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maintaining beat-up leather shoes


Senior Member
Dec 5, 2010
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First, I'm a bit new here - and new to nice leather shoes. I did a quick search on the subject and didn't see anything, but I'm sure this question's been asked before. So I apologize in advance.

I like my casual leather shoes (shoes that I don't wear with suits) to look a bit beat-up. But I also like them to last a long time. I've been use cedar shoe trees, and I don't wear a pair of shoes on consecutive days. But I realized I need to do something to prevent the leather from cracking, etc.

Two weeks ago I was in AE, I asked the sales guy what he recommended. He said to apply shoe cream every 2 weeks (which, of course, he was trying to sell me). Then I saw this March 2011 issue of Esquire:

"HOW TO CARE FOR ROUGHED-UP SHOES - by George Esquivel, shoemaker

Forget a standard polish - that just strips away and conceals all that wear and tear that makes your beat-up shoes look so good. Instead, every few months, I would take a damp cloth and gently wipe away any crust or dirt from the shoes. Then use a dry cloth to apply a light coat of wax in a neutral shade - I like a brand named Angelus, which is made in southern California and actually has a shade named "neutral." Rub it in just hard enough that the wax takes, but not so hard that it develops a shine. The wax will condition the leather (to prevent cracking) and repel water (to prevent ruin), and, more important, your shoes will still look like fresh hell. Just the way you like them."

(I see that AE also offers a neutral wax. Anyone use it?)

FWIW, I'm specifically talking brown calf and brown grain leather.

I'd really appreciate any insight/experience/photos/etc. any of the resident shoe expects can provide. Thanks!


Senior Member
May 30, 2006
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For this purpose I use Apple leather conditioner. It nourishes the leather without changing its character. Rub it in with fingers and let it sit. You can then buff with a cloth or just leave it.


Stylish Dinosaur
Dubiously Honored
Oct 16, 2006
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Just use a conditioner like Lexol, or Saphir Renovateur. Just using a neutral wax is not good because it hardens over time and can lead to cracking without the use of a conditioner/

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