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Hey Sid!

Suede Shoes

Hey Sid!

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Submit a question at heysid@sidmashburn.com

“Hey Sid, I'm thinking of adding suede shoes to my wardrobe. How well does it age? I always thought water and snow/salt were no-nos. I'd like to be able to brush out the scuffs from work and travel and wear them out on the weekends. Can I do that, or is it better for one vs. the other?” – Bradley F.

Hi Bradley - thank you for the questions. Since we carry a suede version of ...I think... every single shoe style we make... I can help with an endorsement (heck yes you should add some to your wardrobe) and some tips for upkeep. I love suede.


... clearly

Where you can wear suede? I think the question might actually be where CAN'T you wear it? Short of black-tie, for me, suede is great for virtually any occasion, any time of year... we wear suede double monks and suede bluchers to the office, suede chelseas and suede penny loafers on the weekends, suede chukkas and suede camp mocs on a trip, suede tassel loafers and suede wingtips to a wedding, (there's nothing more beautiful than a navy or grey suit, particularly flannel, with a pair of suede shoes), suede sneakers and suede espadrilles on a boat... you get the picture. Sounds like you might be trying to dial in the office-travel-weekend combo – suede penny loafers or tassels would be fantastic options for that.

How well does suede age? It ages beautifully, especially if you take care of it – which isn't all that complicated. Get yourself a wire suede brush and some cedar shoe trees. When you get some light scuffs, a light brushing will do. (Note: do not brush your suede like you are brushing the grill... brush it like you're brushing your hair. Go with the grain and follow the nap.) Sometimes, depending on the suede, it can start to get a little long and hairy after awhile. At that point I'd take them out of the formal or semi-formal rotation, and exclusively wear 'em with jeans or more casually. That's usually after several years of wear, though.

Is water or snow a no-no? If you are outside and it starts raining or snowing, don't fret, your shoes will be okay. But if it's supposed to rain all day, I'd probably just wear different shoes. If you happen to get caught in a downpour and your shoes are really wet, here's what you do. First, take out the laces and lightly fill the shoes with newspaper, not shoe trees. Newspaper absorbs the moisture, and unlike the trees, won't stretch your shoes. Just don't pack it in too tightly. (And this works for any wet shoes, not just suede... soccer cleats, mocs, you name it.) Then, when it feels like they've dried out, gently brush them with a wire suede brush, put the shoe trees back in, and they're good to go for the next wear. Sidewalk salt isn't great, but you should be able to brush that out, too.


heavy rotation

The one thing you DO need be careful with is oil. Oil can stain, so suede shoes aren't ideal for cooking, car maintenance, or even a cocktail party where they're serving up a lot of mayo-based hors d'oeuvres. But if you do happen to drip some oil on your shoes, the remedy is simple as long as you act pretty quickly. Don't rub it, and instead apply some powder on top of the stain. Clubman talc, baby powder, cornstarch, basically anything that can absorb the oil. Let it sit for a few hours, then lightly brush the powder off, and that should take care of it. If not, we have a pretty good regimen that involves some Saphir suede cleaner and a bit more work!

Hope this has swayed you and given you some confidence about working some suede into your wardrobe... it really isn't as high-maintenance as you may expect, and I think you will enjoy its range. I'm probably in suede shoes 3ish days a week, if not more.

From Sid

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