Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to Maintain Shoes

My boss once was talking about the frugality of the generation before ours, saying that, "you know, they got their shoes repaired..."

I get my shoes repaired all the time. (I didn't say this then). In fact, I am in the shoe repair place at least once every couple months. Here's my rundown on how to keep shoes maintained:

1. Only buy good quality shoes that you love and that fit perfectly (and only buy smooth leather- suede does not last). When they are still new, before you have worn them, spray them with a leather protector (spot test them first).

2. Keep those good quality shoes that you love in good condition by periodically taking them to a shoe repair place to have them cleaned, conditioned, and polished. (You can also do this yourself. There are lots of products out there, but I love the pop-up containers of wipes with leather cleaner on them. They make it so easy to clean dirty shoes, bags, and other things made of leather. The conditioning and polishing is a dirty job and I think it's worth the $5 to have someone else do it.) I like to find a small place where I actually speak to the person who is doing the repairs.

3. The heel of a shoe (especially on high-heels) will wear down and need to be replaced from time to time.

4. If your shoes are pointy, the shoe-repair guy can put taps on them to extend their life.

5. If you get a little nick or tear in the leather, this can usually be fixed.

6. Shoe repair guys can do amazing things sometimes. If your shoes have issues, take them in to the repair place and explain what the problem is, and ask if they know of any solutions. From slippery shoes to wrong-size shoes, there is often a solution to the problem.

7. I like to store my shoes in the box they came in. It protects the shoes from dirt, dust, and deformation, with the added benefit that you can stack them all in a neat little pile on a shelf or so.

8. A word on athletic shoes: shoes that are not leather, such as most running shoes, can be machine washed. I have washed many, many pairs of running shoes and haven't had a disaster yet (although I can't make any guarantees...). Just throw them in the washing machine with some detergent on a warm water cycle and when they are done, put them in a warm place, such as next to a heater, to dry. DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE DRYER.

Oh, and one last thing, I always ask what the cost of any service is before I request it to avoid any bad surprises.

Here is a link to an article by Martha Stewart titled, Tips and tricks for keeping your shoes shipshape.

Book Review: 'What Would Jackie Do?'

I love Jackie Kennedy, and I love this book, which I found trolling the stacks at the Bellevue Library.

Here are a few excerpts:

Chapter 5: En Suite Home: Perfecting Your Domestic Pitch

"...interesting objects are not mass-produced."

"Except for neo-contemporary looks, furniture should never smack of newness. There's something a bit ne'er-do-well about a sofa that looks never rested upon. Or an Art Deco dresser that's been over-restored to gleaming perfection. Similarly, a shiny new Steinway is vulgar unless you can dash out Chopin's complete works on it. "

"...when it comes to books, there should be no hiding place...Jackie preferred open bookcases for her dining room library and - except for special tabletop tomes - avoided arranging them with institutional precision."

"...keep your memories tidy. Arrange old photographs in decorative boxes or binders, marked by event and date...In New York, Jackie preserved pictures in lovely red Moroccan leather volumes."

Chapter 6: Building Your Inner Temple: The Art of Self-Enrichment and Fulfillment

"...you must never pass up the chance to attach yourself to intriguing people, experiences, causes - venturing outside your own comfort zone (and zip code) to find new levels of depth."

"All those horrid hours spent learning to conjugate verbs...pay off big time when you glide into an Italian store and order your Parma ham like a native...Jackie spoke French, Italian, Spanish, and even a little Greek..."

"Be a conspicuous (culture) consumer...know[] the must-see plays, operas, and other goings-on about town...seek[] out the best current literature, and revisit[] old favorites...learn[] exotic dances...audit[] grad school classes..."

"Know your way around the stacks, as in, the library."


Geraniums are part of the uniform of buildings in Paris. They are so easy to care for and they bloom from spring to fall (and will live through the winter if you are careful).

This photo shows pink ones, but my favorites are red, and I recently saw a black window box planted with all white geraniums that was really beautiful.

This entry from the blog, "French Kitchen in America" has a cute photo of a Parisian building with geraniums.