Mirror shine or patent leather for a black tie event?

For the most formal of dress codes it is usually required to wear black shiny shoes.

For many the convenience of patent leather that is always shiny without requiring a lot of maintenance is a tempting alternative to polishing their shoes to a mirror shine.

Others might dislike the way patent leather ages and prefer smooth leather shoes. Let us have a look at the two different approaches so you can find what works best for you.

Patent leather evening wear shoes by Gaziano & Girling Source: gazianogirling.com

What is patent leather?

Patent leather is usually calf or cow leather, sometimes goat leather, that is covered with a layer of varnish. Like this, leather manufacturers can cover up flaws in the leather and improve its appearance.

Therefore, even though patent leather has a luxurious and special appearance it is actually made from hides of lower qualities because the flaws and imperfections of the skin are hidden below the layer of varnish.

How to care for patent leather?

Because patent leather is covered with a layer of polyurethane varnish its relatively easy to take care of it. The recommended product for patent leather is the Saphir Beauté du Cuir Vernis Rife.

Simply clean the shoes with a cloth to remove any dust. Then apply the Vernis Rife and let it dry for a few minutes.

When it has dried you will see a white layer on the leather that you can then easily polish with a dry cloth to its original high shine.

It is crucial to use a very soft polishing cloth to avoid little scratches in the patent, therefore we recommended to use the cloth that is included in the Vernis Rife box.

If you find that the patent leather has scratches from wearing or even discolouration you can apply the Vernis Rife in black to recolour them.

The Saphir Vernis Rife with the included polishing cloth.

Mirror shine as an alternative to Patent leather?

As you can see patent leather requires little maintenance and is basically always shiny when you need it. Still some people dislike it because of the way it ages.

The layer of varnish that sits on top of the leather can lead to creases and cracks over time that make the shoes look „worn“ quite fast.

An alternative for many is to simply polish their black smooth leather shoes to a very high shine. This obviously requires more effort but enables you to use your „normal“ formal shoes for a black tie event.

To do this you can use the Medaille D’Or Pate de Luxe and Mirror Gloss polish to achieve a really high shine. You can find a nice guide to polishing your shoes on our IGTV Channel @saphir_medailledor or here:

Smooth leather Oxfords by Yohei Fukuda Shoemaker polished to a high shine. Source: Instagram @Yoheifukudashoemaker

We hope that we could give you an insight in the advantages and alternatives to patent leather.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us on our Instragram channels: @saphir_medailledor and @saphir_official or directly through: insight@saphir.com

Written by Louis Lampertsdörfer (@louislampertsdoerfer)