While we certainly agree with Mark Twain when he said “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society,” we believe he may have ignored an important detail: footwear. Like suits, shoes are an investment. Learning how to care for them properly is essential to hosting an exemplary wardrobe.

Caring for shoes ought to be top of mind this time of year. However, it’s not just the snow, rain and slush that cause damage. The majority of the blame can be attributed to the salt used on paved surfaces to melt the ice. While the elements will moisten the shoe, the salt will dry out and crack the leather. Not only is this unsightly, but the salt (evident by white stains near the sole) will considerably shorten the lifespan of your shoes.

The first line of defense for your shoes is to wear a pair of galoshes, also known as shoe rubbers. While this is certainly the least flattering of appearances, it is without question the most preventative of methods. Dependent on your needs, there are a variety of options available.

Yet, we may not always have the foresight, nor the forecast, to predict the weather. If you happen to accidentally find yourself tromping through the slush, you’ll want to try to mitigate the damage.

To do so, simply concoct a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Dampen a cloth with the mixture and gently wipe the leather; the vinegar will help pull the salt to the surface and the cloth will wipe it away. Keep a small spray bottle at home and in the office to remedy situations when they occur. When time permits, polish the shoes according to your normal regiment. And as always, be sure to use cedar shoe trees to help pull the moisture out of the shoe.

Wearing a scuffed and salty shoe is like wearing a wrinkled shirt: It compromises your appearance and your professionalism. So when getting dressed, remember the effort starts from the ground up.

And for purveyors of fine footwear, remember that Balani Custom Clothiers carries shoes from Allen Edmonds. Special order any style through us free of charge – www.allenedmonds.com.