Closet 101 Style

Closet Care – Bags and Shoes

My leather care collection

Recently I’ve had a few requests for posts around how I take care of my wardrobe – clothes and accessories.

I am far from an expert in these areas but since I do try and have my items last as long as possible, I wanted to share some of my learnings. Today’s post will focus on leather accessories – clothing and jewelry will be next!

Here are my top three tips for taking care of bags and shoes.

1. Know a good cobbler.

I previously covered my amazing cobbler in this post – he’s fixed banged up Louboutins, nearly decade old Joseph pumps, and resoled my Chanel shoes so they can last for years longer. But a great cobbler/leatherworks person shouldn’t just be limited to shoes. When my Bottega hobo in Ebano was looking a little dingy and beat up (the strips can fray after a while), he restored it with careful care to look almost as good as new.

Find a good cobbler in your area – and make sure to consult them when you need to both a) repair and b) protect your leather goods.

Blackrock, Lexol wipes, organic baby wipes

2. Have the right tools at your disposal.

I love my cobbler and he’s way more talented than me, but constantly taking things in can be expensive. That’s why I try and take care of my items with little fixes along the way. Over the years I’ve invested in a few tools (with the help of the lovely Doc). My favorite and most used products? Lexol wipes and baby wipes.

Lexol wipes are made for leather, pH balanced, and get the A+ approval from Doc. I use these about once every season or so on all of my bags (provided that I’ve actually used them) – I give them a quick wipe down all around and am careful not to oversaturate. I leave them out to try. I use them for both bags and shoes as you can see, and just do a very gentle wipe down.

Corners can get accumulate dirt

Lotions and oils can transfer to handles

Wipes can be used for heels too!

Baby wipes I use for everything else, and touchups in between. They’ve gotten out light pen stains, dark denim transfer, and just general dirt and grime (gross I know). If I am wearing a bag continuously, I’ll probably use these to wipe it down every two weeks or so. I especially concentrate on the handles of hand held bags as oils from your hands can transfer. IMPORTANT: make sure to get the unscented, sensitive skin baby wipes! Ones with alcohol, chlorine, and unnecessary scents can be more damaging to leather.

A note that Lovely Doc recommends Lexol wipes over these (her logical argument – aren’t baby wipes for human skin, not leather?) but I’ve had great results. Proceed at your own comfort level.

Stuffing my Chanel bag in between uses to keep its shape

3. Treat your things right.

This is really important. Even the best cobblers won’t be able to repair the damage if you constant are abusing your bags and shoes. Take care of them! By this I don’t mean that you should treat them like delicate babies, getting umbrellas to shade them from the sun or making reservations for an extra +1 so your bag has somewhere to sit (yes I know someone who does this). For me, scratches and scuffs are a part of life and using and enjoying your items.

However, you should be logical and try not to overly abuse your accessories. If you’re going out to party and it’s one of those nights you’re going to get stepped on a lot, maybe leave the Manolos at home and bring out those old Steve Maddens you have just for this purpose.

Also , try and rotate your bags and shoes. Shoes because they should have time in between time to air out – and bags because it’s good to give them a break, especially if you’re used to weighing them down with all sorts of items.

Finally, I want to share with you my light (gold) colored Hermes bag, which I bought in early 2007. This bag has been through disastrous encounters with dark jeans, food spills, torrential rain showers, you name it – and it still looks pretty darn good for a 5.5 year old bag (in my opinion!). Leather goods can last a very, very long time as long as you treat them decently and take proper care.

I hope this was helpful to you all! If you have more tips for proper shoe and bag care, please share in the comments.


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  • Sonya
    October 1, 2012 at 6:55 am

    My tip: I always put my bags in their dustbag and carefully stored away in my accessories closet. It keeps them stiff and in great condition.

  • Olivia
    October 1, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Thanks Katherine – these are great tips!!

  • Anonymous
    October 1, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Great tips, thanks!

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    October 1, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Thanks for the tips! I really need to wipe down my leather bags more often. I’m an Apple cleaner lover (I think I first heard about it on TPF) and use it for our couch and my bags. I also use Coach moisturizer,but want to try the Lexol wipes now.
    A good cobbler and tailor are worth their weights in gold! My Chanel camera bag strap snapped last weekend (agh!) so I am going to take it to a new tailor and then a cobbler to see what can be done. But yes, I do stuff my bags and condition them when I remember!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  • Sue
    October 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

    That was a really interesting post – I read it word for word. I love stuff like these – I buy books on household tips and stuff but I really like the ones about looking after your clothes, bags and shoes. I agree totally about finding a good cobbler and be sure to make friends with them. I don’t have any really expensive bags but I do try to look after what I have (except for my day in day out tatty bag) as like you say, they can last you a long time. Look forward to the looking after your clothes post.

