A Proper Pair of Shoe Trees

Because your commitment to fine footwear shouldn't end when you take them off.

Illustration: Jameson Simpson

Here’s the thing, your feet aren’t actually very good for those fancy new shoes you just picked up. First off, they sweat and that moisture seeps in to the leather—if it’s a good pair of shoes, that means both the upper and the sole—which, over time, can get eaten away (think rotting wood). Not a good look. Second, your feet move… all the damn time. With each step, you throw the shape of the shoe out of whack, and you crease the leather. Give it a good few years, and you’ve got a pair of cracked and gnarled brogues with deep fissures in the leather and the toes curled up like elf shoes. Again, not something you want for your favorite hard bottoms.

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution: Get proper shoe trees, and use them regularly. When we say proper, we don’t mean varnished or shellacked options, and we certainly don’t approve of those rinky-dink plastic monstrosities with a long rod at the back. Treated woods and plastic aren’t porous, so they don’t absorb moisture, and a rod puts too much pressure on one part of the heel, stretching it out of shape. No, we mean an untreated cedar pair with a fully articulated heel and toe. They absorb sweat, maintain the shoe’s basic form while smoothing creases, and can keep your shoes kicking for decades instead of years. Plus (bonus), they’ll deodorize them, leaving things smelling nice and clean.

You don’t need trees for every pair of shoes in your closet, but make sure you’ve got enough that each loafer, cap toe, or oxford gets at least 24 hours of shoe tree love after every wear. You’ve invested in your footwear, this is how you protect that investment. Foot comes out, shoe tree goes in. Plain and simple.

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