suede shoe careDear Bridgette,

I was wondering if you have any advice on suede shoe care. I just got a pair of suede boots that I love.  I haven’t bought suede shoes since I moved to New York because I’m afraid of ruining them the first time out. In addition, because suede is so easy to mess up, I never understood why it was classified as more of a fall/winter shoe material – does the season rule still apply, or can you wear it anytime?

Anne, NYC

Bridgette’s answer on suede shoe care:

Hi Anne,

Suede is more resilient than people think. Long ago, people wouldn’t dare leave the house wearing suede for fear that it would get ruined by one drop of rain. This isn’t necessarily true. However, I don’t recommend trudging through the snow with your feet in suede.  Suede does need to be attended to, no matter how resilient this material can be.

The best way to make your suede shoes or boots last is to pre-treat them. Many shoe repair shops (or your local drugstore chains) sell a spray that can be applied to protect the suede from the elements and staining.  My shoe expert friend and author Meghan Cleary has excellent advice for suede shoe care and spraying them.   She suggests that you take an evening and spray them once an hour before bedtime.  In order to really protect suede, you want to layer the sprays.  Overnight, after multiple sprays, they will be left to dry and really protected.

Since you live in New York, and probably do more walking than the average person, have your shoe maker apply tips to the bottom of your shoes which will reinforce the soles of your shoes and keep the tip of your shoe from getting worn down quickly.

If you have already stained your suede boots use a suede cleaning block (also known as a suede eraser). This product breaks down as you rub it across the surface of the shoe, and is great for removing deeply embedded dirt.

After cleaning, the nap of your suede can be restored by using a suede brush. Suede brushes are usually made from brass, and you can often find both the cleaning block and the brush in one kit.

Check out Joe’s Shoe Service where you can buy your shoe care products online. In New York City, my favorite place to get shoes cleaned and repaired is Jim’s Shoe Repair, located at 50 East 59th Street which is between Park and Madison Avenue.

Suede is certainly not a fall/winter only material. You can wear suede shoes all year long. Of course this doesn’t apply to your boots which will go into storage after the winter season is over. Before packing away your suede boots, you may want to clean them to ensure that the dirt or staining from the season doesn’t settle into the suede. When it comes to staining, the quicker it is attended to, the more likely you will be able to remove it.

I hope this helps with your suede shoe care! Good luck and enjoy your shoes!

Bridgette Raes