I think as long as they're quite subtle and match the colour of the car then they can look OK.
I had white/chrome on my previous white Fiesta and have black/chrome on my current black Fiesta. I'm perfectly happy with the way these look with the black/chrome being even more subtle as it is not that much different from the OEM blue/chrome on black.
I must say though I'm not a fan of the ones with contrasting colours such as orange or green that do not match the car.
As above use a good quality microfibre or lambswool wash mitt rather than a sponge for a 2 bucket wash and some good drying towels instead of the chamois.
To go further you ideally need some contaminant removal products such as Tardis for tar removal and Iron X for bonded metal particles before claying. The claying should remove any further contaminants leaving a glassy smooth finish, but this in itself will not remove any swirls already inflicted in the paint.
I find the Bilt Hamber clay easy to use as you just need water as a lubricant.
This process should only be done initially then every 6-12 months as necessary.
Removing the swirls to get a near perfect finish will need a 2-stage machine polishing process. This can seem daunting at first to the beginner, but I have done this myself for the first time with very good results. I bought my Panther Black Metal 2nd hand and it was covered in swirls which really showed up badly in bright sunlight.
The one thing that really gave me the confidence to have a go at machine polishing were the Junkman2000 videos on youtube:
Wow, that was minging before, looks a lot better now & you can't go wrong with AG HD Wax
But....for them to have properly washed it, dried it & also apply the HD Wax in less than 2 hours is pretty good going. Please tell me they had 2 people working on it as it takes me way more than 2 hours to do that on my own.
Just to add another twist to the buckled wheels saga. Took my ZS TDCi with 17" Streetpack wheels in for her 2nd service & was told by my local Ford dealer that one of the front wheels was buckled. This was along with both front tyres being close to the limit & one of the rears having a nail in the tyre which couldn't be repaired.
I decided to get a new wheel & 4 new Bridgestone tyres from elsewhere as Ford's prices for these were far from the cheapest option, no surprise there
The new wheel & tyres were fitted at a local garage who said they could not see any significant buckle in the supposed buckled front wheel. I asked them to fit the new wheel anyway & put the one remaining good tyre on this wheel as a spare.
So now I have an expensive full size spare thanks to Ford
So it may just be worth getting a 2nd opinion before replacing your "buckled" wheels.