1. The 3 C's: Cleaner, Conditioner, and Cloth:
I actually haven't used the cleaner yet so I can't say how well it works but I guess it never hurts to have a bottle lying around. A word of caution: most cleaners are pretty heavy duty so if the leather is really delicate, I would recommend testing it out on a small area first or passing it along to professionals. Also, DO NOT use leather cleaner on suede or exotics!!
I use the conditioner on my exotics since they tend to dry out but you could use this on all of your leather pieces.
For application of both, try to use the softest cloth possible- it would be 3 steps forward and 2 steps back if you end up scratching the leather :P
2. Stain, stain, go away:
I spray two light layers (30 minutes between each application) of this on my suede pieces before wearing them for the first time. I guess I really should be spraying after every couple times of use but you get the idea. This is supposedly okay to use on leather and exotics but I personally wouldn't risk it...the last thing I want is my stuff drying out or changing colors.
3. Suede cleaner and brush:
Like the leather cleaner, I haven't used this yet but it is definitely on my to-do list! You will also need a brush since you have to really scrub into suede to clean it well.
4. Padding aka my BFFs:
Leather and suede are infamous for stretching. What fit just right the first time can end up being a half size too big after a few times out. Padding your shoes is probably the easiest and cheapest thing you can do for a better fit. My personal favorite is the ball-of-foot pad but I also keep a few of the heel pads just in case. There are fancy gel versions but honestly, I like the $2 packs from CVS just fine. Also, dont be afraid to double-up and/or trim the pads to make the shoes fit just right.
4. Lube it up:
When things are running a bit small or are so tight that your circulation is getting cut off, try applying Band-Aid Friction Block or Vaseline to the problem area(s). Both lube things right up and allow you to go about your day relatively pain-free. And no, they wont damage your shoes.
5. Aligning in the name of prevention:
I love all my shoes but I also know that my feet are paying a heavy price. I just got these toe-relaxers so I can't say they work wonders but I'm hoping they'll help my feet out a bit. When you wear heels, your toes are scrunched out of shape and over time, you end up with some not so cute feet. Products like these toe-relaxers are suppose to re-align your toes. They kinda hurt but you only have to wear them for 5-10 minutes a day.
And there you have it, products that I use in parallel with my shoe addiction :)
As I was putting my shoes back into their boxes last night, it occurred to me to do a quick update for this particular post. I think some of the best ways to keep the things we own in good condition is to respect the original packaging. I admit that often times (esp in the past), I'm quick to toss out the "fluff" - tissue paper wrapped around the shoes, tissue paper stuffed inside the shoes, the sticks that hold the shape, and even the boxes. The box and tissue paper around the shoes are good bc they keep your shoes dust-free. The tissue paper stuffed inside the shoes and the sticks that come with some shoes, are even more important since they help to hold the shape of your shoes. Of course, for some styles and materials, the shape will hold unless you stuff it in a backpack and take it around Europe with you but two styles that quickly lose their shape:
I think its really important to keep the toe-box area stuffed and to keep the sticks in all of your sling-backs. I noticed that for the ones that were missing the sticks, the elastic part was bent out of shape...
Besides padding up the toe-box, for any styles that come with straps, make sure you stuff the straps so that they keep their shape as well.