I was moving along my day when all of a sudden the strap to my everyday handbag broke! What to do with broken leather at a moment’s notice? I pull out my boots for the first wear of the season and notice the heel has worn down. The weather changes – you adjust to a different handbag, the boots come out, the shoes need to be sturdier. This is the time to make sure you have a reliable shoe and leather repair source.
I have been going to Rago Brothers – a family run local cobbler – for their expertise and quality craftsmanship. They were the ones I turned to when that handbag strap broke. They are the ones I visit when the season begins and my boots need attention. When I last interviewed Tom Rago about the importance of maintaining our shoes and boots, he put it this way: “General maintenance is important to keeping shoes looking new. You take your suit to be dry-cleaned every two-three times you wear it; you should do the same with your shoes.”
Find a local resource to help you when you need to repair your well-loved shoes, boots, and bags. They need our attention and this is the season. Your self esteem will get a boost from the care, and you will feel more confident, knowing that you are preserving your things longer and saving yourself from buying new all the time.
Photos taken by my dear friend Patricia Saxton!
… the after. Like-new suede shoes!
Most of us buy suede shoes for their rich luster and elegant finish. Suede is luscious! Yet slowly and ever so subtly, that same silky suede finish fades and loses its shine. You won’t necessarily notice it happening but one day you will look at your shoes and they will have become – ordinary. Tempted as you will be to buy new shoes, there is something you can do to bring your shoes back to life and save yourself money at the same time: suede dye. Applying suede dye is simple and won’t take too much time. You will make a little mess (I recommend newspaper for a bit of dripping dye), and you need to give it time to apply, dry, and re-apply … but these are manageable steps. Here are some tips for applying:
- before applying the suede dye use a suede brush to smooth out the surface of your shoes
- be prepared for a little mess; set up newspapers to catch any drippings and add newspapers to the inside of your shoes to protect the insides from dye
- after applying the first coat and letting it dry, apply a second – make sure you give enough time and outdoor space to complete the job thoroughly
- don’t try a color (other than black) unless you know for sure it is the exact color of your shoes (I made that mistake and bought navy dye only to discover that my shoes, more of an indigo blue, turned a goldish color!). Black, on the other hand, is always a win-win!
I ordered my dye on Amazon for less than $10.00, and I saved my wedge shoes and my favorite suede and leather Rachel Comey boots that I have owned for years! And the best part is that I can keep them forever young with the same suede dye when they need a refresher next winter. Save your suede – buy new shoes only when you want to and not because you’re forced to!
Two years ago my friend, the very talented artist, illustrator, writer, and designer Patricia Saxton took these photos of me with my boots. I am happy to report that two years later – thanks to caring for them and protecting them against the elements – the boots are still in good shape; in part because of the Kiwi shoe polish, in part because of shoe repairs at the cobbler. But mostly, because of my Dad. As a kid I would polish my Dad’s shoes. I would line them up with newspaper and spend time in front of the television polishing them to their shiny core. The black shoes, the brown shoes, and the cordovans. It sounds rather like a Charles Dickens tale but I remember it was quite satisfying and something about it must have stuck because now I do it for my own boots. And this is the season. Just as I am tucking my open toe shoes and sandals away for winter hibernation I am also evaluating the state of my boots and shoes and seeing what needs to be prepped for the upcoming weather and months.
This tradition has not only protected my shoes and boots but has also allowed me to hold on to what I own. We all know that shoes and boots can be expensive and few of us have the resources to replace them every year. That’s where polish and care come in; you can preserve what you have and save yourself a lot of money. And unlike other wardrobe items, shoes and boots are classics that rarely go out of style. They are worth the care.
Photos by Patricia Saxton
My tall black boots. Photo Credit: Patricia Saxton
I own two pairs of black leather boots: a tall, high-heeled pair and a short pair of booties. When I bought them it was love at first-sight. I spent time thinking about how they would fit in my wardrobe. I coveted these boots. But now that they are mine I have not been maintaining them as I should or done anything to extend the life of these well-loved accessories. It reminds me of a movie, where the focus is on the falling in love part of the story. After the boy-gets-the-girl, the movie ends. When I planned my outfit for an important meeting recently, it came as a shock to me that my boots needed immediate attention. I went to Rago Brothers, my local cobbler, and had them repaired.
Last March I interviewed Tom Rago about the importance of maintaining your shoes and boots. According to Tom: “General maintenance is important to keeping shoes looking new. You take your suit to be dry-cleaned every two-three times you wear it; you should do the same with your shoes.” We fall in love with our shoes and boots. But if we are going to invest our hard-earned money in these wardrobe essentials, my advice is to find a reputable cobbler and do the work to maintain them and give them life. Because falling in love is a good thing but it’s the ever-after that we all want.
Photo Credit: DoubleTake Consignment Boutique
We love our shoes. We covet them and admire them from afar. And if we are actually lucky enough to purchase them, we begin the love affair in earnest. But, to do that, we must truly be prepared to save our soles; from the elements and from ourselves. Do you know about shoe cobblers? They are the matchmakers of the shoe love affair; they are the ones who keep us and our shoes together, living happily ever after, or at least for as long as possible. I went to the experts at Rago Brothers Shoe and Leather Repair, and spoke with Tom Rago. Tom, and his brother, Tony, are the third generation of Rago Brothers to own and operate this unique shop in Morristown, NJ. I asked Tom what we can be doing to save our soles … Continue reading