One of the greatest lessons I've learned since being a personal shopper and stylist is to take care of the shoes you wear. I am constantly on my feet, moving from the city streets to the store floor so my shoes- and for that matter my feet- can take a real beating. It helps to make sure that my footwear is well taken care of. One trick is to prevent them from taking on unnecessary damage from the elements, such as water.
I should probably mention first that water doesn't actually "damage" leather, per say. Mostly it just stains it. The damage comes when your leather item, like shoes, has been submerged in water and allowed to dry by an open heat source. The stresses from the shoe-making process are weakened and the leather tries to return to its natural shape. Thus, warping becomes another issue to keep in mind when stepping out for a rainy day. Saving your shoes from staining and warping takes a little extra TLC.
|a creative way to dry your shoes|
Calling on my trusty leather expert, I found out that the best you can hope for with any waterproofing product is to make your items water resistant. Unless your shoes are made from vinyl, they'll need some kind of treatment to keep the water out. The spray stuff sits on top of the leather and helps water bead up and run/fall off your shoes when there's enough water to do so.
Mink oil is actually a better product to consider. You rub it into the top layers of the leather to provide a deeper protection. It causes the water to bead and roll off but more reliably than the sprays. Plus, the oil also acts a conditioner for your leather, keeping it soft and crack free.
These types of products usually only work on leather that is flat, not napped like nubuck or suede. For those types of items, you can use specific spray products. This way most of the product is captured in the rough surface of the leather and creates a better seal.
All in all, these products are more than affordable and will save you tons on repairing and purchasing shoes in the long-run. If you just take the time to treat your shoes, they'll carry you farther.
Here are a few last tips to improve your footwear: as a general rule you should look into rotating your shoes out every day to give them a break, again increasing their longevity. Also, invest in some shoe trees. They'll maintain the shape of your shoes (preventing warping) and if they're cedar, keep the moths away. Plus, some are adjustable, allowing you to stretch your own shoes in your own time instead of taking them to a cobbler.
Hopefully all these tricks have you singing in the rain with some happy feet!
Image(s) courtesy of shoecaresupplies.com, greenmeatballs.com, and fashion.elle.com