IV. Care and Storage
If you want your shoes to last and look good as age, you need to take care of them properly. Valet has a great visual guide to basic dress shoe care – basically, let them dry out between wearings, use cedar shoe trees, and buff/polish regularly. Avoid plastic shoe trees, which will help your shoes hold their shape but won’t dry them out. Cedar shoe trees are $10-20/pr at places like DSW and Nordstrom Rack, and there’s no better investment you can make in your nice shoes.
Once you’ve worn your shoes for 4-6 years, it might be time to have them resoled. Companies like Allen Edmonds, Alden, Quoddy, and most major manufacturers will do this for their own shoes, but your local cobbler could resole just about any pair of shoes. If you don’t have a local cobbler, I’ve heard nothing but praise for B.Nelson Shoes, who will do resoles and repairs by mail-order. Expect to pay $50-75 for this kind of service. For shoes that need more than a simple resole, you may need a full recrafting. Allen Edmonds and Alden will do it for their own shoes, and again, places like B.Nelson will work on any pair. Here’s an example of what you could expect.
You don’t need trees for sneakers and other casual shoes, but you should clean them regularly. Water, a toothbrush, and/or a Magic Eraser will keep sneakers clean enough. Don’t be meticulous about it though – I don’t know why, but there’s nothing quite as sad as a middle-aged guy in a brand-new, squeaky-clean pair of sneakers. Leave beat-to-shit Chucks to the middle-school version of yourself though. Aim for the middle ground.
For suede shoes, Simple Threads has a good guide. So does Put This On.