Shoes 201 – Shoe Care – Suede Shoes

This is an excellent video and article by videojug about the proper care, cleaning and revival of suede leather shoes. Peter Schweiger,  the 5th generation owner of the British bespoke shoemakers James Taylor & Son, , demonstrates the techniques.

How To Clean Suede Shoes

How to Clean and Care For Suede Shoes - Video

How to Clean and Care For Suede Shoes – Video

Step 1: You will need:

  • 1 suede protector spray
  • 1 suede cleaning brush
  • 1 small knife
  • 1 nail brush
  • 1 sponge
  • 1 shoe tree/ white tissue paper
  • 1 crepe rubber/ pencil eraser

Step 2: Introduction

Suede is a kind of leather with a soft raised surface called a ‘nap’. It can spoil more easily than leather so needs a special level of care. It makes sense to always spray new shoes with a protecting spray.

Step 3: Protection spray

These sprays can be bought from footwear shops, and will protect your shoes from the water damage and staining. Before applying the spray, lightly brush your shoes to remove any dust or dirt. Always brush in the same direction to lift the nap. Make sure you follow the manufactures instructions on the side of the aerosol can. Shake well, spray away from your face, and as with all aerosols, only use in a well ventilated area.

Step 4: Scuff marks

Even with a protection spray, shiny marks can still appear if you scuff suede shoes, flattening down their surface. Restore by brushing back and forth with a suede brush. If the shoes are very worn, scrape with a sharp knife to lift the nap.

If your suede has dirty marks, try removing them with one of the sides of a suede brush

Experts recommend using a little crêpe rubber, or even a pencil eraser to ‘lift’ the marks from you shoes. The dirt will transfer from the suede to the rubber

Step 5: Removing mud

If your shoes get muddy, wait till the mud dries, then use a stiff brush, such as a nail brush to remove the dirt. Move with a sweeping action, and keep all your strokes in the same direction. Work all the way around the shoe, including the edges of the sole. Pay special attention to any dirt stuck in detailing.

Step 6: Wet suede

If part of the shoe gets gets wet, the water can leave a tide mark and dry a different colour. So wet the shoes all over, sponge off any excess water and insert a shoe tree to keep the shoe in shape as it dries. If you don’t have a shoe tree, stuff the toes shoes with white tissue paper, or any white paper to hold them firm.

Don’t use newspaper if your shoes are very wet, as the print may leech into the shoes

Leave the shoes to dry overnight. Then gently brush to restore the texture.

Step 7: Stains

Stains like oil and grease are almost impossible to remove.
Work into the area with a suede brush to see if that lifts the stain, treating it as you would a scuff.
If not, remove the laces, and wash the shoes with a little water and a stiff brush.

If this doesn’t work, it may be time to say goodbye to your dirty shoes

Step 8: Storing suede

When you’re not wearing your shoe, wrap them in tissue paper and put in a shoe box, heel to toe. Don’t keep them in plastic bags or airtight boxes and avoid humidity, which can make them mouldy and avoid bright light, which can discolour suede. Keep them in a dark dry place.

Gentlemens Boots – The Paddock

In keeping with my series on gentlemens boots I present to you the Paddock!

Paddock Boots in Two Tone Leather by Hope

Paddock Boots in Two Tone Leather by Hope

Horse riders of the nineteenth century needed something less cumbersome than the standard riding boot. Bookmakers responded to this need by developing the lace-up Paddock boot.  As the name indicates, this lace up ankle-height leather boot was ideal for Victorian gentlemen to wear around the paddock when training horses and seducing the fair maidens riding them. It stand to reason that the Paddock boot descend to us from the English riding tradition.

Paddock boots are still worn for equestrian work and Ariat makes athletic grade pairs. These are not the kind for a gentleman to wear in his regular wardrobe. I am using the term Paddock boot to apply to the ankle boot for men that fastens by laces (as opposed to the buckle of the Jodhpur and the rubber sides of the Chelsea) and where the boot’s collar is no more than a few inches above the ankle. It should go without saying only Paddock  boots made with both leather sole and vamp are appropriate for a gentleman. (I’m speaking to you, Michael.)

Fancy Footwear -The Fendi Take on the Classic Paddock Boot

Fancy Footwear - The Fendi Take on the Classic Paddock Boot

There are other styles of lace-up ankle boots for men. The elegance and lightness of the Paddock set it apart from the other types. The light and durable design of the Paddock boot proved very popular and they became the alternative footwear used with horses instead of  the knee-high ‘tall’ riding boots of the time. Tall boots are now usually only worn in very formal riding settings. They are also sometimes appropriate for a gentleman to wear outside of riding, but more of that later.

Bootmakers design Paddock boots in a variety of styles, given their qualities of lightness and durability. This variety of styles in turn makes them acceptable for wear in formal and casual settings where, say, a hiking or motorcycle boot would be extremely wrong. Cowboy boots require very special handling and are not for the faint of heart! (I’ll look at these types of boots soon enough!)

Traditional Paddock Boot from the Gentleman's Emporium

Traditional Paddock Boot from the Gentleman's Emporium

As I am in the warning mood, I would like to take a moment to caution against the use of ankle boots, or any boots for that matter, that make use of side zippers. One of the chief statements a quality leather boot makes is that its wearer has taken the time to dress and dress well. convenience is never a gentleman’s consideration, and should never be confused with functionality. Hurrying is not part of a gentleman’s appearance.

Paddock Boot Tricked Out in Brogue by Trickers, UK

Paddock Boot Tricked Out in Brogue by Trickers, UK

If you wear zipped boots you might as well wear a belt that fastens with Velcro! A Dandy steers clear of anything that might pull his attire into the realm of costume, and nothing indicates a costume in footwear faster than an unsightly zipper.

