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A MUST HAVE FOR SHOE LOVERS

With a good suit comes a good pair of shoes and with that comes great responsibility.

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Although I am a fan of fine suits and all things sartorial I am even a bigger fanatic of dress shoes. I believe shoes plays a major role in completing and complementing an outfit. I don’t know about you but all my outfits I wore they only look good to go as soon as I put on my shoes. Even when going suit fitting or just shopping for an off-the-rag suit I have to have a pair of Oxfords; loafers or even monk straps. That’s the only time when I can actually make a certified decision to buy or not to buy, because I’ll be seeing how the outfit will look after buying it.

Being a lover of shoes I had moments where I bought myself the same pair in all the assorted colours, knowing very well that there will always be something to pair them with. Some said it was an addiction and I said its therapy. I once worked at an on-course golf shop and I knew of golf members that had over five pairs of golf shoes and they would still continue buying more just for the love of looking good.

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As much as I also loved looking good I had a motto I followed religiously, “look after them and they’ll look after you”. Without a doubt I never compromised for taking care of my puppies, yes! I treated them like they were my pets. I fed them good stuff, the best quality shoe cleaning products and I preferred using top notch equipment to keep them shining bright like a diamond. I clothed them and kept them nice and cool inside a shoe sock. I gave them shelter, as I always kept them in their shoe boxes. I know some guys mostly ladies prefer not to keep shoe boxes as it takes away a lot of space. Every pair I bought, I made a commitment of adding at least a single cleaning product. I was also fortunate that some of the pairs I bought had a shoe horn inside the box. Some gents still don’t use it even when struggling to get the shoe on.

Looking after my investments didn’t just start now that I’m wearing high quality leather shoes, it started back in the schooling days. Dating back from secondary school, I had at least three pairs of shoes I wore to school. Not because I could afford but I sacrificed having sneakers like any other kid for formal derby and two pairs of black golf shoes. This way I would never wear the same pair in two consecutive days and not because I wanted to look cool at school *wink* but to minimise the wear and tear of the shoe. I used to walk long distances to catch a train to school and after long hours wearing the shoe, they needed a break to breathe and dry out the moist. Even back then I had a shoe brush and a cloth in my school bag to clean them after those long walks in the dusty streets of Soweto. It went from being a traditional etiquette to a competition to earn bragging rights of the shiniest shoe amongst my peers. So you see, it was not about what shoe I wore but how clean and shiny they were.

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The routine never stopped nor changed, only thing that changed was my shoe size. With all the tender loving care I gave my puppies they looked rather sad after a couple of rounds. They lost their original shape and even with a quality shoe care kit I used some started to crease and left permanent crack marks. I even kept those tissue papers stuffed in the shoe when buying pair and placed them back in the shoe after wearing them, but it made little difference. It got even trickier, back in the times it was a plain black shoe with no detail but now the shoes came in different styles from brogues; monk straps; tassel loafers; and even multi-toned. So having to clean such a shoe with all the detail and at times even different fabrics was tricky because I had to be extra careful as I had to apply polish without leaving stains on other parts of the shoe.

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During my shopping for shoes I kept on looking for something stronger yet smooth; and comfortable. I started doubting the quality of the shoes I had but then I later learnt that it’s not the quality of the shoes. Apparently there was one more investment I had to make in order to take care of my puppies. This product has always been there but was not and still is not popular nor is it easily accessible. The only time I saw it, was on the displayed shoes in certain shoe boutiques and I didn’t even know the name of that wooden gadget tucked inside the shoe. All this time buying shoes and seeing it, I never even bothered asking about it. However it made a huge difference from the display point of view as compared to shoes without that gadget. Even the brand new shoe out of the box didn’t look as attractive as the one on displayed with that gadget.

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As rare as they are locally, when I went to Italy almost every store I went into had all their shoes on display paired with this gadget. It was interesting how good looking and welcoming the shoes were, even the style that I don’t wear looked great. Coming back home I decided to get to know this gadget well and actually do a bit of research about it.

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It is called a shoe tree. It is a device approximating the shape of a foot that is placed inside a shoe to preserve its shape, stop it from developing creases and thereby extend the life of the shoe. More important, it maintains the shape of the shoe and also plays a crucial part of wicking away the leather-damaging moisture from the inside. With hot summer days wearing a pair of shoes, with or without a sock, the shoe will tend to sweat and I experienced this recently with my leather golf shoes. With quality shoe trees such as those made from solid wood, usually cedar, they help control odour and absorb moisture.

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However, for the shoe tree to give the shoe those benefits it should not be vanished like the one inside the shoe pictured above. The polished shoe trees look good for displayed shoes but not recommendable for personal use, as the vanished wood won’t give the benefits of a raw wood. They also come in different sizes, adjustable to accommodate two size curves (41/42). So when buying shoes online and not so sure with size, this will be a great gadget to have as it will loosen up the tight new shoe. They also make cleaning shoes a bliss to do, they make it easy to apply polish on the shoe.

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Wooden shoe trees are recommended for premium quality leather shoes that range from ZAR2500.00 and above. Some shoes brands that sells shoes that range from ZAR8000.00 and beyond, offer their shoes with a pair of wooden shoe trees. They are also regarded as a perfect gift for descending gentlemen. It is strange how most shoe store nowadays also offer shoe care products but don’t offer shoe tree. Apparently some stores still believe that by selling shoe trees will drop their shoe sales as these wooden gadget will retain the shoe for a longer period as a result not get people buying shoe as frequent. Well I believe stores should invest on them and every gentleman who loves his shoes should at least have a pair. The longer the shoe last the more loyal the customers will be and they will come back for more quality dress shoes and also recommend the brand to others.

Premium quality dress shoes are fairly pricy and they deserve to be worn and treated with love and respect. I hope you enjoyed reading this piece as much as I did writing it.

Email info@suitableman.co.za for a suitable pair of shoe trees for your shoes.

Until next time, stay stylish

Suitably Yours

Brian Lehang

SUITABLEMAN

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