If you’re a shoe lover, and I were to ask you what you needed right now, you’d probably say more shoes.
As such, the best advice I give to those buying presents for shoe lovers is to gift them shoe-related necessities. They have the shoes themselves covered (for the most part).
Here’s the thing, though, and I’m talking directly to you shoe enthusiasts now. You can’t count on gifts to cover everything you need to ensure your shoe collection is in tip-top shape.
So, here’s everything else every shoe lover should own.
Table of Contents
1. A Nice Pair of Dress Shoes
Even if you’re more of a sneakerhead, you need at least one pair of nice dress shoes. No matter how casual your lifestyle is, there will always be a time for them. After all, you can’t wear the latest sneaker drop to a formal wedding.
I recommend a nice pair of simple oxfords or sleek loafers. They’re both ubiquitous styles that go with any suit or tuxedo and can even be worn casually.
For an oxford, I love the Beckett Simonon Dean (which is why I dubbed it the best value option in my oxfords round-up). It’s a tried and true design, made from lush full-grain leather, with a resoleable yet flexible Blake stitched construction.
I know some loafers are too casual for true formalwear. Remember, you can wear loafers with a suit if they’re simple and dressy enough. This is the case with the Allen Edmonds Randolph in shell cordovan, which is why I recommend it.
It has a sleek silhouette and a premium, crease-resistant construction that’s shiny but not overly polished. Plus, you can wear the burgundy version with black suits, brown suits, and casual wear.
These models, and any oxford or loafer, can easily be incorporated into any guy’s style.
2. A Shoe Cleaning Kit
You need a shoe cleaning kit or two if you love your shoes.
You’ll need a traditional kit for leather shoes that includes a cleaner and a horsehair brush.
There are also great sneaker-focused kits these days. I love cleaners that are in foam format because they work on leather or rubber trainers. And it prevents you from getting your shoes overly damp, which isn’t great for perforated rubber sneakers.
There are even cleaners that come with a special protective bag so you can throw certain sneakers into the washing machine.
3. A Cedar Shoe Tree
Do your shoes a favor and keep them in a cedar shoe tree. It’s like a shoe’s chiropractor, ensuring it maintains its posture and structure well into old age. It also fights creases and expands its life overall.
Cedar is the best option because it’s durable, naturally absorbent (perfect for a shoe you’ve been wearing all day), and even antimicrobial. It pulls in and fights the leftover sweat in your shoes and keeps odor and bacteria at bay.
Moreover, cedar has a beautiful fresh scent and is also aesthetically attractive.
4. A Boot Stretcher
Here’s the thing about a boot stretcher. First off, it reduces the break-in period, which is great for ‘real deal’ leather boots but can feel like a medieval torture device. Second, if you have wide feet, sometimes a shoe stretcher is the best way to go.
Think of it this way. If you’re a boot lover or even someone who buys a lot of boots from either enthusiasm or necessity (maybe your job requires it), dealing with the entire break-in period can be a pain to do every single time you buy a new pair.
Cut yourself some slack with a boot stretcher.
5. Some Quality Sneakers
I’m not saying your collection of unique Nikes and collabs aren’t quality. In fact, if you’re the guy with tons of trendy kicks and waits in long lines for highly anticipated drops, you probably have an excellent investment portfolio on your hands.
However, you should definitely consider a pair of white, leather, low-profile sneakers.
I’m a big fan of the Koio Capri (so much so that I included it in my round-up of minimalist sneakers). It’s hand-made in Tuscany using sustainable full-grain leather. Even the edges are hand-painted. And honestly, I think it boasts more value for its price than the Common Projects Achilles does.
Before you naysayers tell me those are too boring, think about the fact that you’d have a cool pair of sneakers that you can wear with anything.
Be real. You don’t always have time to look through the different colors and aesthetics of your sneaker collection to decide what goes with the outfit you just threw on. We all have those mornings when we need to be out the door swiftly and with no fuss.
6. Sneaker Balls
As mentioned in our investigation of whether or not sneaker balls work, they’re essentially like air fresheners for your shoes.
They absorb odors, are reliable, and release a clean fragrance in place of the odors they eliminate. They’re perfect for shoes you wear often because they’re essentially simulating taking time off from wearing that pair, which is necessary to keep it fresh.
7. Nice Dress Socks
This goes hand in hand with everyone needing a good pair of dress shoes. You can’t just wear them with your gym socks.
A good, traditional pair of dress socks is made from merino wool, which absorbs moisture while remaining dry to the touch. Call it a magic trick. They also come in a variety of thicknesses for different seasons.
I love merino socks that are blended with silk for warm months because it adds a nice cool sheen. For cooler seasons, I like a cashmere blend. It’s cozy, warm, but doesn’t add bulk.
8. A Shoe Care Kit
In addition to keeping your shoes clean, you also need to give them a spa day when needed. This is kind of a gross reminder, but it’s real. Leather is skin. It needs moisture and maintenance to stay strong and beautiful.
As such, ensure you have a series of conditioners, oils, and waxes. Some good ingredients to look out for include beeswax, which prevents leather from drying, or carnauba wax, which serves as a forcefield of sorts.
