Monday, March 21, 2011

The Thing About Suede

As far as spring footwear goes, you can't really beat a well-worn pair of light-colored suede shoes. Also known as "reverse-calf," suede is actually a type of leather made from the underside of the calf's skin (hence the aforementioned term), the right style can dress up or down very easily. Casually they look fantastic with khakis or jeans, while the Duke of Windsor himself was the man who popularized wearing chocolate suede shoes with a grey suit, a look that's still regarded as smart, as evidenced by Prince Charles in the photo above. Additionally, the material is extremely pliable, meaning you spend less time breaking them in and more time enjoying comfortable, good-looking shoes.

As you may already know, however, suede is a delicate material. In a rare instance of poor planning on my part, I was caught in the rain this morning wearing my light brown suede bluchers. All it took was walking a total of seven or so city blocks before they got soaked, and I was pissed at myself for allowing such a thing to happen. Here's what I did to (successfully) bring my babies back from the dead:

1. Spray those jawns. Many shoe stores offer protectant sprays on the cheap. They're not bullshitting you when they try to sell you on it, so pick some up and spray your suedes before wearing them, and then periodically after that.

2. If they get wet, let them air-dry. Do NOT set them next to a heater or something like that to try and speed up the process. It'll do more harm than good. Keeping shoe trees inside them will help them dry even better.

3. Use a suede brush to restore the nap. Once the shoes dry, they'll still be spotted. Most water spots can be removed using a suede brush; try it in a couple of different directions for thoroughness and you should be good. Remember, though, that they won't look brand new after doing this; once suede is worn, it starts to look, well, worn, and there's nothing bad about it. It's just the character of the material, and if you get them stained or wet, you're just gonna have to learn to love it.

4. Don't get caught wearing them in the rain again, you dumbass. If they get seriously stained and you can't do anything about it yourself, drop them off at a reputable cobbler and have them cleaned professionally.

Next time it's warm enough, try out a pair of suede shoes with khakis, a polo, and no socks. You'll look good as a result of this alone, and if your shoes are worn in but cleaned, you'll have achieved summertime baller status.

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