Whether you prefer a loafer, a monk strap, or a Blucher Shoe, good quality dress shoes are an investment. Thankfully, if cared for properly they can last for decades, and one of the fundamental aspects of their care involves one particular device - shoe trees. While some may look at these shoe inserts as an unnecessary accessory, shoe trees are essential for keeping your shoes in the best shape possible for the lifespan of your footwear.
What Makes Shoe Trees Important?
Shoe trees are a significant tool in shoe care because they extend the life of both the uppers and insoles of your shoes.
Why Do I Need Shoe Trees?
Throughout the day, feet sweat. While it is a natural process, this moisture absorbs into the lining and leather of the shoe. Unfortunately, this can cause the leather to crack, the footwear to smell, or even the lining to rot; shoe trees help to avoid these problems. In fact, a shoe tree has two primary purposes:
1. to make sure the shoe dries out correctly, and
2. to hold the shoe in its proper shape (which also eliminates fine lines from where your shoe flexes)
Plus, by using shoe trees to dry out your shoes, you will also keep your leather from cracking.
Does It Matter What Type of Shoe Tree I Buy?
While each device is made from an absorbent wood to fulfill the purpose of drying out the lining of the shoes, not all shoe trees are created equal. Typically, they are broken into four categories of trees. These include:
• Cheap Shoe Trees - The bare minimum offered for shoe trees, these are great for people trying to avoid spending a great deal of money on the accessory. However, it is important to remember these options tend not to have a full wooden heal. Therefore, while they will help prevent leather cracking and odor, they won’t hold the shape as well as higher quality options.
• Lasted Shoe Trees - The most upscale shoe tree option available, these are the best of the best when it comes to shoe trees. Unlike other, cheaper alternatives, lasted shoe trees are shaped based on the actual mold (or last) the shoes are made on. They are typically made of cedar wood.
• Quality Shoe Trees - This level of shoe tree offers a ventilation slot at the toe, which helps to remove moisture. It contains a more extended heel and better wood to ensure the best possible fit between the shoe and the tree.
• Travel Shoe Trees - Travel shoe trees are typically made of plastic to make them better for travel, as this allows them to be lightweight and great for keeping your shoe's shape while packed in your suitcase.
Are There Any Tips I Should Consider?
One of the biggest things to keep in mind when purchasing a shoe tree is to avoid the varnished trees. While these are a better-looking option in comparison to the traditional style of shoe tree, varnished shoe trees do not correctly draw the moisture from the leather and lining. In most cases, the best shoe tree options are made of unfinished cedar and contain an entire heel and a split toe. Other helpful tips include:
• Choose an option that ensures the closest possible fit between your shoe tree and your shoes.
• While great for travel, plastic or metal shoe trees do not offer the ideal drying effect for everyday use.
• Never dry your shoes near a heater. Heaters will cause the leather to dry out (causing it to become brittle) and can harm any adhesives in your shoe. Once you place the shoe trees into place, always have them dry at room temperature.
• Keep your shoes in mind. Not all shoes are the same level of quality, and, while you may not require shoe trees for your running shoes, you will want to use them for a blucher shoe.
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