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Man Up: Winter-Proof Your Leather Shoes

When it comes to seasonal footwear, all too often style considerations fly south for the winter. Walk a snazzy pair of oxfords, bluchers, or chukkas through snow or slush, and you risk sacrificing them to the elements. But with a little care and preparation, you don’t have to plod through the entire cold season in unsightly weatherproof Gore-Tex. Here’s how to keep rocking those refined kicks through the roughest conditions.

Wax On, Water Off

Just as you layer up to shield yourself from the cold, adding a protective layer to your leather footwear can stave off damage. Treat shoes regularly, regardless of the elements: Armstrong's All Natural Trio features three Brooklyn-made formulas for polishing and preserving your leather yearround. Ingredients like carnauba wax, beeswax, and grapeseed oil form a natural barrier to insulate leather and repel water. The set even includes a universal salve which can treat dry winter skin as well as your shoes.

Slip-On Safeguarding

A topical protective rub for your leather shoes is good, but actual rubber can provide even better protection. Overshoes like the 100 percent rubber ones Totes makes can be worn over dress shoes and removed when you arrive at your destination—or not, considering the sleek loafer styles they come in. For more pop and just as much protection, the low-friction line of galoshes from Swims features styles like Navy, Classic Camo Green, and City Duck Olive. If you need some extra ice traction, Tingley is a good option as well.

Add a Little Acid

A proactive approach is ideal, but if you’re committed to your brogues through harsh weather, you’ll no doubt need some reactive treatments as well. The salt used to de-ice roads can soak into shoe leather and cause unsightly white stains. There are plenty of desalting products available at your local shoe-repair shop, but you can just as easily treat salt-stained shoes with a quick home remedy. Start by mixing a little white vinegar and water in a cup, then dab the stained areas with a soft cloth. Allow leather to dry.

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