The BP Shoe Polish Method

Polishing one’s shoes is a noble task that should provide equal amounts of personal satisfaction and therapeutic relaxation. When done properly, a shoe shine is enjoyable and rewarding and not meant to be accomplished by sitting in a chair at the airport and having someone else do it. Here are a few suggested steps to ensure a thorough and lustrous shine, every time. The basic steps are: make a cup of tea, set up your workspace, clean, condition, apply polish, wait, remove polish, final polish and cleanup.

1. Lay down an old terry towel, mat, or preferably yesterday’s business section of the Wall Street Journal on top of a desk, table, or counter. I often sit on the living room floor and set up my shine shop on the coffee table; whatever works for you. You want to cover your work surface because shoe polish is not easily removed from one’s skin, clothing, carpets, or tablecloths.

2. Lay out your accoutrements and polishing tools and implements. These should include leather conditioner/cleaner, an on brush, an off brush, a dauber, a microfiber polish cloth, an applicator cloth (old t-shirt), crème and wax polish, and a tooth brush not currently in service for cleaning one’s actual teeth. Remove shoe laces.

3. Take a clean, sturdy brush and thoroughly dust the shoes to be shined. You may also clean them with a soft cloth or microfiber cloth. Just don’t contaminate your final polishing utensils with dirt and old bits of grass. If you have the aforementioned grimey bits of old road and grass and dirt; you should feel empowered to remove said offenders with a firm brush or toothbrush for tight areas such as stitching and sole edges.

4. Now that your shoes are free from standing debris you need to clean and condition the leather. Take the corner of an old t-shirt and apply some leather conditioner such as Leather Lotion” and gently but firmly spread it throughout the shoe’s upper, turning the cloth if it appears dirty. You may also want to treat the leather soles of your dress shoes from time to time as they can get dry and slippery. Allow the leather conditioner to sit for 10 or 15 minutes. This should be done every three months or so.

5. You will now apply polish in the form of crème or wax. I alternate between the two because crème keeps your shoes softer but has less ingredients for protection, whereas wax polish protects very well, but can dry out the leather if it’s allowed to build up and “seal” in the leather. Pick a color that most closely resembles the color of the leather you are polishing. Darker polishes will darken the leather, which is not always a bad thing. I use it for accenting or warming up the color of tan and burgundy shoes. When in doubt, use a neutral polish. Apply polish to the entire shoe; that includes the tongue, sole (not areas of contact with the ground), and sole edge and heal.

6. When applying crème polish, use a dauber and gently spread a small amount of polish over the entire shoe, adding more if necessary. I use straight lines instead of circle for no particular reason. When applying wax polish, wad up a corner of the aforementioned t-shirt or tightly wrap a corner of the shirting around your index finger and dampen it slightly with warm water. With your wadded up cloth or finger, gently stroke the top layer of wax polish in the tin three times. This is enough wax to polish half of your shoe. Another swipe or two will get you the rest of the way there. Too much wax polish will actually crack and look unsightly when you begin to walk and crease your shoes. A wax buildup will also prevent nourishment from getting at the leather and can cause your shoes to dry out prematurely. Wax polish is good for protecting the seams, stitching, and welting of the shoes from water and staining. Go make a cup of tea or otherwise occupy yourself for 15 minutes.

7. Set your tea down near your shoes, pick up your off brush (black hair for black polish, neutral hair for everything else) in your dominant hand and your shoe in the other hand and begin to stroke the shoe with the brush in a back-and-forth motion. Brush the entire shoe at least twice to remove the polish. I brush twice and sometimes three times and then finish the final polishing with a soft microfiber towel. I keep all of my cloths separate with one for black and one for all other colors. Black polish on brown is noticeable, but various shades of brown and red are easily blended without fuss.

8. Make no wild gesticulations with your brush or cloth, but simple, purposeful strokes and swipes will serve you best. When I finish the polishing procedure, I make sure to go over the toe twice with a microfiber cloth to remove any streaking or smudges. You may elect to apply polish with more than one coat, which is fine. If you polish regularly, it’s not really necessary.

