Here’s the thing about an investment purchase: it requires a commitment to buy and keep in your closet, but the reward pays off every time you pull out that statement piece, season after season. And when it comes to looking after heels, you’re not alone. We chatted with expert shoe cobbler Lorena Agolli of Sole Survivor in Toronto, for her tips on how to take care of your heels and boots, so they continue to take care of you.
1. Switch to rubber heel lifts. On most of your favourite stilettos, the backing over the tip of the heel is made of plastic, which tends to grind against concrete, says Agolli. “And after a night of dancing, half of it gets worn down.” This exposes the metal point of the heel and makes for a difficult repair. “It changes the entire look of the shoe.” Once you’ve invested in your statement heel, bring your beloved pair to a cobbler to have the plastic lift swapped out for a more durable rubber equivalent. “It allows the heel to wear evenly.”
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2. Invest in heel savers. Adding a protective plastic cap over the heel will prevent it from sinking into the grass and scratching up against cobblestone or dreaded subway grates, says Agolli.
3. Use a rubbing alcohol solution to stretch out the shoe. Mix equal parts water and rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and spritz directly onto the leather both on the outside and interior (inside only if patent) to help break down stiffness and mold the form comfortably to your foot. Allow the solution to dry then go about your day as usual—preferably at home—in heels. “It should take about one to two applications to soften the leather,” she explains.
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4. Check your heels. Instead of kicking them off at the end of the night only to realize wear and tear when you reach for them the next time you’re on your way out, scan the heels and bottom of soles for damage—this will prevent any surprises. “Add pads to the bottom of the heel for anti-slip and as sole protectors,” says Agolli. Just as you would turn over your wardrobe at the end of the season, go though your shoes to see which of your favourite pairs require maintenance before (carefully) stowing them away. “That way you’re ahead of it come next season,” she adds.
5. Walk lighter. “One thing I notice is that women are stomping their feet and dragging their heels,” explains Agolli. “Take on the responsibility of how to wear them.” Try walking more slowly and elegantly—this prevents damage, and is kind of the point to wearing delicate shoes anyway. “Be aware of how you’re putting your foot down on the ground.”
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6. Be mindful of weather damage. Particularly for fall and winter boots, a little extra care can extend the life of your investment purchases. Use your rubbing alcohol mixture on leather boots to help break in a stiff new pair (bonus: this doubles as a cleaning solution). “Just be sure to follow up with a conditioning treatment as the rubbing alcohol can dry out the leather,” Agolli adds.
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7. Take off your shoes properly. Step out of your heels and boots as daintily and with as much care as when you put them on. When you don’t untie them and use your foot to remove the opposite shoe, it crushes the heel cap. (As Agolli points out, the heel and toe cap hold the form of the shoe.) Use a shoehorn to remove the boot and prolong the look of the leather. And the life of your favourite pair this season—and next.
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