Making New Shoes Last

There's nothing quite like the look, feel or smell of new shoes. Unfortunately, for most of us that new shoe magic lasts about 24 hours before it's gone forever. Whether you're trying to save some money, jazz up a wardrobe or preserve your favorite pair of heels, it's not too difficult to make new shoes last longer.

Preparing Shoes
Obviously, different materials react differently to cold or wet conditions. Depending on the fabric used in your new shoes, you can try various methods to prepare them for the elements. Neglecting to prepare shoes properly for nasty weather can shorten their lifespan considerably.

Cloth shoes can often be worn without preparing, but they sometimes also need a waterproof sealer. Plain plastic or rubber shoes never need preparing and are usually ready to wear. Plastic vinyl shoes may need waterproofing or moisturizing products, though. Leather usually needs an oil or sealer to avoid water damage.

Leather is the most vulnerable to water, salt and cold. A pair of expensive leather shoes can be destroyed in a single month of rainy weather, so spend the extra money and get those shoes some protection.

If you need serious protection for a pair of seriously expensive brand new shoes, think about investing in some half soles. Half soles are just shoe soles, complete with tread, that go over your regular soles and keep the bottom of the shoe from wearing out.

Wearing Shoes
The way you wear your shoes can affect their look and lifespan. Wearing any shoes without socks can damage the insole. The natural, salty sweat from your foot will slowly eat away at the cushioning and interior shoe.

Since sandals look silly with socks and air out quickly due to the open style, you can skip the socks. However, with any other style, especially "closed" shoes, socks should always be worn to help protect your feet and your shoes.

No matter how big a hurry you're in, or how much you want to run and fetch that newspaper out in the rain, it's never okay to slip shoes halfway onto your feet. Wearing shoes halfway forces the top of the shoe back to fold under. This damages the material, reduces overall support and messes up the basic fit. Once that back spine of a shoe goes, they become uncomfortable to wear.

Changing the shoes you wear from day to day is another important habit to get into. By letting a pair of shoes dry for a day, they can fully recover from being worn. The moisture and oils from sweat, even when wearing socks, will break down the material. So wearing the same shoes day in and day out never gives them a chance to truly dry and recover.

Cleaning Shoes
To keep your new shoes looking fabulous and help extend their lifespan, make sure to regularly clean your shoes. Depending on the use and conditions under which you wear the shoes, you might need to clean them once a week or once a month. Cloth and plastic shoes usually just need a quick wipe with a damp cloth to remove the dirt and make them look new.

Once again, leather shoes are the biggest worry. Use leather soap, polish and sealer to remove the dirt from your shoes and give them a new, finished look. Cream polishes seem a little dull, but they help keep the leather moist. Wax polishes make your shoes shiny, but they can quickly dry out the leather.

Repairing Shoes
Some types of damage can be repaired, but other types of damage mean it's time to lay your shoes to rest. Small problems, such as torn shoelaces and scuffed material can be fixed at home, without any need to take the shoes to an expensive shop. Simply replace the shoelace or polish the material to repair the damage quickly.

Shoes with worn, torn or paper-thin soles can usually be taken to a shoe shop and re-soled. If the sole is the only problem, re-soling can be an effective method that gives your shoes new life. If it's the seams around the sole that are giving, it's still possible for a good shoe shop to repair them.

If the sides and bottoms of your shoes are turning to dust along with the soles, the damage can be almost impossible to fix. A ripped toebox may be possible to repair, but a torn sidepiece is pretty much permanent. Once the main shoe body wears down, the shoe is finished.

Storing Shoes
Storing shoes properly can be one of the most important tasks for making brand new shoes last longer. Shoes should never be packed tightly together or forced into a small container. Storing a shoe properly means you always retain its basic shape.

The reasons you often find a bunch of paper stuffed inside new shoes is so they keep their specific shape. When shoes fold, wrinkle or roll, the damage can be permanent, causing the material to bulge or tear. Stuffing a shoe with paper works rather well if you're budget-conscious. Wooden and plastic foot trees or molds are also available for slightly fancier and more exact shape preservation.

Shoes should be stored on a dry surface, ideally in a standing position. If the shoes lie on one side, then you're once again in danger of ruining the shoe shape. Long-term storage should always be in a cool, dry and dark place, like a shoebox. This prevents any fading from sun exposure and any wear from dramatic temperature changes.

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Balance your selection of men's shoes with a little bit of classical and a little bit of modern style. Wear dress shoes for work or formal affairs and casual shoes for kicking back, and try not to mix the two styles.

Wellingtons have been keeping feet dry and stylish since 1817.

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