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I use polish, a cotton ball, and a horsehair brush. I keep separate brushes for separate color families (black, brown, and burgundy).

Also, edge dressing is handy.
 

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I bought a bunch of ebay shoes to practice shoe care, with good, wearable results. I keep:

Edge dressing
A tin of Kiwi saddle soap (I haven't mastered the use of this yet, I don't think - I never get a lather)
Kiwi paste polish tins (for me, it lasts longer than cream)
Meltonian cream polish (for shoes that need more "nourishment")
A shoe horn
A few old undershirts for the final buff, or applying cream or saddlesoap
Horsehair dauber brushes and shine brushes (as brokencycle suggests, separate the colors and write the color on the brush so you don't mix it up)

I use the above for my AE's as well as my steel-toe work boots, actually. All of the above, save the meltonian and the shine brushes, is available at my local walmart, shockingly enough.

Edit: Shoe trees.
 

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I just use a cloth and a tin of kiwi shoe polish. Am i short changing myself. Thats all you need isnt it? I cant be bothered with all the different types of brushes. You dont need brushs to polish do you?
You could apply a coat or two of gloss paint in the appropriate color, Victor. This would save a lot of bother. If you try it, I'd advise you to remove the laces first. In fact, why bother with laces at all! Why not invest in a stock of elastic bands to keep the shoe on the foot? Much less trouble.
 

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In addition to tins of polish, daubers, horsehair brushes, buffing cloths , etc, an item I have found to be extremely useful is a misting bottle, for applying a fine spray of water on the shoes just prior to the final buffing...it helps to bring up that mirror shine! ;)
 

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Rolls of Red Carpet in case it's damp out, a driver to unroll them, and a valet.
 

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For each color of shoe, I keep in a labeled ziplocked bag: shoe cream, shoe polish, toothbrush, t-shirt scrap for applying polish and spit shining, and nylon stocking for high shine short of spit shine).

Shoe brush for brown, black, cordovon, white, and miscellaneous.

Shoe cream/polish: neutral, tan, light brown, medium brown, dark brown, black, cordovon, white. Other colors as required.

Dyes: brown, black, cordovon

Shoe laces

Patent leather dressing

Wire brush suede, rubber pad for bucks

Saddle soap

Separate brush in closet for dusting off shoes
 

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I'm very close to pulling the trigger on a brass 'Diplomat' stand up shoe shiner, the kind they used to have in hotels. I think it would be great to have in the house for a quick shine before stepping out. I have a lot of cordovan shoes that don't require a lot of polish/wax, just a buff, and it's a pain to use a horsehair brush or cloth each time.
 

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I'm very close to pulling the trigger on a brass 'Diplomat' stand up shoe shiner, the kind they used to have in hotels. I think it would be great to have in the house for a quick shine before stepping out. I have a lot of cordovan shoes that don't require a lot of polish/wax, just a buff, and it's a pain to use a horsehair brush or cloth each time.
Do these actually work?

Every time I used one in a gym I used to belong to - I was not pleased with results.
 

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In addition to the lists above, I would add:

Cedar Shoe Trees (well fitted for each pair of shoes),

A used--but serviceable--tooth brush.

Shoe tree are essential to store shoes in. The are also required if you intend to ever shine the shoe. The tooth brush is to get the inevitable gunk off of the edge of the sole that won't come with a simple dusting.
 
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