Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Tragedy of the Cheap Shoes

I am the woman who lived in her shoes. Literally. There are shoes in almost every available storage space in my apartment. There are shoes in the bedroom closet. There are also shoes in the additional wardrobe my husband and I purchased since there wasn't enough room for all my clothes in the bedroom closet. There are also shoes in the linen closet, the coat closet and the storage closet. The one room that has not been used for shoe storage is the kitchen and that is because I fear the heat would damage my shoes.

I suffer from the problem of too much quantity and not enough quality. How many times have you been to a Nine West or Steve Madden sale and thought to yourself, "$40 for shoes?! Oh, why not?! I'd be crazy not to buy them at that price!" I've said this way too many times and now I'm drowning in shoes. But I've come to realize that although these shoes may seems like a bargain, you're not saving anything at all.

Let me present Exhibit A:

I purchased these Aerosoles slides in 2003. I know that may seem like a long time ago, but they are summer sandals and I don't wear them very often. Imagine my surprise, as I was walking to my office and my left foot began to feel like it was in a shoe that was a half size too large. The poor man-made materials, which I had thought were leather, on my cheap shoes had fallen apart!

Here's a better look at the damage:

Exhibit B: I also recently purchased these Nine West sandals since I thought they were a fun take on the gladiator style.

While they haven't fallen apart and are comfortable, they make an embarassing, loud squeaking noise when I walk. Unfortunately, I can never sneak up on anyone in my Nine West gladiator sandals.

Exhibit C: These are the Steve Madden knock-offs of those Christian Louboutin shoes I've been talking about for weeks.

I try to enforce a strict "no knock-offs" policy when it comes to my shopping out of respect for designer creativity, but I simply couldn't resist these. I knew I couldn't afford the real thing and these looked so sexy on. Big mistake! These are virtually impossible to walk in. They pinch at the toes and they give blisters in the heel. After an hour of wear, I had to hobble my way into an Ann Taylor Loft and purchase some flip-flops.

The moral of the story: I bought these Burberry ballet flats in 2003. (The same year as the Aerosole shoes mentioned above.)

Ballet flats can carry you across several seasons and I've worn these pretty frequently. With the occasional re-soling and cleaning, these shoes have held their shape and maintained the quality of their materials for four years! The style is classic and I'm sure I'll wear them for years to come. I remember buying these four years ago for $300 and thinking how expensive they are. But in reality, since I've been able to wear them so frequently (as opposed to those Steve Madden shoes I'll probably never wear again), the money spent was far less wasteful than what I've spent on other shoes.

I know that there are exceptions to the rule, but frequently you do get what you pay for. It is possible to find inexpensive shoes that are comfortable, but where you'll feel the pinch (pardon the pun!), is that you won't be able to wear the shoes for years like you will with shoes made of quality materials. If I took all the money I have spent on cheap shoes this year, I would be able to buy a pair of real Louboutins. So take a lesson from me and skip some of those "sales" and save your money for classic styles by the best shoe designers you can afford. Your feet and your wallet will thank you.