Great Shoes Don’t Need to Cost a Mint

You really do get what you pay for, my friends, especially in the world of shoes. Feet are fussy, and are one of the body parts most likely to complain if not fitted properly into their protective casings. If you’ve got foot pain or problems or difficult-to-fit feet, then cheaping out on shoes is a bad plan. For your own mental and physical health, invest in shoes that maximize your comfort. But if your feet are more tolerant, you might be interested in a few tips for tracking down great-looking shoes that won’t deplete your life savings. Am I right? I am? Fabulous.

I love shoes, and many of my shoes are $100+ jobbers. But until I became borderline obsessed with gorgeous footwear AND a salary-earning adult human, I felt that $40 was approximately the right price for a new pair of shoes. And I still rejoice when I can procure a stellar pair that fits into my old pricing scheme … or close. Here are my sources:

BRANDS

Most of my favorite shoe brands are spendy, but a handful of designers have proven themselves to fall firmly into the “affordable quality” category.

Nine West – This brand tops my list because they consistently churn out dozens of pairs of gorgeous, well-designed, on-trend shoes that won’t fall apart after three wearings. Most pairs are in the $60 to $80 range, which may seem a bit high, but they’re also generally made of real leather or suede. (Generally, but not always.) And construction is outstanding. Nine West also provides a selection of classic pumps, flats, and sandals every single year, which is so refreshing. A really great source for fashionable, affordable footwear. (The platform pumps shown above are by Nine West.)

DV by Dolce Vita –  This brand offers the occasional classic style, but most of their designs are more trend-focused. The little sister to regular Dolce Vita, DV offers equally covetable shoes for less cash. My pairs are durable, comfortable, and crafted from quality materials. Shoes and boots may top out at $150, but sandals are generally under $60 and when these shoes go on sale, nab ’em.

Madden Girl – Another sister brand, Madden Girl is a less expensive line from Steve Madden. Much like DV, this brand focuses on hot styles and fun trends, but also sells the occasional timeless pump or flat. I’ve been surprised and pleased by my pairs: They’re just a hair below the quality of my Nine Wests and DVs, with a bit of heel shredding here and there, but overall I’ll vouch for solid materials, good construction, and adorable designs. And this line is the most bargainous of the three I’m highlighting, with most pairs costing $30 to $50, a bit more for tall boots.

SHOPS

I know I sing the praises of these sources quite often, but that’s because all of them are stellar for bargain shoe shopping!

6pm.com – With daily sale specials on brands or styles of shoes (tall boots, classic pumps, etc.), this deliciously dangerous website has brought untold numbers of bargain pairs into my collection. Most reputable brands – including the three listed above – are available on 6pm.

eBay – Even if the thought of used shoes ooks you out, don’t discount eBay as a possible source for shoe bargains. Past season styles and slightly damaged new pairs are often on sale for rock bottom prices. (Intimidated by eBaying? Here’s my post on how to shop eBay effectively.)

Amazon – I haven’t run the numbers, but my guess is that 50% of my shoe collection hails from Amazon. I would NEVER have guessed that this website-for-everything would prove to be such an amazing resource for footwear! But pair amazing selection with competitive pricing, and Amazon has become my go-to.

Marshalls and TJ Maxx – If you fear shoe shopping online, both of these bargain houses offer amazing deals on brand name shoes. I’ve seen Nine West and Madden Girl at my local outlets, though not DV. You never know, though! Both Marshalls and TJ Maxx vary in stock by region, and you may be able to snag even fancier brands for pennies on the dollar, depending on the recent local haul.

Nordstrom Rack – I can’t recommend this bargain-packed chain to those seeking specific shoes. The offerings are a total hodgepodge, and very loosely organized so going with an ideal pair in mind will likely leave you frustrated. In fact, the place often gives me migraines with it’s packed aisles and mounds of products. But when you score at The Rack, you score big. Some pairs are marked down due to flaws, but many more are in great condition and the prices are mind-blowing.

