In A Woman of No Importance, Wilde has Lord Illingworth pronounce that “A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life”. On this page, I have me say that well-polished shoes are the second. In this miasmic age where men of fifty wear trainers to board meetings, this isn’t a popular view.
Trainer-people, this post is not for you. Frankly, neither should board-meetings be, but I have clearly lost that argument.
Those of us still wearing real grown-up shoes out in the grown-up world, while taking care of our footwear investment (and our feet) have to care for our shoes. Well-cared-for leather will outlast you, and well-loved shoes finish off a look like nothing else can.
Polished shoes tell the world that there’s no need to worry — you’ve got it together. Even when you haven’t.
Mad Men’s Don Draper is a shambolic mess of a character, but you know his shoes were always up to snuff. In fact, when he was “living” as a bachelor, the show’s creators make a point to show him asking where his shine-box is. Don’s life might have the shitter on speed-dial, but damned if he’s going to have scuffed shoes. Scuffed shoes are for Ginsberg.
And Roger Sterling? That fellow got his shoes cleaned for him. First time we ever see any real emotion from Roger? When his shine-guy dies and Roger is bequeathed his shine-box. Yeah, I took a lot of notice of the clothing in Mad-Men. It wasn’t just skinny ties and pocket-squares.
My girlfriend was clearly paying attention when I was pontificating about shoes in Mad Men, because for my birthday last year she bought me an absolutely beautiful shoe care kit from The Hanger Project. The magnificent cedar box comes with peerless polishes and cremes from Saphir, application and buffing brushes, as well as two chamois cloths for getting the final perfect shine. It’s a beautiful kit, and my shoes probably get 50% more love than they used to.
I’m not saying you need a shine-kit like this. You probably aren’t convinced you want one yet. But if you’ve made the step from trainers to shoes, you’re ready to move up from Express Shine too.
Want one? Head on over to The Hanger Project, and build the kit that works for you. Also buy some decent hangers, because that wire shit is ruining your shirts.