  • Lamia
    October 1, 2012 at 8:19 am

    This is a great post dear Katherine. Baby wipes ?? didn’t know it can have this magic effect !! wow !!

  • Anna
    October 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Great tips! I stuff my boots and some shoes. Some say: if you are not willing to invest in a shoe tree, don`t buy shoes. I don`t own any super expensive shoes, so I personally don`t really do this.
    Other than that… I don`t think I have anything to add.
    By the way, I am the girl who always has a miniature package of baby wipes – use them for everything, when I get sweaty, something gets dirty, I want to wipe down the stained cafeteria tables at uni… anything.

  • adele
    October 1, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Great tips Katherine! I’m the same as you I always try to look after things.
    Would love you to check out my latest post 🙂
    Happy Monday Hun xoxo

  • alison*elle
    October 1, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Great tips, Katherine! I’ve never heard of those Lexol wipes but I’m going to look out for them… they look very useful!

    xo, alison*elle

  • Call me M
    October 1, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I totally agree with you! We should treat our things right! Loved your tips, they are great.

  • Elle from Parisian Chic Blog
    October 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I agree entirely, these items are not growing on tree’s and we need to look after them and take pride in doing so…. there is always something that needs doing in the closet to maintain ! Elle x
    Parisian Chic Blog

  • Hilary
    October 1, 2012 at 10:28 am

    That bag looks brand new still!! Love Kiwi prods! I used some in white to touch up a bag just the other day!

  • New Petite
    October 1, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I love your envious bag collection! So right about taking care of the items. I think I go a bit too far and keep them in the closet and use maybe about 2-3 times a year! which totally defeats the purpose!!

  • Mar
    October 1, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Look for Lexol or other leather care products from a equestrian supply location.. Local tack shops or online locations like dover saddlery or state line tack. It’s probably cheaper than if you bought it from somewhere selling it specifically for handbags or shoes.

    Also, leather “conditioner” as opposed to cleaner will more than likely change the color of your bag (conditioner is oil meant to keep the leather soft and supple, which will prevent cracking). Make sure you get the right product and then test it on a hidden part of the item you’re cleaning.

    Great article, leather care is sooo important 🙂

    • Katherine
      October 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Thank you Mar, this is wonderful! I have leather conditioners as well, they are great.

  • Mar
    October 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Oh and a good black leather polish will keep black shoes shiny as brand new (and can fill scuff marks) if you use it right. Target sells little shoe polish kits with a buff cloth, a horsehair shine brush, and polish+applicator for cheap. We used them for horse equipment, and if it can keep my riding boots shiny through dirt, dust, being stepped on by horses, scratches, mud, and more, I’m sure it’ll be awesome for heels.
    Plus, polishing your shoes can be fun (they look so shiny and great after)

  • Jo
    October 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for sharing! I’m going to buy those wipes right now.

    xo Jo

  • Ammu
    October 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Such a helpful post. I always use LovinMyBags products on my handbags – they are pretty gentle. Except fpr my Clare Vivier nubuck messenger and a Michael Kors lambskin bag, both of which i tend to leave alone, save for the odd brush-through or gentle wipe-down with a dry towel.
    For shoes, I always spray protectant before the first use and get them re-soled and re-heeled regularly.

    • Katherine
      October 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Yup, I used LMB for my old Balenciaga and loved it! Great products.

  • Marlene @ chocolatecookiesandcandies
    October 1, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Great tips, Katherine! To be honest, I haven’t been all that impressed by the spa treatments from Hermes which I forked out a small fortune. I’ve found that by using unscented baby wipes and Apple cleaner/conditioner, I keep my bags looking relatively new and well cared for.

    • Katherine
      October 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      I feel blasphemous but on Hermes spas – me neither. I think the spa does its best work on really beat up old bags…otherwise for the prices Hermes charges, I try and stay away. I love Apple products.

  • Ella Pretty Blog
    October 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

    As soon as I saw the title I knew I’d love this post – and I DO – I think caring for our bag & shoe investments is SO important – of course we shouldn’t baby them – but a little after care goes a long way!

    I keep unscented/sensitive baby wipes in my closet and use them to wipe down most items before I put them away (I definitely rotate my bags a lot – but I think that’s a good thing!). For my LV, I use Apple guard leather care (not the cleaner) on the vachetta handles – I’m obsessed with getting an even patina on them – I really dislike the look of vachetta with the dirty looking handles – darker leather is fine – but not when it is uneven!

    For my Balenciagas, I use lovin my bags products – especially the leather conditioner. I’ve also purchased the black shoe polish you recommended – so that I can touch up my black city as needed.

