1. The Last Comes First

The Last is the name for the mold that defines the shape and fit of the shoe. If you've picked a pair of shoes with the wrong last, they are never likely to fit properly. Choose shoes you trust from designers you trust.

2. Be perfectionist about fit

Never buy your shoes too tight. If the sales person tells you they'll stretch, you can be pretty sure they simply don't fit. A good pair of shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on. Don't settle for second-best.

3. Use quality wooden trees

One pair of trees will suffice, but make sure they're the best. That means no shiny finish, and no cheap synthetic options. Good quality trees, based on the designer's last, literally absorb the perspiration from the leather and increase the life of your shoes. A day's use will suffice

4. Beeswax is best

Many polishes create a shine, bur beeswax polish penetrates deep into the leather and keeps it supple. Ideally, leave the beeswax on overnight, and then remove in the morning with a soft brush or cloth. You'll love the results.

5. Wear new shoes at home first

Don't punish your feet by submitting new shoes to a full-day's wear straight off. Ease them in by wearing around the house for a few hours over the weekend. This will soften up the construction, and ensure a comfortable fit.

6. Grit your shoes

Try not to take your new shoes for a walk in the rain on day one. Far better to wear them in the dry, and ensure a layer of grit works its way into the sole leather. This acts as a protective shield, and makes sure the soles last longer.

7. Never wear two days in a row

Give your shoes a break. Wearing them on successive days can burn away the leather; look for those telltale signs of blackening on the inside. Swap your shoes around regularly to increase their life.

8. Wet weather advice
Never dry wet shoes next to a radiator or other source of heat: you'll crack the leather. Simply stuff them with newspaper or tissue paper, and allow them to dry out naturally. If they are covered in mud, brush off when dry and then polish as normal.

9. Check the leather

Many modern shoes are made of leather that looks - and even smells - more like plastic. Closely examine the leather and learn to identify the real material. If in doubt, be sure to purchase your shoes from designers who care about the quality of the materials they use. Unlike any other material, great quality leather forms and breathes naturally on the foot.