The Shoe Snob Blog

January 21, 2013

Written by , Posted in News

The Burnished Toe

Shoes by Edward Green…

I remember when the darker toes of dress shoes was quickly becoming all of the rage. Every single Italian maker was doing it and it was almost as if you couldn’t find a shoe that did not have a burnish on it, at least in the States. Like most things, it seemed to be a fad, one that would pass as time went on, yet to this day, while not as prevalent, I still see it and have many shine customers asking for a bit of toe darkening. While I used to love it, it’s now hard to understand how I feel about it i.e. deciding on whether it will make a shoe nicer looking or ruin it’s beauty? It’s a tough thing to understand without actually doing it, but I can’t lie about the fact that it adds a nice element to the shoe that would obviously not be there without it. Thinking about it now, I also think that the nicety of it and complementing factors will depend on the color of the leather…

As a burnish is dark, I feel that it looks better on something that allows it to blend naturally. Like on this shoe, it transitions quite nicely, from a lighter vamp, to a medium shade on bottom of the toe cap, to the tip getting much darker. But on a tan shoe, that burnish is not as gradual. It will go from tan, to dark and if not done properly can look quite harsh…..

One thing you will find is that on abnormal colored shoes, such as green and blue a dark burnished toe will help make the color more subtle for those that are weary to be so bold.

Here’s to burnishing!





  • Moi

    That’s a bloody good shine nevertheless.

    I agree with you, it looks a bit odd on a tan coloured shoe but I think this kind of burnished toe will look good on say your deep merlot shoes!


  • Moi – Thanks Duncan!


  • Disgruntled

    Are all “burnished” shoes just dyed/polished to simulate burnishing or, as far as you’re aware, does anyone actually burnish the leather to create a darker colouration?

    • TheShoeSnob

      the majority are actually burnished, more likely than not with a brush wheel

      • Disgruntled

        Ok, interesting to know. The guy in C&J the other day implied that their handgrade burnished shoes were a dying/polishing effect, or maybe I got the wrong end of the stick when he said he preferred to do it at home himself.

        • TheShoeSnob

          One can do it at home with a welt brush and cream polish or dye. But on a factory production level (think larger scale) its mainly going to be by brush wheel as its fastest.

          • Disgruntled

            Final Q, and thanks for the help so far. Would it be easiest/safest to slightly extend the burnishing on a factory burnished shoe or are you better off starting with an unburnished shoe and going from scratch? I really like their website main image of the Fairford but the shoes in the shop have a much more subtle look.

          • TheShoeSnob

            I am sure if you asked the guys in the shop to do it they would, particularly the smaller one on Jermyn st closer to St James. But starting from scratch is not necessary