I used to have a love/hate relationship with shoe shopping.
Genetically, I’m a little disadvantaged in the foot/knee department. I’m predisposed to having flat, slightly wider than average feet, and have a family history of rubbishy knees, in part due to apparently having more flexible than average joints. Growing up, I was terribly familiar with orthopaedic shoes. The square-toed kind that you’d expect Witches (of Roald Dahl pedigree) to wear if they weren’t inclined to hide their stumps.
I enjoy looking at pretty shoes, but my feet rarely look good in them, nor feel comfortable in them, and they would rub in all the places you didn’t want them to rub no matter what kind of stretching, softening, conditioning or wet sock wearing you did. It was less than optimal.
Over time I learned to only buy leather, because you can soften and stretch them at the problem areas, and could mould to your foot to a certain extent.
The Theory of Economic Unfairness
I also learned to not baulk (very much) about spending good money on quality shoes, which always reminds me of Sam Vimes’s Boots Theory of Economic Unfairness from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld:
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
Your Average Cost
To put that theory into perspective, I paid AUD$299 for this pair of black Ecco knee-high boots in a classic style. I’ve lost track, but I think I’ve had them at least 15 years. They’re worn almost constantly during cooler months, are brought travelling with me (so they do /a lot/ of walking), and have been resoled twice, reheeled three times, and the zips replaced once. I technically should have done the upkeep things more frequently, but that’s about AUD$20 a year. If you factor in the cost of the servicing, that might bring it up to AUD$25-30/year. They’re starting to reach EOL, but they should still have a couple more years in them before that happens.
My Frankie4 Ellie lace-ups were about AUD$229, purchased in 2014. Along with the boots, they’re my most worn pair of shoes. And were even worn almost constantly through pregnancy. Since bub was born, they’ve been worn a little less frequently because I use slip-ons a little more, but still in heavy rotation. At their current rate of wear, I’d say they still have at least another few years to go. They have required no servicing, though they get an occasional home polish. Compare this to Skechers which I used to have to replace once a year at between AUD$75-115 a pair (elastic would die, sole would separate from the upper, etc).
By paying a little more, I end up rarely needing to buy shoes as a result, and wear the ones I do have to death. The few times I’ve purchased a cheaper shoe since, I’ve regretted it due to extreme discomfort, sometimes to the point of bleeding, or they just fall apart very quickly.
This is also why, when I find a brand that supports my stupid feet, with designs that don’t look like they cast the feet of a Witch to make them, I will stick to those brands like a burr, and wax lyrical about how wonderful they are.
I know spending that kind of money on shoes doesn’t work for everyone. You can only do what you can within your means and circumstances. But, if you are in a position where you are able to save up what you’d normally spend on multiple cheaper pairs of shoes, ie. forgo a pair or two of whim shoes now, to put towards one pair of (probably more expensive) better quality shoes later on (stick to versatile/classic designs if you want style longevity as well), your feet will probably love you for it. Think of it as an investment if that helps.
Of course, as with all investments, do your research into the brands you want to invest in. Cost doesn’t always equate to quality these days.
My Current Picks
These are my current picks (in alphabetical order) that have options with orthopaedic support, or have styles with which you can use your own orthotics. But don’t be put off by this criteria if this isn’t you. Their shoes are great for everyone.
- Fluevog (not proper orthopaedic, and obviously not all designs are good for bad feet, but my very particular podiatrist wears them so they must be okay 😉
Note: I get absolutely no kickbacks from the above companies. I just love their shoes because they love my feet.
Something to think about, anyway.
 We’re talking /maybe/ one or two pairs of proper shoes every 5 years if that. Occasionally I’ll still by whimsy shoes, but that never ends well.
 I had a pair of 6-hole Doc’s in high-school. They lasted about 10 years, and I wore them until the rubber soles split and the leather upper started to come away from the sole. Fortunately, that happened at the same time. By the time they had to go, the leather was ridiculously soft. When I went shopping for a new pair, the guy at the shop was amazed Doc leather could get that way.
 I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to them of course, but I’m not ‘influential’ enough to warrant that kind of relationship. I’m presently just a girl with crappy feet, dropping my own dime on getting proper shod. There are however some Amazon links to styles similar to what I have if you feel so inclined.