I have never done well at DSW myself, and have only ever visited one Loehmann’s. Never been impressed with Payless or Famous Footwear for quality or selection, and all of my Target shoes fall apart after a few wearings. I nab the occasional vintage or handmade pair from Etsy, or while trolling the local thrift, vintage, or consignment shops, but those routes require considerably more time, effort, and expertise to bear fruit.

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  • Hope

    Nice post — I’m going to check out the link to eBay advice.

    I scored a pair of Kate Spade slingbacks at Marshall’s. They were $99 and I waited a few days and went back before I finally bought them. I’ve never seen that brand at Marshall’s before or since, but I was thrilled to find them.
    I also agree with your comments on Nine West, Target and Payless.

  • Gina

    MJM is great and used to be my “go to” place until they unfortunately closed their store in my area. Personally I like DSW and usually have pretty decent luck there. Most of my shoes, though, come from Marshalls. I have two great Marshalls stores near me and both have a fabulous shoe section.

  • Marshalls and Ross are where I find the majority of my shoes….affordable and stylish. Today I am wearing a pair of Cole Hahn flats that I found a couple of years ago on the Marshalls clearance rack for $15…since then they have been one of my favorites!!

  • Carbon Girl

    I agree with you on most of these. Except for DSW! I love DSW and have found many of my favorite pairs there for under $100. They have a huge selection in many stores and the layout of their stores (by shoe type) with all shoes displayed is user friendly and fun to walk around in.

  • Aimee

    Endless.com is another great source to find footwear.

  • sche

    I wish I could have more love for Nine West shoes. I’m frequently drawn to them because they are attractively designed, but it’s been years since I’ve found a pair that doesn’t hurt my feet immediately. 🙁

    Most of my shoes come from TJ Maxx these days because the one in my town gets a lot of great stuff. One of my best scores is that I recently nabbed a gorgeous pair of Frye pumps for under $80.

  • Rebecca

    I’m a huge fan of Endless.com. They’re tied in to Amazon but offer free shipping AND free returns, which has often been a key factor in my taking a chance on something. They also have a lot of sales and regularly mark things down if you stalk them for long enough. Which is half the fun, right?

    • Stacy

      Ditto. I absolutely love their shipping and return policies. I’ve been able to upgrade my shoe wardrobe by shopping at this site.

      • LJ

        I also ditto. Endless is amazing and when they run their regular “20% storewide” specials, I can spend hours browsing and drooling. I’m also in love with Zappos since they offer the free 2-way shipping as well – and, no surprise – Zappos is tied to Amazon as well.

  • You are COMPLETELY speaking my language! Most things I purchase second hand, even shoes. But I DO allow more leeway for the price of shoes and actually your magic number is the same as mine. I’m confident that for $40 I can get an AMAZING pair of shoes….from Ebay to TJ Maxx, the possibilities are endless! I just can’t see buying a pair of shoes for a luxury car payment! Also, Nine West is one of my absolute personal favorites! They have beautiful current shoes that aren’t ridiculously and prohibitively overpriced. Great list! ~Serene

  • Robert

    Your so right! Wearing uncomfortable shoes,makes it for a long day! I once bought a pair of really cheap shoes,just to have the heel break off after a few months..

  • Angela

    The older I get (and I’m only 41) the more I will pay for shoes. My ‘in office’ days, only 2 or 3 a week, are12+ hours. I cannot wear anything those days that are not less than perfect in fit and comfort.

    I wear Aerosoles a lot with pants and Nine West with dresses. Not sure if the Aerosoles are Canadian only? I also like a Clark loafer but are sometimes frumpy, you have to look. I usually only pay at max $100 for shoes

  • How about Franco Sarto, Sal? Each of the 3 pairs of high heels I’ve picked up lately for work have been FS – a couple I bought at Foleys, and the other I got at Marshall’s. Each of them was about 40.

