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Archive for November 15th, 2011

The key I’ve learned is that you don’t want your tie and pocket square to match exactly, but rather complement one another.

Heading home after a long day at the office.

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Shoe Shine 101


[Photo by GQ]

I recently had something told to me by my sister in-law’s step-father that has really burrowed itself into my day-to-day routine. He told me as a boy, his father would say to him:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the most expensive suit in the world… If your shoes aren’t polished, you look like a bum.”

So naturally now I find myself as I’m running out the door headed to work everyday giving my shoes a quick once over to make sure they look presentable.

There is something almost romantic about the ritual of shining your own shoes. Gone are the days of Spit-Shine Tommy and his Shine Box, and the only places these days you tend to see shoe shiners are in the airport (in Buffalo anyways) so it’s pretty much up to you to do the work yourself.

There are two ways you can go about this. The first is the quick, running-out-the-door once over using Kiwi Express Shine or something of that nature to give your shoes a quick shine. This is great, like I said, for a quick solution but won’t really help protect your shoes or make them last any longer. When you actually have the time, say on a weekend, you’ll want to give your shoes a proper polish. This not only conditions the leather, it also helps prolong the life of your shoes by protecting them from the elements.

You’ll need the following: Newspaper, a cloth or old T-shirt, shoe polish, a horsehair brush and a chamois.

1. Start by laying down some newspaper and removing the laces. This way, you won’t have to worry about any polish getting on the laces and you can get into smaller areas better. Plus, the tongue of the shoe won’t end up a different color over time.

2. Next, use a damp cloth or shirt to clean the shoe and remove any loose dirt. Allow the shoes to dry.

3. Using a circular motion, apply the polish over the shoe, making sure to get into creases and applying ample coverage to the heal and toe, as these areas tend to wear most. Set the shoe aside and allow the wax to set in while beginning work on the second shoe.

4. Once the shoe is cloudy in color, it’s time to remove the polish. Using a horsehair brush, brush the shoe vigorously with medium pressure. The ideal motion you want to use is a rapid movement of the wrist rather than the arm, using quick, short motions. These shorter strokes generate more heat on the surface of the shoe, which helps the polish sink in more.

5. Once the polish is removed, use a chamois to buff your shoe to a glorious shine. Pay particular attention to the tops of the shoe because any polish that you miss could end on your pant cuff and leave you looking rather un-Dandy.

6. Pat yourself on the back, you’ve shined your own shoes. Now go get your shine box…

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