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making shoes less "shiny"?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by raley, Feb 11, 2005.

  1. raley

    raley Senior member

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    I just received what it seems like a few people on the forum ordered a month or so ago - the Charles Tyrwhitt/Loake black chelsea boots. I really like them, and they are comfortable/fit nicely, the only problem is they are a bit too Kenneth Cole shiny.

    Is there any way, maybe with acetone and a certain kind of polish that these could maybe look a little less shiny? They are alright as is, and cheap, but I figure there is no harm in asking/trying.
     
  2. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Here's a question I'd never expect to hear on this site....

    I suppose you could leave them out in the rain/weather for 3 or 4 weeks. Or, you could put on a layer of shoe cream or wax and not buff it off.
     
  3. NoVaguy

    NoVaguy Senior member

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    Isn't the shiny look the result of Loake using corrected grain leather? That might affect what you can do.
     
  4. BjornH

    BjornH Senior member

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    There was a bit on the Queer eye show that addressed shiny leather belts. Holding them over hot steam is supposed to take some of the shine away. This trick should work with shoes, I guess.

    B
     
  5. Horace

    Horace Senior member

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    I had a pair of summer shoes like this. They were from the old Polo Country line. They had the most wonderful real crepe soles but I didn't care for the extremely "shiny" leather. I used different colored polishes (actually darker colored brown polishes, as the shoes were light brown). This helped a bit. In your case, I wonder if just polishing them a few times might help?
     
  6. raley

    raley Senior member

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    Is this really that odd of a question?

    I suppose I will just try a few different polishes and see what happens, I mean they are not that bad as it is but the shiny look just sort of cheapens the shoe - they could easily be mistaken for Kenneth Coles or Skechers or something like that unless one actually looked at the leather sole and construction or what not. I am thinking it is probably the leather type so maybe there is nothing that can be done but still...

    Anyone else that bought the boots want to chime in? What do you all think about them?
     
  7. stache

    stache Senior member

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    Well I have been reviled for this before but here goes. Get some fine grain steel wool and rub lightly until you get the desired patina. It's not a crime.
     
  8. lionel

    lionel Well-Known Member

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    Using acetone will make your shoes less shiny, there is no doubt. They will even not shine anymore . If you choose this method, be careful with acetone since it desiccates the leather. Afterwards, you must use some shoe cream (no polish.) to soften and nourish the leather. Besides, if you use darker shoe cream, you will get a wonderful patina à la berluti (yes, but with alot of practice...)
     
  9. AJL

    AJL Senior member

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    I've no idea as to the efficacy of this technique, but you should know there there are 4 basic grades of "fine" wool: 0 through 0000, with 0000 being the finest. 0000 is basically used for buffing and polishing; it is very mildly abrasive. I would start here to see what effect it had if any, before moving up to a more abrasive grade (000, and so on). This does not sound so crazy to me, particularly for a low dollar pair of shoes one is not attempting to preserve for a lifetime.
     
  10. raley

    raley Senior member

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    Well wouldn't that be nice [​IMG]
     
  11. j

    j Senior member Admin

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    IIRC, those are of corrected grain leather, which may have not only a finishing layer but a 'filler' filling in the gaps in the leather. If you were to dissolve this filler out with acetone, you may be left with a really bad and unsalvageable result. Try the very fine steel wool first.
     
  12. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    I hold a chemistry degree and will tell you that acetone is used for cleaning because it dissolves most other organic chemicals, including the oils in leather, so I would use it on my own shoes only as the very last resort (nor would I rough up my shoes with steel wool [​IMG] ). Yesterday, I tried some Obenauf's LP on a pair of brown shoes and found it dulled the shine (I'm hoping they'll buff up again later, with more work). If Obenauf's (basically some oils suspended in wax to nourish the leather) doesn't dull the shine, I'd assume they coated the shoe with something impermeable to get the shine. To take off the outer coat, I'd start with a 50/50 isopropanol/water mix (isopropanol = rubbing alcohol), then try Obenauf's again. If the shine remains, try 100% isopropanol followed by Obenauf's, and only then try acetone or an acetone/isopropanol mix. The idea is to start out mild and get increasingly harsh. Be kind to your shoes so they'll be kind to you. [​IMG]
     
  13. raley

    raley Senior member

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    Thanks a lot thinman. Maybe I was under the wrong impression. I thought acetone was what people used when they wanted to strip their shoes and start anew, to get the antiqued look (wasn't there an AHarris post on this)?
     
  14. armscye

    armscye Senior member

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    Allow me to comment, based on the slender justification that I have actually been there and done that.

    Acetone is universally used by shoemakers stripping shoes for dying, and in fact many show shops sell it in small containers on the same rack as shoe dyes. I have stripped dozens of pairs of shoes with it, and have not lost a pair yet.

    Don't soak the shoes, rather apply the acetone with paper towels, changing towels frequently. You will find that it strips away the layer of lacquer that is causing your shininess, leaving a matte shoe. Then refinish with several coats of cream polish, topping off with clear cream polish.

    The result is at worst a more natural shine, at best (with experimentation and a varuety of polish colors) that antiqued look seen in Berluti, Weston, and other European natural-grain shoes.

    Any filler removed by the process was probably covering minor hide scars or spots that will add character anyway.
     
  15. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    armscye is correct, acetone will indeed strip the finish off of shoes (it's the primary ingredient in nail polish remover). If that is what you wish to do, and realize you are doing it, then proceed. I've never used acetone on shoes, but armscye has and without any apparent adverse effects. I would recommend following his advice for the application, as he's apparently quite careful. My preference is still to try covering the shine with a penetrating oil/wax mixture (Obenauf's) first. If that doesn't work, then proceed carefully. I expect that to really remove any top finish that may have been applied, you would need some mix of acetone/isopropanol or straight acetone, applied as armscye recommends (the isopropanol would dilute the acetone and make it a less effective stripper, so could use more without really harming the shoes, but you'd need to use more rubbing and maybe repeated applications to take off the finish). Since I'm on a relatively modest income compared to most who wear high quality shoes, and I'm inherently "thrifty" [​IMG], I tend to take great care with high dollar items.
     
  16. southbound35

    southbound35 Senior member

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    Reviving this thread from 2005 so as to not arouse the "do a forum search" boo-birds.

    I just received a pair of RL Sumner shoes from Amazon.

    [​IMG]

    I like the style for a casual chino look, but the finish is a bit shinier than I would prefer.

    Any suggestions on how to achieve a more matte finish other than those made a few years ago? Or, any affirmations of those already suggested?
     
  17. tiagokf

    tiagokf New Member

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    I have used wallgreens 70% alcohol wipers on a rockport walker place and it worked. The shoes have gone completely matte. Much nicer and look natural after regular polish.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012

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