    • Sal

      I don’t own any pairs myself, but hear good things about the brand!

      • LJ

        I agree – Franco Sarto makes a good pair of shoes. I often find a couple pairs at Ross which make me even happier 🙂

  • Great post Sal! I also can’t recommend DV enough – same high quality as their high-end counterparts, but much more affordable. I found mine at TJ Maxx. Marchall’s also has an amazing shoe department, and their prices are affordable. I’ve had great luck there.

    I realize some people might be squicky about buying shoes at consignment and thrift stores, but I’m not. I have a couple of pairs of Cole Haan and Ferragamos I’ve discovered at thrift stores. If thrift stores don’t squick you out, they’re also a good option for finding a great pair of shoes.

  • LK

    best brands I’ve had are Sofft and Merrel. zappos.com is pretty awesome. But I do get most of my shoes from TJ Maxx/Marshalls.

  • What are you *doing* to your Target shoes that they’re wrecked after only a few wearings? I’ve never had a pair of Target shoes wear out on me. I must be Doing It Wrong? (But that’s a well-known fact when it comes to style – I come here in my fleece pants and Crocs to see what normal MSPers are wearing so I’m less shocked by people who ‘dress up’ to go to the mall…)

    More on topic, I’ll put in another vote for TJMaxx – I used to work in retail and the best dressy-looking shoes I had for it were 2 pairs of Borns with wedge heels (loafers/Dansko-clones and high mules) that I got from TJMaxx for $30 each.

    • Sal

      Nothing unusual, I swear. I’ve had both flats and sandals become misshapen or broken after less than five outings.

    • Elizabeth Ann

      I don’t know if this is relevant to this particular shoes-wearing-out-differently-for-different-people issue, but when I moved I found that my shoe wear and tear habits changed drastically. Until about age 23 I don’t think I had ever seen a pair of shoes wear out unless they were for a specific sport/physical activity. I held onto shoes until I no longer liked them or grew out of them and then I gave them away. And then I moved to Boston. And, Oh My Word, has Boston been hard on my shoes. I walk more, the streets and sidewalks are less likely to be evenly paved, the weather is worse (more rain, more snow), my job has me frequently on my feet for 3 or 4 hours without a break, and I’m much more likely to leave the house early and not be home until late (meaning I’m in the same pair of shoes for 12 or 18 straight hours). All this combined has led to unprecedented rates of shoe destruction.

    • I bet some of it has to do with weather where one lives. I live in sunny California, so I’m never walking in snow & only in a little bit of rain, so my shoes don’t take much of a beating from the elements. Even tho’ I don’t drive & am always walking & taking public transportation everywhere.

  • Great tips, Sal. My fave brands include Clarks, Sofft and Calvin Klein — all in reasonable price ranges, and reasonably comfortable! 6pm and Zappos are the best/scariest inventions for shoe lovers. How the time can fly when I am browsing there . . .

  • If you shop for Clarks regularly (and I do, they have consistent fit and high quality) they have amazing deals and a frequent shopper club at their meatspace stores. 40% off offers that you can’t use on the Internet, and such. It is definitely worthwhile for me to keep their coupons in hand and visit them at the mall.

  • danielle

    Lately I’ve not been a big fan of the selection at DSW, so I can see where you’re coming from. However, I have nabbed some pretty great deals from their clearance section from time to time. I’ve found that the non-sale stuff isn’t really discounted that much, and the good deals are more often found in the clearance. Of course, it’s possible that luck w/ clearance depends on what size shoe you wear.

    Second, regarding Amazon: have you ever checked out Amazon Warehouse or do you just shop regular Amazon? It’s a bit tricky to ensure you’re actually in the ‘warehouse’ section of the site and actually STAY there, but this is where they sell “open box” shoes, which are essentially just returns that they can’t in good faith sell as brand new. I’ve ordered a few pairs that way and they’re less flawed than things from say Nordstrom Rack, even. The warehouse deals are usually random, single sizes here and there, so it takes a bit of luck to find something good, but when you do – oh, what a deal. My most recent deal I nabbed was a pair of Seychelles for $23.

