Sweeney Shoe Commandments

Tips to keep your shoes in the very best condition

When it comes to knowing exactly how to properly clean and care for your shoes, there are a few simple tips and tricks to know to ensure your routine is efficient and effective. Take a look at my shoe care commandments to learn how to keep your collection in the very best condition.


1. Thou shalt wear-in your shoes

I know the temptation. You’ve just purchased a new pair of Oliver Sweeney shoes and you cannot wait to wear them with everything. I don’t blame you, but in the very first instance of great shoe care, it’s important that the initial few wears are both indoors and infrequent. This will ensure that your feet feel the benefits of the construction and the leather, which gradually softens and adjusts to the shape of your foot. Wear them around the house at first or for a few hours on a weekend to ease both the leather and your foot into the construction and to avoid any pesky blisters.

2. Thou shalt grit

Leather soles are a staple of many of our formal shoes and boots. When it comes to preparing for your first wear, I recommend gritting them to give the material an ounce of grip and resilience (especially beneficial if the weather isn’t holding up!) Sandpaper is an easy go to, or, failing that, a knife over the leather will have the same effect.

3. Thou shalt watch the weather

It feels especially British to pay attention to the weather but knowing what conditions you may face is important for determining what shoes you wear. It’s not so much a case of ‘do or don’t’ wear but more a knowledge of how to prepare or care for your shoes, in a variety of circumstances.

Wet weather generally requires pre-action and after care. If you’re opting for suede shoes or boots, prior to leaving the house, I recommend spraying the leather with our Hydrophobe spray, which helps to repel water and avoid it seeping through your shoes. Hydrophobe is effective from the very first spray but repeating the action every four weeks will offer optimum defence on your favourite suede shoes.

If your leather shoes get caught in the rain, then the care you give them once home is almost vital to maintaining their longevity and finesse. Allowing the leather to naturally dry out is best – stuff each shoe with newspaper and leave to dry. It’s as easy as that. No radiator or hairdryers involved, the heat from these will only serve to crack the leather and leave it stiff and useless. If mud has stuck to your shoes then wait for this to dry before brushing off.

4. Thou shalt polish like a pro

There’s a trick to polishing shoes: regularity and tenacity. Making a ritual of cleaning my shoes every Sunday was something I learnt from my great grandfather, a shoemaker.

Having the right tools for the trade is also a necessity. Many polishes simply serve to create a surface shine on the leather rather than to actually clean and nourish the shoe, which is what you want. Thinking of (and treating) the leather on your shoes exactly how you would your skin is a perfect way to approach caring for your favourite pair (leather is a skin, after all.) Our Brush-Up polishes permeate deep into the pores of the leather to keep it supple. My favourite trick? Leave the polish on for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon whilst you catch up on the papers. When ready, simply wipe the polish clear with a soft brush or cloth and the results will leave you astounded.

Technique is also a requirement of being a professional shoe shiner. My Shoe Care guide, below, will get even the most over-worn pair looking their best again. Watch and try for yourself.

5. Thou shalt Commit to a Shoe Tree

Good quality shoe trees serve more purpose than just ‘filling’ the shape of your shoes. A cedar wood style, like Sherwood, will help to absorb perspiration after a day’s wear and keep your shoes smelling fresh. The material is also important: many manufacturers offer synthetic or plastic versions which don’t work to the same effect. Keep yours wooden (cedar wood ideally) and work with just the one pair, changing in and out of succession.

6. Thou shalt Never Wear Two Days in a Row

Again, I know it’s a challenge: they’re your favourite pair for a reason. However, to ensure the longevity and finesse of your shoes, I recommend alternating shoes each day to avoid wearing them down and out. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of blackening on the inside which is an indicator of tired leather.

Worn out shoes, however, get to benefit from our Shoe Care Repair service. When the time comes, our specialists have the capability to completely resole your shoes and care for the leather uppers, leaving them as good as new again. You’ll be amazed by the results; I know I always am.

Published February 2017