9. Sneaker Shields & Shoe Covers
Shoe covers are like rain parkas worn over your footwear. They protect your shoes, whether dress or sneaker, from weather or muck.
Meanwhile, sneaker shields are like your shoes from creases and maintains their structure. The best sneaker shields are also perforated for breathability.
I recommend you have both handy to protect your shoes and sneakers from the inside and out.
10. A Quality Shoehorn
If you have slim wholecut oxfords, you probably already own a shoehorn. Either that, or your wholecuts are sitting in your closet collecting dust because you’ve never figured out how to get your feet in them.
Shoehorns don’t just make slipping into single-piece shoes easier, they prolong the life of any dress shoe. Since they help you smoothly guide your foot in, they prevent creases on the collar, vamp, and help maintain the heel’s sturdiness.
Opt for a shoehorn made of wood or stainless steel. Aluminum and plastic ones will eventually lose their shape and even break.
11. Heel and Toe Taps
The first place your dress shoes will start to wear is on their outsoles. You can prevent this by having a cobbler attach toe and heel taps, which are metal inserts placed in, you guessed it, the toe and heel of the outsole.
This is especially important if you only have one pair of dress shoes. It’ll ensure you won’t have to buy another pair for as long as possible.
If you want to learn more about toe and heel taps, check out my guide here.
Make sure you stick to the metal ones, plastic ones aren’t as effective.
12. A Pair of Insoles
To customize the comfort and support of your shoes, you need to find a pair of insoles that accommodate your specific gate, arch, and issues, if applicable.
For example, if you have especially high arches, you’ll need an insole with a deep heel cup for stabilization and optimized cushioning.
These days, high end brands often offer effective factory insoles that eventually conform to your foot contours. However, if you suffer from chronic foot pain or just want to optimize your shoe’s support and comfort to its greatest extent, you’ll want to do some digging or get insoles customized.
13. Shoe Fresheners
You can’t have enough forms of shoe fresheners. Not only is it better for the odor of your shoes (and feet), but it also helps fight bacteria. That smell? It’s bacteria.
I love a spray freshener because of how instant it is. However, if you have issues with aerosols, there are also bags of deodorizer, charcoal, and plastic and organic vessels.
14. Clear Shoe Boxes
Clear, acrylic shoe boxes are an effective way to protect your shoes from moisture, dust, and pets, and they’re so convenient.
They’re often stackable, which is convenient and efficient. And, you can see what shoe is where, which saves you time compared to digging around your closet or under your bed.
15. A Foot Care Kit
It’s essential to keep your feet healthy. They’re the foundation of your body, after all. There are two kinds of foot care kits you’ll want to look out for.
First is a set of good nail clippers of different sizes. A really comprehensive kit also has some form of an ingrown nail corrector or preventer.
Second, you want a skincare kit specifically for your feet. This often comes with a light exfoliator, perhaps a pumice stone, and a special moisturizer that can seep through callices.
16. A Travel Shoe Shine Kit
Always be prepared, right? Personally, I exclusively keep a travel shoe shine kit. Part of this concerns the fact that I live in a Manhattan apartment with limited space.
Still, the last thing you want when you’re out of town is to scuff up your shoes, and all you can find in the stores are huge bottles of shoe polish and cleaner. Find a portable, TSA-friendly kit with polish, perhaps a bit of cleaner, a brush, and a cloth.
17. A Selection of Shoe Brushes
This is particularly important for you guys with many leather dress shoes and boots. Different brushes are good for different things.
A horsehair brush is the best all-around because it’s moderately hard, efficiently spreads conditioner, and won’t harm your boots.
However, you might also want a goat hair or yak hair brush. It’s soft and perfect for finishes and buffs. A pig bristle brush is extra firm and can be used to work cream into the crevices and creases of really old leather.
There’s a world of brushes out there. And if you’re the kind of shoe lover who enjoys the caretaking part of the hobby, more brushes mean a more varied experience on top of more nuanced care.
18. A Repair Kit
For you true footwear professionals, there are definitely more advanced repair kits out there. Even the most advanced shoe enthusiast will want at least a basic repair kit at home, car, or even bag. Think of it as First Aid for your shoes.
They’ll often come with resources like sewing needles, waxed thread, shoe adhesive and an applicator, repair patches, and a clamp in case you need to hold two pieces of the shoe together while adhesive dries.
19. A Brannock
Keep in mind that shoe size varies from brand to brand and model to model. However, a Brannock measurer is the closest thing we have to a universal standard. Most shoe brands will describe their sizing against this standard.
In our dress shoe versus sneaker fit guide, I give detailed instructions on how to use one.
This will make shopping for shoes online so much easier.
The Shoe Lover’s Ecosystem
I think of these necessities as the operations department of a company.
The sales reps or talent are out there representing the brand, and that’s what the shoes are. They’re the visual and the product. Operations ensure that the product is complete and presented the way it should be.
Make sure you give your shoes a good operations department. Pick up the cool stuff on this list.