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How to: Make leather shoes last longer

How to: Make leather shoes last longer

What with our current stream of wind, sleet and rain, your leather shoes might be suffering along with your mood. So we put together a guide to two things: What to do when your smart shoes get soggy, and how to keep them lasting longer than usual.

Before any of that, though, here are two main things to remember:

1. "You need to think of leather like skin," says Oliver Sweeney's "cobbler in chief," Tim Cooper. "If you don't do anything with it, it dries out. If you moisturise it, it looks better longer. Moisturiser puts all the life back into it."

2. Switch out your shoes so you don't wear the same pair two days in a row. This will keep the soles from wearing out, and—if you use shoe trees—keep the shoes in general good nick.

What to do when your smart shoes get soggy 

I know it seems unrealistic and lifestyle blog-y, but we're going to advocate shoe trees. Here's why: they add at least six months to the life of your shoes. "It's really simple," says Cooper. "They allow the shoe to dry out in the right shape, rather than curling up at the toe like Turkish slippers."

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney shoe trees (£49), Oliver Sweeney (£199)

Cedarwood is the best shoe tree material because it absorbs moisture; plastic shoe trees aren't absorptive and therefore aren't worth their salt. If you can't stomach buying them, crumpled newspaper is an alternative. And whatever you do, don't plop them by the radiator. "The soles will crack," Cooper explains, "and they'll get dried and crackly."

What if your shoes get those white marks on them? "That's not salt from the street, but actually the salt in the leather," Cooper explains. "You can get it off using distilled white vinegar on a cotton bud."

How to make leather shoes last longer—or the best way to polish your smart shoes

Step 1. Wrap a cloth around two fingers and apply polish to the shoe, going from the heel to the toe.

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney shoe polish (£15)

Step 2. Make sure to get the bits between the sole and the upper, and around the heel. You can use a toothbrush to get into those smaller places if you like.

Step 3. If possible, put the shoes in shoe trees and leave them for a while to let the polish sink in. With time—an hour or two, or even overnight—this will provide the most moisture. 

Step 5. Take any excess polish off with a shoe brush.

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney shoe brush (£20)

Step 5. Polish the shoes in little circles to make them shine. Use an old t-shirt or a pair of women's tights; sounds weird, but the texture helps get shoes to a high polish.

Step 6. Voilà! Good as new.