How the shoe industry confuses me

I bought three pairs of shoes last night. They’re cute enough, three pairs of flats to bring life back to my sad shoe collection. The dogs, as much as I love them, have done a number on almost every pair I own. My flats, especially, since they get worn more often and therefore, left in more easily accessible places, seem to have taken the brunt of the doggy beatings. As spring has hesitantly started to peak out at us, I came to the realization that I had no flats to get me out of my winter boots.

So, I went to Ardene and bought three pairs of cute flats. Three pairs for $15.

Usually, I buy cheap shoes – I’ll be the first to say it. I love shoes, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on them. This is partially because of those aforementioned puppies and their teeth. Of course, this means that the shoes I buy end up falling apart by the end of the season.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. Would it ultimately be cheaper to buy more expensive shoes? Would I have to replace them as often, or could I wear them year after year? And, would I want to? Would a more expensive shoe actually be more comfortable than the cheapies I pick up at jewelry stores for kids?

Last night, I bought $5 shoes. There’s no way I can see that buying a more expensive shoe will actually save me money. I’ll stick with these for now and face the decision again next year.

(Once, I bought a gorgeous pair of flats with buckles wrapped across the toe. They were from Le Chateau, originally, perhaps, $60, but on sale from the outlet, so I think I got them for $20. Wore them once. That Saturday morning, Mocha proudly brought them to us in bed, the toe chewed right off. I cried. They were the last good quality pair of flats I have ever bought.)

What’s your shoe philosophy? Do you buy the cheapest you can find or splurge so your feet will be happy? Should I take the plunge and spend a decent amount of money on a pair of good quality shoes?

0 thoughts on “How the shoe industry confuses me

  1. I used to buy shoes just as you do, the cheaper ones because I couldn't bring myself to splurge on more expensive shoes.

    I have since had a drastic change of heart, haha. I always have pain in my feet, and realized I needed the support that isn't provided in cheaper shoes. So, yes, now I do splurge on more expensive shoes, but the reality is, that no, I don't need to buy shoes every year. The flats I have will easily last me 5+ years. However, it also means that I have less shoes to work with. I own only two pairs of flats, two pairs of sandals, one pair of sneakers (they're awesome!), one pair of dress shoes and one pair of high heels – all of which were expensive but have wonderful support and I know will last a long time.

    I think it really depends on what your feet are like and what you value more. Having more variety would be great, but if I'm always walking in pain and want to cry every time I step onto concrete then I don't think it's worth it.

    Not to mention, I don't have a dog that eats my stuff. So that definitely allows me to buy more expensive shoes without the fear they'll get destroyed, haha.

  2. I used to buy cheaper flats (not $5 ones, but like $20-40). But I kept getting awful foot cramps and finally I realized it was from non-supportive shoes. I ended up buying $120 flats with air cushion soles and I am in heaven when I put them on! My foot cramps have entirely gone awayI wore them every single day last spring/summer/fall and they still look pretty good. But I wouldnt have bought them if there was a chance a dog would chew them- it was a LOT of money to spend on a darn pair of shoes!

    I think if I liked to wear different styles daily or buy new ones every season I wouldnt invest the cash in one pair. I buy cheap purses for that reason!

  3. The short answer is, it depends.

    I used to buy flip flops (2 for $5) at Old Navy and every summer I wondered why my feet were KILLING ME. Then I broke down and bought $40 flip flops and I get the appeal. I wear them nearly every day of the summer until I wear them out.

    For flats, I have a hard time spending too much money since I really only wear them to work, and since I work from home, that's about 30 times a year. Three years ago I bought three pair from Marshalls and have rotated them. Now I'm down to one pair remaining and I need to buy more, but I'm too cheap to spend more than $25/pair. I might need to rethink my philosophy on this.

    For heels, I used to buy expensive brands but as I was commuting in to SF I would tear up the back of the heel within days. And then I'd be distressed. So I stopped buying nice heels and started getting them at Target. Surprisingly, the Merona brand holds up pretty well and are no less comfortable than Franco Sarto or other brands of that caliber.

    The one area I have to splurge on is boots since I have monster calves and regular store boots don't fit me. The ones I get cost at minimum $125 (that's on clearance), but usually are in the $200 range.

  4. Totally get that! I have yet to have any problems with my feet, but I know that lots of people do and I sometimes wonder if I'm risking my foot health by shoving my feet into such cheap, such flat, such lacking-support shoes. One day, I might regret it, I suppose.

  5. I do like wearing different styles every day! This is one of the reasons I go for cheaper shoes. But, then I wonder, if I splurged on a pair of really good flats, would I even notice my lack of variety? And, perhaps my feet would be happier?

