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How to Shine Shoes the Right Way - Joseph Abboud

For men, the pinnacle of style is a well-fitted and classy bespoke suit

However, no leading actor or actress is complete without their co-stars. In this case, we’re talking about the rest of your suit ensemble. Sunglasses, watches belts, cufflinks, and pocket squares all contribute to your suiting looks and have you looking your best.

We can’t forget about the shoes, either. 

The right pair of shoes says a lot about a man’s attention to detail—particularly if they’re shined up nicely.

To help you nail the small details, here’s our guide on how to shine shoes the right way. But first, let’s talk about why it’s important to have properly shined shoes. 

Why is it Important to Shine Your Shoes?

For men who are newer to the style game, shining your shoes may seem like a minor detail. 

The truth is that shining your shoes is a fundamental aspect of men’s style—it’s important for creating a look that is both polished and put together, while also helping to leave better first impressions everywhere you go. 

Properly shined shoes are often a reflection of personal grooming and self-discipline—by taking the time to care for your footwear, you convey a sense of responsibility and meticulousness in your appearance. 

Also, as we mentioned above, it’s all about the details. Shining your shoes shows that you pay close attention to the finer aspects of your overall presentation and understand the value of presenting yourself in the best possible light. Both of these aspects contribute to a well-rounded, classy image.

Last, polished shoes help you exude a very important quality: professionalism. Paying attention to smaller details, like shined shoes, can enhance your credibility in various settings, such as business meetings, job interviews, or formal events. Keeping your footwear well-maintained demonstrates a level of sophistication and respect for the occasion. Shiny shoes complement a well-tailored suit or a smart casual ensemble, elevating the overall aesthetic and leaving a positive impression on colleagues, clients, and acquaintances.

How to Shine Shoes the Right Way

Now that you know how important it is to keep your shoes well-maintained and polished, let’s dive into how to shine your shoes the right way.

  1. Gather your Tools

Here’s what you’ll need to shine your shoes properly:

  • Shoe polish - There are two primary types of shoe polish: Waxes and creams. Creams provide less shine but also moisturize the leather. In some cases, it may also affect the color of your shoes, so be careful. Waxes provide additional shine and protection while also covering up scuffs. You’ll also want to choose a polish color closest to the color of your shoes. The best polish for your shoes will depend on what you’re looking for. 
  • A cloth for polishing - This will be used to rub the polish into your shoes. You can either use a cloth designed specifically for polishing or, if you don’t have one, you can use small pieces of an old t-shirt you don’t wear anymore. 
  • A clean cloth or rag - You’ll need this to wipe off excess polish when you’re finished.
  • A brush - Brushing your shoes before you start polishing is essential—if you go straight into polishing, you’ll be rubbing polish into dirty shoes, which can damage them. 
  • Leather conditioner - This is optional but can really help you start with a clean shoe before you get into polishing.
    1. Prep Your Shoes

    There are two things you’ll want to do before you get started:

    1. Remove the laces from your shoes.
    2. Stuff them with something—ideally, a shoe tree, but leftover newspapers will work, too.

    Removing the laces ensures that they don’t get in the way since you’ll be shining them below where the laces sit. Stuffing your shoes with something is optional but goes a long way toward making sure that you have a level surface to work with.

    1. Clean Your Shoes

    You always want to start with clean shoes. If not, at best, you’ll have polished shoes that still don’t look great.

    At worst, you’ll permanently damage the leather.

    Use the brush to remove all of the surface dirt from your shoes, and pay particular attention to the welt—the section where the sole of your shoe meets the upper. 

    When you’re done, you can also go over your shoes with a clean cloth or rag to get the rest of the dirt off. 

    Optionally, you can also use a leather conditioner to give your shoes an even better cleaning. Even if they aren’t too dirty, leather conditioners can provide an additional layer of protection and nourishment that your shoes need. 

    1. Apply the Polish 

    Now, it’s time to start the polishing process!

    Use your clean cloth to apply polish to the shoe surface—you’ll want to use circular motions here. With the friction you apply, you’ll ensure that the polish spreads throughout the leather evenly. 

    Apply the polish throughout until the shoe has a waxy, matte finish. You may want to let it dry at this point since the polish will seep into the leather and nourish it. The longer you leave it, the more beneficial it will be for your shoes.

    1. Buff the Shoe

    After the polish is on your shoes, you’ll need to start buffing. 

    Take your brush and buff the shoe, providing gentle pressure throughout and using side-to-side movements. You’ll want to do this until a nice shine comes through. 

    1. Wipe off the Excess Polish

    Sometimes, when you shine your shoes, you won’t be able to buff them completely—you may have some leftover polish.

    Don’t worry. Take a cloth and wipe off any excess buildup of polish left on your shoes. Make sure you don’t leave any part of the shoe out—you want a nice, even finish! 

    Additionally, before you finish up the shining process, you can use a bit of water to add more shine at the end. Apply a few drops of water to your shoe, use the cloth that still has some polish on it, and rub the shoe throughout with small circles. Then, with similar movements, take a dry cloth and buff the shoe. 

    Just be careful: Only do this after you’ve let your shoes sit for about 10 minutes post-wiping them clean. 

    And with that, you have a nicely-shined pair of dress shoes! 

    Additional Shoe Care Tips

    Aside from shining your shoes on a regular basis, here are some other shoe care tips that you should know about to make sure you’re keeping them in tip-top condition. 

    Use a Shoe Tree

    Leather is a porous material—in other words, it absorbs moisture and odor, which can break it down and make it lose shape. 

    A shoe tree does two important things for your shoes: It absorbs this moisture and odor instead of the shoe, and it helps keep the leather in place and prevents it from losing shape with creasing. 

    Shoe trees can greatly increase the lifespan of your shoes. We recommend them to anyone. 

    Store Your Shoes in Dust Bags

    Dust is the mortal enemy of your clothing—and your favorite dress shoes.

    If you want to avoid staining and wear, consider storing your shoes in a dust bag when you’re not using them. A fabric dust bag will protect your shoes from dusty environments while also allowing them to breathe freely. 

    Rotate Your Shoes

    We know that it’s not possible for everyone to have multiple pairs of dress shoes on the go.

    However, if you can, you should rotate your shoes and wear different pairs—the leather can use a break! 

    This has other benefits, too—having a few pairs of dress shoes on-hand is not only important for keeping them in good condition, but it also lets you create more stylish outfits and match different shoes to your attire.

    Get a Well-Fitted Suit to Go With Your Shoes

    It’s one thing to have properly shined and stylish shoes—but what about the rest?

    Nothing goes better with a pair of classy dress shoes than a suit. Joseph Abboud’s Bespoke Suiting process will have you set up with a stylish suit, no matter your preferences. We’ll take all of your measurements and set you up with the custom suit of your dreams. 

    Or, if you prefer, we have made-to-measure pieces and ready-to-wear styles—it’s up to you! 

    Ready to look your absolute best? Learn more about how Joseph Abboud’s bespoke suit process takes your style game to the next level.

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