Are creases in shoes always an inevitability? Are there ways to prevent it? Well, you could always try learning how to walk with your hands. You could attempt a world record for the longest game of The Floor Is Lava. (So far, the only records are for the video game of the same name.) Stilts would have the advantage of making you taller and you could move pretty quickly on a pogo stick. If none of these methods appeal to you, read on for something more feasible.
Why Leather Creases
Leather creases. It just does. Crease free leather just does not exist. However, some key factors lead to leather shoes creasing before their time or having deeper, more unsightly creases. Thinking about these issues before you even buy the shoe in the first place will keep your shoe crease-free for a longer amount of time.
- The Fit of Shoes. Shoes will crease more if they have room to crease. This is especially true around the toe box. If you are old enough to read this article, chances are you are past the “You’ll grow into it” stage when it comes to clothes and shoes. When you try on a pair of shoes whether casual or dress, they should fit snuggly without being too tight. Having shoes that fit well does not mean that they will never crease but any creasing will be less prominent. This will keep your shoes looking good for a longer amount of time.
- The Quality of the Leather. Have you ever been to a butcher’s shop where they had a diagram of a cow and where certain cuts of beef come from? Leather makers have something similar. The absolute best leather comes from the lower half of the cow’s back. It’s a narrow swathe that makes up only thirteen percent of the hide. Everything from the rump to just below the shoulder is serviceable leather. The leather from the shoulders, ribs, and brisket is very fibrous and prone to swelling. Leather from legs, belly, and head are barely fit for a dog’s chew toy.
- The Design of the Shoe. The most critical reason that shoe crease is how they were made, to begin with. Plain toe shoes and whole cut shoes tend to crease more. This is because there are fewer pieces of leather making up the shoe. This leads to less tension on the shoe; thus, they are more affected by the tension that your feet put upon them. Shoes that do not crease easily are full or semi cap-toe brogues. This is because they consist of four or five pieces, depending on the specific brand or model.
- Shoe Lasting. Lasting is the process in which the leather is wrapped around the shoe last (another word for mold) to give the shoe its shape. If a shoe is not lasted for very long, there will be more loose space. That will lead to more prominent creasing. The longer a shoe stays on the last, the better of a fit it will have. The lasting process is lengthy, as it should be. Machine lasting plays a hand in mass production to create more shoes in a small amount of time at little cost. However, handmade shoes will keep their brand-new look for a longer amount of time.
I Think That I Shall Never See A Shoe As Lovely As A Tree
You can find shoe trees at most fine shoe stores. It is a device shaped roughly like the front part of a foot and made of unfinished wood, traditionally cedar. It will have adjustable screws to make it closer to the size of the user’s foot.
Its purpose is to aid the shoe in keeping its shape, such as by not developing creases. It also wicks away moisture that could damage the leather. Plastic shoe trees will help the shoes keep their shape but they will not absorb moisture as wood does.
The shoes should go on the tree the moment they are taken off for the day. This way, the moisture will be absorbed by the tree and the shoe will dry to the correct shape. This will prevent not only creases but lining rot. Do this if your shoes get wet.
Do not tighten a shoe tree too much as you do not want to stretch the leather out. This is the most important thing you can do to keep your shoes free of creases. Balled up newspaper, tissue paper or rags can work. Magazine pages tend to be too glossy to absorb water.
Come Blow Your Horn
Here is another useful tool you can find at high-end shoe stores. It is something generally only needed for dress shoes. A shoehorn is a long and flat object that aids in slipping the heel of the shoe over the wearer’s foot. It was once made of animal horn or hoof but now are generally either plastic or metal.
If you use a shoehorn that will aid in keeping the back of your shoe from breaking down and forming creases. That means no more unnecessary and excessive flexing of the shoes when putting them on.
What’s more, it keeps you from accidentally damaging the structure to the back of the shoe. Using a shoehorn is rather simple. Just follow these easy steps. Short shoe horns work best while sitting. Long shoe horns are best while standing.
- First, your shoehorn should be positioned so that the scoop faces upwards and facing your heel.
- Next, slide your foot down the tool and into the shoe.
- Once the foot is completely inside the shoe, remove the horn.
And that’s all there is to it!
A Spa Day For The Shoes
You could keep your shoes supple by giving them a hot oil massage. No, really, it works. Different leathers will react differently to different oils so be sure to spot test first. Mink oil or neatsfoot oil should do it. You can find these products wherever leather goods are sold.