9. Reinstall the laces and replace your shoe trees. At this point I also return my shoes to their flannel shoe bags so they remain clean and dust-free until the next wearing.

10. While your polishing is through, you still have work to do. Wash the dauber in warm water to remove any residual polish from the hairs. Also, rinse your t-shirt every so often to remove the areas of conditioner that will get stiff after it dries. Eventually you will have to throw away the t-shirt and replace it with another. You can wash your microfiber cloths in the sink with warm water and laundry soap, no fabric softener…ever. If you machine wash, do so alone, with no comingling with cotton towels or other clothes. The lint will never come off your microfiber cloths until you wish to polish your shoes. All that’s left now is to wash your teacup, put away your supplies, and enjoy your shoes. I like to do whole batches of shoes all at once, that way by the time I’m done applying polish on the last pair, the first pair is ready to buff. But, it’s entirely up to you.

That’s all there is to it.

Alistair the Jaguar is FOR SALE

Up for grabs is my beloved 2000 Jaguar Vanden Plas.  I’ve owned the car since 2008 when it had 82,000 miles on it and now the car has just over 126,000 miles.  Its Platinum Silver with Charcoal Connolly leather hides with light grey piping.  The car was built with every option available except for GPS and on-board cell phone.  The car has been a great drive for the past few years and continues to be a wonderful machine.  Its just too big to keep around as a 3rd car and I’m running out of space with two other cars, a motorcycle, and a boat project.

Vital Stats:

Engine V8, 4.0 Liter

Horsepower     290 @ 6100 RPM

Torque 290 @ 4250 RPM

I typically get around 20-23 MPG depending on how much highway driving I’ve done and how much AC I’ve used.

This is a long-wheelbase car and it has folding walnut pick-nick tables in the back seats.  The wood is in really great shape in this car with a single small crack in the clear coat on the dashboard and a few cracks in the clear on the tables.

Options

Folding Rear Tables

Sheepskin Floor Mats

Wood Steering Wheel

Wood Shifter Knob

Heated Front and Rear Seats

Memory Seat

6-Disk CD Changer

Very well maintained, Mobil 1 Synthetic since I’ve owned it, full maintenance history including synthetic transmission fluid change, synthetic rear end oil,  fairly new tires, new front brake pads, sway bar links, and more.

The sticker from new was $67,000 and I’m selling the car for the sum of $6,500.  I will consider reasonable offers and trades.

Thanks for looking!

Brett: Thewaxmania@gmail.com or 401-835-2679

Holiday Spirit is Still in the Air

Happy Holidays…now that they’re over.  Today is, in fact, a holiday and I thought I might take a few moments to write up a nice little post-Christmas update.  I’ve been on a shoe kick (hey-o!) lately and have prioritized and organized my collection and my list for future acquisitions.   I’ve also re-organized my bedroom furniture to create a better atmosphere for myself and my things.  I’m a clothes horse and needed a better stable for my accouterments (pronounced uh-koo-ter-muhnt).  So I made a big pile for the good-will box and reorganized my wardrobes and book-cases and made homes for my new Chrissie-pressies.   One of which was a Conair GS28B Clothing Steamer and it’s certainly the gift I’ve used the most.  I use it almost every day to freshen up my suits before and after wearing, and my shirts after they come out of the closet to clear any wrinkles or creases.

I have been going back and forth on finding some longwing bluchers that accomplished my mission in shoes and I hadn’t found what I’d been looking for…until now.   The mission was to find a pair or two that were well-made and wouldn’t break the bank.  Originally, I thought that when Lands End had their 30% off sale, I’d buy a pair of Allen Edmonds MacNeils since they’d be just over $225 and even though they only had black, I could live with that.  I didn’t, because Christmas was upon me and I didn’t want to spend $225 on myself.  Fair enough.  Then Christmas came and went and I decided that I would buy myself something nice with my Christmas haul.  I went to the Tanger Outlets and popped into the Johnston Murphy and found a nice pair of saddle shoes in burgundy and black, but couldn’t find any besides the single shoe on display.  Next door is the Florsheim shop and inside I was able to find two pairs of Kenmoor wingtips in smooth black and pebble cognac for $230.  There was a buy-one-get-one at 50% sale and I walked out with two lovely pairs of shoes.  I may go back for them in burgundy sometime soon, since at regular price they’re still only $155.  I bought a really great and really utilitarian shoe horn there as well.  Stamped FLORSHEIM on the front, the back reads PRO FITTER – MADE IN U.S.A.

