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Friday, January 29. 2010
How to do a good shoe shine
Dress shoes need to be shined regularly if you do not wish to look bedraggled, don't they?
A spit shine requires a little water (or spit). Here's the USMA method.
And from The Art of Manliness, here's How to Shine Shoes like a Soldier.
It takes a toothbrush to do it right and to get into the seams. People say 30-40 minutes per shoe for a definitive shine, less for a touch-up shine. Obsessionals like to top off a shine with a coat of clear polish.
I read that you are supposed to edge the sole too. News to me, but makes sense.
Photo is a good J. Press Oxford shoe - off the rack and not too fancy, but good enuf for government or academic work. Maybe when I win the lottery I'll have foot molds taken in London and Rome and have them make me custom shoes and loafers like my prosperous friends do.
Posted by Bird Dog in Our Essays, The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:20 | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)
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You haven't been around academics much lately. The de rigor style is slob. You will not see an oxford or wingtip on any professor. Sneakers usually, some chukkas, flipflops and slippers even, but no dress shows.
Except for the department chairs, deans, provosts vice presidents and presidents. They all wear suits--not sports coats and slacks--suits! Usually black or navy blue. With a dress shirt and tie.
When I started professoring in 1970, everyone was sort of formal. But no more. By the time I retired, it was slob city everywhere. The faculty are even slovenly at their own PhD candidates' final exams. The candidates, however, dress formally. How bizarre. It seems the faculty do not take seriously one of the major events in their students lives. It's as if they don't respect either the students or the process.
I think this reflects the low, ignorant level of discourse on our campuses. The modern faculty is functionally illiterate, sometimes even in their own "disciplines."
The administration/faculty divide is also the adult/child divide and master/slave divide.
Don't forget Birkenstocks, with rag socks or fleece socks in winter.
The soles of a friend's shoes looked really bad - a big hole. He was going to throw them away. I was shocked. "Why don't you just get them re-soled?" "What?" he asked. He didn't know. He was a rich kid. Yeah. They weren't polished, either.
Another friend was complaining because she had put a deep scuff in her new boots and now was going to have to buy new ones. "You couldn't polish it out?" I asked. She had no idea what I was talking about. She had NEVER polished her shoes. And she was a military brat, too, as I was. One of my jobs when I was a second grader was to polish my dad's shoes. I am still the shoe polisher in the house. My husband hates doing it, but I hate even more not taking care of nice things.
Bob Sykes ... Your comment about academics and their de rigueur personal slobbishness strikes a chord with me. My Dad and my husband, both, always maintained that dressing like a slob disrespects yourself, and all those around you. Downs, my husband, has traveled an immense amount over his working life -- to more than 20 countries, as a matter of fact, some of them more than once. He maintains that if he dresses neatly [maybe not a tie always, but neatly in khakis and a dress shirt and jacket] he gets treated better by airline personnel and those around him. Except for airport security folks here in the US, who will wave sloppy dressers in wife-beater undershirts through right away, while wanding him and delaying him. But we all know about airport security personnel. Other than that, however, I agree with his contention that if you dress as if you respect yourself, others will be drawn to respect you. And well-polished shoes are part of the image.
By the way, Bird Dog ... I've seen films of military types running a lit cigarrette lighter swiftly near the surface of their polished shoes. What's that in aid of?
Marianne, I left you another note about Milwaukee on the rosary/Milwaukee thread.
RE: Airports and clothes. I used to date a guy who was a supervisor for an airline. He hated seeing empty seats in first class, so he would fill them with nicely-dressed, well groomed passengers from coach. Just at his own discretion.
The lighter/match/lighter fluid is myth in the sense that it shortens the time to get a proper spit shine. It doesn't and the results can be a diaster prompting much displeasure from one's superiors in Boot Camp. The good old tried and true method of elbow grease/polish and spit/water is the best and produces the best see-your-face shine.
Nowadays, I wear patent leather wing tips when I have to wear wing tips. Otherwise, I wear a plain old, polished but not to a spit shine, brogans.
I have several old pairs of wing tips that I wear when working about the house too - best support for me - even better than the Herman Survivors I bought years ago.
And, this goes back a few years, Dave Marcus of NASCAR fame, along with Dick Trickle, wore wing tips while racing. :>)
As a former boot camp attendee, senior NCO and member of an honor guard unit, I know a thing or two about shining good leather.
The lighter or match idea was perhaps an urban myth. The theory was to melt the polish (which is basically wax) a little and help it work in. I tried it a few times and never saw any real results. I used a good deal of spit or ice water. It sounds odd but it seemed to work: rub a cotton ball on the polish, rub it on an ice cube or dip it in cold water, and then elbow grease. Lots of elbow grease. This was a weekly ritual for me until my last year or so on active duty, when I got Corfams.
My current dress shoes are a synthetic and don't take a real shine. I keep them in decent condition, though.
Prefer hot water rather than 'spit'. Kiwi 'Parade Gloss' is my polish of choice. Toothbrush is essential for getting into the welts. New boots/shoes can take up to 60-90 minutes each but this can be reduced to less than 10 minutes for daily top-up shine. Never did approve use of clear polish - cheating!
Marianne, I have used a lighter to melt globs of polish into a 'crack' that may have formed.
Using a tooth brush for getting polish into welts and seams usually results in globs of polish to be spread around as well as screwing up your spit shine. I've found that using a cheap shaving brush works best. Wrap the bristles with string/electricians' tape to tighten them up leaving about 1/2-3/4" exposed. It'll give you much better control than with a tooth brush.
Also, using dressing doesn't work worth a crap on non-leather soles and heels. It tends to flake off.
If you use spit instead of water you will notice that after several shines the shine will have a slightly milky appearance - especially on black leather. Stick with water.
Cotton flannel works much better for spit shining rather than "T" shirt material or the like.
BD: Custom shoes are the best. When I was riding my trusty old mule back in the kids "Horsie" days, I had a pair of custom cowboy boots made in, of all places, New Hampshire. It was a pretty simple process too - no mold, just nine measurements per foot.
Those are still the most comfortable boots I own.
New Hampshire at least has been a place of rural workers; every reason in the world why they would make excellent boots, even cowboy boots. I have always understood Mr. Stetson never saw the West, but his hat sure did.
This is a bit pedantic - USMA stands for United States Military Academy. That's the Army, not the Marines. I've known both. They'd want you to correct your link.
No mention of boning? With your easy access to deer bones there is no excuse for not boning your leather.
http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/archives/001155.html has details.
The method I learned in the NCO Academy at Fort Sill, Oklahoma was to use a small piece of damp dishwashing sponge as the polish applicator. The slightly damp sponge always worked the polish to a nice gloss. I still use that method 40 years later.
All this talk about shoe shines-Just think, now there are millions of people who do not own a leather type shoe.