Shoes are an important element in menswear. Even more important is the care of them. Shoes that are cared for properly can not only prolong its life, it can save you $$$ in the short and long term. There are many ways to take care of your shoes, you can replace the outer sole, you can replace the inner sole, you can change the laces, put cedar wood shoe trees in it to restore its shape and soak up moisture, wipe it with leather conditioner to preserve the leather and of course polish it. I want to explore an extra step from polishing that can differentiate you from alot of gentlemen out there and that’s adding a mirror shine gloss to it.
Mirror Shine or “Spit Shine”
As with almost everything in menswear, the mirror shine or spit shine effect comes from the military. I have two brothers in the military and I’m familiar with the intense inspections they regularly go through, one being the shoes/boots have to be so clean their commanding officer (or drill inspector in boot camp) has to see their reflection on it. But not just their shoes but all leather accessories as well. This is achieved by applying thin layers of waxed polish on the surface of the leather, preferably in a circular motion, buffing it and repeating the process until your desired shine. In modern day menswear, having a mirror gloss gives the shoe added protection but it’s also seen as a sign of a shoe aficionado who know how to care for his shoe. An easy way to stand apart from the crowd and add a subtle touch of elegance to your outfit.
What You’ll Need
Four pieces of 100% cotton cloth( call me anal for this but I like to keep things seperate and not mix liquid/wax. So call it Cloth A for the wax, Cloth B for the water, Cloth C for the alcohol and Cloth D for buffing)
Patience. Alot of it.
Mirror Shining Process
Remove any dirt/dust from the shoe with horsehair brush
Rub conditioner all over shoe, let it dry them buff it giving it a nice shine
With Cloth A wrapped around your finger(s), and in a circular motion, rub some wax off the Mirror Gloss container and unto to the the toe cap of the shoe slowly and softly. Keep doing this until you see a matte finish and there’s friction from rubbing
Dab that area with a couple spots of water then using Cloth B, then rub in a circular motion applying a bit more pressure than step 3. You will begin to see a shine coming through. Then let it sit and dry for 10 mins.
repeat steps 3 and 4 until desired shine is achieved
After it has dried you may notice some water streaks on the shoe. These can be removed but dabbing some alcohol on Cloth C and again going through a circular rubbing motion on that area. let it dry for 2 min.
Buff the area with Cloth D, revealing the mirror
All 6 steps may be repeated to give you optimal shine. That’s why, one of the core things you’ll need in the process will be patience
Here are a list of things to avoid/ won’t give you the results you want.
Don’t use cloths made from synthetic fibers - as much as this goes for clothes you actual wear, it’s not advisable to used these types of cloths as the fibers tend to get loose and stuck on the wax. Not the end of the world but just an annoyance trying to pick it apart.
No square toe shoes - not a desirable looking shoe in the first place, a mirror shine looks best on round toe shoes. Won’t even recommend it for split toe shoes.
Be careful of the crease - learned this the hard way. When shining, avoid areas where your foot naturally bends and creates a crease in the shoe. This will cause the wax to crack and leave a not so flattering crease line
Remember, it takes time and patience to get the shine to pop. Allocate a specific day in the week you are free and go through all your shoe, perhaps while watching your favorite t.v or Netflix show. I have shoes I’ve been wearing for over 5 years and still going strong because I care for them. Adding the mirror shine to it is the cherry on top of the well baked cake,or in this case a well polished shoe.