i judge a man by his shoes. a pair of smart shoes is the base on which the edifice of signature style rests.

oxford, monk, derby, brogue, spectator, chukka, chelsea, loafer, boat etc are some of the types. i neither intend to describe each one of them in detail here nor propose to elaborate on the wardrobe that goes well with them as lots of literature may be retrieved from the world wide web on these topics and, moreover, i've nothing new to add.

however, this article encourages men to observe prudence in the care of their shoes as the latter form an integral part of the ensemble.

i own a pair each of derby, oxford, monk and loafer and trust me it's not a cake walk to maintain four pairs of leather shoes. below are the golden rules (in the order of merit) i adhere to in order to take the bull by the horns:

shoetree: this accessory is extremely underrated but it's the one that retains the shape of the shoe over the years. the leather absorbs the moisture from the foot accumulated from daily use and as a result begins to rot. this does not happen overnight but over the course of weeks. a cedar wood shoetree sits snugly in the shoe. the wood soaks up the moisture and keeps the leather dry. and, secondly, it also helps retain the shape of the shoe. cedar wood shoehorns don't come cheap but the investment is worth every penny if the shoe's longevity is your priority

storage: bag the pair in order to protect it from dust and moisture - shoe bags come in quite handy and serve the purpose well. also never stuff the shoes in your travel bag without a shoetree unless you wish them to turn into leather pancakes overnight

rotate: it takes around 48 hours for a pair to dry after a day's use. in order to give the shoes sufficient time to dry it becomes imperative to rotate the pair. if it gets soaked in rain, stuff it with newsprint and leave it to dry at room temperature. usage of artificial heat such as that from hair dryers and heaters must be avoided - this may dry the leather inordinately resulting in the build up of cracks

cream: the primary purpose of shoe cream is to remove scratches the leather receives from use. search for the tags "rejuvenate" or "moisturise" when hunting for one. apply a layer with soft cotton cloth and leave it to dry for at least 10 minutes. then wipe it clean with the same cloth. apply another layer, if needed. once done, remove extra cream from the surface of the shoe with, preferably, a horse hair shoe brush rather than a nylon bristles one

wax: while the shoe cream heals the leather, the wax gives it its signature shine. the dazzle is directly proportional to the layers of wax applied. again use a cotton cloth for application and brush off extra wax with a horse hair shoe brush. i'm pitching for horse hair shoe brush time and again is because it does not lacerate the patina of the leather unlike its nylon bristled cousin

sole taps: this is a very useful accessory for those who pronate heavily. these little rubbery contraptions sit on the rear end of the shoe soles and prevent the latter from wearing out unevenly

shoehorn: another useful accessory that helps you to slip into your new leather pair effortlessly. the shoehorns are designed to guide the foot into the shoe without damaging its rim and unduly stretching the leather

shoelaces: i own laces of most colours in the visible spectrum. they help add a bit of a spark to the wardrobe and bring the shoes into spotlight

well, this is all i know about leather shoe care. the RoI being the elation i experience when i run my fingers over the rich leather and the confidence i exude in my gait. also, proper maintenance delays aging of the shoe and contributes to its longevity.