Article first published as Gentlemens Boots – The Paddock on Technorati.

Church & Co. (Church’s) and Gentlemens Shoes

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Very few products distinguish themselves as the ‘gold standard‘ of their market. Even among these, the brand is often purchased by another company, who trade on their item’s reputation, all the while shaving away its quality in the name of profit until he reputation itself is also ruined. In mens footwear, there is one company that I stand by without hesitation as the gold standard of their field – Church’s.

 Canvas & Leather Spectator Shoes by Church's

Canvas & Leather Oxford Spectator Shoes by Church’s

To own a pair of Church’s is to own more than an excellent pair of handmade leather shoes. You are part of a tradition in mens footwear that dates back to 1675, with the family of Thomas Church officially founding Church & Company with his sons in Northampton, England.

Black Leather Brogued Wingtip Derby's 'The Grafton' by Church's

Black Leather ‘Brogued’ Wingtip Derby ‘The Grafton’ by Church’s

It was Church’s that created the ‘left’ and ‘right’ shaped shoe in 1881 (for which they were awarded a Gold Medal at the 1884 International Exhibitions in the Crystal Palace, London) and established itself as the premier English shoemaker when Queen Elizabeth II awarded them the prestigious Queen’s Award for Exports in the Award’s inaugural year – 1966.

Black Leather Wingtip Oxford Shoes by Church's

Black Leather Wingtip Oxford Shoes by Church’s, Ladder-laced

In case you think all this royal attention makes Church’s too stuffy, consider that they were the shoe of choice for James Bond in the films The World is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies (black leather Monk shoes – the Presley) and Golden Eye (brown leather brogues) and this was the most sartorial Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan. Not tough enough for you? Daniel Craig wore both a pair of Church’s chukka boots (in dark brown suede with a rubber sole) and Church’s Oxfords (in black leather with a half cap) in Quantum of Solace. So there.

James Bond, Church's Shoes and a Gorgeous Lady

James Bond, Church’s Shoes and a Gorgeous Lady

Close-up of James Bond Church's Shoes

Close-up of James Bond Church’s Shoes

And in case you were wondering, Church’s is able to refurbish Mr. Bond’s Oxford’s to almost new, as they did for the editor-in-chief of Wallpaper magazine. His Church’s brogues are over 20 years-old!

Gentlemens Boots – The Chelsea

The More Traditional Chelsea Boot - Church’s Amberley

The More Traditional Chelsea Boot - Church’s Amberley

While the Chelsea boot looks modern it actual dates from Victorian era riding boots and is British in its design origin. According to Underground, the English Punk footwear maker,

The distinguishing features of the boots are the elasticated side panels, or gussets, in place
of laces or other fastenings. This was a very innovative design at the time, as it allowed the
Victorian woman to slip on her tight fitted ankle-boots more easily.

Jeffery~West Reinvents the Classic Chelsea Boot - The O'Toole Oliver

Jeffery~West Reinvents the Classic Chelsea Boot - The O'Toole Oliver

If fact, Samuel Windsor (UK Menswear retailer) details the development of the Chelsea for Queen Victoria in their blog,

J. Sparkes-Hall, bootmaker to Queen Victoria back in 1837 is credited with inventing what we now know as the Chelsea boot. The development of vulcanized rubber gave him the idea to produce an elastic sided boot that could be slipped in and out of with minimal effort.

In the patent Sparkes-Hall filed for his creation in 1851, he claimed ‘She (Queen Victoria) walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention’.

It was the custom-made Anello & Davide Chelsea boots on direction from Paul McCartney and John Lennon of The Beatles that brought the boot into hipster culture once again.

John Lennon's Custom Chelsea 'Beatle' Boot by Anello & Davide

John Lennon's Custom Chelsea 'Beatle' Boots by Anello & Davide

The Chelsea boot has become a staple in any decent gent’s footwear wardrobe. They are stylish, comfortable, sporty, and look damn sexy. Add to this they are super easy to slip on and off, and fit snug during wear, and you’ll understand why owning several pairs is not excessive, but mandatory.

Black Patent Leather Chelsea Boot from Gucci

Black Patent Leather Chelsea Boots from Gucci

Article first published as Gentlemens Boots – The Chelsea on Technorati.

Gentlemens Boots – The Jodhpur

Every gentleman should own at least one pair of short boots. Both sole and upper should be made of leather in . They should reflect his ability as a man of action when required and as a man of substance regardless. With this in mind, examine the Jodhpur boot.

Bespoke Jodhpur Boot by James Taylor & Son, UK

Bespoke Jodhpur Boot by James Taylor & Son, UK

I am going to make a clear distinction between the Jodhpur and both the paddock and Chelsea boots, and we’ll examine them both at another time, as they are also both fit to occupy a gentleman’s footwear wardrobe.

The Jodhpur boot is descended from the earlier forms of riding boots, and has evolved into stylish footwear. The Jodhpur is a low, ankle boot with a strap and buckle fastener. When selecting your Jodhpur I implore you to abstain from any that contain a zipper down the inside. While the zipper makes the boot easy to put on and remove it also cheapens its appearance and makes the strap and buckle a mere ornament.  A gentleman should always be mindful of elements of his dress that contain only ornamentation and have no purpose lest he slip into foppishness.

A Pair of Black Calevo Jodhpur Boots

A Pair of Black Calevo Jodhpur Boots

The Jodhpur boot is perfect for formal dress and casual, and most suited to events outdoors. I find them very fit for driving manual vehicles, especially convertibles, and for active social engagements. Adding a pair of Jodhpurs to your outfit lets you move from one activity to another without having to change your footwear. Think of them as a gentleman’s cross trainers.

Article first published as The Gentlemens Cross Trainers – The Jodhpur on Technorati.