Is that platinum shoe cream in your pocket or are you just happy to see me

Who knew that the masses could get their hands on metallic and exotically colored shoe creams? I mean hell’s bells: until fairly recently I didn’t even know one should do preventive and after-the-barn-door business with shoe shops, let alone that one could legally purchase gumdrop-hued leather care products. Clearly there’s many a gap in my consumer education.

And as I’m over 40, I’ll admit I felt like a (non-vegan) rube when I discovered that ordinary Janes could get hold of such a wide variety of pigmented prettifiers.

So, emboldened by my wintertime footwear triumph—changing a pair of dead mouse boots to a more satisfying shade of brownish-plum—I decided to strike another blow against ignorance by taking on some past-season sandals.

To help me do battle, I chose tiny pots of Tarrago:

A plethora of Tarrago shoe creams are now mine, mine, mine

Some of my warm-weather footwear just needed rejuvenating: easy. But some, well…some suffered from The Beige Problem. And for a certain segment of the bare-legged population, the Beige Problem is dire.


I guarantee that if the legginess-lovin’ Beyoncé and I swapped bodies, she’d feel my pain. She’d be singing:

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies, all the pale-skinned ladies

All the pale-skinned ladies

Now put your hands UP

Sad and stuck, told to suck it up / Can’t find a decent skintoned shoe”

Because sadly, those with see-through skin tend to require weird taupey-pinks if they want to achieve maximum shoe-to-leg seamlessness. Sorry: those with see-through skin who haven’t been inducted into the cult of self-tanners. [Or gasp shudder pearl clutch tanning booths.] Bone generally works, but anything remotely golden is non-ideal.

I found the perfect color, ONCE. And it was in a slide with a stupid high-contrast dark heel.

A summer staple for several years now, this shoe with the toodamndark heel is my holy-grail color...why must you be so elusive, baby?

But with a pile of pearlescent and metallic creams at my disposal, I figured maybe I could do some damage. Not that gothy-limbed women like me are the only ones who can find/create the color(s) for which they’ve been longing, of course.

Whet Your Appetite, aka Vix’s Top 5 Reasons You Should Try Conquering Colors You Hate

  1. Jars of Meltonian and Tarrago shoe polish cream retail for about $3.50 to 4.50 US
  2. Easy prep—just swab leather shoes with acetone
  3. No fancy tools needed; apply cream with an old T-shirt, towel, or sock
  4. Each coat only takes about 5 minutes to apply, depending on shoe’s construction/detailing
  5. The merest dab ‘o cream will do ya (lower your costs by hosting a polish par-tay)

I started with a pair of non-glamourous but wow! amazingly comfortable, “pillowtop” slides. Their supersoft leather straps don’t turn my high-arched feet into trussed blobs of flesh when the temps and my dogs rise (good), but the straps’ square footage makes the color even more unfortunate (bad).

After 2 coats of a pearly pale pink didn’t make much of a dent in the original shade, I got impatient and did another 2 coats in a luminescent platinum :

Original beige got down with Tarrago Pearly Cream Polish: 2 coats 743 Pale Mauve + 2 coats 714 Steel Gray

I may stop here, or—since I bought silvery-taupe sandals pre-DIY-brainstorm—I may revisit the pink and see if I get closer to my dream believer color. I think the current color sure is purty, though.

Far L and L, DIY'd; R, Clarks Soybean in Silver...I'll be throwing another coat of ye olde Pearly Mauve on my DIY job, but wanted to give silver freaks a look at this

Next up: a tougher case. An even less flattering color, a more complicated shoe, and an item that I’d already tried to change with Meltonian’s Nu-Life Shoe Color Spray.

Alas, I’m afraid I can’t recommend Nu-Life. Aside from its horrible name, I found it way too troublesome; I couldn’t coat the WHOLE shoe at once without getting drips plus the overspray is super-messy. Those into painstaking masking off and tedious rotating of shoes should have at it, though. [Mind I found the leather less supple after spraying, too.]

Determined to can the camel...but can cream polish redeem what my Nu-Life shoe-color spraying attempt has failed?

Having sprayed 2 pairs of shoes, I decided to even them both out with Tarrago’s Rose color, a VERY PINK shade that  more or less matched the Nu-Life. Then the thong got a few coats of pearly pink so I could assess the difference.

The result? Blush vs Bashful.

Since the pearlescent cream mellows out the peeeeeeenk quite a lot, though, the second sandal will get its turn to glow.

Experiment in progress: Both shoes sprayed (not recommended) with Meltonian Shell Pink; L shoe has Tarrago 743 Pale Mauve Pearly Cream Polish, R shoe awaits same after being evened out with Tarrago Cream Polish 24 Rose

And yes: I realize wearing shoes this color will put me on the same level as my 4 year-old niece. But at least now my legs will look longer than hers.

