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Shoe Care Guide

The Parisian Shoe Shine Method

Learn how to polish Berluti dress shoes using the Parisian Method and Saphir shoe care products.

Products used in this video:


Hi, my name is Kirby Allison, and I'm the founder of The Hanger Project. Whenever it comes to shining your shoes there's really no one method. Now of course we've got different methods that we propose in our various tutorials here at The Hanger Project. But as you travel the world you really come to learn that everyone kind of has their own nuanced technique or ritual for shining their favorite pair of shoes. Today in this video what I'm going to be showing you something called the Parisian method developed by Olga Berluti. For this demonstration I'm going to be using a pair of shoes loaned to me from a good friend of mine in New York that are appropriately a pair of Berluti shoes. As you can see, he stores them in a nice sturdy box with a photograph of the shoes on the front, in our Hanger Project shoeshine bags, or our Hanger Project shoe storage bags. And they are none other than a beautiful pair of Berluti shoes. Now Berluti is best known for their very unique patinas that they develop by hand. This pair of shoes, as you can see, is a much more subtle version of Berluti. It's a brown shoe, it still has a lot of really beautiful antiquing on it, but it's not the loud kind of really bright patinas that you're really used to from Berluti. It's perfect for our demonstration today.

So the Parisian method is broken into three steps. First you're going to clean the shoes and remove the old wax using a neutral wax polish. Then you're going to waterproof it using a yellow wax. And then finally polish it using a pigmented polish to match the actual color of the shoes.

So the first step as I mentioned is to first clean the shoes. Now the first step here is going to be taking a small dauber with a little bit of wax and actually polishing the welt. Now the welt thread is what's used to attach the sole to the upper and it's very important to keep this thread nourished and waterproofed with some wax polish. So here I've got a little bit of wax polish on a dauber and I'm just going to run it along the shoe. Now I want to make sure that I'm really kind-of working it into the welt, using long strokes. Dab the dauber in the neutral wax polish and just work it into the welt, polishing. Rub the polish into the welt at length, especially focusing on the toe to make sure that you're covering any type of nicks that occur just through walking.

Put on some of your favorite music. I mean really you know here at The Hanger Project we really suggest that polishing your shoes should be part of an enjoyable ritual. Grab a cigar, grab some Scotch, put on some music, and enjoy the sensual experience of polishing and nourishing your favorite pair of shoes. Now I'm going to put the wax polish on the heel also. And again every dandy knows that a perfectly well-cared-for pair of shoes also needs a very well-polished heel. All the way along the welt, making sure you get that wax polish worked in there quite nicely. OK so it's not important to really buff that to a high-shine yet because we're going to do that in a later step.

So now that we have the welt nourished, I'm going to take one of our high-shine cotton chamois. Now for this we use really high-quality 180 by 2-ply cotton shirting. Actually the same shirting that's used on this shirt and it's perfect for shining shoes whenever you're just using a chamois. Here we're just using a neutral. Now the solvents in this neutral wax are going to pull off any of the prior waxes that have been placed on the shoe. I'm just using firm pressure and circular motions, rubbing the entire length of the shoe you can see that polish coming off. That's how you know it's working.

Now the solvents in a wax polish are what allows this to clean and it works by basically re-emulsifying the previously placed wax on the shoe. Now whenever that's too dirty just transition it to a new piece of the chamois, and just continue to polish strong circular motions working that dirty polish off of the shoe. Along the welt. Along the edge. You mustn't ever polish without first removing the old polish and any dust that may have accumulated on the shoes over time. Especially work across the vamp where creases commonly form.

Polishing a pair of shoes should be work. So apply a strong, firm pressure to ensure that you're really working any of that prior polish off of the shoe. You'll know that you're done whenever you stop taking dark polish onto the chamois. Make sure I get the bunk strap here. I'm using a strong pressure, with large strokes, sweeping across the shoe, dabbing on more polish if I feel like I need it. And you can just see those old waxes melt off. So you can see here I'm no longer taking any polish onto the chamois so that means that these shoes have been cleaned, all of the old polish has been removed. And then you're ready to then waterproof the shoes.

