I was recently discussing how to dress well with one of my friends when he asked the question ‘what do I do when it rains?’ If you favor leather soled shoes over rubber soled shoes this dilemma plagues you, especially in the winter and spring months when there seems to be more inclement weather. As a side note, you should be wearing leather, not rubber soled shoes. More on that in future posts. Anyway, the main concern regarding footwear in the rain is the leather, in particular the sole. Rain, snow and especially salt are not good for the leather of the shoe and sole. Additionally, the sole will wear down faster, it can absorb oils and residue from the sidewalks which along with water can permeate the sole and cause you to have feet and your shoes will also lose almost all traction on smooth surfaces when the soles wet. There are two choices, either wear your shoes in the rain or don’t, the latter is recommended.
If you choose to wear your shoes in the rain or you get stuck in the rain wearing them it is crucial that you take proper care of them afterward. When not cared for properly after wearing in the rain your shoes can become disfigured which can make them uncomfortable. You should always put shoe trees or newspaper in your shoes and set them on their sides after wearing them in the rain or snow to help them dry properly. The newspaper/shoe trees will help wick moisture from the upper part of the shoe and laying them on their side will help the soles dry. Think of it like this, after playing lacrosse (or baseball) in the rain your gloves and pocket of your stick, if not properly cared for when drying end up losing some of the shape and hold that they previously had. Shoes are no different. The better care you take of your shoes (or pocket) after they are exposed to rain the less work you will need to put in breaking them back in. Alternatively, you could get rubber shoe covers or galoshes (some people call them rubbers and yes, they suck like the other type of rubber your thinking of). They fulfill their purpose, as they do a pretty good job of keeping your shoes dry, however, they are often bulky and unattractive. Totes sells some for less than $20.
If you prefer to not let your shoes get wet at all there are a few options for you. First, you could opt for footwear better suited for wetness like Bean boots, wellies (like hunter boots; black, green or navy only), top siders or something else comparable. Second, you could wear rubber soled shoes. However, these are typically ugly and clunky. To be avoided are shoes with a black rubber sole and a brown leather upper, these are the equivalent of a butter face that not even the thickest of brown bags and drunkest of nights could excuse.