The original DIY doyenne, Mrs. Sew and Sew taught British civilians how to extend the lives of wardrobe staples at the height of clothes-rationing during World War II. Among the raft of leaflets produced by the Board of Trade was “Three Certain Shoe-Savers,” a series of tips on getting extra wear out of one’s shoes while looking smart. Below, an excerpt of the good missus’s “insider’s information,” which will keep footwear in fighting shape no matter the decade.

garment care, shoe repair, World War II, Mrs. Sew and Sew, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, fashion artifacts

IT’S DAILY CLEANING THAT DOES IT!

Shoes left dirty soon grow old. A few minutes spent on cleaning them every day means months more life. Wipe dirt and dust off first. Rub polish well in to feed leather and keep it pliable. Use dubbin to waterproof heavy boots.

DRYING CARE—MONTHS MORE WEAR

Strong heat makes leather dry and brittle. Never put wet shoes close to fires or to radiators or on hot pipes. Dry them in a cool place. When very wet, “rest” them for a day if possible.

KEEP THEM IN SHAPE

Put shoes on trees or stuff them with paper directly after you take them off. It restores them to shape, preventing creases.