They came with cute little fleece bags that gave me the idea that ALL of my shoes needed similar bags.  So I made a cardboard pattern and got to the sewing machine with some cheap fleece and some end-of-bolt flannel and spare shoe laces from sneakers of Christmases past.  Not bad.  I’ve got three more pair to make.

I’ve wanted a pair of dress saddle shoes for some time.  I keep looking at them when I’m at Johnston Murphy and every now-and-then I sneak a peek at these Aldens at Leather Soul.  Someday I’ll be able to swing the $600 for them, but today I’m afraid it’s too much of an extravagance.  They never seem to have them at J&M in my size, but I’m still looking.  At the outlet they’ve got them for around $125, which sounds about right.  They’re $235 at retail and I can’t bring myself to spend that much on an Indian-made shoe.  So I hit eBay and found a pair of Florsheim Saddles that were relatively nice and the last was stylish and they were pretty cheap.  After losing an auction on a pair of vintage shell cordovan Kenmoors, I decided to ease my pain with a pair of saddle shoes…and some full-last cedar shoe trees.

To help organize my life, I needed a shoe-shine kit.  I’d always just kept my supplies in a shoe-box or a shaving kit.  My lovely girlfriend got me this one for Christmas and I can’t say enough about how much I love it.  Its great and keeps everything tidy.  There’s a solid latch keeping the top closed and the box is made of quality materials.  I keep a little non-slip shelf paper on the shoe stand so I can polish my leather-soled shoes without injury.  The afghan was a gift from my mother.  She knows I love the holidays and the colors brighten up any wintry situation.

I’ve mentioned before on here that I don’t wear loafers.  But this past weekend, I spend a good hour trying on Weejuns at the Bass shop nearby.  I couldn’t find a pair that fit worth a damn and when I asked for an 8E, my request fell on deaf ears.  I’m not sure if Bass even makes a regular wide, all they seemed to have were D, EE, and EEE.  Oh well.  In my frustration I found a pair of boat shoes that were pretty cool and I thought they might ease me into wearing loafers.  I’m from New England, so I grew up wearing boat shoes and bucks, but haven’t worn a pair of “topsiders” in years.  They’re great and since I haven’t left the house in two days, I’ve been wearing them indoors.  I love them and can’t wait for warmer weather to head outdoors with them.  Another quintessential New England “trad” item checked off my list!  And for $40, they can’t be beat!

I’m a shoe-shine nut.  I polish at least one pair per week, most weeks I polish at least five.  I find it therapeutic, like sewing, cooking, ironing, or mowing the lawn.  I’m at peace when I’m with my shine-box.  So I think I’ve decided to set some time aside to do a shoe-shine blog/video post.  I’m not sure about the video part, but I’ll ask my girlfriend if she can help and maybe there will be some video.  I don’t know much about videos except that I like watching them, but she’s pretty fancy with AV stuff.   So keep checking back and see my post about shoe care…as January has become “Shoe Month” I’m fitting it all in while I still can!

Take care and enjoy yourself.

Shoes…Shoes…Shoes

I’ve caught the shoe bug this fall as I started to re-organize my bedroom into a more user-friendly layout.  I’ve taken inventory of my “dress” shoe wardrobe and noticed a few glaring absences and some unforgivable duplicates.  See below.  I have additional shoes that I wear but don’t like that much, so I’ve left them out of the shot.  I’ll replace them in due time as finances allow.