    That said, sneakers, I will totally spend money on to get quality! But then again, I only need one pair of those…

  6. And we just got Target here! I will have to check out their shoe selection…

    I do wonder if I would have a similar experience with my flats that you had with your flip flops… Perhaps, when the dogs have gotten old and less likely to destroy things, I'll break down and try a really good pair of flats…

  7. I do a bit of both. I honestly pick based on how much I like the shoes. If they are a splurge – will I wear them a lot? What is the estimated price per use? I won't splurge on things like flip flops (20 is my max) but I will say that my Tory Burch flats were the most comfortable flats I've ever bought AND they held up very very well. So I don't know. Fun, polka dot flats? I'd go cheap. A pair that I will wear a lot (and at work), I don't mind spending more.

    I will agree that often price doesn't = comfort. I love my Urban Outfitter heels as much as my Cole Haan.

  8. For shoes that I wear frequently -weatherproof in winter, sandals in summer, I tend to spend ~$80. the shoes last 4-5 years. special occasion shoes I get at local consignment store. I have flat feet, so the support really makes a difference and this way I can get better quality! your method sounds smart for all the destruction

  9. Getting quality shoes for under $100 is impossible. Most of the shoes I see at the 'fancy' mall shoe stores in the < $100 range aren't actually of very high quality. I'll get them if they're on sale, but I've ruined a few pairs on the daily half hour walk home, and endured too much foot agony. I've learned to only wear them at the office, and switch out for runners for the walk.

    Investing in one really good pair of classy work-or-dressed-up shoes would probably be worth it, but shelling out the cash is hard! I'm always scared that even the expensive ones would be painful to walk in; something tells me nice shoes aren't made for people who refuse to take cabs and buses.

    And invest in good flip-flops. They do exist. I used to swear by Teva Mush, which run for around $20 full price. Way better than Old Navy. Wearing them all day on the concrete floor at a store where I worked made for sore feet, knees, and back, though, and with the amount I wore them, they'd only last about a summer.

    Then I was given a pair of Chaco's (, and the difference was amazing. There's not the initial Oooooooh-comfy! factor, but I could work on concrete or walk around the city all day without any pain. And they last. I bought a second pair as backups while working at the store (woo staff discounts), but my first pair are still perfectly fine three years later. They're pricey, but if you can score some on sale, it's totally worthwhile.

  10. Reva Tory Burch flats were one of my worst splurges. They give me such blisters and have no support. I've worn them under a dozen times. 🙁 I just bought Cole Haan wedges with Nike Air but can't report any improvement over a nice pair of heels.

    However, buying $5 shoes tend to kill my feet unless they are just awesome clearance. American Eagle tends to have better flats in the $30 range and I try to make mine last by wearing walking shoes to work. Toms are my favorite in the summer (they have good support) and Sperry muckers in the winter for the snow and slush. Even still, my "expensive" flats only last a year or so before they start to wear out. I wouldn't spend $100+ on a shoe unless it was possible to resole them or "save" them (like a pair of boots) because they won't last years with a lot of wear. I'm bummed because my favorite flats are wearing in the toes and I only bought one pair to start. 🙁

  11. I have 3 expensive/decent quality pairs: running shoes, plain black dress shoes, and winter hiking boots. Other than that, I tend to buy cheap shoes. I don't have a puppy to eat my shoes, but I've found that shoes in the $5-50 range all seem to wear out at about the same rate. Especially flats. I would never pay more than $10 for a pair of flats. I'd consider $15 if they were really pretty and unique,

  12. I will only buy good quality runners too! Also, I can totally understand the necessity for a good quality pair of winter boots. And a really good pair of comfortable heels if you're wearing them indoors every day. So, there are lots of types of shoes I will spend some money on. But flats are not one of those things. Glad I'm not the only one!

  13. Yes, I definitely get that! I've never had any problems with my feet, but I know I might be one of the lucky few. And, one day, perhaps I'll be kicking myself for torturing my feet in cheap-a## shoes for so long.

  14. something tells me nice shoes aren't made for people who refuse to take cabs and buses.

    I think you're definitely right! I take public transit to work every morning, which includes a lot of walking and a lot of standing in overcrowded subway cars. I think it's one of the reasons I wear out shoes so fast.

    Becky (@ Casa Caudill) was saying the same thing about flip flops! (Below.) I've actually never worn a pair of good quality flip flops and since they're available so cheaply, I don't think I had ever even thought of investing in a good quality pair. But, you both make a convincing argument…

  15. One day, once the puppies have both emerged out of their overly destructive phase, I might invest in some better quality footwear using the same technique – spend some money on the shoes I wear most often. I do have really good quality boots and I believe in good quality sneakers. Perhaps I'll add an expensive heel and one pair of flats to their good-quality number.

  16. I think my feet/knees hurt more with my "Nike air" Cole Haan flats ($125+ in stores, but I got them on sale) than with my AE $20 pair. Not sure how that works though!

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