Loving Your Choos - A Guide to Caring For Designer Shoes
Perhaps you, like me, are an avid collector of shoes and have experienced moments similar to Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw's "Hello, lover!" greeting upon being magnetically drawn to a pair of shoes in a store window. Perhaps you are lucky enough to possess several pairs of these beautiful objets d'art. Whether you own one pair or 150 (seriously), like any great relationship, you are going to make the one with your shoes last by giving them lots of care. Let's consider what happens once the moment of initial attraction has subsided. You move from the fantasy of imagining the shoes in your life to the reality of commitment and all the related costs and benefits that entails. How to make this love last?
Pre-newshoewear Agreement-- From the outset, a serious plan for preventative shoe care is in order. First, examine your new beauties (quickly, don't get Carrie-d away). Look at the materials used - are they suede, leather or fabric? Match the type of material to the recommended protective spray. Be sure to hold the can at least six inches away from the shoe and spray lightly moving steadily over the entire shoe. Leather shoes should be polished before wearing them and afterward on a regular basis. A helpful source for these products is www.kiwishoeshine.com.
Sole mates-- The secret to everlasting (shoe) love is the care and nurturing of the sole. Do you own a sleek, thin leather soled European number by the likes of Manolo Blahnik or Prada? Then you must visit your most trusted shoe repair person immediately. Hint: this person will be very important in your life, know their provenance. A good place for a referral to this magical person is the shoe department at a high end department store (maybe the one where you purchased your shoes). That is exactly how I found my shoe experts at Arturo's Shoe Fixx in Beverly Hills. Arturo Azinian is an octogenarian who learned his craft at age 13 in Buenos Aires from his father. Angelenos have benefited from his genius since 1957 when he was the go to shoe repair person for the fabled I. Magnin and Bullock's Wilshire stores. He now oversees his shop alongside his grandson, Ari Azinian. Their first recommendation to lengthen the life of your shoe (and thereby your relationship) is to add a thin layer of rubber to the sole and, in the process, ensure that you, unlike Ms. Bradshaw, never become fashion roadkill due to a nasty spill on the runway of your life. Ari notes "If you don't like the look of the rubber sole you can put a thin rubber tip only."
Separation-- You know there will be long stretches of time when you cannot be near your shoe. This can leave your shoe exposed to the damaging influences of sunlight, dust,and moisture. To insure that nothing so untoward ends your relationship take these steps: 1). Avoid storing your shoes in direct sunlight. Besides, everyone knows low light is most flattering. 2). Use a shoe tree to maintain the shape of your shoe. Use foam trees for high heeled shoes. Cedar shaft shapers for boots and cedar trees for flats have the added benefit of absorbing moisture. 3). If you anticipate a lengthy separation (one month or more) or, if your shoe is especially precious, keep it protected from dust in a clear, ventilated box. That way you can always make eye contact with your shoe (very important) even if you don't have time to physically engage. On-line sources for these items are www.shoeandfootcare.com and www.clear-shoe-boxes.com
Time for a Date-- Ari advises, "Wear your shoes on a regular basis. Take them out for a test drive and see how they perform." In other words, like any good partner you must be familiar with the one with whom you share a relationship. "It's like using a muscle" Ari explains "this is how the material stays flexible."
Renew-- In every healthy relationship there must be time for renewal. The same thinking applies to your shoes. Once a month, wipe down your leather shoes with a soft cloth (hey, didn't you always wonder what to do with that cute flannel bag they came with?) using a leather shoe cream (this item can be found online at www.kiwishoeshine.com). For suede shoes brush with a hard toothbrush in one direction. While you are lovingly grooming your beloved shoes, take a moment to really look at them over. Are the heel tips getting worn down? Is the fabric soiled? Are decorative ornaments becoming loose? How is the sole material wearing? Should you notice considerable wear, get them to your shoe repair master tout de suite before irreversible damage is done.
Red Flags-- Only those in it just for a fling would ignore the following red flags or signs of impending doom to your relationship with your beautiful shoes, all noted by Ari:
"Know the history of your shoe brand. I'm not going to name names but there are certain brands that wear out quickly."
"Beware of the floors you're walking on. Grates can take the heel tip off."
"Don't drive with suede or pony skin shoes. You'll wear it out. Change your shoes or get a chauffeur, that's the best."
"Don't leave your shoes next to your dog. Dogs have expensive taste and love to eat shoes."
In other words, just like your mama told you, when you choose a (shoe) love know where they came from, watch where you are going with them, take notice of abrasive encounters and forget about the dogs!
For more information on Arturo's Shoe Fixx go to www.arturosshoefixx.com
This post was contributed via Seed.com, AOL's new platform for freelance writers.