In my desire to build a shoe wardrobe with items that have been relatively easy to get or opportunities that have arisen, I’ve not made purchases to fill holes.  Instead I build the collection with items that are good deals at the time and I buy things I like.  So I’ve decided I need to focus and make a list so I don’t buy any more black, cap-toe bals than I already have.

So I started to make a list…and quickly got overwhelmed and anxious about how much money I’m bound to spend on such lovely, lovely shoes.  It’s a curse really, to know what you want and be able to find what you want, but not be able to spend the money on the thing you’ve looked for and pined over for so long.  But, alas, a list is often necessary for proper planning and it prevents purchasing things you don’t really need.  I, for instance, have two pair of black cap-toe oxfords that are almost exactly the same.  I also have two pair of black wingtip bals that are almost exactly the same.  Why?  Because I go shopping when I’m hungry and buy things I like right now instead of what’s on the list and end up with 10 bags of Utz, taco mix, Pepsi Max, and Milano cookies for dinner.

My list includes a decent number of bluchers.  Most of which have double leather souls and are often referred to as “gunboats” in both longwing and plain toe form.  Starting with the longwings I’m almost certain I NEED at least one pair in black (possibly pebble grain also), color 8/burgundy, tan pebble grain, brown, and a variation of rust/chestnut.  Additionally, I’ll need plain toes in black, brown, and color 8/burgundy.  Florsheim leads the race now with an insane sale at the outlets for roughly $117 per pair or Kenmoors (regularly $225).  I’m considering a present from me to me this Christmas.

Florsheim has a new line called “Limited” and the shoe that’s caught my eye is the “Veblen”.  They’re built on the same last as the Kenmoor, but in a decidedly different style.  I particularly like the contrasting “oak” sole and heal.  Nice touch.  They also have a more “rugged” upper that looks like it was specifically designed for young, city dwelling hipsters to wear with jeans and Ray Bans.  In any event, I like them quite a lot.  Mixed reviews online but I’ve yet to see them in person.  See http://www.florsheim.com/shop/index.html

I’ve just recently picked up a pair of vintage Stafford plain toe bluchers in a tan scotch grain that’s quite nice and they’re very comfortable.  They’re surprisingly lightweight for such a hefty shoe.  In the past I’ve focused on longwings and they have always had added weight, presumably from extra material and stitching.  These are light and airy, if not a bit chilly to wear in cold weather.

Additionally, when scouring the blogs this past week, I started looking at styles I hadn’t really given much thought to in the past.  I came up with about 5 or 6 saddle styles and 3 or 4 suede styles that I can’t believe I’ve gone without.  GH Bass has a new line of shoes in a “heritage” collection that features bucks in many different colors, chucka boots in a bunch of styles; some with crepe soles, some with red soles, and some with commando soles.  They also have a few saddle styles in a more casual line that have red soles.  I do like the New England Trad look and it is becoming a little more accessible to commoners like me.  Below is a selection of GH Bass’s newest offerings in the Trad spirit.  I like these quite a lot and can see myself wearing these around New England this spring and summer.  With super-comfy crepe-soled shoes like these, who needs sneakers?  See https://bassshoes.harborghb.com/

I’m continuing on the thread of affordable quality and value; I’m focusing my resources and energy on these ideas. However, I’m going to take a break from all that to talk about these lovely numbers below.  They’re from ReMix Vintage Shoes in LA and I found their site a few years ago when looking for wingtips.  The white suede cap-toes are the most recent addition to their line and I’m completely speechless.  I want them.  Now.  They can also cap and heal them in black leather or brown leather; your choice.  They run in the $165 range and they appear to be of good quality.  Other styles include the penny loafers, both in actual loafer style and in a lace-up.  These are in blue suede along with white suede.  The brown wingtips are just classy in a casual sort of way and I think one could rock them without being a rockabilly boy.  See http://www.remixvintageshoes.com/

