Caring for your Standard Handmade footwear:

The feeling of putting on a new pair of shoes is something we can all relate to. For me, it
makes me feel new. I feel a sense of new life, new ground to cover, new adventures. Couple a new pair of shoes with a fresh haircut, and the world is mine.  

Now that you own a pair of Standard Handmade boots or shoes it is important that you know how to care for them to keep them looking and wearing their best. Even if you don’t own Standard Handmade footwear (you should really get on that!), this post will help you with general shoe care.

First, we recommend that

after a full day of use, you let your shoes have a rest.  Always let them rest. They are your shoes. They keep your feet safe, comfortable.  The least you can do is let them rest.  The leather will hold up for a much adventure if you do not wear on consecutive days and allow the leather to find its shape again.  You will also want to purchase trees for your shoes. The trees will help to keep the toe wrinkles at bay, and the shape solid.  If you do not know about shoe trees, simply search google and voila!  I 

Second, be mindful of the way you put on and take off your shoes.  Always use your hands to put on and remove your shoes (not scraping down with your feet to remove, or wiggling in while shoes are tied...lazy bones....).  Grip the tongue with one hand and the top of the counter (the back of the shoe) with the other when putting your shoes on. When taking them off it is appropriate to grip the rear portion of the sole with the palm of one hand and the front portion of the sole with another to pull them off after the laces are loosened.

Now that we’ve all of that said, we need to talk cream/polish, and polishing tools.  Yes, there is something to a nice "patina" now and then.  

Luckily, we use top quality leathers that need little care.  However, with dirt and weather over time they will begin to dry out and fade if not properly cared for.  Seriously though, care for your investment.  For polish, we like Fiebing’s Saddle Soap, though there are lots of other great products out there. We choose Fiebing’s because it’s easy to use, works well with any type of leather, and leaves a nice light luster.  If you’re trying to restore shoes that have already lost some pigment, be sure to pick a pigmented polish that is lighter than you think you want. It will appear darker once applied to your shoes. You should also keep a couple of shoe brushes (one coarse horse hair brush, and one fine horse hair brush) and a soft cloth to apply polish with.  Lastly, an extremely soft cloth such as microfiber, for the final stage/buffing.


Be sure to take the laces off when you start. They will get in the way.

1.  Use the coarse horse hair brush in a back and forth motion over the entire surface of the shoes in order to remove loose dirt.

2. Liberally apply the saddle soap, or other polish, over the surface of the shoes with a soft rag. Old tees work great. Don’t worry about using too much here. If you have saddle soap, you have to first wet your rag to create a lather in the soap, then apply it to the shoes. Fiebing’s is neutral in color, so carefully get into all of the wrinkles and creases for a uniform look.  

3. After the whole surface including the sole is covered with polish and dry/soaked in (a couple minutes), go back over the shoes with the soft rag, using a clean portion, and gently take off some of the excess polish. The sole gets the same treatment as the rest of the shoe.

4.  Use the fine horse hair brush in a brisk back and forth motion to take off some more of the remaining polish, at this point you will start to see a shine.

5.  Once the look and color of the shoes is uniform, using the microfiber cloth, speedily and lightly rub it on the surface of the shoes. This will create further shine and completely take up any excess polish.

At this point you are done! You can stop and admire your work, put your shoes on your feet and go grab a local craft beer. Right now, I’m digging Buffalo Bayou Brewery’s “Beez Nutz.”

For our shoes, you really only need to do this once in a while (two to four times a year for a new and healthy look). You can take small scuffs out with a dab of water and a microfiber cloth applied to the area.

For you overachievers, and those sporting some monks, or wing tipped oxfords in which you want the ultimate shine, there is one more step to the polishing process. You need a cotton ball and water. Dab the cotton ball in water and squeeze out the excess water. In the toe and heel area of the shoes, where a gloss shine is typically achieved, vigorously but not heavily, rub the cotton ball against the surface in a circular motion. This will take some work before you see it. Don’t lose heart. There are also several polishes out there that are meant for a high gloss shine and will not take as much work.

Let us know how you shine!  Shoot us an email with a photo, or tag us in your shot @standardhandmade.

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  • Jared, You don’t need any special brush. You just need a fine and a coarse. Amazon is easy, yes, but I often get them from Walgreens or CVS – and surprisingly, the brushes are made in the US. After a few years, or a few months (depending on how much you like to shine you shoes!) you will need new ones.

  • For step #1 you mention using a “horse” hair brush. Where could I purchase one of those? Amazon or is there a certain brand you recommend?


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