    • pope suburban

      I totally agree about the DSW clearance section. That is where I find nearly everything I buy there. Actually, my last snag was a lovely sunny-yellow pair of Seychelles pumps for $30, and they are incredibly comfortable. I tend to have excellent luck in their clearance section in general. I would encourage everyone to check it out. Even if you don’t find shoes you like, you can find some pretty out-there, funny designs that should be good for a giggle.

    • Miss T

      Wow, thanks for the tip about Amazon Warehouse — just got a pair of Arche shoes (regular $375) for $75!!

    • LJ

      Yes!! I love that someone else understands the Amazon Warehouse experience. It definitely is a bargain-holder, and I often find a pair of shoes on the Warehouse site that are also on the regular Amazon site, but way cheaper. Feels like I’ve won a shoe championship 🙂 Even so, I feel like it’s a secret underground part of the site or something. I literally have to type in “Amazon Warehouse” in the regular Amazon search bar in order to find that section of the site, and yes, it’s a navigational puzzle to stay within it once the browsing begins.

  • Tara

    For new shoes, I like Endless, Piper Lime, Zappos and Macy’s. However, I buy many of my shoes second hand from eBay, consignment shops, vintage stores and the occasional thrift store. I was a strict vegan for about 15 years, but within the last year or so, I’ve starting buying used/recycled leather. I realized that my PVC shoes don’t biodegrade, which is also not good for the animals (or us humans) so recycled leather seemed to be a better option. I’ve had great luck with eBay and have found a few great scores at consignment shops. Buying used is good for the environment…and the wallet!

  • I haven’t bought any dress shoes in awhile, but if I need any—especially pumps—now I know where to look. These Sunday Shoes are so pretty. I love the chunky heel and platform.

  • My feet hurt a lot, so I have to be extra careful about shoes. Sadly, a lot of times comfortable shoes = dowdy/not pretty with dresses. I will spend $125 on a pair of Dansko shoes. I also like Born shoes quite a lot. Neither looks smashing with a party dress. Ballet flats hurt. I am most comfortable barefoot or wearing Teva flipflops, but I live in Michigan so it gets a little cold for that. I shoot for 1-2″ heels or platforms that give the illusion of height while keeping the footbed relatively flat. I have had good luck at Marshall’s & TJ Maxx, but my favorite is a locally owned shop (V&A Bootery) that gives outstanding service, fits your foot, understands their merch and has a fabulous return policy.

  • Anne

    I have good luck with DSW (except two summers ago when they were completely out of flip-flops in my size) I have a GAP card so I save all my rewards coupons to use at Piperlime and I’ve had very good luck with them. One brand I did not hear mention of is Kenneth Cole. We have a KC outlet down the hill in our closest town and I find the shoes there both comfy and pretty affordable. I also swear by Clarks and love their Indigo line. As luck would have it, the outlet mall just opened a Clark store recently.

  • There are times when DSW underwhelms me, but I have had far better success there than I’ve had at Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx.

    I like Nine West in theory, but their shoes consistently cut into my feet or are otherwise uncomfortable the moment that I put them on. I am a fan of Franco Sarto for heels and sometimes for boots. They are in more or less the same price range as Nine West and DV.

  • Miss T

    I love Clarks for comfort and style; I just wish they would make a wider range of colors; everything is sort of in the neutral-to-muddy range. As a remedy, I’ve dyed a few pairs lighter/brighter colors, with decent results. I have gotten excellent deals on Amazon; they have a terrific selection, too.

