Are all shoes created equal, or do some shoes have a little extra magic in their soles well-worth the epic price tags? There are tons of shoes out there. You can pick up a pair of flats at Walmart for a mere $15, or invest in designer stilettos from Christian Louboutin for more than $1,500.
Although you can buy decent, affordable shoes on any budget, there are a couple times you may want to consider laying down some extra cash. To get a full perspective on the question of expensive footwear, I asked a doc and a fashion guru to give us all the deets. Here’s what they had to say about investing (and saving) wisely.
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The podiatrist says: Pay more for multi-functional shoes
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According to Marlene Reid, D.P.M., a podiatric physician and surgeon from Naperville, IL, and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, any shoe you buy should always fit the structure of your foot without causing areas of pressure or irritation.
“Shoes for walking should have a firm heel counter [the back of the heel], should bend at the ball of the foot, and should not be easily collapsible, like a ballet flat is,” she explains.
Splurge on shoes that are comfortable, made of natural materials that are accommodating to any bone deformities (such as bunions or hammertoes), and are stylish enough to give you significant use.
“These are truly worth an investment,” says Reid. “Better shoes do not necessarily cost more, but are generally more expensive if they’re made with multiple factors in mind.”
Reid says that plenty of supportive shoes and boots can be found at lower-end shoe stores like Payless, and there are plenty of expensive shoes that aren’t exactly kind to your feet — namely, high heels.
Speaking of heels, Reid says whether you splurge or save, try to wear them for as short a time as you can — and look to make functional changes that may help support your foot.
“Do not wear a heel height that you feel unstable in, unless you won’t be walking farther than the car door to a restaurant table or theater seat,” she says. “Even going down a half-inch in height may help. A wider heel may also give more stability, as well.”
Invest in heels that feel stable and timeless. Better yet, opt for a wedge or a kitten heel for better support than a stiletto with a similar look.
The fashion expert says: Pay more for comfortable heels.
Bonus! Each of these shoes is on sale with an additional 60% off at Ann Taylor (and so are dozens of tops, pants, and accessories) with code MAY60! (Exp. 5/18)
Fashion market editor and brand consultant Randi Packard suggests investing in heels you’ll wear again and again, instead of suffering through the pain of cheap high heels every day at the office or at every big event you attend.
“Nothing has made me appreciate the construction, fit, and comfort of an expensive, high-quality designer heel more than going to a friend’s wedding wearing a cheap one,” says Packard. “I spent most of the evening watching everyone else dance, while I sat on the sidelines watching and rubbing the balls of my feet!”
Packard says designer shoes are typically made not only with visibly higher-quality materials like leather, but with better construction. “The heel is placed under the center of your heel, so you feel more stable walking in them,” she explains. “There is also more padding under the ball of your foot.”
Now, what about boots with a flat or low heel? “This is where I save,” says Packard. “As long as the leather or suede looks good and I can fit my very wide feet in comfortably, I am fine with a non-designer boot.” Nice, relatively affordable and totally secure boot options can often be found at department stores or even online at high-end fashion retailers like Ann Taylor.
Packard says that, of course, some designer shoes can be super-uncomfortable, especially if they’re too tall or pitch forward too much on your toe. But generally, investing in a “timeless” open- or closed-toe designer pump or stiletto is a good use of your dough.
“A strappy sandal is also where I splurge,” Packard insists. “If I’m wearing a strappy sandal, I’m likely getting dressed up, on my feet or dancing — and I’ve kept my strappy sandals by Manolo Blahnik for more years than anything else in my closet.” In the cost-per-wear department, Packard says those heels have definitely been a good investment.