Boot care should never be an afterthought. You want the material to age beautifully and people still commenting years after the purchase. This is especially true of leather, which yearns to get better with the changing seasons. And since we’re moving into winter, there isn’t a better time to prepare your shoes.
A few weekends ago I set aside 20 minutes to condition my Frye’s and weather-proof my suede Sam Edelman’s. I bought the Frye brand conditioner, but any saddle soap works well. Just poke around online to see what other people do.
First you want wipe off any excess dirt. Paper towels work, but rags from cut up old clothes are better! After any dirt or salt is gone, take the rag and rub the conditioner into the boots, making sure it all soaks in. Think circular motions.
Conditioning not only protects your boots, but it makes the color richer and adds a bit of shine. Even after one use, you can kind of see the difference between the conditioned boot on the right and its unconditioned mate on the left. Over time you’ll really start to see the look of the boot change and properly age.
How much you condition is dependent on where you live and how (adoringly) anal retentive you are. If you live in New England with all the salt, you’ll need to condition more often so the leather does not get damaged. However, since Frye’s are sturdy, you won’t need to condition them as often as you would with soft, leather boots. When I had my old Aldo’s, I had to care for them after every wear. That was too much! Some people condition once a week. Others once a month and even less.
If you don’t have any conditioner on hand if there is anything you should do to preserve your boots, please, please, please make sure something is in place to help the shaft of the boot hold its shape. This will obviously keep them looking better and, if you do decide to sell your shoes, you’ll be place them at a higher price! You can buy plastic or stuffed-cotton boot shapers. Even rolled up newspaper and the original cardboard inserts are fine. The cardboard certainly isn’t as cute, but it is cuter than a floppy, bent boot!
Taking care of suede boots is a little easier. Just give them a good rub down with a rough rag, go outside, and cover them in an all-weather spray (just make sure it is suede approved!) Since suede is a lot harder to bring back from the brink of salt-stains, I’m more careful about when I wear them out in the winter, so I don’t have to proof these as often. Regardless, it’s a 30 second routine that’ll greatly extend the life of your shoes.