    • Caro

      If you want Clarks in more adventurous colours than are generally available on the North American market, I suggest you check out Clarks sold in the UK. On ebay, search for Clarks Originals, and then click on International Sellers (or whatever the term is). This should eventually take you to a range of sellers who deal almost exclusively in British Clarks (new). Most of the Clarks I currently own were sourced in that way. I also love Riekers and buy many of them from Germany, again new through ebay, where the selection and colours are better that can be easily found in Canada.

      • Miss T

        Thanks, Caro!

  • I only buy shoes at warehouse type stores, for two reasons — one, my foot is hard to fit and I really need to walk around for a while in a shoe to see if it will work for me, and two, I HATE trying on shoes with a salesperson and having to continually send them back to get different sizes, shapes, etc. My favorite shop is Off Broadway (that might be local to me, I’m in So Cal but I know they are a chain) and second favorite is Famous Footwear. We don’t have a lot of DSW here but I’ve never had much luck with the ones I’ve seen.

    Warehouse prices are reasonable, not great, but Off Broadway gives you coupons every time you make a purchase. The Hubs passes his on to me so I use coupons every time I buy shoes there. I’ve gotten running shoes for $30, Lifestride sandals (in narrow no less!) for $35, and a pair of booties for around $50.

  • Mary

    I like DSW…their store always looks so appealing, bright light, lots of cool shoes. But alas, they don’t carry wides.

    Not many places carry wides, which is VERY annoying. Sometimes you can find a decent pair at Target (I don’t know what you’re doing to yours, Sal. Mine always last a reasonable time).

    I like TJMaxx/Marshalls. I’ve had really good luck lately at thrift stores.

    I’ve been hesitant to try on-line…my feet unfortunately are pretty picky. I’d sooo love to not have wide feet!

    • Miss T

      I invested in a shoe stretcher (about $30, available on Amazon and elsewhere) — one of my feet is fine in B or C, but the other foot is definitely a C width, so I find that if I can just stretch the one shoe, I’m ok.

      • Anne

        Brilliant idea! I am so gonna look into this. I have one foot wider than the other as well.

  • Stacy

    I am lucky enough to have found some amazing knee-high high-heeled Franco Sarto boots at my Salvation Army (on 50% off day, no less!). They look like they were only worn once or twice, if that, and once I overcame the slight “ick factor” I felt, I never looked back. Sending a big “thanks!” to the size 7 woman who is donating her amazing shoes to my local Salvation Army!

  • I think nearly all of my shoes are from endless.com. The prices are fantastic and they have free shipping and free return shipping on everything – even sale items! They also run really great deals fairly regularly – definitely worth signing up for their emails. I’m also a fan of Macy’s shoe departments. Even the worst Macy stores (i.e. those in rural areas like mine) have a great selection, and if you shop right, you never have to pay full price!

  • Ah, shoes, my ever-constant dilemma! These problem feet won’t let me wear most things I see and drool over (one of my favorite aspects of your blog by the way–your stellar shoe collection!). I’ll make sure to check these links out. Thanks for an informative post!

  • I used to call myself the Carrie Bradshaw of Payless Shoe Source — for ages, they had the best shoes, great fit, great style, & amazing quality for $20 shoes. I’d regularly get 2-3 years of use out of their shoes. But I think in the past 5 years, they’ve gone downhill. Certainly, the styles haven’t been anything special. Target also goes in & out of style & quality (similar to their clothes). I have one pair target spool-heel, laceup boots that are fan-freakin-tastic, comfortable, totally adorable, very steampunk before that became trendy, & they’ve last 5 years. But I bought a pair of sandals at Target this summer that broke on the third wearing!

    DSW can be fantastic, but it’s always a hunt. Of course, so are Marshalls & TJ Maxx — at least DSW is more orderly & tends to carry a full range of sizes. I have wide feet & calves, & I’ve found stunning boots at DSW. So has my mom; she’s the one who clued me in to that place. She’s on all their mailing list & special programs so gets coupons & shares 😉

    My fave. mid-priced brand is Aldo (www.aldoshoes.com). They have great end-of-season sales with shoes priced around $20-$30, & regular prices are up to $80. Gorgeous Italian-made shoes, very on-trend, heels, boots, flats. The flats/boots are comfortable enough for walking all over town too.

