Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Spit & Polish

Well, I was poking around on the web this weekend looking for solutions to my black bag problem when I found this terrific website: The Shoe Shine Kit. They have about a squillion shoe care products there that I never even knew existed -- I got very excited.

This is probably going to sound a little insane, but in general I am frustrated with the lack of choice in my shoe care products. There are your basic Kiwi polishes at the grocery store, sure, but what about stuff for patent leather? What about when you need to re-dye a pair of shoes or your favorite handbag?

I have a thing for polishing my shoes. I actually kind of love to do it. No, I'm not huffing shoe polish, but I do like the quiet, repetitive nature of the activity -- I find it meditative, like ironing. Most of all, though, it reminds me of my father. Dad used to polish his shoes pretty regularly, and the smell of the polish combined with the gentle ksssh-ksssh, ksssh-ksssh of the brush going back & forth over a shoe is a very vivid memory for me. He would spread out a few pages of newspaper on the carpet, unpack the box of supplies, line up his shoes and go to work. (My dad was neat to the point of semi-OCD. In my entire life, I never saw an item of his clothing lying on the floor, and his shoes were all arranged in pairs under his dresser, toes pointing in, heels lined up.)

But aside from the connection to my D.O.D (Dear Old Dad -- how he signed all cards & letters to me), polishing my shoes gives me a lot of satisfaction. It's a small, easy-to-do thing with big benefits. Nothing ruins the overall look of an ensemble faster than shoes that are in disrepair. I don't care if you're wearing $800 Louboutins, if they're worn on the toes or scraped on the heels they look like dookie. There's no excuse for scuffed shoes, in my opinion, it is definitely one of the Seven Deadly Wardrobe Sins.

Of course, you can always take your shoes to a reliable cobbler for polishing, but why not try it yourself? Which brings me back to the nice folks at Shoe Shine Kit. Available for purchasing is this little bag o' goodies:

Shoe Shine Kit -- $42.00

It comes with all the basics you need to get started and a choice of polishes. Of course, me being me, what I covet is this:

Executive Shoe Shine Kit -- $125

Lots of bells and whistles, and I just love the cunning little box.

But aside from lots of good shwag, what the Shoe Shine Kit has is people -- to wit, a very nice lady named Janet who, along with her husband Michael, runs the site. These folks have a lot of experience in shoe biz. I asked Janet about my scuffed-up black handbag and she responded (almost instantly, mind you) with the following:

I would use the Tarrago Dye to touch up the places where there is scuffing, and then use Lexol Conditioner on the whole bag after the dye has dried.

Well, okay, then! I'll be ordering some of that stuff. I'll also be ordering some polish for these:

and I'm very excited about that because I love (adore, worship, whatever) these shoes but have never seen metallic polish anywhere else. Janet also recommended some products to spiff up a vintage snakeskin bag I have, and at present I have an e-mail out to her asking her about the best ways to care for patent leather. I'll keep you posted!

Here's a little assignment for you: go look at your shoes. How are they doing? Are they dirty? Scuffed? Do the heel lifts (the little black plastic things on the bottom of the heels) need replacing? Do the soles (heaven forfend) have holes? A good cobbler can make an abused pair of shoes look like new. I have heard some people complain that repairing a favorite pair of shoes can cost as much as replacing them. So? You're going to have to replace them anyway, right? Factor in the time spent shopping and the frustration of trying to find something that fits and that you like as much as the ones that you've already worn to pieces and it's probably worth it.

Give your shoes a little TLC. Be good to your shoes, and your shoes will be good to you.

Photos: Shoeshinekit.com, Style Spy

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Robin said...

Now I might be able to fix up my lemon yellow shoes with purple heels! They have been through the wringer...

Anonymous said...

Love your DOD nothing like a man with well groomed shoes.You are going to be so proud of me I wipe & fix any problems ( like leather heels peeling) then bag my shoes .Here is the kicker I have a high -boy dresser and into the drawers they go! MY purses get my Dh'S shoe boxes. Patent leather is most often and possibly all made from man made materials.So I wipe it down with vinegar & water after wearing. ACH if I only took that much care with my clothes.I don't just like my shoes I LOVE them LOL Did I pass ? LOL K

StyleSpy said...

Oh, K, I know you take care of your shoes -- you are a shoe-lover after my own heart!

Actually ordered about $45 worth of cleaning/shining supplies from Shoe Shine Kit the other day -- looking forward to a nice long polishing session with my shoes!

StyleSpy said...

Robin -- I sure would like to see the yellow & purple shoes...

Robin said...

My shoes!

They've seen better days... I've ripped a hunk of leather off the heel (same purple as the straps) and the yellow on the toes is worn off in several places. Plus, the leather is very... wrinkly. I am not sure if products can fix that. picture

Karen said...

My father was exactly like yours in this respect. He had a fabulous shoeshine box, like the one in your $125 photo, and would spread out the newspaper (on the kitchen floor, in our case), and set to work. Your description of the smell of the polish and the kssh-kssh of the brush gave me a very Proustian moment.

I'm pretty sure my dad's box had an angled, ridged handle, though, which also served as a rest for the shoes, when he did the final touches actually on his foot.