How to Care for Your Suede Shoes: Tips for Longevity

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Suede, also known as napped leather, is a popular material type for heels, boots, sandals, moccasins, and loafers — and understandably so. Unlike traditional leather, suede has a matte finish and is soft to the touch, making it a more luxurious and comfortable leather option.

However, suede also has a reputation for being difficult to care for. Without proper care, your suede will quickly turn dull and matted, losing its once beautiful texture and luxurious shine.

But we at Walking on a Cloud are here to help. Our experts have put together this comprehensive care guide to help readers understand the basics of caring for suede.

Table of Contents:

  1. How to Care For Suede Shoes
  2. How to Protect Suede Shoes
  3. How to Clean Suede Shoes
  4. How to Use a Suede Shoe Cleaner
  5. How to Dry Suede Shoes
  6. How to Refresh Suede Shoes
  7. How to Treat Suede Shoes

How to Care For Suede Shoes

It’s true that for suede to stay looking its best, it requires more maintenance than other leather types. But it’s easier to take care of suede shoes than you might think.

The ABCs for suede shoes care include:

  • Using a suede protector before wearing them outside
  • Regularly brushing them to remove debris
  • Storing them properly
  • Avoiding getting them wet

We will go over each of these steps in greater detail below.

How to Protect Suede Shoes

Using a suede protector is the most essential step in caring for your suede shoes. Due to its porous structure and velvety finish, suede nap is extremely sensitive to the elements. Without proper care, you’ll lose your soft finish, which is difficult to recover.

Suede shoe protectors are waterproof sprays designed to repel stains, dirt, and most importantly, water.

The best suede protector for you will depend on your needs and budget. But the Tana 16 All Protector is a top-rated product that comes highly recommended by our team of shoe experts.

Regardless of the suede protector you decide on, it’s important to re-apply it regularly — especially after cleaning.

How to Clean Suede Shoes

Now, let’s move on to the second most important care protocol for suede; cleaning.

Unlike other shoe materials, which require only a liquid shoe cleaner and water, suede is a little more finicky. As mentioned above, suede is not compatible with water. Instead, you will want to use a suede-specific shoe brush as your first line of defense.

These brushes have soft nylon bristles that gently remove dirt and debris while restoring the natural napped texture.

Starting with completely dry shoes, gently rub the suede brush in a circular motion to remove dirt. Once clean, brush the suede in the direction of its natural grain before storing your shoes somewhere safe.

How to Use a Suede Shoe Cleaner

The best way to clean suede shoes that are worse for the wear is with a suede shoe cleaner.

These cleaners are specifically designed for suede and nubuck and generally contain milder cleaning agents than regular shoe cleaners. They may also contain foaming or gel-like textures to help them penetrate the suede shaft without damaging the material.

Start by first brushing your shoes down. Then, apply some of the cleaner to a dry or slightly damp cloth before dabbing it onto the shoe’s soiled areas. Avoid excessive scrubbing or rubbing to prevent unwanted shoe damage.

Pro Tip:

When trying out a new cleaner, it’s a good idea to do a spot test to ensure it’s compatible with your shoes.

Apply a small amount to a low-visibility area, such as on the back of your shoe, and wait for it to dry. If it dries without any unwanted staining or damage, it’s safe to use for a full clean.

How to Dry Suede Shoes

If your suede shoes do get wet, the following routine can help you prevent any unwanted damage to their texture and appearance.

  • Use a dry cloth or paper towel to blot off any remaining moisture
  • Stuff them with color-less paper (to prevent staining) or shoe trees to help the shoes maintain their shape
  • Put them in a well-ventilated area to dry completely. Avoid placing them in the sun, or on a radiator, and don’t use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process
  • Once fully dry, use a suede brush to restore the nap and re-apply a suede protector

How to Refresh Suede Shoes

If you’ve already worn your suede shoes in the rain or otherwise ignored proper suede care practices, not all hope is lost. Although you likely won’t be able to restore your shoes to 100%, you can get them back to looking their best using the following restoration techniques.

  • Start by dry brushing them to remove lingering dirt and debris
  • For light stains: use a suede eraser or white pencil eraser to lift out the dirt
  • For oil stains: sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain and leave it overnight before brushing it off
  • Follow these with a thorough cleaning using a suede cleaner (outlined above)
  • Stuff the shoes with newspaper or shoe trees and allow them to dry completely
  • Buff them out using a suede brush, following the suede’s natural grain
  • Finish the routine with a high-quality suede-protecting spray

How to Treat Suede Shoes

Suede shoes are so comfortable you’ll likely never want to take them off your feet. But the truth is, shoes made from suede aren’t an ideal everyday shoe — especially if your daily commute involves a lot of walking or frequent rain.

Because they are prone to damage and require extra care and attention, suede shoes should be saved for more special occasions. A walk through the city on a warm day with clear skies or an event that has a more formal dress code are both good options.

When you decide to wear suede shoes, your post-wear care will play an important role in the longevity of your shoes. Immediately brushing your shoes and stuffing them before storing them somewhere safe, will help your suede shoes last a lifetime.

Hopefully, the following information has made caring for suede shoes feel a little less daunting.

Do you finally feel ready to invest in a luxurious pair of suede shoes? If so, explore our suede premium collection at Walking on a Cloud to find your next fit.

Mens’ Dress Shoes Color Guide [infographic]

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When it comes to dress shoe colors, you have more to look at than just black and brown. While black may be an easy one to spot, there are numerous shades of brown shoes, and they all have their own creative names. Then you have the reds and burgundy color spectrum as well, adding even more of a dilemma.

Which Shoe Goes with that Suit?

Much of your shoe color decision making could have a great deal to do with what you are actually going to be wearing. Some colors of shoes go better with some suit colors, and some will just look wrong. If you want to maintain a professional look, it really does help to know which shoes to pair with which suits.

Navy Blue Suit

If your suit of choice is navy, you’ve lucked out. You can wear all three categories of shoe colors with your pick. The key is to go by the occasion. If it’s a formal event, wear black. If it’s casual, a shade of brown. If you’re dressed to the nines just to have some fun, red or burgundy will do. The latter add a little flair and only work for casual events.

Lighter Gray Suit

While each color of shoe can go with a light or medium gray suit, you should pair black shoes with it if you are wearing a white shirt. Think black tie affair here; just because you went with gray doesn’t mean you can’t look like you’re the most professional guy in the room. Those other colors of shoes will give you a more casual, and less business-like look.

Darker Gray Suit

A dark gray suit is best with black or burgundy shoes. Because of the dark, rich tones of burgundy shoes they don’t stand out like lighter red shades and brown shades of shoes. Lighter colors will also just look strange with a dark gray suit, as will brown tones. Unless you want to look like you got dressed in the dark, stay away from brown when you’re wearing anything dark gray.

Brown Suit

Don’t wear black shoes with a brown suit. Instead, opt for the other two categories. The important key to remember when it comes to pairing brown shoes with brown suits is that you want to make sure they are distinctly different shades of brown. Don’t wear tan shoes with a tan suit, instead try dark brown shoes.

Black Suit

When it comes to black suits, simply stick with black shoes. It’s easy, it looks classy, and it’s the only color of shoe that won’t make you look like you’re heading to the bar instead of a dinner party. A black suit with anything but black shoes is just far too casual. Although, you may be able to pull off red and burgundy for a more casual look. With such a look you can enter any club, casino and you will always stay in the spotlight!

Knowing what colors look best with each other can really help you come up with a better dress look, especially when it comes to suits and dress shoes.