Three steps and 30 minutes. That's all it takes to extend the life of your shoes and pull together the last piece of your outfit that everyone notices first. Especially on the heels of, what, a six-month winter? Your footwear could really use some love.
What you need:
1. A horsehair shoe shine brush -- $6
2. A soft cloth, such as a sock or an old cotton tee-shirt -- free (NOTE: You will need to use a different cloth for each type of shoe color/polish.)
3. Shoe polish -- $6 (Pick a polish that most closely resembles your shoe color.)
4. Something to protect your workspace: newspapers, an old towel, or a rag -- free (Shoe polish has a sand-like ability to get everywhere. You don't want to try to scrubbing it out of your carpet.)
Step 1: Clean your canvas.
Using a brush or damp rag, wipe away the dirt, mud, salt, or whatever else has latched onto your previously clean shoes. If you need to get your shoes a little wet in order to clean them, make sure that you allow them to dry before applying the polish.
Step 2: Paint your masterpiece.
Pop open your can of polish and take a deep whiff. That's the scent of you keeping alive a centuries-old tradition of being a man.
Rub your cloth in the polish until it's picked up a poker chip-sized amount, and apply the polish evenly on the entire surface of the shoe, moving in a circular motion. If you're using a cloth or rag, wrap it around your hand & use your index and middle fingers to work the polish into the shoe (as pictured). Pay special attention to the toe and heel, since those are the spots that bear the brunt of your daily wear. For any hard-to-reach areas, such as the seams, use a cotton ball or old toothbrush.
Allow each shoe to sit and dry for 15 minutes. While you wait, feel free to watch Die Hard/grow an impressive amount of chest hair/change your engine oil/generally show off your burgeoning manliness.
Step 3: Buff 'em.
Grab that brush and buff each shoe with short, even strokes. This move is going to remove any excess polish and, thanks to the heat generated by your vigorous brushing, give the leather a lustrous shine.
Now, go forth and kick the day's ass with those sparkling shoes.