII: Taking Care of Your Collection
For the final installment of my special series on neckties, I thought I’d end by talking a little about how to maintain your collection. At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that quality ties are worth purchasing over cheaper ones. So let’s talk a little about how to make your purchases last. 
Removing your tie: Always untie your tie in the same way you tied it. Never yank on the tail until it comes through the knot. If you do this, you will stretch out and misshape the interior and exterior fabrics, which over time will cause warping. Also, make sure your nails are nicely trimmed when you reverse the knot. Especially for some silk ties, such as diamond weaves by Charvet, a loose nail can pull the silk when you dig your fingers in. 
Every once in a while, some new member on StyleForum will confess that they leave their ties knotted and just hang them up by their loops. This is terrible. First of all, it robs you of the pleasure of tying a knot, which is really enjoyable once you become good at it. Second, by keeping your ties knotted, you misshapen the blade and create really nasty wrinkles that will be hard to get out. 
Removing wrinkles: Some people iron their ties with a towel between the hot iron and silk. I’ve seen a few ties ruined this way, so I can’t imagine ever doing this to one of mine. Instead, I recommend just hanging up your tie after you wear it. If you buy quality ties, the interlining will be made of wool, so the fabric will naturally relax. If you’re in a pinch, try hanging the tie up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The soft steam from the shower should help the process along. 
Storing your ties: For most of my ties, I hang them up after I wear them so that the fabric can relax. Then the next day, I fold them in half, so that each pointed end is touching each other, and then loosely roll them up. For knit ties, I skip the hanging part because they don’t wrinkle, and are more likely to warp if they’re hung for too long. Those just get loosely rolled up when I get home. 
You can store your rolled up ties in a drawer with or without an organizer (I personally use one like these). Woodlore also has some nice cedar equipment, which you can buy for pretty cheap through Meijer. 
If you have a large collection of ties, or don’t wear yours that often, it may be better to just hang your ties up instead of rolling them. I’ve found that when ties have been stored rolled up for too long, they can retain a bit of a curve once you unroll them. It falls out within about an hour’s wear, but I suppose the problem can be avoided altogether by just hanging your pieces. 
Cleaning: Jesse wrote a great post about how to clean ties. I strongly agree with his TieCrafters recommendation. They’ve done wonders for the ties I’ve accidentally damaged. They can also do alterations on your ties - making them shorter or skinnier - if you need them to. Just remind them that you don’t want your ties pressed, otherwise you’ll lose the nice soft edges. 
Traveling with your tie: I’m a graduate student, so I only need one tie when I travel. As such, I wear mine on the plane. For people who need more ties when they travel, you can try rolling up your ties and putting them in your shoes, which you then pack into your luggage. This can be unpleasant if you have stinky shoes, however. For those people, try these leatherette roll cases (with or without a button clasp) or Col. Littleton’s No. 12 tie case. I’ve never tried any of these products, however, so I can’t attest to their quality. 
So that’s it. I’ve talked about how ties are constructed and what makes for a quality piece. I’ve also recommended the basic styles that you should start with and talked about how to best tie a knot. With this final post about how to maintain your collection, I think you should be well on your way to bettering your collection. To review the previous installments of this series, click here. 
I’m currently working on a similar series for custom shirts, and I’m really excited to say that it’s even better than this tie series. Keep an eye out for it. 
(photo credit: Sartoriana Antiquitus)

The Necktie Series, Part VIII: Taking Care of Your Collection

For the final installment of my special series on neckties, I thought I’d end by talking a little about how to maintain your collection. At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that quality ties are worth purchasing over cheaper ones. So let’s talk a little about how to make your purchases last. 

Removing your tie: Always untie your tie in the same way you tied it. Never yank on the tail until it comes through the knot. If you do this, you will stretch out and misshape the interior and exterior fabrics, which over time will cause warping. Also, make sure your nails are nicely trimmed when you reverse the knot. Especially for some silk ties, such as diamond weaves by Charvet, a loose nail can pull the silk when you dig your fingers in. 

Every once in a while, some new member on StyleForum will confess that they leave their ties knotted and just hang them up by their loops. This is terrible. First of all, it robs you of the pleasure of tying a knot, which is really enjoyable once you become good at it. Second, by keeping your ties knotted, you misshapen the blade and create really nasty wrinkles that will be hard to get out. 

Removing wrinkles: Some people iron their ties with a towel between the hot iron and silk. I’ve seen a few ties ruined this way, so I can’t imagine ever doing this to one of mine. Instead, I recommend just hanging up your tie after you wear it. If you buy quality ties, the interlining will be made of wool, so the fabric will naturally relax. If you’re in a pinch, try hanging the tie up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The soft steam from the shower should help the process along. 

Storing your ties: For most of my ties, I hang them up after I wear them so that the fabric can relax. Then the next day, I fold them in half, so that each pointed end is touching each other, and then loosely roll them up. For knit ties, I skip the hanging part because they don’t wrinkle, and are more likely to warp if they’re hung for too long. Those just get loosely rolled up when I get home. 

You can store your rolled up ties in a drawer with or without an organizer (I personally use one like these). Woodlore also has some nice cedar equipment, which you can buy for pretty cheap through Meijer

If you have a large collection of ties, or don’t wear yours that often, it may be better to just hang your ties up instead of rolling them. I’ve found that when ties have been stored rolled up for too long, they can retain a bit of a curve once you unroll them. It falls out within about an hour’s wear, but I suppose the problem can be avoided altogether by just hanging your pieces. 

Cleaning: Jesse wrote a great post about how to clean ties. I strongly agree with his TieCrafters recommendation. They’ve done wonders for the ties I’ve accidentally damaged. They can also do alterations on your ties - making them shorter or skinnier - if you need them to. Just remind them that you don’t want your ties pressed, otherwise you’ll lose the nice soft edges. 

Traveling with your tie: I’m a graduate student, so I only need one tie when I travel. As such, I wear mine on the plane. For people who need more ties when they travel, you can try rolling up your ties and putting them in your shoes, which you then pack into your luggage. This can be unpleasant if you have stinky shoes, however. For those people, try these leatherette roll cases (with or without a button clasp) or Col. Littleton’s No. 12 tie case. I’ve never tried any of these products, however, so I can’t attest to their quality. 

So that’s it. I’ve talked about how ties are constructed and what makes for a quality piece. I’ve also recommended the basic styles that you should start with and talked about how to best tie a knot. With this final post about how to maintain your collection, I think you should be well on your way to bettering your collection. To review the previous installments of this series, click here

I’m currently working on a similar series for custom shirts, and I’m really excited to say that it’s even better than this tie series. Keep an eye out for it. 

(photo credit: Sartoriana Antiquitus)