While I was home over the weekend I took another look through my grandpa’s old closet. These are some of my favorites: two vintage Harris Tweed blazers with a 3-roll-2 button stance, natural shoulders, quarter lining, and thick horn buttons. One is a classic brown/tan herringbone, the other is a large scale grey and red Prince of Wales check. Both feel like they might be bulletproof. Nether of them fit me. I try them on every time I’m home, but no luck so far. Maybe one day they will…
Restoring Old Shoes
As I’ve mentioned before, I recently inherited a few pairs of wonderful vintage shoes from my uncle and late grandfather. They are all high quality and have been taken care of well, but they’re 20-30 years old and are a bit rough around the edges. This pair is a nice burgundy plaintoe by Ferragamo that my uncle describes as his “dancing shoes.” Needless to say, they’ve seen some serious action. They still have some life in them but needed a bit of maintenance before they were going to look their best again.
Things you’ll need:
- an old, tired pair of high-quality shoes (no product can make cheap shoes look good)
- a clean cotton cloth (old shirts work well)
- Horsehair brush (or two)
- Leather cleaner
- Leather conditioner
- creme polish with a pigment that will resemble (or complement) your shoe’s color
- Sole edge dressing
Ready? Let’s get started.
All these years and I still can’t tie my shoes.
Vintage Ferragamo brogues and Howard Yount flannels (1 3/4” cuff and a very slight break)
Vintage Ferragamos - the second pair. Now there’s the kind of patina that doesn’t appear overnight.
I’ll post the rest once I get a chance to polish them up.
Those of us that put significant effort into our dress often tell others the importance of buying well-made things. Quality over quantity, buy better than you think you can afford, and so forth. Although I don’t believe that this mantra needs to be applied to every purchase, it is certainly something to strive for.
This logic is most often applied to shoes; the differences between a cheap shoe and a “real shoe” are vast, and we use this information to make ourselves feel more comfortable when spending large amounts of money on them. However, I feel that most of us on the internet here aren’t actually old enough to stand behind these words. How many times have you actually taken advantage of a goodyear welt by resoling a shoe? Once? Never, maybe? Sure, those double monks might last “decades,” but do you really know that from experience or is it just what you’ve been told by Put This On? For many of us, our knowledge of long-lasting quality is based on stories told by others, not our own personal experience.
For that reason, I’d like to help you out by telling you a quick story of my own.
These shoes are thirty years old.
Thirty years old.
They took my uncle through the majority of his career, and he passed them along to me now that he is comfortably in retirement. He wore them several times per week for decades. They were worked hard but always cared for properly. They have been resoled two, three, maybe four times (nobody seems to remember exactly). They were expensive; these are Ferragamos from back when the brand stood for quality footwear and not just high fashion. However, the investment clearly paid off as he wore them hard for decades (seriously, almost his entire career). Their timeless design and shape makes them just as relevant today as when he bought them thirty years ago, and they still have enough life in them to carry me through the workweek. Perhaps buying better and buying less isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Do they fit me? Well, we are related, after all. Nothing like genetics to ensure a perfect fit. Like I said earlier, look into your own family’s past and you may be amazed at what you find. I never would have thought that my uncle owned shoes like this but after he heard about my interest in my grandfather’s wardrobe he decided to give these to me rather than send them to Goodwill. What a treasure.
Oh, I should mention that there are several more pairs…more to come.