By Karen R. Smith


Granted the heat hasn’t let up yet, and we’re all still poolside and hoping our sandals get us through another month...but in the rest of the country, it’s Autumn. Despite the local temps, you’ll want to start shopping, and doing it online means you can spend the afternoon in air-conditioned comfort in front of your computer. While you might want to wait before ordering a plaid skirt (must-have!) or leopard pants (gotta!) this season, the most important accessory is (drumroll here….) BOOTS!

Here in Tucson, there are two kinds of boots: cowboy, and everything else. Designers have latched onto cowboy boots like never before, and by the end of September, they will be just as popular in New York City and Miami as they are here. If you already have cowboy boots, now is the time to see if they need the attention of a professional. Believe it or not, a good pair of leather boots can last for decades if given regular care.

Boot Maintenance

Keeping leather clean and supple in the dry Sonoran heat requires moisture. The best way to provide that for your shoes is with Meltonian shoe cream. You’ve probably noticed that Meltonian is sold by cobblers and fine shoe stores, and the reason is simple -- there isn’t a better product for keeping shoes clean, colored and supple.

Meltonian does not contain wax. It is a moisturizing cream combined with dye, and it is available in dozens of colors. It is NOT a shoe polish, and it does not produce a shine. It’s easy to use -- you just apply it with a soft cloth, and it spreads easily so it doesn’t take much to cover a boot.

Leave it on for five minutes or so, and then buff it off. That’s it! Couldn’t be simpler, and your shoes will look terrific.

One of the best things about being a grownup is that your feet stay the same size -- which means you can invest in beautiful boots and shoes knowing they will be around forever. But forever only applies to the uppers, or the tops, of the shoes, because the bottoms begin to wear away immediately and will require regular replacement over the years. How often you will need to resole your boots will depend on your stride and weight, how much you wear them, and what

type of wear you expose them to -- but there are things to look for so you’ll know when it’s time to head to the shoemaker.

Your boots have an outsole, which is what comes in contact with the ground, and an inner sole, which is what contacts the insole of the shoe (and your feet). Many of us walk unevenly, and that fact is reflected, eventually, in our shoes, which will wear irregularly. If you notice you have worn away either the outside or the inside of your heels, get thee to the cobbler. Leaving them that way will ultimately damage the boot and exacerbate your uneven gait.

Over time, your leather outer soles will become thinner...and thinner...and thinner. One day, you will notice it, because the soles will have thinned enough for your feet to feel the pavement beneath your shoes. Suddenly you feel the irregularities that never bothered you before, and that’s your boots asking for new outer soles. You can usually save a bit by only getting

half-soles, as for most of us, the wear occurs predominantly on the front half of the sole. Talk to your cobbler so he can recommend the right sole for you. I often find that changing the soles from standard leather to a lugged ‘rubber’ bottom will give me better wear when I’m walking through cities; but for dancing, I want smooth leather so I can move easier. The wonderful craftsmen at El Con Cobblers on Broadway near Columbus have done wonders for the soles of my shoes, and there are plenty of other terrific shoemakers here in Tucson. Find one near you via Yelp or the yellow pages.

Some better boot and shoe manufacturers will resole your shoes -- Redwing and Allen Edmonds both do, for men, for example. If you are not sure, contact either the retailer where you bought your boots, or go straight to the manufacturer via their website.

Keeping your boots stored right can be as simple as buying pool noodles at the dollar store; they make great boot trees and you can cut them to whatever size you need so one noodle might serve two pairs of boots. For boots that get sweaty during the day, take an old pair of tall socks and fill them with corn starch. Tie the tops tightly and put them inside your boots when you take them off. They will hold the shape like any boot tree, and they will deodorize the perspiration and absorb moisture.

About the Author:
Karen R. Smith is an award-winning journalist and publicist. Her book, "Stylishly Sexy" is available online and she takes private style clients throughout Arizona and across the country. Visit her at