The Fashionisto is in: Love thy footwear

Heel! Only the soleful may enter.

Spencer Doar

As the Arctic winds encroach with frustrating ferocity, clad in the spurious guise of snow and winter sports, one thought is on everybody’s mind: “My shoes are in for five months of hellish abuse.”

That’s an unavoidable truth, unless you live a lavish life of door-to-door car service and constantly snow-blown walkways. Even then, could you truly escape the omnipresent salt? Here are some things to keep in mind as the temperature continues to drop.

Feelin’ salty?

While saline compounds are a man’s best friend for clearing sidewalks and driveways, the telltale sign of winter is the inevitable white salt halo ‘round your shoes. It’s as gross as a pink ring in the bathtub, and it’s just as easy to remove.

All it takes is a little bit of white vinegar mixed with some warm water — a tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of water is a good approximation of the ratio. Take a cloth and dab the warm mixture on the unsightly salt damage. Let ‘em dry. (But don’t put them in front of a heating vent, as that can potentially harm certain materials.) This simple remedy is best on suede and other types of leather.  

Cheating the inevitable

We know winter puts footwear through the ringer. Keep that in mind, and preemptively strike back at the forces of freeze.

This means investing in a basic waterproofing spray. While all shoe materials are not created equal, there are all-purpose waterproofers out there, most of which are surprisingly effective. With a few coats of a waterproofer, there is no need to fear curbside moats of slush and grime. Walk with confidence through these urban obstacles.  

Lace up frequently

Everybody has, at one point or another, faced grubby laces syndrome. White laces on a pair of shoes get dirty quickly, and other colors will get frayed and worn. The laces can really make the shoe, so either wash them or, if you’re lazy, buy new pairs when needed. Fresh white laces can make a pair of worn sneakers look much sexier.

If you don’t wanna worry ‘bout a thing

While it might give you flashbacks to elementary school and lockers full of soaking boots, the best way to beat winter shoe woes is to carry a nice pair of shoes to wear at your final destination and to tromp around outside in your outdoor-only footwear.

If all of this has you complaining about more things to do in your undoubtedly busy life, keep in mind that there are professionals out there who can do all of this (and more) for you. Stuff like sole repair, toe reinforcement, extensive waterproofing and improving traction are all services available from the many cobblers around town.