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Ask Belle: Maintaining Haircalf Shoes


On my quest to be well groomed and put together I’ve become particularly perplexed by calf-hair items.  I’ve owned several pairs of calf-hair pumps and flats, which I have loved.  However, each pair has ended up balding in certain spots and, ultimately, looking like a mange-plagued cat. Most recently, I purchased those Madewell leopard, calf-hair skimmers and just this weekend I noticed they are already suffering a similar fate.  Any ideas on how to keep them looking clean and new?

Thanks for any tips, Ms. C

I recently purchased two pairs of lovely haircalf shoes.  (This Sigerson pair and these Ann Taylor kittens.)  So when I received this question, I thought, “I.must.find.the.answer.”  Who knew it would be so hard.

I started in the forum of the Purse Blog, but while many readers had asked for suggestions on how to care for haircalf, little guidance had been provided.  BagSnob advises cleaning it with a dry cloth and perhaps spraying it with the same silicon spray used for suede.

The only tip that I really found to be helpful came from eBay.  The commenter suggest gently wiping the shoe with a baby wipe and then applying a light coat of neutral shoe cream.

There may be nothing that you can do to prevent the shedding, but I’m certainly going to take them to my cobbler this week and ask.  If other readers have any advice, please feel free to share.

The shoes in the photo are the Ivanka Trump Pinkette shoe for $80.



  1. Maggie says:

    I've run into similar problems with a balding pair of leopard print flats. I can't figure out how to prevent premature hair loss so I've figured out how to fake it using different colored sharpies to darken the areas of the calf hair that are rubbing off. It's a successful method, you can't tell that it's colored in unless you put the shoe right up to your eyes.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
    • Carolyn says:

      Did the same with markers on my Vionic haircalf leopard print flats.

      January 31, 2020/Reply
  2. HH says:

    For the wear and tear on your heels: try not to wear your calf hair shoes while driving as they can rub against your floor mats. Many ladies might already do so, but I recommend having some sort of driving shoe(s) in your car to slip into and protect your other shoes.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  3. Jane says:

    I read somewhere that you can clean calf hair shoes with a clean soft tooth brush and use a bit of hair spray to keep the hair matted down

    January 31, 2013/Reply
    • Farah says:

      Hi Jane, how did you apply the hair spray in your shoes?

      September 13, 2015/Reply
  4. MX says:

    Belle, did your cobbler ever provide a helpful recommendation? Thanks!

    September 22, 2014/Reply
  5. Valerie says:

    Do you know of any manufacture that made solid black pony hair pumps or booties this year? I am at wits end…2 years and lo luck …just animal prints not solid black

    January 2, 2018/Reply