If you’re in the army, chances are you’ll get punished if you can’t see your face in your shoes. If you work in a London, Paris or New York bank or legal practice, you probably won’t face a court martial, but freshly shined shoes set off a bespoke suit nicely and extend the life of the shoes.
There’s no right or wrong way to go about a good shoe shine. Some people swear by a bit of simple spit and polish; some even use a cigar lighter to burn the top coat of polish. But you’ll probably want to take the middle ground. Here are the six steps you’ll need to follow.
Step 1: Spread out some newspaper on your table top. Shoe polish tends to travel and this will minimize the collateral damage.
Step 2: Remove any loose dirt with a special horsehair brush. If you find you need water to do this effectively, give your shoes time to dry before moving to the next stage.
Step 3: Smear all of your shoes with lots of polish. Use a shoe-polish brush and try to ensure the polish you choose matches your shoe color closely. Get the polish in the seams and in all the nooks and crannies of your shoes. Wait a quarter of an hour for your polish to dry.
Step 4: Using a different brush – your horsehair shine brush – brush the shoes with enthusiasm. This will remove any excess polish, leaving only a small film.
Step 5: For maximum impact with that bespoke suit, it’s important that the toe and heel have a bit of extra shine. Dampen a cotton ball and add a bit of polish. Smear this on the toe and heel in a circular motion.
Step 6: Repeat step five till you get the shine you want, using a new cotton ball and removing excess polish each time. But if you’re in New York City (NYC), there’s no shortage of street shoe-shiners. In fact, the respected blog The Fine Young Gentleman recently sang the praises of New York City shoe-shine outfit A Shine & Co., which recently opened up in New York’s Chelsea Market.