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Shine Your Shoes, Guys!!!

Gentlemen tipping their hats to passersby on the street during the 1920s.  What do you notice?  Right.  Their shoes look pretty good too although this is an illustration.

I suppose that I should be happy.  Unlike many other places in the so-called professional world of the 21st century, we still have a smattering of natty dressers here at Michigan State University.  Three or four male members of the university administration by my count.  Hallelujah!   Deans of something or other.  An aware coterie who actually grasp how important appearance -- together with a non-sewer mouth -- is when navigating the intricacies of the world.  Individuals who I have met once or twice, or possibly seen from afar.  My wife, The Grand Duchess, rubs elbows with 'em much more closely in her day-to-day activities. 

Then, there are the rest of us further down the food chain.  One thing I notice immediately when I spot another man (faculty, staff, or student of any age) who is actually dressed here are his shoes.  From everything I read online, I am not alone in this.  But almost always, even when the rest of his ensemble looks reasonably pulled together, it is the shoes that somehow fall short and destroy the overall look.

When these are actually leather dress shoes, and not those black sneaker things masquerading as something else, they are visibly dusty and/or scuffed more often than not.  Even when other parts of a man's attire look pretty good, in much the same way as ragged or dirty fingernails, poorly maintained shoes spoil the overall impression a guy might make.  Even from a distance.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am a fan of detailed shoe maintenance and enjoying the process as I work to acquire that coveted mirror shine on the toes and heels of my lace-up dress shoes.  But one can't necessarily expect that everyone will want to take the time involved in building up a high gloss finish. 

What about the guy who realizes the need to keep his footwear looking presentable, but who doesn't have hours, or possibly the desire, to apply a competition winning mirror shine?   Here is a solid guide on shining your shoes quickly and without too much effort at Put This On.  Have a look.  

When you make the conscientious effort to present yourself well to the rest of the world, it's important not to neglect smaller details like the condition and appearance of your shoes.  To be perfectly frank, you don't want your dress shoes to look like a pair of well-worn (beaten up) work boots that would be more appropriate in other contexts.

Parenthetically, I don't go all out with the mirror shine process for the few pairs of loafers in my shoe rotation since these are more casual shoes.  I do, however, apply moisturizer a few times a year and buff them up to a gentle sheen.  For ALL of my leather shoes, however, I make sure to give them the once over with my late maternal grandfather's horsehair shoe brushes before heading downstairs after I have finished dressing. 

I repeat the short ritual at the end of the day when they look especially dusty, before replacing the cedar trees and stowing them on the shoe shelves in my wardrobe, or the spare closet across the hall in the TV room where some pairs live.  Both my father and grandfather took care of their attire, professional or otherwise, and, among other things, imparted the habit of giving one's shoes a daily brushing down to help keep everything looking tip-top.  Little things like that make a real difference in a person's appearance.

The point is this.  Keeping your shoes looking presentable need not be a huge thing.  Just a few minute once a week or so will keep your dressier (and more expensive) shoes looking pretty darn good.  It's vital, therefore, to make routine shoe care a habit, which will keep your footwear not only looking its best, but also extend its life considerably.  As the old Nike ads used to intone, "Just do it!"

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And on that note, have a look at the brand new website for the business side of Preston Soto's The Elegant Oxford, where you can find and purchase all sorts of premium shoe care products.  I've also put the link in the Interesting Style Links section of the blog along the right side of the page.


  1. "Wanna know if a guy is well dressed? Look down.” —George Frazier.

    Very true, Heinz-Ulrich. No reason to spoil the gentlemanly effect of a coat, pressed shirt, and tie with scuffed and dirty shoes. Polished pebble-grain Allen Edmonds longwings with tweed sport coat and cords for me today.


  2. Right again. I live in a city the tropics with lots of commerce, social activity, diversity, church goers, clubbers, upscale neighborhoods, peaceful and mannerly. Many know how to appropriately dress for any occasion. However, I have noticed that even when wearing bespoke suits and jackets even at black tie events during the holidays shoes are the red headed step child. Once a pair of shoes gets comfortable they are over worn and rarely polished. When an investment is made in a good pair of Alden or Crockett and Jones the attitude is that if I pay this much for shoes they should look good forever and they assume that they do. Neglected shoes take away from ones appearance regardless of the rest of ones outfit looks. Dressing well is good manners!

  3. Dan -- Agreed. Dressing well IS [part of] good manners as you note. Sadly, we know where things have gone the last few decades where the concept of even reasonably tolerable manners is concerned.

    Charlottesville -- Darn. I'm going to have to begin dressing again for all of this remote teaching I've been doing recently. I really miss putting on nicer clothes, a well-chosen tie, and good shoes for the time on campus. Working exclusively from home, for me at least, is overrated.

    Best Regards,


  4. Mr. Heinz-Ulrich, I want to send you an email. How do I do it.

    D. A.

  5. Dan, drop me a line at:

    Best Regards,



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All opinions are welcome here. Even those that differ from mine. But let's keep it clean and civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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