Saturate the wrinkles with oil that the leather becomes good and supple. You can then use a heat gun or blow dryer to further soften the leather. Do not overdo it! Never keep the heat source in one place for more than two or three seconds. Keep in mind that light-colored leathers are very susceptible to being discolored when exposed to heat.
Be sure to spot test in an inconspicuous place like the heel. The heat and oil will make the leather pliable. Massage the leather to smooth the creases out. Once the creases have faded, leave the shoe to cool on a shoe tree so that the new smooth texture becomes permanent. This technique works best on minor, recent wrinkles.
Some Kind of Force Field
These work best for casual shoes like sneakers. Force fields are padding that you can put inside your shoes to keep them from creasing should your feet should be a bit small for the shoe. As said before, creases are generally the result of feet being too small for the shoe. This minimizes creasing on the toe box. Also called Sneaker Shields, the force fields are like small, wearable shoe trees made out of flexible plastic that help the shoes keep their shape.
As they are made of plastic, sneaker shields can be modified to custom fit your shoes. You will need a pencil, a sharp pair of scissors, a large grit hand file and a very fine grit hand file. First, determine which bits you want to be cut off. You want it to fit your foot and the shoe without cramping.
Remember that you can always trim off more but can’t undo a cut. The carpenter’s axiom of “measure twice, cut once” applies here. Use the pencil to mark off where you need to cut. It’s not good to have ink anywhere near shoes and the pencil can be erased if you change your mind where to cut.
Time for the plastic surgery! Make sure to cut below the dotted line you drew earlier as you can always trim or file it down. After cutting some jagged or rough spots are to be expected. This is where the files come in. Even things out with the file until it will sit flush with the insole of your shoe.
Start with the large grit and finish off with the fine grit until everything is just perfect. Know when to stop or else the whole thing could crack. Put it in the shoe and try it on periodically to see if you’ve got the right fit yet. It could take some trial and error, but you can do it.
Your sneaker shield should last you a good two to six years depending on general wear. The ventilation holes should keep the shoes fresh during those years. Though called sneaker shields they could fit on dress shoes and boots.
Isn’t It Ironic? Don’t You Think?
Can you iron shoes? With some effort. It will not be as easy as ironing a shirt or pair of slacks, but it can be done. Along with your shoes, you will need some plastic bags or newspaper or cardboard inserts, two cups of water, a cloth (cotton pillowcase works well) and a steam iron. First, you should stuff the toe with the stuffing of your choice until there is no room left in the toe box.
Tape them in place if it helps. Remember to remove the laces. Put just enough water on the toe box to get it damp. A misting bottle works well. Then you should put the pillowcase over the toe box. You should only dampen the part of the cloth that covers the toe box.
Make sure that you do not apply too much water. Iron the area on a low to medium setting (between sixty and eighty degrees Fahrenheit.) until the toe box is dry. Let the shoe sit for a couple of minutes then remove the stuffing material. Repeat the process with the second shoe.
The moist heat will stretch the leather, easing out the creases. Keep in mind that this technique works better on sneakers than dress shoes. This technique should be done rarely as too much moisture and heat can ruin a shoe. Do not use on suede as this disturbs the nap.
On One Condition…Or Rather Several Conditions
You can keep your leather relatively crease-free by conditioning the leather every three to six months. If you live in a dry climate, you may have to do it more often. Leather conditioner is utilized in keeping the upper portion of your shoe soft and supple.
This allows the shoe to bend without leaving any permanent creases. The conditioner is similar in texture to a lotion. Like a lotion, you can gently rub it into the leather. There are many other articles on this site you can consult about how to properly condition leather.
Other Handy Hints
There are other little things you can do to treat or prevent creasing. It could be as simple as doing the laces up tight enough for the shoes to fit snugly against the foot. Taking high steps and walking more with your heels than your toes can also help. When you are traveling, stuff rolls of socks into your shoes. Not only will this help your shoes keep their shape as you travel but it will leave a little extra space in your bag.
If your dress shoes have a pointed toe you could have toe taps affixed to them. This is a complicated process that should only be done by a professional cobbler. Dress shoes should never be worn more than two days in a row. If you have to wear dress shoes more often than that get two pairs (or more) so you can alternate.
Keeping your shoe crease-free can be as arduous as keeping the skin wrinkle-free. Ultimately, there is no way to prevent it indefinitely but there are methods to stave it off as long as possible or at least make it look less bad.