Best shoe shine tips and techniques from the Butler Bureau - huzza !

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Do you judge a gentleman by his manners, his speech? On first meeting most valets check out his shoes, are they in good repair and buffed to a mirror shine. A well polished pair of brogues has nothing to do with being wealthy.

Fool the world into thinking you have a personal valet with our shoe shine master class from one of the worlds’ top valets

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Shoe shine and care

The Valet’s way to shine shoes - brilliantly!

My employer recently returned from a shooting weekend and informed me that many of his fellow guests had commented on how exceptionally smart and shiny his shoes were. I was delighted by the compliment.
For the average plain, black leather shoes with plain toecaps, or brogues, you’ll need a basin, a brush, a candle, a soft clean rag, a yellow duster and a well known brand of polish. I tend to use Kiwi because it is not too greasy. I recommend working on one shoe at a time.
First, remove the mud from the upper, sole and heel to prevent dirt soiling the shoe bag. If the mud is dried on, wet the shoe in cold - never hot or even warm - water. As soon as all the mud has been scrubbed off, you should start to polish immediately.


Apply a dab of polish to the brush and wipe the arch area between the sole and the heel of the shoe underneath. This will protect the area. However, it is not necessary to brush the whole sole. Add more polish to the brush and clean the welt - the strip sewn around the edge of the shoe upper and attached to the sole - all around the shoe. Brush the polish in thoroughly as it preserves the stitching. Then brush the upper.
Wrap the rag around the index finger. Starting at the toe, spit on the shoe then rub in the spit with small circular movements. Working down the shoe, continue spitting and polishing, rubbing the spit into the polish.
Find a safe place and stand the candle on the inside lid of the can of shoe polish. Hold the shoe approximately 2in away from the flame and let the heat warm the polish all over the shoe, taking great care not to burn the shoe.
Repeat the polish, with the small circular movement, the heating, again small circular movement, the polish, the same movement, the heating, the polish and so on at least four times each. Each time between the polish and the heating use the small circular movement with the rag and it should come up looking like glass.

It should be noted that brown shoes will finish up looking much darker and the candle should be avoided with tan-coloured shoes. For these, simply spit and polish as above. The process takes about 20 minutes per pair of shoes.

Thanks to Rick Fink of the Butler Valet School for this best shoe shine info

Here’s a Shoe Shine Video showing the art of ‘bulling’


This video, courtesy of Bowmore Malt Whisky, focuses on the mirror effect  seen on the toecaps of quality shoes which not only reflect the light but also the qualities of the gentleman wearing them. More likely than not he is an ex-military man as it is in the British forces that this sort of gleam is most often seen. Either that or he employs a damn fine valet.

So what does the Butler Bureau think of The Bowmore Way of doing things? First rate, bang on and tip top!

N.B. In the video above the toecaps receive this time-consuming attention while the rest of the shoe receives a normal polish.

Imagine then the work involved to ‘bull’ a shine on a pair of riding boots. Not just on the toe area but all over! See the photo Rick Fink sent us on the right >

Here’ another shoe shining video sent in by Steven Ferry of the I.I.M.B.


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