    Clarks & Aerosoles are also great, mid-priced brands, but they tend to be less trendy, more “classic” styles. Very comfortable & durable tho, & I esp. like their boots. You’ll want to wear them forever.

    • Oh, another favourite brand — Kenneth Cole Reaction. It’s Cole’s less expensive line, with much of the same excellent style & quality. Beautiful dress pumps & trendy boots. You can find these at many stores & online. I’ve thrifted a few pairs too — they seem to last forever!

  • I’d all but forgotten about Nine West until I read this post! It’s funny how back in my student budget days I thought Nine West was a tad too expensive. Now my spendy shoe habits have made me consistently overlook that brand.

    My top places for shoe bargains (and these are very Canadian and Vancouver-centric suggestions):

    -Scouring local boutiques like Rowan Sky, Umeboshi and Fine Finds for sales or “last pair” special deals
    -Going to the Dakota Group sample sale. The Dakota Group includes shoe brands like Pour La Victoire, Kelsi Dagger, Matiko and Faryl Robin. I’m a size 6 so chances are good I’ll find a pair of shoes here that’s 50% off retail, if not more.
    -Checking out the sales at the Hudson’s Bay Company. They have pretty good end of season clearances.

  • Marti and Liz is a type of re-sale store that sells gently used or new shoes in the NineWest/Madden range, and very occasionally above it at cheaper prices ($19-$35, with the occasional $10 score). There are a few spread out in Tennessee that I know of, but I believe they have sister-chains in other areas. If not sister-chains similarly run businesses.

    I used to do all my shoe shopping there, but I started getting better deals through online venues, amazon, ebay, or endless. And I got more interested in uniquely designed shoes.

  • Mrs.M in MI

    The shoes brands I purchase most often are Franco Sarto and Land’s End. I find both offer quality materials and construction, are comfortable and stylish, and can be easily found for $50 or less. I also like RSVP, Naughty Monkey, and recently I’ve found a few good pairs of Steve Madden/ STEVEN by Steve Madden.

    I heard many praises sung of Nine West over the years, but I recently bought my first pair of Nine West shoes (calf-hair leopard pumps) and find them somewhat uncomfortable. I bought them for a cocktail-type event and parts of my feet were bloody by the end of the night. And that was after I’d already worn them to work a few days to break them in!

    I’ve bought shoes over the past year from thrift stores, Land’s End, Piperlime, DSW, and Amazon. My Christmas shoe purchases will most likely be from eBay (STEVEN boots that I originally found on endless.com), DSW (Franco Sarto boots), and Land’s End (ballet flats).

  • Miz

    This post is coming at the right time for me, after almost a year of not wearing heels because of a back injury, I’m slowly but surely trying to get back into them. I used to live in them, so I miss them! I’ll let you know how it goes 😀

  • Rachel W.

    Great post, thank you! I’m a fairly young lady with a fairly slim budget. I *know* that if I could afford ’em a pair of Fryes would last me ’til doomsday, but since I don’t quite ever have the spare cash to shell out on quality, it’s great to hear everyone’s thoughts on worthwhile less-expensive brands.

    I’m slightly bummed about the pair of Nine West boots I bought at an outlet last year. They have elastic gussets in the leg shaft, the better to conform to one’s calves, and I keep finding the elastic fibers pulling out of the seam where the gusset and the leather meet. Guess that’s my lesson: if I want a pair of boots to keep around for years, pick the ones with the fewest possible points of failure.

  • I am so jealous of women who do not have hard-to-fit feet. I wear a narrow shoe, and even high-end brands often don’t carry them (and you’d think, with models so skinny and all…oh well…) Instead, I have to pick through a lot of styles that look like gloves for feet. Apparently the majority of people with narrow feet are over the age of 70.

