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Keeping your style together takes both consistency and preparedness. You might have your look tied together, but can you keep it tied together? Handmade leather Italian shoes and boots are durable, flexible and adaptable. Snow, sludge, water and salt, however, damage even high-quality materials.

When the streets fill with ice, you should prepare accordingly. Sure, your look won’t get bogged down by a day or two of wind, but it might start to dwindle after days of puddle hopping. Whether brogues or boots, leather is susceptible to cold water, ice, and sludge. Period. Below, we run through the best preventative methods around to protect your style—one trick at a time:

Trick One: Go Big on the Saddle Soap

Saddle soap is a mild, protective soap leather-wearers and wranglers have used for decades. You might not be a cowboy, but all leather apparel benefits from saddle soap. Even if you’re not wearing leather boots, you can still use saddle soap to protect your handmade leather shoes. Go big on price, too, because you won’t need nearly the amount of saddle soap that boot-wearers will. Your container will last a while. Remember: You’re applying very small amounts.

Saddle soap contains lanolin, a waxy grease. It protects leather shoes from water, sludge, and stiffening. Cold climates harden and crack handmade leather shoes, but lanolin can save the day. Glycerol, too, is a common saddle soap ingredient. It further moisturizes the leather, is freeze-resistant and lasts a long time after application.

Trick Two: Back Off the Heat

Salt is a leather-killer. You might not know it, but you’re probably walking around in salt during snowy months. People salt their sidewalks, driveways and front porches. If you’re stepping in puddles, ice piles or even on doormats, you’re working salt into your shoes.

Because your handmade leather shoes will be exposed to salt, you should take extra care in avoiding extreme heat. You might want to dry your shoes in front of the heater—but you shouldn’t. Salt-containing leather breaks down when exposed to extreme heat. Let your handmade shoes dry naturally, and make use of shoe trees to help keep the shape. The leather will thank you.


Trick Three: Swap Out the Laces Frequently

Ideally, you should be applying leather dressing to the stitches of your leather shoes, too. While moisturizing, however, your laces might suffer durability loss. Your laces are as important as leather, and they can damage Italian leather if not properly maintained. Leather dressing aside, weather wear-and-tear can stiffen your laces—which, in turn, will scratch your leather. Really, the only solution to avoid lace-based damages is to remove them entirely. Not all Italian leather shoes protect materials with lace separation, and stiff laces can scuff interiors and exteriors alike. Unlace your shoes every two weeks or so, judge their durability, and swap them out entirely if they’re getting crusty.

You’ll get the hang of wintertime maintenance. It takes time, but handmade leather shoe wearers frequently get the gist of flexibility, coating and protection over time. Stay out of puddles, stay away from the salt and dry your shoes slowly. Your look is worth it.

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