A clumsy woman’s guide to caring for suede shoes
I was walking on sunshine, in love with my new shoes, feeling like I was on top of the world, wearing them in the house, out of the house, cooking, when—uh-oh. Don’t ask me how, but I got a drop of olive oil smack-dab on the top of my suede shoe.
I thought they were done for. Oil on a suede shoe? Might as well kiss it goodbye, right? NOPE! I’d had these shoes for a week; I was not going to let them go that easily.
Cue me, on the floor of my kitchen, with a toothbrush and jug of vinegar.
I’ll be honest with you, at first I tried a little bit of dish soap, a little bit of water, rubbing gently on the oil stain. That kind of worked, but left me with an odd hardened circle on the shoe. It wasn’t painfully visible, but enough to irk me. Someone on instagram suggested micellar water, so I tried that. It dried with an even bigger streak—so I took a few calming breaths and after some quick Googling, I found out that white vinegar and a gentle toothbrush rub can work wonders on suede. I should have known, since I already use vinegar to clean salt stains from my boots in winter (read about that here).
I’ve had my Classic Slides from The Lei for over a month now, and they feel just as comfortable as when they were first gifted to me. I make every excuse to wear them. I’ve walked across the whole city of Toronto in them, I’ve gotten caught in the rain with them, and they’re still faithful and look great. Just remember that toothbrush & vinegar trick!
Shortly after I realized I couldn’t wear slides every day of the year (I mean, I could try though, couldn’t I?) I purchased the Point Toe Flats in black—searching for a shoe that could take me through fall without putting blisters on the back of my heel.
I’m a 7.5 and ordered an 8 in both these styles. The Point Toe Flats loosened up after the first wear, so they’re definitely more of a slide-like fit now—they don’t cling to your heel, so be prepared to feel it flopping. It’s a little weird to get used to, but I find it nice to have a more relaxed shoe that might flex a bit, but still stays put. Definitely not for everyone, but Tiffany, the founder of The Lei, is working on some options to help improve this part of her flats in future models.
So here I am, happy with my new shoes when—typical me—I had another incident with spills. A week after I got them, I was on my way to a wedding and spilled an entire latte on my foot. My shoe became a veritable boat. After pouring it out and using my glass bottle of water to clean it off, I popped the shoe back on and wore it for the ceremony and the rest of the night!
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my clumsy fiascos, it’s that things can be repaired. Things can be lived in, and we don’t have to be afraid to live in them. And when I’m in these shoes, no matter what is happening—if I lose a latte to them, or if I need to clean them off with vinegar—they still make me feel more like me, and more comfortable than any other shoe I’ve owned. And I’m forever grateful for that.