Ask the Bean: Sole Survival

January 13, 2008 • Magazine

Ask the Bean: Sole Survival

Ask the Bean: Sole Survival

Sun, 2008-01-13 06:00

Dear Bean,

I have a five-block walk between my house and the bus every morning. With the current slush and snow covering the sidewalks, my pumps are getting ruined! I’ve looked into getting some galoshes or other work boots, but I just can’t bring myself to wear my work suits with mukluks. Do you have some advice on “commuting shoes” I can wear and how to save my other shoes from the current conditions?

Desperate Soles

Dear Desperate,

Oh the hardships of the daily commute! I completely understand your want to remain fashionable during this slushy time of year; however I believe most fellow commuters will empathize with your predicament.

And lucky for you, mukluks are no longer the sole option for commuting footwear. So save those work pumps by packing them in your purse and only wearing them upon safely entering your winter-free workspace. Instead of the heavy rubber waders we walking women fear, there are now plenty of adorable—and waterproof—boots out there to guard against those sidewalk splatters and add a little sunshine to our step! A perfect example is Jeffrey Campbell’s cowboy rain boot. I was obsessed with his Roses & Skulls Cowboy Boot when it first came out, and now he features some very classy black western rain boots for some class with a little edge. The fun patterns from Gabriella Rocha and Sperry also add a jump to the step.

To go from the elements to the 9-5 work day, there are some transitional pieces of footwear for you to choose from as well. La Canadienne from Montreal, for example, boasts a line of suede upper boots seam-sealed with micro fiber lining for guaranteed and stylish waterproof protection.

As to your other pumps, there are various methods to clean the different materials. Leather and suede are the two most popular materials for pumps and heels. For intense stains, it is always best to get leather and suede professionally cleaned. But if all we’re talking about is some slush and mud, there are ways to buff them up from winter wear.

• Place a small amount of gentle, moisturizing bath soap on a damp cloth and work into a lather
• For cleaning off rock salt, clean sparingly with a mixture of one part water to one part white vinegar
• Rub the damp cloth on the leather (make sure not to get the leather too wet)
• Using a fresh damp cloth, wipe the shoe dry – Do not use water to rinse the leather!
• Polish with a dry towel
• After it has dried completely, treat with leather conditioner — A good product to look for is Dubbin Leather Polish

A word of warning: Do NOT use saddle soap as a cleanser. Yes, it is a common leather care myth, but this liquid can actually damage the leather on your favorite shoes more so than slush and salt on the sidewalks. Saddle soap is inherently alkaline, which damages leather. Also, during application most saddle soaps instruct the user to work the lather into the leather. This process actually pushes the dirt back into the leather’s pores leaving it no cleaner than before.

• Rub suede gently with a bath towel
• Remove dry stains and marks by gently rubbing affected areas with a pencil eraser
• For wet stains lay a paper towel on top of stain to absorb most of the liquid
• Brush with a suede brush
• For cleaning off more intense stains (such as the winter standard of rock salt), apply a small amount of white vinegar to a lightly dampened cloth
• Gently rub the surface of the shoe with the cloth, then allow it to air dry

This should get you started in keeping your feet warm on the way to the bus, and protecting your shoes for when you step into the office. Happy Commuting!

Top to bottom
Photo Henry Frank Wholesale Ltd.
Jeffrey Campbell Women’s Roses & Skulls Cowboy Rubber Rain Boots
Gabriella Rocha Dottie/Tall Shaft
Sperry Top-Sider Pelican Wedge Rubber Boot
La Canadienne Kris Boots
Gucci Edimburg Flat Boot
Burberry Wedge Boot
Hunter Original Boots
Dubbin Polish for Leather
Suede Brush

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