The Mac Method

Those of us who frequent online footwear forums such as Ask Andy About Clothes and the Style Forum Alden thread are well aware of the enigmatic man known as Mcarthur (or Michaelw on Style Forum).

Mcarthur has arguably the largest collection of Shell Cordovan Aldens on the internet (possibly the World) and is known for having the best shine on his shoes.

A man of impeccable taste, few words, and many argyle socks, Mcarthur has made his mark on the online shoe community in many ways. More about Mcarthur later…

    Here is The Mac Method

1- Clean shoes with damp cloth
2- Brush vigorously with a horsehair brush
3- Buff with smooth cloth
4- Use wax after a minimum of fifteen wearings

Whiskey Chukka

Cigar Chukka

Whisky Indy

    Another wise forum-member Srivats breaks it down a little further:

1. Wipe shoes with (barely) damp cloth to remove dirt. Let dry for 2-3 mins.
2. Insert shoetrees. Take a horsehair brush and brush vigourously till your arms give out. OK, for 5-6 min (each shoe).
3. Buff with flannel cloth.
4. Use paste wax (minute, minute amounts) every 15 wearings or so, or if they get scuffed hard. Yearly application of cordovan creme (not regular creme) if need be.
5. Rinse and repeat.

The point of all this being that for Shell Cordovan you want to bring out the natural luster from within, not put a shine on top using polishes. The more buildup there is, the worse Shell will look. Less is more.

About TheAgatineEyelet

Obsessed with Alden
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15 Responses to The Mac Method

  1. Wisco says:

    My admiration grows with each post of your new blog. Thanks for making this “well known” information more broadly known outside the AACC and SF venues. Taking care of your shoes is the best way to derive the long-lasting value that a pair of Alden’s can provide, calf or shell. With shell, care is about as easy as it gets.

  2. Thor says:

    Thanks for this info!

    What exactly is a “minute” amount? a dime size per shoe? Quarter size?

    really “rinse and repeat”? or is that a joke a la hair care products 🙂

  3. Speedmaster says:

    Glad I discovered your blog, great stuff! I have a pair of 405 boots that I love. 🙂

  4. Very helpful post. Coincidentally, I was searching Styleforum for cordovan care tips just last week. After reading about 20 different threads, I found some incredible photos of Alden whiskey captoes posted by Srivats and asked him how he acheived that rich glow. His advice to me was the same as what you posted above, except that at step 2 he said the purpose of the extensive brushing “is to generate heat on the surface which bring the oils in cordovan to the top.” Not sure how valid this heat theory is, but it seems to work for him!

  5. Theo says:

    Well, Inner Life, I always make sure my shoes are warmish before/when i take care of them, because of that reason, but also because the theory is that it opens the pores up more, so everything kind of soaks in etc better

  6. Joel Adler says:

    Have you tried an old, perhaps torn nylon stocking and using a tiny bit of water with the polish when that step is needed ?

  7. Thor says:

    …what about egregious scuffs?

    I am pretty hard on my shoes and accumulate a lot of scuffs Brushing, buffing and polishing doesn’t seem to get rid of them- mutes them a bit but not eliminate. I even put a nice scuff on my #8 Indys as I brushed them- was brushing vigorously and missed- hitting the toe with the wood of the brush and it put a nice scuff that I can’t get rid of.

    I am not too worried about my Indys as I want them to be weathered and patina-ed etc…but as I accumulate more Cordovan, I want to be scuff free.

    I do not see any scuffs on Mac shoes…how does he do it? float?

    …also- My Indy’s have a white (hand) stitching that have…#8…due to applying paste- will that dissipate or is there a way to avoid that somehow?

    thanks for your input-

    • I think Mac might indeed float. But seriously, I think he has so many shoes that they don’t get worn all that often.

      I’m hard on mine too. For scuffs I just use some paste wax that is close to the color of the shoes and fill it in. It seems to be good enough to hide them for the most part.

      On my calf Indies I’ve always just worked around the stitching with any type of polish. It’s been working.

      Good luck!

  8. Joel Adler says:

    I would put a dab Cordovan polish only on the scuff and leave it overnight… day carefully brush and the scuff should be gone. For a minor scuff you will get the same result with leaving the polish on for a shorter period prior to polishing.


  9. MR_Song says:

    Heyy, quick question, how often do you take care of ur cordovan? I’m very new to this and just got my 1st cordovan boots (AF53) (very happy! :D) I want them to age nicely and want to see the inner colour quickly but not shinny. Can I just do the first 3 steps without the wax? How often do u recommend me cleaning it? Thanks!

    • Joel Adler says:

      Every time I wear my cordovan shoes I wipe them down with a clean, soft cloth that I keep in my shoe care kit for that purpose. I let them dry out for a day before I put in shoe trees. If there are no scuffs or other marks the shoes are now ready for my next use unless they look ” dry. ” The oils in the polish replenish what the leather needs but don’t overload on the polish……..a dab will do ya. I only use applicators and brushes market cordovan with my cordovan shoes. With this treatment my shoes should last longer than I since I am seventy two years old and my shoes are only forty two years old !
      Luck to you,

  10. Joachim says:

    Hello Gentleman,

    i received that helpful information how to take care of my Alden Cordovan LWB # 8 toooo late.

    I need some help and advise please. What would you suggest if you didn’t follow the rule “less is more” – in real – i did over-apply / took huge amounts of Alden Cordowax and Saphir Renovateur at least 4/5 times within 1 month. There is no inner-shine at all. Even the reddish disappeared 😦 they look dull.
    Maybe i should deep-clean them with Aceton oder Burgol shoe cleaner? Or wear and brush, more brush and more and more. I think about to use an electric polisher i use to polish my car….

    I do appreciate any helpful advise … and dream about Macs Cordovan shine

    kind regards
    Please excuse my bad english – i am a German native

    What would you do

    • Joel Adler says:

      You don’t need to take any radical steps to restore your Aldens. A high end shoe store in your town should carry a quality cleaning product to be used prior to a polishing. Other solvents may well ruin your shoes.
      Good luck,

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