Caring for your winter boots

Polishing your shoes regularly is perhaps one of the easiest and cheapest ways towards a more sustainable and long-lasting wardrobe. As a follow-up to the previous post on the wardrobe spring detox, today I want to share what I do with my winter boots once spring is in the air.

I like to store winter coats and boots out of sight over the summer. I usually find it is worth the extra effort, just to be free from dusty boots and big down jackets cluttering the hall cupboard.


Polish your boots

I have read somewhere that you should polish your shoes every two weeks or so. I am not quite at that level yet, I’ll admit. But I have seen what a difference it makes polishing your boots once in a while. I particularly like to do this before putting my winter boots away over the summer. The leather holds much better over time and it makes it a lot nicer to get them out again in the autumn.

Above and below are the ankle boots I have worn daily for three long winters. The left one is polished, the right is not. See any difference?

How to do it

For leather that is scratched or faded, I use a shoe cream that matches the colour of the boot. Traditional hard shoe polish works just as well. First, I wipe the boots clean with a damp cloth and let them dry. Then I use an old rag (or you could use a shoe brush) to work the shoe cream in. Finally, I brush them up with a soft shoe brush for shine (and here you could use an old sock or similar instead).

For leather that is dry but not scratched, I use a clear leather balm instead. This gives the leather moisture and shine, and works as a protective layer against dirt and rain. Again, I wipe the boots clean first and use the sponge that came with the tub to work the balm in. After leaving them for a bit I wipe off any excess with a dry cloth.

Easy-peasy. The whole job is done in about five minutes and immensely satisfying.

I store the boots in shoe boxes or paper bags in our attic. Once I am ready to get them out again in the autumn it feels almost like opening a new box of shoes. That is, new old shoes: handsomely polished, but well-worn and guaranteed comfy. I am telling you, it is worth it.

Wardrobe spring detox

As the days grow lighter and the plants on my window sill spring to life, I itch to make a clean start in my wardrobe too. After over a year of hardly any clothes shopping, the time feels ripe to do a proper spring clean.


Capsule wardrobe

I am aiming for a spring/summer capsule wardrobe, but reaching a specific number of items or settling on a clearly defined colour palette is less important to me.

If you are new to the capsule wardrobe approach, here are some inspirational resources:

My aim for a seasonal capsule wardrobe is pretty much the same as my long term aim for my wardrobe as a whole. I want a minimal, functional collection of clothes, ethically produced and made to last. A mix of handmade and bought items that fit my body and my lifestyle. No more, no less.

Now, that takes time. And money. Whether thoughtfully buying or making by hand, building a beautifully curated collection of clothes is a slow process. So I don’t expect to reach perfection in one go, but it does help to know the general direction I am aiming for.

For instance, I don’t want to rush out to buy cheap, poor quality options just to fill up my ideal number of tops or dresses. On the other hand, I am not going to afford to buy a slik dress from Elizabeth Suzann either, however beautiful and “good” it may be. As always there is a balance between the real and the ideal, and we each need to find our own sweet spot.


Wardrobe detox

Before starting the actual capsule planning, I wanted to get an overview over what I have actually got. Marie Kondo style, I took out every single piece of clothing from the chest of draws and cupboard where I keep my clothes. Then I went through them one by one. Only the pieces I actually use, desperately need or truly want in my spring/summer capsule went back in.

That left 28 items, not including underwear, accessories, jackets and shoes.

The best thing about cleaning out your wardrobe is putting the items you have chosen to keep back in. Suddenly every item seems precious. You no longer have to mentally sift through the wearable and non-wearable items each time you open your wardrobe.

Immediately, you get an overview of what you have got, what gaps need filling and what colours dominate. In my case, I realised I have plenty of jumpers and light summer cardigans, perhaps more than I need. But the trouser situation is pressing as none of my jeans really work. I also noticed I have unintentionally a fairly cohesive colour palette going: white, turquoise, blue, brown, grey and pinky-aubergine.


Non-capsule items

The remaining items that are not suitable for warmer weather, don’t fit or for some reason I rarely use, I have stored in a plastic box to go out of sight until winter.

I have been through my clothes several times over the last few years, and finally this time round there was nothing I wanted to threw out or give away. However, I did have a pile of clothes from a previous clean-up which I have been meaning to re-purpose. These are now officially labeled fabric and stored in the (bulging) fabric box.


Is less really more?

I started cleaning out my wardrobe feeling frustrated and uninspired about my clothes, like I had nothing to wear. Now, the spacious, airy feel of my cupboard and chest of draws has completely shifted that. I have less items in there, but still I feel I have more options when getting dressed. And that is despite some pretty awkward gaps remaining to be filled. Interesting.

Addressing those gaps will be next.


"Sewing heritage" featured in Seamwork Magazine

When my Grandma passed away last year I sat down to write. I needed to articulate what I was never able to say while she was alive. Through the process of writing I felt a deep sense of connection to her, exploring her life and our relationship through our shared interest in sewing.

I am thoroughly honoured to have the essay featured in the March issue of Seamwork magazine. In the essay I touch on generational shifts, female identity, the value of making, and the gentle power of commitment I have found in my Grandma’s approach to sewing.

You can read it in full here.