Most to Least Practical Shoe Materials

All shoes were not created equal. In an ideal world, we would buy and wear whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Unfortunately, life and natural elements often get in the way of that. 

It’s a simple formula - the more practical your shoes are, the more wear you’re likely to get out of them. When we say ‘practical’ we mean not having to worry about whether the weather will ruin them, ease of cleaning or complicated maintenance regimens. While a pair of satin shoes might look beautiful, they probably won’t serve you well as a day-to-day option. 


Based on that, we’ve gone ahead and ranked the materials our team of shoe experts deem most to least practical based on durability, ease of maintenance and compatibility with weather conditions.  

1- Synthetic

In terms of overall practicality, synthetic materials are the easiest to maintain and are appropriate for year-round wear. More often than not, they are non-porous and will not stain or absorb liquids. A quick wipe-over is often enough to keep them looking great. But do be mindful that they may fall apart more quickly than leather shoes and offer less breathability.  


2- Patent leather

Patent leather offers all the same great features as leather minus the absorption of moisture and maintenance required; hence the higher ranking. Patent leather is much easier to keep clean as any dirt can easily be wiped off the surface. Read our guide on caring for your patent shoes here. 


3- Leather

Leather is one of the most durable materials when it comes to footwear. If you’re looking for an investment piece to love for many years to come, then a good pair of leather shoes is the way to go. However, in terms of maintenance, leather does require regular cleaning, conditioningpolishing and waterproofing. It’s also not friends with moisture so will limit your ability to enjoy them on a wet day. We’ve written a full blog detailing what goes into keeping your leather shoes looking their best - read it here!


4- Fabric

Fabric gathers dust and dirt easily and has a very high moisture absorption rate; meaning that you’re limited in when and where you can wear your fabric shoes. Their absorption rate and the cooling nature of the material mean fabric shoes are often unsuitable for the colder months. The upside is that you have a range of cleaning options at your disposal. Stay tuned for a detailed blog on cleaning your fabric shoes coming soon. 


5- Suede

Suede is a stunning fabric and one of the easiest ways to add a directional twist to your look. As a type of leathersuede offers the same warmth and quality as regular leather but requires more upkeep hence why it ranks lower on the list. Suede stains easily and topping the offender list are water and moisture. So, wearing your suede shoes on rainy days is out of the question. Having said that, with waterproofing and a proper cleaning regimen, that can be rectified. Read our suede shoe care guide here


6- Satin

Satin is one of the prettiest but most difficult fabrics to maintain. Dainty, delicate and prone to stains and rips - satin shoes are best reserved for special occasions. Once your favourite satin pumps or sandals start to show some wear and tear, a visit to your local shoe repair shop is the best way to go rather than attempting DIY remedies. And remember to keep your favourite satin pumps away from moisture!

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