    I’m not too sure what to use with my Chanel WOC – but since I only use it on special occasions (and very carefully!) I think it will be fine.

    I also have to figure out what to use on my Marc Jacobs quilted bag – the leather seems quite tough and durable — but I want to prevent wear…will have to do some more research into that!

  • Whitney Worthington
    October 1, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for sharing Lexol with us.

  • Aki!
    October 1, 2012 at 11:54 am

    So often, I think that I just shouldn’t own expensive things because I take care of them so poorly!

    • Katherine
      October 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      It’s easier than you think – and I’m really hard on my products and I’ve come out OK. Don’t worry Aki!

  • kiwifashionblog
    October 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Great tips on taking care of our beloved handbags and shoes! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Cassie
    October 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    YES YES YES YES YES! I so needed these tips. A big thank you for showing the types of products you use, I’m completely clueless in this area!

  • Eva
    October 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Great tips Katherine! Cobblers can do wonders and I’m glad I’ve found one near my place!

  • Girlie Blogger
    October 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Good post. Nice advice. We all need to take care of our stuff. I use baby wipes for EVERYTHING. It’s great.

  • Clueless
    October 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Great and timely post cos I just bought my first pair of nice leather riding boots (Michael Kors Hamilton). I haven’t worn them yet but was wondering if I need to do anything first to protect the leather? Especially as the weather gets colder (does that affect the leather?). Sorry if these are silly questions, but I’ve never thought about protecting my boots…since never owned anything nice enough to be worth the effort.

    Also, how often should I wipe the boots with Lexol? and how do you guys store your boots?

    • Katherine
      October 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I looked up the Hamiltons and they are lovely!

      For boots I am not so careful – they are meant to be worn and the cold should be okay 🙂 The one thing I might look into is a waterproofing spray if you are planning on wearing them in the snow/rain – but use at your own risk (make sure to test a small area first). I use Applegarde:

  • Anna
    October 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Just love your advice. It’s super important to keep things clean and in the best condition. I really need to find a cobbler to fix my favorite shoes.

  • DSK Steph
    October 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    +1 reservation for the bag is genius! lol

  • Anouka
    October 1, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Excellent advice. I had never thought about the baby wipes but will definitely add them to my shoe care box.

  • Desert heels
    October 2, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Ha! I use baby wipes too! but mostly on shoes, I’m too afraid to use them on leather bags. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this Lexol wipes, sounds promising. I wonder if they can actually take off stains, say, red gatorade on white vernis? Great post!

    • Katherine
      October 2, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Oh no, did that happen to you? I’m a little scared of white Vernis, I think white patent might have different rules – can you check with LV?

  • Ingrid
    October 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Great post I do agree leather looks so good when you care for it.

  • Jody Brettkelly
    October 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Your Hermes looks so fresh and frisky still – quality always tells! I’ve always wondered how to clean bags, great post

  • Jess
    October 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks for doing this Kat! I’ve been wondering how to take care of my leather, this is perfect! I’ve gone ahead and ordered the special wipes and can’t wait until they get here! I love how you care about what the readers would like to learn:D

  • alice
    October 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Such a useful post! I definitely fall into the “abuse” my goods category, oof. Do you have any tips on caring for suede?

    • Katherine
      October 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      What I do right now is just waterproof them with some AppleGarde spray – but other than that I don’t do anything else…would love to hear tips though!

  • Annabelle
    October 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Lexol wipes — I had no idea they existed! I will have to pick some up, some of my bags could use a little help.

  • audrinajulia
    October 5, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks this is absolutely an informative post! I always want to ask you about this but a little bit intimidated with the kind of your leather and mine ..:) This will be helpful to me in taking care of my leather bags.

    Regarding shoes I once read from a magazine that shoes could not be worn in excess of two days in a row, to air it out and to protect in accumulating fungi and refrain from having odor.

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  • agustine
    October 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Hi katherine,
    Thanks for your post.i just bought a louis vuitton metis monogram 3 months ago.but it water n oil spots on vachetta leather.super confused…the store told me do not apply anything….do u have any suggestion for me? is it safe to use lmb products? thank u…have nice day

    • Katherine
      October 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Oh dear I’m not too sure – I would check with The Purse Forum and see, I’m sure there is a thread there that might help you.

  • Amy
    August 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Great tips, thanks Katherine!

    • Katherine
      August 31, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Hi friend, thank you! Did you decide on Kelly color?

  • Monika
    October 26, 2015 at 9:42 am

    HI Katherine,
    Love your blog and your fabulous tips! I just purchased my first Evelyn !!! Did you add an coating or protection before you started using her………………..thanks !!

    • Katherine
      October 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Nope! Just went ahead and used it….enjoy!

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