Something that should occur in your life shortly after buying a pair of nice shoes is to start wondering how you’ll best take care of them. Given how nice shoes usually cost a fairly decent lump of cash, you’ll most likely wish for them to stay in service for a while as well. So how do you go about doing so? I’ll revisit the topic at a later date, but I wanted to get one point off my chest right now: Shoe trees.
If you’re a little in the dark, or new to the maintenance side of life, a shoe tree is not something you hang your shoes on, though I’d consider it a pretty logical guess. What it is is a replica foot, made of wood, that is designed to be inserted into your shoes when their not in use. The idea is that it will help the shoe keep it’s shape, reduce the development of creases, reduce foot odour and extend the life of the shoe.
It’s not all that long since I started buying shoes of a better quality then before, but having observed my obsessive father over the years, I knew shoe trees would be in order. My first issue was trying to work out what they were called, but you’re luck here, I’ve done the hard work for you: Shoe trees.
They come in many forms, some of them totally without wood at all. You’ll often find plastic types with a crummy coiled steel spring for almost no money. Take my advice and steer well clear of these. I’ve tried a few different ones, and the spring hardly strong enough to keep the device in the shoe if it’s turned upside down, let alone strong enough to actually help the shoe keep it’s shape.
The proper ones are made of solid wood, and if they’re made of cedar it’s an added bonus. The cedar wood helps absorb odour and moisture, both helpful properties. There are various ways in which they are constructed, but it’s usually a good sign if they’re made of brass and have a knob on the heel to make it easier to extract from the shoe when you’re going out. Without a proper knob it’s going to be a real job to pull the tree out of the shoe.
Now, I’ll go out on a limb here and let you know the type I favour (pedantic reader: this is one of the pair):
Edit: I did have a link to Cedarville in the US here, with a discount code, but they have now closed up shop. I am hoping to find a replacement supplier. (May 2nd 2013)
To illustrate the stretching effect of the shoe trees, take a look at my Dr Martens. With and without shoe tree.