De Millian shoe awaits its time with the mellowing, pearly Tarrago Pale Mauve

Upshot: I wish I had more shoes—or purses—to convert. If only Mr Vix would let me coat his one pair of good black shoes with the pale silver I have yet to try….

Vendor Recommendation:

Note: All products purchased by me. No monies have been given for the writing of this post.

Tarrago Shoe Creams pictured (front to back/box): Pearly Cream Polish 743 Pale Mauve;  Pearly Cream Polish 714 Steel Gray; Metallic Cream Polish 501 Silver; Metallic Cream Polish 106 High Silver; Shoe Cream Polish 24 Rose.

Canoodling With Cordovan

Since few things bring out my guilt-ridden materialism more than a pair of supple leather boots—blame my collapsed consciousness and my climate—I find myself wanting a clear taxonomic picture of where boots fall in the universe’s shoe hierarchy. Perhaps BECAUSE I’m primarily a non-shoe person, I wonder: if shoes are a Kingdom, are boots filed under Phylum or relegated to a Family? Are they labelled a Genus or corralled in an Order?

I have no idea why I care. I can certainly sleep at night without the answer, as long as I haven’t Googled “boot lovers + photos” before bedtime. Being a boot lover has certain connotations, some of which I’ll (PRIVATELY) cop to enjoying, but so be it. Until I land somewhere puddles are an endangered species, I’m all about heeding the Boot-y Call.

Alas, I don’t think my closet accurately reflects my love; I tally three pairs. Now for a nun that seems like a lot, sure. However, I ask rhetorically, what’s excessive for a person who wears boots October to June? Especially when the only walk-happily-for-hours pair is starting to give me That Look? The look that translates as:

Honey, we’re on Year 4 together and while we appreciate the annual reheeling and spruce up, our high-wear zones are more polish than hide. And a few aftermarket gel pads can’t obscure the fact that we don’t have any more cushion for your pushin’. If you won’t bury us at sea then at least give us a rest, dammit!”

Once boots get vicious like that it’s time to put bare toes to floor and tiptoe away. Without turning one’s back.

Which is why I was seriously peeved when a comfort-feature-laden pair I’d been stalking through thick and starlet-sized prices sold out in my preferred non-color color. [Black, okay? Just in case Jay-Z called after all.] But I could nab a brown version. A weak, mangy brown that looked suspiciously “taupe” vs “dark chocolate” in person. Though I suppose if we’re talking about that dark, ashy chocolate that’s been forgotten in the cupboard too long and thus looks unappetizing even if it tastes fine, the adjective is technically correct.

Hmmmm. I didn’t want dead mouse boots, but I didn’t NOT want dead mouse boots since the price, comfort, heel shape, height, design and fit all worked for me.

That’s when I remembered my Danish Oil. Danish Oil is for wood, yes; I’d used it to turn the finish on a $135 table-plus-buffet set from a cracked blonde to a gleaming walnut without much more than a hint from Heloise. So why was I being such a wimp when it came to wardrobe DIY?


Why couldn’t I just go over my boots with a darker shade of shoe polish? Say maybe a true chocolate brown. Or even…because it got The Gilded Lily’s vote…cordovan, that passionate purplish hue?

Ready to change the status quo with Meltonian #78, Cordovan


And while of course I am a champion procrastinator if something NEEDS to be done, I couldn’t wait to break out the polish:

Getting the late-night cordovan party started (L) as the original boot (R) awaits some love

After two coats of polish, the exterior became a nicely complex shade with much more depth than the original hue:

The exterior's two coats of cordovan polish see daylight, while the original color lurks on the interior

Coincidentally, it also fit in perfectly with The Accidental Capsule’s color scheme. So I took out two of the items for a road test:

"Ooooh, a boot that's neither brown nor black? You shouldn't have!"

I'm suddenly feeling the urge to chew some Gonzo Grape Bubblicious


But could cordovan help a pair of shoes I’d bought in a fit of wanting footwear that was sky-high AND comfortable, then made me gag whenever I saw the color? Well, just one coat moved this BabyShitBrown Børn away from its original shade (glimpsed through the peeptoe area)

Cordovan Caper #2: Cordovan takes on a BabyShitBrown shoe (whose peeptoe zone show the original shade)

toward something that looked less atrocious with my year-round, underbelly-of-a-dead-fish leg color:

T (rightfully) thinks he's found a lost sibling

So if you’ve got some leather footwear in your closet that sports a shade that bores or horrifies you, why not get busy with a rag and polish? Stick with a classic, custom-mix your colors—or hey, see what happens when you decide to REALLY kick up your heels.

Go big or go home with Meltonian #185

For the spring/summer chapter of this story, check out my sandal transformations in “Is that platinum shoe cream in your pocket or are you just happy to see me”