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A Guide to Dress Shoes in the Winter
Winter rain and snow can ruin a good pair of dress shoes and leave you with cold feet on the walk to and from the office, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here's what you need to know to make sure your dress shoes can stand up to the colder, wetter days to come.
Wear Dress Boots for Untidy Sidewalks
Sidewalks riddled with puddles and snowdrift can make for a miserable day if you're wearing a thin pair of loafers. Shoes with shallow heels and thin material put less distance between you and the elements, and don't provide the support you need for walking through or around snow.
If this is your dilemma, we recommend a sturdy pair of dress boots. They'll put an extra half inch between you and whatever's on the ground, seal your feet and ankles from wet projectiles, and give you plenty of extra support for quick pivots around lurking traps in your path.
Avoid Absorbent Materials
Top-grain leather dress shoes are the most common variety, and they're the best material to wear in winter weather. Suede and rawhide don't wick away water nearly as well and they'll show spots and stains far more clearly. If you're still worried about your slick, top-grain leather shoes getting wet, polish them before you head to work. The shoe polish will make the leather less absorbent as the oil or wax base will cause offending raindrops and snowmelt to bead up and roll off rather than allowing them to sit and soak into your shoes.
Consider Covering Your Shoes Completely
If you're from the "better safe than sorry" camp, or intent on wearing a certain pair of shoes that are easily damaged by rain or snow, your best bet is to cover them up. A pair of galoshes or rubber shoe covers will do the trick. They may not be as stylish as the shoes you wear under them, but they'll keep your feet dry, guaranteed.
Be Prepared to Care for Soaked Leather
As long as your shoes aren't made of full-grain (untreated) leather, a few drops of rain probably won't cause them any serious damage. Top-grain leather (what most shoes are made with) has been sanded lightly to remove imperfections and make the leather less vulnerable and absorptive. On the other hand, if you get caught in a storm and your shoes get soaked, you'll need to do some damage control. For instructions, head to our expert advice guide on how to care for leather, and follow the steps for conditioning and polishing leather. It's especially important to start the process before the leather dries.