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    Reconditioning used AE at home

    I am in the market for a pair of shoes to be worn mostly with chinos for work, but also with jeans and occasionally with a blue suit for a couple of summer weddings. I think wingtip derbys will fit the bill nicely. AE McGregors or MacNeils, in an ideal world.

    Buying new, or even factory seconds, is not in the budget right now. I have been scouring eBay for a while, and have passed on a couple of good used options. I've seen plenty of examples of people picking up some very tired looking shoes for $50 or less and giving them a good polish to make them look perfectly serviceable. I've seen a few of you around the forum who have done this with some success. My question: what would I NEED in the way of polishes, creams, and brushes to make this happen? And how likely am I to get a good result? All I have currently is a cheap auto-applying sponge sort of deal, which I assume won't cut it. Saphir products seems popular, but swanky and a little pricey. If I'm going to need to drop $50-75 on 4-5 different products, I feel like it would likely be a better use of my money to go find some Cole Haans or J&M new for $100-125. Am I wrong? Could I have a cobbler do this instead?

    The prospective patients: https://poshmark.com/listing/Allen-E...9c15dfa20f0f98

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    Varsity Member mebejoseph's Avatar
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    If you'd like to see some examples of what can be done with vintage shoes and some tips on how to shape them up, considering joining the Facebook group called "Vintage Florsheim (or other long lost vintage shoes) lovers"

    Lots of people doing the same thing you are and they seem very happy.
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    Just my opinion but I’d rather buy new shoes in my budget then used shoes that need significant work especially if I lack the tools. Shoes take a beating, sweat etc. also depending how used will mold to someone’s foot.

    I’ve had Cole Hans now for almost a decade with polishing and a little rotation. I’m impressed for the value.

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    Varsity Member Nandyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elpenguinoloco View Post
    I am in the market for a pair of shoes to be worn mostly with chinos for work, but also with jeans and occasionally with a blue suit for a couple of summer weddings. I think wingtip derbys will fit the bill nicely. AE McGregors or MacNeils, in an ideal world.

    Buying new, or even factory seconds, is not in the budget right now. I have been scouring eBay for a while, and have passed on a couple of good used options. I've seen plenty of examples of people picking up some very tired looking shoes for $50 or less and giving them a good polish to make them look perfectly serviceable. I've seen a few of you around the forum who have done this with some success. My question: what would I NEED in the way of polishes, creams, and brushes to make this happen? And how likely am I to get a good result? All I have currently is a cheap auto-applying sponge sort of deal, which I assume won't cut it. Saphir products seems popular, but swanky and a little pricey. If I'm going to need to drop $50-75 on 4-5 different products, I feel like it would likely be a better use of my money to go find some Cole Haans or J&M new for $100-125. Am I wrong? Could I have a cobbler do this instead?

    The prospective patients: https://poshmark.com/listing/Allen-E...9c15dfa20f0f98
    Go for it. Those actually look like they're in great condition. Just get some conditioner (bick 4 works well, on Amazon) and a horsehair brush to Start with. That's all you'll probably need for those. As for polish, just get some cream polish in brown or whatever looks similar on Amazon, like moneysworth meltonian, etc. So you're looking at like, 30-40 total on supplies (you can just apply the conditioner by hand, and the cream polish using a old cotton shirt). The soles look great on the shoes in the link so you won't need a resole anytime soon. Even with the additional cost of restoration products, you'll end up with a made in US shoe that's still miles ahead of outsourced, cemented Cole Haans or J&S.

    My Strands were a recent eBay purchase and were much drier/more scuffed than the poshmark ones you're looking at and all I had to do was condition and a bit of cream polish (the ones I mentioned advice) and the result is below.



    Plus, you can always offer them 5-10 bucks less and see if they accept/counter.
    Last edited by Nandyn; May 1st, 2019 at 11:46 AM.

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    Varsity Member evanparker's Avatar
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    what you need depends on what finish strands you get. different ones need different stuff. the easiest is the black ones. just strip them, re-dye, and use show polish from a can and they'll look great.

    the other colors can get a little more complicated depending on the color and how light they are.

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    Vcleat has a lot of information on bringing the best out of an old pair of shoes. https://vcleat.com/buying-vintage-shoes/

    Scroll down to the restoring section.

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    Thanks for the help!
    @Nandyn -- I had thought you'd done this. Those shoes look great!
    @thedrake -- Vcleat looks like a fantastic resource, and that looks like a simple (and cheap) enough process with good results.

    Just have to decide if I think they'll fit. I have AEs in a 10 that fit nicely, but they are loafers, so not sure if I should go up to 10.5.

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    Varsity Member Nandyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elpenguinoloco View Post
    Thanks for the help!
    @Nandyn -- I had thought you'd done this. Those shoes look great!
    @thedrake -- Vcleat looks like a fantastic resource, and that looks like a simple (and cheap) enough process with good results.

    Just have to decide if I think they'll fit. I have AEs in a 10 that fit nicely, but they are loafers, so not sure if I should go up to 10.5.
    You should ask them for the model name stamped on the insole. Then you can see what last it's made on which should help you decide.

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    Update for those of you who helped me out. I did pull the trigger on these, and seller took $30. I bought leather cleaner, conditioner, cream polish, and a horsehair brush -- about $40 on eBay. So including shipping I am about $75 all in, and I am pretty satisfied with the result. I followed the process on the Vcleat website almost to the letter, though I did not do an extensive cleaning of the welt stitching, nor did I go for sole edging or new laces. I might. There were some good scuffs on both heels as well as the right toe, but they have mostly disappeared after polishing, and I may do another coat before a wedding next weekend.

    Posting images never works for me, so I hope this is visible:

    https://imgur.com/5x1F5nW

    Would I maybe have rather had a $75 pair of new shoes? Perhaps, but now that I've incurred this "startup cost," I think I'm much more likely to do this again with another pair, hopefully with similar results.

    Thanks all!
    Last edited by elpenguinoloco; May 15th, 2019 at 09:27 AM.

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    Varsity Member mebejoseph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elpenguinoloco View Post

    https://imgur.com/5x1F5nW

    Would I maybe have rather had a $75 pair of new shoes? Perhaps, but now that I've incurred this "startup cost," I think I'm much more likely to do this again with another pair, hopefully with similar results.

    Thanks all!
    Well done!

    In the last 18 months, I've purchased at least a 15 pairs of shoes priced from $29.99 to $520. Oh, and a used pair of AE Del Rays for $13.99 (in barely used shape). So, as much as I love nice shoes, I'm not a shoe snob.

    And I've found that I admire and enjoy wearing a well-crafted pair much more than something less expensive--even if the less expensive shoes look good.

    I'm sure you will be very happy with your choice in the long run.
    Last edited by mebejoseph; May 15th, 2019 at 01:08 PM.
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