As the director and buyer of Overland and Mi Piaci, Louise Anselmi knows a thing or two about footwear. We picked her brain about how to find perfect winter boots and what we can do to keep them looking tidy.
What do you look for in a good quality pair of boots?
There are a number of things we look for. Firstly a great quality leather, either kid, calf or cow depending on the technical construction of the boot and the “grade or weight” of leather. Secondly, a great cut especially around the ankle – it’s harder than you would think to make the perfect pair of boots suit a variety of legs. Lastly, I love a leather lining, this adds to the fit and breathability, but also unfortunately to the cost!
Is there anything you should try and avoid?
At all costs avoid synthetic or PU boots. These will never feel comfortable, and with the expanse of a boot, they look so obviously not leather. Leather boots are definitely an investment, but wisely bought, they will last years and provide fabulous comfort, warmth and look amazing.
Is there anything care-related you should do before breaking in a pair of boots?
Always waterproof and invest in appropriate leather care product. Boots are an investment and respond well to a little love and attention.
When should leather soles be replaced or re-soled?
Ideally leather soles should be resoled annually, and left to breathe between wears. A boot filler also helps to maintain the shape of the boot.
Do you need to condition leather?
Absolutely, just like a girl needs moisturiser, leather is a natural product and needs to be nourished and polished with a leather conditioner.
What are the best products to clean shoes with?
It depends on the kind of leather you are dealing with. For a dark-coloured waxy or buttery leather the best product would be leather conditioner (a neutral lanolin-based product with a light detergent), which will not only clean the shoes but also help to moisturise the leather after wear. For lighter-coloured leathers and the leather linings of boots and sandals a shoe gel will work fantastically as it is a clear product full of cleaning polymers and also has a pleasant fragrance. Finish off with an instant shine to buff out any light scuffs and add gloss for a brand-new finish. For suede, nubuck and satin I would recommend a suede and fabric shampoo to lift any marks from the pile; after this has dried you can use a suede and nubuck brush to finish off.
What can you do to keep shoes looking new?
Wearing shoes on alternate days helps shoes “breathe” between wears, shoe fillers also help the leather hold the shape of the shoe. Correct storage on racks, shelves or in boxes, also helps to avoid mould in our humid climate.
How can you keep suede looking tidy?
Suede is hardier than people think and can be kept clean with a suede brush which helps remove dirt and pick up the pile of the suede. Always waterproof, and avoid puddles!
Is there a way to fix scratches on patent leather?
Depending on the colour of the patent this is definitely possible. For any black patent leather you can use a black patent dressing which will put colour back into the area which has scuffed as well as moisturise the leather. The best thing to keep your patent shoes in great condition for longer is to regularly moisturise them with a Patent Dressing in Black or Neutral; this will keep the patent leather hydrated and stop any cracking over time where the patent creases with the natural movement of your foot.