There’s no escaping some things. Death, taxes, elderly relatives who insist on telling your new significant other about all the embarrassing things you did when you were four. If you’re in the military, and for a lot of people in law enforcement as well, one of those things is the need to turn up every so often with highly polished footwear. That’s unfortunate, because it’s a complete pain.
At least, it is in the British military. There’s only one acceptable way of making your shoes or boots shiny, and that’s by bulling. Hours of monotony with a tin of polish and a damp cloth, painstakingly building up thin layers until eventually the leather’s natural texture is smoothed into a glassy, reflective surface. Then, of course, it cracks as soon as you put the boots on.
The British Armed Forces do not approve of short-cuts when it comes to shiny boots. Plenty of alternatives to bulling have been tried. One of the simplest and most effective is to buff them up to a decent gloss then give them a coat of Kleer floor polish. That works pretty well, and is also crack resistant. Unfortunately, it isn’t water resistant and if it rains the day of the big parade it’s easy to spot the people who cheated – they’re the ones whose boots have turned blue. The penalty for being caught out usually involves a rapid transfer to the guardroom and being beasted until you throw up. (Tip: Mix some black ink with the Kleer; it avoids those awkward rain-induced color changes).
Rumors of more exotic alternatives also do the rounds. There’s a story, possibly an urban legend, that some Royal Air Force personnel paint their boots with the finish used on Tornado nosecones. Allegedly this gives a shiny, hard-wearing surface – but I don’t know for sure; I never managed to get my hands on any.
Luckily, it seems that, in the US military, there’s a more tolerant attitude to low-maintenance options. High gloss dress footwear is available and, for many formal occasions, makes a smart and attractive solution. Not only will you save hours that you’d have spent wearing fingers down to a stub applying polish; it’s crack-free, and just needs a quick buff with a cloth to bring out the full shine. Any scratches can be repaired easily enough with conventional polishing, although the work involved in this does increase over time – so try not to abuse them too much.
If your duties involve a lot of appearances in full dress uniform, keeping your footwear shined to perfection can eat up a significant amount of your free time – and time’s a scarce commodity for most of us. A pair of high gloss shoes or boots is a sensible investment that lets you focus on more productive activities without compromising your dress standards. Best of all, if you pick a good pair they don’t compromise on comfort either.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.