Parade Shoes

Although soldiers and sailors usually wear boots for the majority of the time, with a variety of combat and safety boots being provided, there are plenty of times when a pair of highly polished shoes are the preferred footwear. These shoes are worn for parades, office work and other instances when smartness is valued highly. A standard pair of low shoes is issued to all three services and takes the form of a pair of simple low black leather shoes:

The shoes do not have toecaps and use simple lacing across the top:

The soles are simple rubber grips that give enough grip for everyday but are obviously far shallower than the deep treads used on combat boots:

A small pad is fitted inside to offer some cushioning to the feet when on parade, although it is pretty thin and one wonders what actual use it is!

The shoe’s NSN number and date of manufacture is printed on the inside of the shoe:

The shoes would have been highly polished, and there are many differing methods of achieving a good shine, this method comes from an ex-RAF man:

Best thing in my experience is Kiwi polish (must be Kiwi, or Kiwi Parade Gloss, nothing else will do), yellow duster wrapped round first two fingers (not a magic number, just quicker than one) and water in the lid of the polish tin (if you use spit after a meal there is a danger of grease from the food ruining the finish). Build up layer by layer and work the polish in completely before adding more. Circular strokes. As you go on, use less polish and more water. Work on both shoes at the same time ( i.e. alternate) or you will end up with one looking much better than the other.

Don’t let the water dry on the surface, or you will get marks (I always used to finish off by running under a tap and then shaking off any remaining drops.)

Do not use any sort of flame unless you know what you are doing: the number of people I’ve seen who have ruined their boots/shoes by using too much heat….

Oh, and sometimes I have been known to add that extra sparkle for a parade by going over one last time with a coat of BROWN Kiwi polish.

There is no single correct method for bulling shoes/boots. Try any suggestions that people post and stick with the one that works best for you. The key thing is patience and effort – this is not the sort of thing for a quick fix if you intend to do it properly.

Very therapeutic while sat in front of the TV, I find.


  1. Wish our dress shoes had had soles like that, they were smooth leather that wore out quickly when marching on asphalt or concrete.
    The little insert at the hell is nice, when I was on Honour Guard we got our shoes a half-size large and put insoles in.
    When the DEU Blues came in the RCAF went to wearing ankle boots on parade for other ranks
    Officers had to wear shoes, presumably so they didn’t have as much to try and polish 😉
    A standard phrase when painting camouflage or anything else you wanted to have a dull finish was “I want it as shiny as a pilot’s shoes”

  2. I have a pair of those bought brand new. As they came in the box, they were dull. You had to polish them before ever wearing them. The pair I have, however, has toecaps. Same DMS sole, though, same pattern as on the old DMS boots. Perhaps the ones issued to different services were not identical after all.

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