How to Shine Your Shoes

Captain Dapper is a sucker for a nice pair of shoes. And he likes to keep them looking nice, too.

Shoe shine pros: It will keep your shoes looking new longer. It can revive and refresh old shoes. It protects the leather from snow, ice and city grime. It provides maximum benefit with minimal effort.

Shoe shine cons: It will make you nostalgic for your grandfather. It may trigger an out of body experience as you flashback to your past life as a shoeshine boy/girl.

Here's a little shoe shine tutorial to get you started.

Shoe Shine Supplies:

  • Saddle soap
  • Neutral shoe polish
  • Color shoe polish (optional)
  • Soft brush
  • Rags


1. Use a wet rag to clean excess dirt and dust from your shoes. Be sure to clean around the area where the leather meets the sole. You'll also want to clean around the outer edge of the heel.

2. Open your tin of saddle soap. Saddle soap conditions and protects the leather while also giving them a thorough cleaning. Using a wet rag, rub the saddle soap until it begins to lather. Apply a thin layer of saddle soap to your leather shoes. With a damp rag, wipe any remaining saddle soap from the shoes and then allow them to dry.

3. If your shoes have scratches or deep scuffs in the leather, you can use a color-matching shoe polish to help cover them. While scuffed and dirty, the leather on the shoes I'm polishing here are in pretty good shape so I skipped this step.

4. Using a dry cloth, apply a thin layer of neutral shoe polish to your shoes. Shoe polish not only shines your shoes like they're brand new, it also helps protect them from water, salt and other potentially damaging elements. This is especially important in the winter, when you're tramping through snow and slush. Allow the polish to dry for a few minutes.

5. Use a soft bristle brush to buff the polish on your shoes. This removes excess polish while also giving your shoe a nice new sheen.

The shoe on the left has been buffed with the brush - the shoe on the right is covered with polish and awaiting its buffing.

And that's it! In just five simple steps, you've given your shoes new life. Be prepared for people to ask you, "Are those new shoes?" You can lie if you want to. "Why, yes, I just got them." No one needs to know that you're stretching your dollars with last year's shoes. Or you can put on your self satisfied face and tell them that you shined your old kicks because you're a money-saving style setter who appreciates quality over quantity. It's totally up to you.

Images: Jason Loper

Jason Loper aka Captain Dapper


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