To waterproof the shoes I'm going to take on a yellow wax polish. Take out a clean cloth, roll it around your fingers, and with this polish what we're going to do is we're going to close all of the leather pores that we opened during the cleaning process. Again, applying polish on your chamois using a light to moderate pressure, large circular motions, and fast strokes to work this polish into the leather. You want to apply pressure to make sure that the polish is taken into the pores of the shoe. Across the heel. I just love seeing how good, high-quality, full grain leather just really eats the Saphir polish. It soaks into the leather and provides that essential nourishment. Every so often transition to a clean piece of the cloth. Apply a little bit more polish and then just continue to polish the shoe using those large circular motions. And here, as I said, you know we want to do this quite briskly because the heat that you generate with the chamois is what's going to help seal the wax to close those pores. Now once you see the wax polish begin to shine, you know that you've completed this step. Because that means that all the wax has been taken into the leather, has hardened, and is beginning to develop that glacage.

After you're done with this step take that dirty chamois, throw that down, and then move on to the polishing stage using a clean cotton chamois. Now here you want to match the color of the polish to the actual pigment of the shoe. So here I'm using a medium brown polish. And then next you want to have a little bit water on hand. I filled up an empty tin that I had lying around with cold water. Now it's very important to use cold water because that helps further harden those waxes so that you develop that shine. So I'm going to take my cotton chamois, my Hanger Project high-shine cotton chamois. I'm going to wrap this around my fingers. I like to twist it hard, across two fingers, and again you want to make sure that this cotton cloth is flat. If you have your cloth you know wrapped kind of clumsily like this, it's not going to work. I've got it wrapped around my fingers and I'm going to take some of this pigmented Pate de Luxe Saphir wax polish, and begin to apply it to the shoe.

So I'm applying it to the leather. I'm pushing hard to again ensure that this leather takes in the polish, and using circular motions. You want to make sure that you apply it to the entire surface of the shoe, especially the heel and the forward toe because those are the areas that inevitably have the most wear, and that you want to protect and polish with the wax polish. So once you see that you've applied polish to the entire surface of the shoe, then take some of that cold water and just put a few drops of that cold water onto the leather. If you add too much water then you can just let the shoes dry for a little bit, but using just small drops allows you to really control how much you're at water you're adding.

So I've got my chamois and then basically I'm going to continue to use those large kind of circular motions to polish this wax. Now the cold water again helps harden that wax polish followed by the fast motions to really bring it to a shine. I'm doing this across the entire shoe. Now once your cloth dries just put a little bit more water on it, because again that water really helps bring out the shine very quickly in a nice wax polish. These Berluti's are an honor to shine. A beautiful pair of shoes deserves really the best top shelf treatment, the best polishes such as the Saphir Medaille d'Or, and really good attention so that whenever you bring these shoes out and you wear them, they're able to take care of you like you took care of them.

I'm using brisk motions. And you can really see that shine begin to develop. I'm going to apply a little bit more polish to the toe just because I'd like to see that polish elevate, or that shine elevate. I'm going to move on to a clean area of the chamois, wrap that around my fingers, apply some more polish. I'm going to apply some more polish on the heel, on the backside, the hind quarters, or the heel. And then I'm going to take some more water. And just drop that around the shoe. And again this is the cold water. I'm going to take my chamois and then using moderate to firm pressure, circular motions, I'm going to glaçage and shine this up. Some people enjoy using small drops. You can see it on other shoeshine videos I prefer using the spray bottle. Again this all goes to what your personal preference is. What are you most comfortable with? How are you embellishing this experience so that shining your shoes isn't a chore, but something that you actually enjoy and look forward to whenever you're done, you're proud of the work.

So you can see just as little as 10 minutes and really only using wax polish, we've been able to rejuvenate and shine these pair of Berluti shoes. Now this is a standard shine. You could certainly spend more time with the wax on the toe and the heel to develop a high shine. But for most men this is perfectly fine. There's no right way to do it. As again, as I mentioned earlier, the Parisian method is you know just one of the many different techniques that you can do to shine your shoes. And the French just because you know they've had the Saphir Pate de Luxe wax polish, you know a lot of the French really prefer to just use the wax polishes. Here at The Hanger Project we do recommend a cream polish to help pigment. But if you've got a pair of shoes like Berluti that has a really special patina to it, then maybe you don't want to add pigment or any more pigment than you need to, and so you would just want to stick with the Saphir wax polishes.

So thanks to Alex for lending me his pair of Berluti shoes. I'm Kirby Allison, founder of The Hanger Project. Thanks for joining us. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below and make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel because we've got many more great shoeshine videos coming up.