It’s always pained me to spend good money on shoes. I’m really hard on my footwear, jamming my shoes into my handbag so I can change depending on my transport options, walking everywhere in New York, often in very high heels, and getting my heel tips caught in grates, drains and pavement cracks more often than I can count. I need shoes I can wear every day without weeping over the repair cost of a torn heel or broken strap.

Not only that, but over the years that I’ve worked in fashion, I’ve seen the accessory lines ramp up their prices to such a ludicrous level that they no longer have even a remote connection to cost, but reflect only what the consumer is prepared to pay for a logo, a label or a red sole. And, most of the time, I’m just not willing to jump on that bandwagon. I can admire a beautiful shoe, a wonderful piece of craftsmanship but I am not willing to fork out half a month’s Manhattan rent on a pair of shoes that will be worn only a few times each month.

I’ve already noticed some lines have dropped their accessory prices during this recession, and I suspect that there may be a gradual adjustment back down to the realms of aspirational affordability over the next year.

I do hope so, because at the moment I rely on Zara (about once every three months they produce a shoe I die for, and which gets me stopped in the street; the rest of the time, no), vintage, sample & normal sales and, I admit it, the odd gift from designers to fill up my shoe wardrobe. I do have beautiful, expensive shoes in my possession: I just shopped for them wisely.

And, because I am so hard on my shoes, I spend a fortune on shoe trees, boot supports and cobblers’ bills to keep them looking tip top.

Every new pair of shoes gets taken to the shoemender to have a very thin rubber non-slip sole glued to the bottom (bar satin evening shoes obviously). That way the shoe lasts much longer and there’s less chance of me going arse over tit (an all too frequent occurrence, given my coordination skills). Because, if you live in the northern hemisphere, chance are that you will be wearing those shoes in the rain more times than you think and nothing ruins a good shoe more than a leather sole being repeatedly plunked down on rainy pavements.

So, even if you abuse your shoes as I do, with a little care they can last and last – just as long, in fact, as a pair of over priced boutique ones.

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13 comments

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I so agree. I live in Montreal and the weather here really does not allow for anything fancy, especially when the streets are icy and the temperatures are in the -10somethings.

I have always wondered why the prices of certain labels are so high. They are so astronomical that my friends have started using my favourite comment to things too expensive: "Why are those things so expensive, do they have a tv inside?"

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I have always looked after my shoes too as they are so bloody expensive but it's becoming harder and harder to find really good cobblers – it's a dying art, like so many others. There was an AMAZING man in Hertford but when he died, his expertise went with him. I have been told that there is an excellent one in Whitstable though so will be checking that out. Also, I went to get some winter boots re-soled recently and was told that they had been made in such a way that a replacement wouldn't adhere to the original. SHOCKING.

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That rubber sole thing is a genius idea – it would increase the lifespan of a few of my shoes by so much!

I noticed this year a pair of shoes I wrote on my blog last September. I clicked on the link – it was surprisingly still valid. They were selling the shoes still, but this year they cost £85 instead of last year's £100…

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i completely agree with absolutely everything you said

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Good advice! Although I have to agree with Cassandra, a good repair man is hard to find

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I definitely agree LLG. I like quality stylish shoes and find there are many great ones for under $100. I am saddened because I literally MELTED leather soles on my Coach flats and will have to resole. But it's always worth putting non-slip soles. Do you have recommendations for a London cobbler?

Oh got a pair of the Jimmy Choo H&M sandals and will definitely put non-slip sole on them!

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I'm hard on footwear as well and have been doing the rubber trick for a few decades. It definitely will save your shoes! But now you've made me pine for my old cobbler in Brooklyn Heights… gosh he was a master!
XXX
Suzanne

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I remember buying some shoes from MiuMiu and Prada in the late 90s and finding them affordable then. Now I earn more and yet they seem totally out of my reach.
I don't have expensive tastes, I like nice things that are well made, and sometimes I do feel that stuff is getting stupidly expensive (handbags for example). One thing I don't like is paying for a name. I don't see the point, especially when the prices go up and the craftmanship goes down, if my sentence made any sort of sense… x

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Thank you English Rose!

And yes, Mlle R, "nice things that are well made" is such a great way of saying it; they so don't need to be expensive.

LLGxx

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A good cobbler is essential.

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