    All kidding aside, I love endless.com and zappos.com because they have a nice range of narrow shoes and free returns (I return shoes a lot, because narrow is no longer narrow in many cases–vanity sizing exists even in shoes, I guess). As for brands, I like Cole Haan, Sofft, and Van Eli.

  • Bubu

    DSW is sometimes great, sometimes nothing – I seem to walk out empty handed or with three new pairs. Have had especially good luck at DSW for summer shoes, i.e., sandals. Love Clarks feel, but sometimes can be a bit dowdy (but my favorite classic black boots are from there) – like them more for boots or loafers than ladylike. Like Aersoles too for comfort, style and price. One more surprising one for me: the Bass store when I go outlet shopping. Comfortable and well-made, again more in the loafer/boot category. Got a 3-for-1 deal there this summer on black and brown stacked leather loafers and grey suede wedge booties, all for a little over $100.

  • GingerR

    I’ve had some hits from Nordstrom Rack. It helps to shop there frequently. The good stuff goes fast.

    DSW is another store where frequent check-ins are a good idea, particularly if you wear a popular size. They aren’t rock-bottom priced but they’ll have seasonal trends.

    Marshall’s is too haphazard for me.

  • Sal – have you been to the 6pm outlet in KY–if not you must go–it is the best…seriously the best–I would say 80% of my shoes are from there and the least I have ever gotten at one time is 3 pairs. Brands like Frye, Bass, Pour la Victiore, DV, Corso Como, Merrel, Clarks, Naturlizer, Asics, Nike, Nine West,
    seriously ridiculous–there are no sales better that shopping here.

    • Sal

      It’s DEFINITELY on the list, Mary!

  • These are great tips, but I must say: I’ve had TONS of luck with DSW. Sometimes I’ll go in there and leave with nothing, and sometimes I’ll leave with 3 or 4 new pairs! I even got my first-ever pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs pumps there a few years ago. They also carry size 11s, which are tough to find cheaply. Brands like Nine West often don’t offer size 11+ in their standard runs.

    Great tips!

    GlamCake

  • Hi Sal – I noticed that you have a lot of great Frye boots. Do you have a source for finding them on sale?

    • Sal

      I’ve gotten them all over, honestly. Amazon and 6pm are my main sources for Fryes, but I stalk them style by style mainly.

  • Krysta

    Okay, on shoes…

    I have a pair of slingback pumps from Payless and two pairs of basic ballet flats that I got at a thrift shop, but were most likely overstock from a Target. (They were a Target brand, there were many in several sizes, and they still had the original tags on!) The ballet flats I wear near-constantly and have had them over a year at this point. The pumps are my most comfortable pair of heels (I can walk/run/whatever in them as well as flats at this point!) and are likewise holding up from much loving abuse. The most wear I can say is that the flats (which are faux suede) are getting a little shine along the edges where they rub against the ground sometimes. Plus, I’ve also had plenty of luck at DSW. You just have to be as persistent with the clearance section as you would be at any thrift store!

    So Payless and DSW are definitely shoe haunts for me. Target would be, if I weren’t boycotting them for reasons unrelated to this post.

  • Kenzie

    I go to payless and the like for shoes I want but won’t be worn on a regular basis. I’ve found things that are decently comfortable there and none of them have worn through yet but that could be because they’re not getting worn on a regular basis. I don’t wear heels a lot, so my black pumps and my heeled booties are both payless. They’re plenty comfy and as sturdy as they need to be for the amount of wear they get.

    I’m a little wary of shoe shopping on the internet. My first foray into Ebay last month (on your advice, Sally) resulted in a great deal on a lightly used pair of Clarks boots that I love and a pair of patent leather red flats (something I’ve been wanting for a while) that are a half size too big. So a hit and a miss. I’m hoping to get better at internet shopping though, since that seems to be one of the places where I’m going to find the best deals for my college-kid budget!

