I’m not a fashionable guy. I have pants and shirts, and generally that’s enough for me. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a hat, especially if it’s raining. The only real thing I pay attention to are my shoes.

Many people are self-proclaimed “sneaker heads.” I am not quite at their level. With that said, however, I can give you some simple sneaker advice that will keep your kicks kicking for the foreseeable future.

1: Use the Shoelaces

 

Shoelaces are the under-rated component of shoes. They keep the shoe balanced and unless you have velcro (and props if you do, I suppose) they literally tie the shoe together. But they are also an under-utilized part of the shoe. Dirty, worn shoelaces give the shoe an old tired look partially because while sneakers can be cleaned, the shoelaces can’t, and the contrast of slightly dirty shoes and dirtier shoelaces degrades the whole shoe. Keep your shoelaces fresh and similarly, feel free to tinker with the colors. You can update or play with the same shoe with only a minimal investment: switch white laces for green or orange ones, trade blue for green, whatever: see what happens. It’s a cheap way to get a whole new look with the same old shoe.

 

2: Elegance beats Flash.

 

I have some shoes. I have shining gold hi-tops and forrest-green half-boot monstrosities good for the slush and rain and little else. I had a pair of orange and black shoes with a “Chinese Halloween” feel. I am almost positive this was how the shoe was actually sold to me. These shoes were and are pretty cool, but ultimately none beat the simple model I stick with currently: simple white air forces. That isn’t groundbreaking or unique, but it works for me and it works solidly. I’ll look for simple colors and frameworks, something proven and simple before and then compliment it with the occasional strange pair. I’d recommend that policy for any sneaker head: three days in a row of the solid-gold high-tops and one tends to look like a space-pimp.

 

3: Clean Them

 

Simple as that. Get an old toothbrush and some toothpaste and scrub. Use the friction and get off some of the crusted dirt. Facial wipes also works too. This is probably the simplest advice I can give but simple doesn’t mean its bad. Look at your shoes now. Get some water on a paper towel and give it a quick buffer. Chances are that helped. If that interests you, go further with it.

 

4: Keep a trash-pair

For the gym, for the rain, and for the slush you’re going to want a pair of sneakers that look just acceptable enough to wear and just bad enough that you don’t mind wrecking them. For me that means keeping the same ratty pair I used to wear and demoting them to trash-pair duty. That way, at frat parties, I don’t have to worry about the beer and other debris that might end up on my shoes. I can instead wonder, Logan, did you just spike my beer with vodka?

 

5: Don’t Just have Sneakers

Ultimately, even the most devoted sneaker-heads will find the moment where they need or want a different pair of shoes. Maybe it’s boat-shoes or maybe it’s the time you realize that everyone at the wedding doesn’t find your Jordan’s as cool as you’d hope at age 23. Regardless, a touch of sneaker variety will only make your love for sneakers grow. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say.