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Whether we like it or not, dress shoes can be the best barometer for whether or not a man has style. The best-fitting suit in the world can be ruined instantly by the knucklehead that doesn't choose the appropriate footwear. (And for the love of mankind, don't be the guy that wears sneakers with a suit to get a few cheap laughs. People will be laughing at you all right, and you'll be going home alone at the end of the night.)

Something that can be just as bad as not choosing the right footwear is going to a formal event with unpolished kicks. Having a dull-looking pair of dress shoes indicates that you chose not to spend the extra 25 minutes to complete your look. And now you're just being lazy, man.

How to shine a pair of dress shoes is something all men need to learn at some point in their lives. Below is a step-by-step guide to a task that is simple to perform and can make all the difference when it comes to completing your formal attire. Unless you want to be cheap laugh sneaker guy, we suggest you read on.


The first thing you'll need to do is clean the dust and dirt from the surface of your shoes with a shoeshine brush or a damp cloth. You wouldn't wax your car without washing it first, so don't be the fool that skips this step thinking that you'll kill two birds with one stone. You'll just rub the dust into the shoe, creating a nice dirty film on the surface of your kicks.


Next, select a can of wax or crème shoe polish that matches the leather that you want to polish. If you're going to polish a pair of black shoes, then obviously pick out a black polish. But if you're working with brown shoes, keep in mind that if you choose a brown polish that is darker than your shoes, the shoes will get a little darker themselves. Some men choose to use a darker polish on their brown shoes to darken them up a bit, which is fine. But it's probably wise to hire a professional shoemaker to dye the shoes for you so you don't ruin them.


Use a shoe polish brush to apply polish onto the surface of your shoes, but don't put the polish onto the brush like you're loading a piece of bread with about two sticks of butter. Be somewhat conservative. Then brush the polish onto the surface of the leather in circular motions until the leather has a dull coating. You can use a toothbrush to get into the tight spots, but don't use your girlfriend's brush. They don't like that and, surprisingly, they don't think it's funny when you do.


Wait 15-20 minutes while the polish dries. You want the polish to set into the leather so you get a nice shine when you go to brush them off.


After the 15-20 minutes is up, go ahead and brush your shoes with a shoeshine brush, only this time, don't use circular motions. You want to use the brush by going back and forth over the shoes in horizontal motions.


Using a clean cotton cloth (a clean sock or T-shirt will work), buff your shoes until you get a shine out of them. You'll know you missed a spot if parts of the shoe still look dull.

Now, there are some rules to adhere to when you're shining a pair of shoes. For starters, don't polish suede, roughout or patent leather. Also, don't use instant shoe polishers thinking you're going to save yourself a half hour because they don't last and they can harm your shoe leather.

If you're still skeptical about polishing your shoes, go talk to a shoemaker. They'll show you the professional way to polish your kicks and they won't charge you for the demonstration. After all, if you're not going to do it right, then don't do it at all.

Check out our Get Real Guide for Men regularly for more tips for the everyman!