    I also might brave Black Friday this year. We’ll see how that goes.

  • My local Salvation Army has really crappy clothes, but for some reason I’ve found several pairs of really great shoes there over the years, all for under $5…. which has really spoiled me and now I hate to spend more than $30 on a pair of new ones.

    I know I *should* be willing to spend more, since I have such sucky feet (very high arches, narrow heels, morton’s toe), but I just can’t! My job keeps me on my feet walking literally all day long so work shoes are the only pairs I’m willing to spend a lot of money on.

  • Christy

    I love zappos.com and have had nothing but good experiences with them. I have plantar fascitis in my right foot and have done a lot of work to find good shoes that are cute but I can wear all day (I’m a teacher). I have had a lot of luck with Born, Born Crown, Naughty Monkey, and Aerosoles. Also, I love the google shopping option…go to google, open “more”, and click on shopping. Input what you want to look for and it will tell you all the options online where you can find it, and the price on each website. So. AWESOME.

    Also. I love DSW. It’s like the heavens open up and angels sing when I walk in and see 5 acres of shoes. **blissful sigh**

  • ju

    sale sections on urban outfitters, anthropologie, and shopbop have all offered HUGE discounts! skim past the cheapy stuff on urban outfitters’ website (i.e. their own brands) especially, and you will find tons of shoes that are not as discounted elsewhere. they often carry jeffrey campbell, DV, vans, nike at big markdowns.

  • ali

    don’t forget the fluevog sale and clearance sites. got my first pair, black soprano katias, for $99. now i’m hooked, and wish i could buy all their shoes for $99 a pair!

    gravity pope, out of Vancouver has some great sales on stylish and funky shoes – camper, fluevog, frye, clarks….

    i have high arches, a wide forefoot and I stand all day. money spent on good shoes is worth it!

  • Cel

    I know that most Sears stores in Canada have specific areas in-store that are only for discounted shoes, going for 30-70% off original sticker price. It’s too bad 6pm.com doesn’t ship to Canada. We really get robbed up here. I ordered two pairs of shoes for about $70 from lulus.com, had to pay $22 for regular shipping which took nearly 3 weeks, and still had to pay an extra $35 in duties when I picked up the package. I may as well have just gone to mall and paid a little more for similar shoes instead, bah.

  • Hey guys! Gilt has DV by Dolce Vita shoes on sale today!

    http://www.gilt.com/sale/women/dv-by-dolce-vita-sho

    GlamCake

  • As far as shoe brands go, I am a Cole Haan junkie. Cole Haan shoes are consistently beautiful, versatile, well-made, and comfortable. Yes, they are a higher-end brand, but with good shopping skills, they can be easily found for bargain prices.

    As far as where I find my shoe deals, about 70% of my shoe collection comes from Opitz Outlet and Nordstrom Rack (both of which always stock Cole Haan in relative abundance). Today I got a pair of $199 Cole Haan slingbacks at the MOA Nordstrom Rack for $29! Score! On one of my more recent visits there, I got a pair of Miu Miu platforms for $79, and a pair of Bruno Magli boots for $27. Both of those pairs originally retailed for $500 each–that was a great day for shoes.

    As for the remaining 30% of my shoe collection–10% comes from eBay, 10% comes from consignment stores (June Resale and NuLook Consignment are my favorites), and 10% comes from other miscellaneous places. Between all of these fab deal sources, it’s exceptionally rare that I ever buy shoes that aren’t designer, and aren’t at least 70% off.

  • Nice Overview. Nine West is my top choice too. They also offer rewards when you join their rewards club. 6pm is dangerous like you say. I banned myself from going to the website because I always spent $100 each time to get the free shipping but I’ve gotten from really nice shoes from there.
    Question: You feature a new pair of shoes every Sunday are they always new? That’s a lot of shoes 😉
    kemi at http://www.beautystyleanggrowth.blogspot.com