Well, that’s all for now folks.  Enjoy these lovely images for a while and make your own lists.  Christmas is right around the corner…so I wear an 8D and….oh wait…what I mean is that you should put your lists together and if you’ve got any cash left after the 25th, buy yourself a nice pair of shoes.  Your feet will thank you, and you’ll be doing important work towards rebuilding our economy. ;0

I hope you like the wood…

I do.  Really.  I’ve been thinking more and more about where this blog was going and I decided that it needed some focus.  I am more interested in men’s clothing and accouterments than ever before and I’m focusing this as an outlet for that.  There is a real gap in the market for menswear in this country between the high end of the market and the low.  Par for the course, I suppose, but its where most of the men fall, and leaving them behind is a travesty.  A modern “forgotten man” as it were.

So.  I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you all are having a good Hanukkah and are gearing up for the Christmas season.  In the coming months I will be contributing to this blog on a weekly basis…I hope.

A Case for Thrifting…

First.  I know its been quite some time since I’ve talked at the internet.  I’m not sorry.  But since no-one actually reads this thing and I essentially write for myself while I wait for someone to discover my genius, I’m carrying on as if nothing ever happened.

I once read somewhere that the true value of a garment can be measured as the total cost of the garment and tailoring divided by the number of times the garment is worn, and then adding some factor for the amount of enjoyment one gets from wearing it. I like that. I think it’s a good depiction of the way I look at clothes and the way some others do.  If one gets no enjoyment from wearing clothes, then there is less incentive to spend money on them.  I can understand that.

Now, I’m a thrift-store junkie.  I don’t say “vintage shop” because I don’t like that term and almost never do I actually shop at genuine vitage shops, because they’re overpriced bourgeoisie shops.  Because I like thrifting, and have the time to do so, I have a backlog of garments (suits, vests, jackets, pants, coats, etc.) that I buy and then put them away until I have the money and inclination to have them tailored.  I buy them because they are unique or just neat or just because they’re a good deal and someday in the future I’ll hang the expense and have them tailored.

I’ve got a great tailor and have fostered a relationship with him over years, so the experience is quite pleasant. I’m relatively young and have a shape and size that isn’t easily fit by newer off the peg items and I’m not excited by what I see in shops that I can afford.   That’s how I started thrifting and shopping on eBay and the like.  I like it a lot and for me, its become a way of getting it done.  I like history and heritage and learning about brands and shops from my area. When I can talk shop with old-timers at the tailor’s and they ask where I got my suit and I tell them its from a store that we both know closed 25 years ago, I get a lot of satisfaction out of it.  This brings me to the topic of brands and the not-so-glamorous menswear shtick.

There’s a problem, as I see it, in the men’s clothing trade.  There’s a definite top and a definite bottom and the middle ground is hazy at best.  Take shoes for instance.  There are shoes with price points of $500+ at the top, $250 in the middle, and $100 +/- at the bottom.  The shoes at the top are great, the shoes at the bottom are not so great and the shoes in the middle are just mediocre, but still cost enough to be a serious purchase.  There will always be those who can afford to look however they like.  I’m not concerned with those types, I’m concerned with gents who will otherwise be wearing polyester suits and patent leather loafers from Penney’s unless there are other options ready at hand and within a price range that isn’t ridiculous.  Right now, in my opinion, there aren’t such options.  There are plenty of “regular folks” who want to dress well but don’t because there aren’t options available in their budget, or they don’t want to make thrifting and bargain hunting a weekly hobby; and rightly so.  For them, getting dressed is getting dressed, and they’d just as easily put on nice clothes, than dull clothes.

There are encouraging signs in America today if you look hard enough. I like to look at this as an attempt to get men who otherwise couldn’t afford Oxxford and Aldens in a nice suit and a pair of good quality shoes that are stylish and modern and gets them excited about dressing. If that works, we’re on our way to a better dressed country. Sometimes I think we’ve raised the bar so much that it is well out of reach of a lot of men who can’t be bothered with haute couture and $250 socks. We can’t forget about those men.  Those men are America.  I’m one of those men.

Take a look at Florsheim and their new “Limited” line.  They’re onto something.