my old oxfords were literally falling apart after Europe - I'd had them four years and walked oh so many miles in them. When these Matt Bernson shoes came up on sale for $30 (down from $150) at Urban Outfitters, I snapped up a pair for my mother and one for myself. They needed a few tweaks, though; these were laceless oxfords, the top of the shoe held together by a strip of elastic affixed between the suede and the leather lining, and fed through the two layers of the tongue. They were too loose on my narrow feet. So I cut the elastic out and sealed the slit in the layers shut with shoe goo. Next problem: I needed oxfords I could wear year-round here in Seattle, and these are made of suede.
The inexpensive solution? Sno-seal. Sno-seal is a beeswax-based leather sealant, and it really works. We would use sno-seal to seal a new pair of ice skates - you did four coats over four days when you first got your new skates, and never had to worry about it again. Use a hair dryer to heat the shoe to a comfortably warm temperature, then just rub gobs of the sno-seal in with a rag (I cut up Cass' old shirts and boxers into rags for just this kind of thing - you're going to have to throw the rag away afterward). Let the shoe sit for 10-15 minutes, and wipe away excess. TO do multiple coats, just warm the shoe back up and apply again, wait, wipe excess.
The sno-seal darkened the colour from a very lackluster, ho-hum grey to a nice slate. I even sealed the sole and heel, to protect them from water damage as well. Then I threaded in an old pair of laces leftover from when I painted my fryes green and switched out their laces, and there you have it! New, winter-ready brogues!
Of course, now I'm on a sno-sealing kick - all my boots are getting a good coat, especially my poor frye boots that got completely soaked in a rainstorm last year.