By Brooke Showell
If clothes make the man, then shoes seal his fate. The biggest challenge most men face is not only choosing the right shoes but maintaining them once they've found a favorite pair. If you pay close attention to what goes on your feet and develop a few good habits, you'll be the best dressed 'LLERO in town.
Finding the Right Fit
The biggest mistake you can make is having an ill-fitting shoe. Be sure to:
*Invest in good quality shoes - even if they initially cost more money, they will fit better and last longer. For example, good leather shoes will last longer than cheap vinyl ones.
*Pay attention to where and how the shoes are made. Handmade shoes generally use higher quality materials, can withstand greater wear and tear and have a longer lifespan.
*Look at the height of the heels and soles to determine what looks best on you. Feel confident in your body's proportions.
*Avoid Internet purchases unless you already have the same style or have tried on the same pair on at a reputable shoe store.
Make Them Last
You found the perfect pair, they cost a pretty penny and you plan to get your money's worth. Don't forget to:
*Treat shoes to a good brushing every once in awhile.
*Protect shoes with a water and stain-protective spray for leather.
*Use shoe cleaner to remove dirt, stains and polish build-up.
*Invest in cedar shoetrees to maintain shape, absorb moisture and leave a clean scent in your shoes. Choose shoetrees that match your shoe size.
*Rotate your shoes so that you don't wear the same pair every day. Leather absorbs moisture and needs a day or two to dry out.
*Use a shoehorn to reduce the stress and prevent breakdown of the counter (a piece of cup-shaped stiff material placed in the back of the shoe between the outer leather and inner lining to help hold the shoe's shape).
*When heels and soles start to wear, take them to the shoe repair ASAP. Repair of these items is usually inexpensive and can help you from having to shell out money for an entirely new pair.
*But, don't be afraid to abuse your shoes. The character will come through in the materials.
Shoe Shining 101*
Always shine your shoes after you buy them and before you wear them, then shine them on a regular basis. For a perfect polish, follow these steps:
*Choose a cream or paste polish that matches the color of the shoes. Avoid liquid polish, which can crack the leather.
*Find a clear area and cover with newspaper. Leave shoetrees in the shoes (it makes them easier to shine).
*Wipe the shoe with a cloth to remove dust and dirt. If the shoes have laces, you may want to remove to avoid staining them.
*Use a clean cloth (a wet sponge, an old T-shirt or even a coffee filter) to apply polish. Start from heel to toe, and apply evenly in a circular motion.
*Let the shoes air dry, then buff with a horsehair polishing brush. Finish with wool buffing pad or soft clean cloth (or snag your girlfriend's pantyhose - it also does the trick).
*Note: This applies to leather shoes. Special shoes, like Cordovan leather, calfskin, suede, nubuck and patent leather, have their own care instructions.
Tip: Splurge on Socks A little detail goes a long way. Look for colors and patterns that will work with your wardrobe. To truly make a statement, go for top names like Comme des Garcons, Paul Smith and Yohji Yamamoto.