Standard disclaimer, the below is my opinion only, and internet advice is worth exactly what you pay...
I am one of the people who like to keep my boots shined. I work in an office environment, so the leather I choose and the use to which the boots are put permit this. It is a holdover from the lessons I was taught by my grandfather about caring for things you own. Does it really extend the life of boots, likely not, but it does force me to clean and inspect the boots fairly frequently. When I polish, I also brush and LIGHTLY condition. So it may be an anachronism, but it works for me.
That being said... in general, I would say there are five main levels of shine: mirror, shine, glow, sheen, and matte. The type of leather you choose will have a big impact on how much shine you can get. I find that the black and brown dress, French calf, water buffalo, and horsehide (although HH takes a little more effort) can be brought to a mirror shine with patience, technique, and the right products (I like Saphir mirror gloss)... I generally only do mirror gloss on the toes because the mirror finish will crack if applied anywhere the shoe bends. For the rest of the boot, I go for a regular shine accomplished with a standard Saphir softer wax.
For a non-dress boot (is any White's Boot really a "dress boot"?), I just like a good glow... I get this with the application of Saphir Pommadier Cream Shoe Polish ... a quick polish with a cloth, then a vigorous brushing. This will make the boot "glow" which is a nice look for semi-casual leather or applications.
For a "sheen" I use Saphir Renovateur (the Medaille D'Or, not the Beaute de Cuir)... applied with a cloth and the brushed... the boot will look clean, nourished and with a sheen reminiscent of brushed CXL... excellent for casual leathers or applications.
Finally, for pure work leathers where no one is going to care if your boots shine, I just use Obenauf's... it is more about protection than appearance... the surface will absorb the product and take on a matte appearance, but who cares. I have found it very difficult to shine leathers which have been treated with Obenaufs or similar oily products, likely for the same reason I have trouble shining new CXL... oils and high shine waxes don't seem to mix well.
A note about CXL, which has been addressed here before... new CXL (and oil tan) is hard to polish well... older CXL (and oil tan) is easier to polish as some of the surface oil has migrated or been lost, permitting the wax to do its job. I am not a fan of CXL for boots because I like shine... to each their own, but when I do have CXL, I treat it (sparingly) with Creme Cuir Gras and brush the heck out of it... it then takes on a nice warm glow.
So, assuming the leather is appropriate for the level of shine you want, and your technique is up to it, these are the products I use in descending order of shine:
Saphir Mirror Gloss (toes only, otherwise will crack)
Saphir Medaille d'Or Polish Wax (good shine)
Saphir Pommadier Cream Polish (nice glow)
Saphir Renovator Medaille D'or or Collonil 1909 Supreme Creme de Luxe (sheen)
Obenauf's (Oil if you are not a firefighter, LP if you are)... matte finish...
For CXL - Creme Cuir Gras
Typing this, I realize I spend far too much time on my boots... they are boots after all... $600 boots yes, but boots nonetheless... do what you like, and they will be fine... just keep to the cardinal rules:
1) Clean off all mud, dirt, and salt after each use.
2) Keep shoe trees in them
3) Never dry with heat
4) Condition as needed but be judicious... more boots are ruined by overtreating than by undertreating, something of which I am guilty... if one coat is good, two is not always better.
I have found the Hangar Project by Kirby Allison to be a great resource vis a vis shoe care... I learned a great deal... check it out here:
Wow, let me say thanks first, and also this got me pretty excited reading your post. I am also guilty of over thinking things like this, which is probably obvious at this point, so I do appreciate this info very much.
So, first off, just to clarify, the MP boots I'm referring to specifically, is brown CXL so just want to confirm I will be well off with Creme Cuir Gras? I was very close to ordering the Obenauf's LP from reading it so much on here as the best, but if that won't work for CXL I'll stick with the Creme stuff.
Then, as far as application. Please let me know if this is correct.
1. Brush off loose dirt with any old brush (or should this be horse hair?)
2. Apply the Creme Cuir Gras with a rag
3. After rubbing it in with the rag (cotton?), then vigorously brushing to a "warm glow" with horse hair brush.
I ask because in the beginning of your post it seemed like polishing, brushing, and conditioning were all different things. And, I thought the polishing was done with the rubbing back and forth of the hair on the brush. Should I be buying some sort of paste polish, or do I have that wrong?
And, last question.
Any recommendations for shoe trees? Special ones for boots or would just plain old cheap ones from Amazon be fine?
Thanks so much for the help, I can't wait until my boots need their first "polishing." For now, I will be brushing after every time they get dirty, just not sure if I should use a horse hair or regular brush for this.