Friday, January 9, 2015

Save Your Soles: Protecting Your Louboutins

If you've decided to add to or already have some Christian Louboutins in your shoe collection, congratulations - I'm excited for you! The wearing of Christian Louboutin's for the first time is definitely exhilirating... until you look at your soles at the end of the night and see the precious red lacquer worn off - part of your soul hath just died. No, you didn't do anything wrong, this is how they are made, this is partly how you know they are authentic and definitely why you should consider protecting your soles (and your soul).

As I mentioned, the red bottom is coated in signature red lacquer. I think I wore my Pigalles about 5 times before I started worrying if I was damaging them, so I did quite a bit of research - and gladly so. You see, once the lacquer wears off you're on leather. Now, this may not be as problematic on platform styles like the Bianca or Daffodile, but on styles without platform protection you are now into your very thin sole, and once you continue to tear away or damage it, it cannot be repaired. (GASP!)

Black Patent Pigalle with wearing on the sole - after about 5 times worn. 
You can see the tip is actually being worn down beyond the lacquer.

Protective Soles
This is why I recommend a rubber protective sole. Many people call it a Vibram - but Vibram is a name brand, much like Kleenex, there are others but just so you know what they're talking about. The protective sole is a thin, textured rubber sole that is adhered to the sole of your shoe. I do not recommend this as a DIY project! For what you payed for your shoes, find a reputable cobbler that has worked with high end shoes. Go in and see what they carry, not all brands are created equal. Make sure it matches your sole as closely as it can (nothing will ever match dead on), make sure it's thin and make sure they have experience applying. PLEASE do not get brown or black on your CL's, or have a thicker brown lacquer applied, it's just visually assaulting. You can order the red protective sole for them and have them apply if they don't carry it. And make sure they don't bring it up high in the back, close to the imprinted logo.

Roccia Python Pigalle with fresh new soles. You can see the brand they used here is Varese. 
You can order some without a logo, but no one is really inspecting your sole but from afar anyway.

The protective sole is also a great traction control with it's texture to prevent slipping on slick surfaces. This same thin sole story applies to other brands, so if you've spent a considerable chunk of change on Choos, Manolos, McQueens, Zanottis or any other, you can get color matched protection there as well.

3 years later. Dirty, but protected!

Touch Up Paints
There are a few touch up paints on the market, none of which will ever match precisely, please beleive that. These are not meant to paint non-CL soles, but to touch up the wearing of the lacquer. Again, I recommend the rubber sole, but in cases like flats, wedges or boots this may be a preferred choice. Flat soles are going to wear at a faster rate due to more surface or friction points. Usually the only part unaffected is the arch. So sad. 

Now, you can have the rubber soles applied, but it will typically mean covering the logo. For some vain reason, I didn't want this to happen on my boots or wedges, (even though you wear down the logo anyway) so I purchased the touch up paint. By carefully painting the sole you are adding very thin layers that you are basically taking right back off upon next wear -  but that's also one less time you're eating into your sole. My method is usually at the end of the season I'll apply a generous amount (2-3 coats) to the points of wear - not the entire sole - and then one coat over all to smooth it out. This way I have some protection for wear in the next season. Only time will tell if this is actually beneficial.

You can see where the touch up paint is on my Beatriche sole, it's darker. But you can also see where it's been worn off this season and some is still protected. I may as well get a sole put on.

Heel Taps
All CL's come with a replacement pair of heel taps identical to the one on the shoe. If you lose it, you can get a similar generic pair, but they typically aren't shaped to that style or as delicate as the CL version. You can find some on eBay, but you face authenticity issues there, so buy at your own risk. 

The rule here is if you hit metal on your heel tap, change it before the next wear. What I mean by hitting metal is if you can see any portion of the metal tip on the end of your heel tap because the material has worn away. If you are hearing clacking of metal or scraping when you walk, girl take them off! Once you are into the metal you risk the tap not being able to be removed or damaging the leather on the heel that is probably not repairable. 

PAVERS, I HATE YOU. The first time I ever wore my Maryls I stepped between a paver and took a nice slice to the heel. I hyperventilated, in public, at a work event. Thankfully, if there can be a thankfully in here, it was a patent pair. The glossy sheen diverts your eye from the scrape and is easier to conceal. 

I called my cobbler, in tears no less, and he explained that there wasn't much that could be done, but he would try. I wanted to strangle him, but bless him, it was not his fault. I did take it over and he did his best to smooth it out and lay it flat to fit where it had been torn from. And then he told me to go home and put clear nail polish on it. Say what!?! So I went home and with shaky hands applied a very small amount to the actual scrape, or where the leather would reconnect, and quickly wiped away any excess. It some what sealed it and you couldn't tell from a distance. I mean, I always know it's there, but the patent is so shiny its hard to see. Ladies, if this happens to you, accept my condolences.

Sorry, I couldn't get the camera to focus on the patent. This is after laid back and sealed.

Other scrapes on different leathers may or may not be fixable, depends on the talent of your cobbler and nature of the material. But it goes without saying, be careful with your shoes and avoid or use caution around any kind of paver, deck, sidewalk or gravel.
If you have any other tips or tricks, please share!

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