Saturday, 16 July 2011

Vintage Shoes and How to Help Them Survive

I have a turbulent relationship with vintage shoes.  I love them, but 9 times out of 10, they let me down.  Any vintage style of shoe is hard enough for me to find in the first place because I have a big feet for a lady (size 10) but a pair that doesn't fall apart within 5-10 wears? Nearly impossible.  It breaks my heart because new shoes don't always have the same style/history/"je ne sais quoi" that vintage ones do, particularly when it comes to cowboy, riding or ankle boots. Examples of lust-worthy vintage boots below:
Vintage Maxwell Marshall riding boots.
Blue/tan suede ankle boots.
Snakeskin cowboy boots (available at LA Vintage!)

I can't imagine any modern interpretation having the same effect, particularly when it comes to brown leathers, which often age in unexpected and beautiful ways.  The best way to stay with your vintage footwear for as long as possible means investing in some maintenance.  There are a few things you can do yourself to extend the life of your shoes.
  1. Invest in waterproofing spray.  It generally strengthens shoes against environmental damage.
  2. Use saddle soap.  It's like a deep massage for leathers.  It cleans and moisturizes the material to prevent from staining and cracking.  Buy from Roots here.
  3. Find a cobbler close by.  People seem so keen to give up on their shoes when the sole is falling off, or a heel is worn down, or a buckle is wonky, but you don't have to! Take them to a cobbler, who can easily fix any of these problems and will give your shoes the best polishing ever.  
  4. This only applies for those who live in a cold climate like me, whose neighbours spread piles of salt on icy sidewalks all winter long that seep into your boots and leave that crusty white line.  A mixture of 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar will remove it, but don't let salt sit for too long or it will permanently damage your shoe.  And don't use salt on sidewalks! Sand also provides grip on icy sidewalks in winter without damaging shoes or animals paws for that matter.  Love thy neighbours shoes!
These tips go for any footwear, vintage or otherwise. Be wary when buying any shoe of the quality of material but when you find that pair you love, treat them well!

- Shannon

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