Posted by: Kate | August 25, 2009

Hundred-Dollar Shoes

How much is a reasonable amount to spend on shoes? I mean casual shoes, sneakers or similar?

Once upon a time, college and such, I considered myself to have splurged if I spent as much as $30 on a pair, and over time that number has crept up to the $50-60 range. Thirty dollars will buy a pair of cheap, fall-apart sneakers that will last about a year, give or take, and $60 will buy a brand-name pair that will confidently carry me through at least a year and a half or two years. I consider the extra time worth the money, but have never considered shopping for anything more expensive.

Likewise, really, with other types of shoes. I wear a lot of clogs and slip-on flats, because I’m already 5’9″ and don’t need much of a height boost, and because comfort wins over fashion every single time. I’ve branched into the sort of strapped, Mary-Jane type leather shoe over the past few years, because, why, the easier to show off the knitwear, my dear. But none of them climb above about $40 a pair, and I consider Payless, Famous Footwear, even Target to be acceptable shoe stores for my purposes.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. With the pregnancy, mixed in with an unhealthy dose of humidity and a job that has me sitting still at the computer for long stretches, I already have significant swelling around my ankles a lot of nights. Enough so that it can hurt to put on even the simplest of sandals. And I well remember, as time goes on, that it will only get harder to convince my feet to cram themselves into a pair of sneakers; even when I get them where they need to be, there’s still that hassle of tying them, which I’m generally able to avoid, unpregnant, because when my feet are predictably the same size every day, I can just leave them tied and treat them as slip-ons. Lazy, sure, but it works, since I don’t need them tightly and carefully laced for my marathon runs and exercise classes, you know?

So, ever since my pregnancy with Jacob, I have been in search of slip-on type sneakers, sometimes called “mules.” I look in every shoe store I visit, even if I’m not actively shopping for me, because I’ve never quite found what I want. And what I want is rather specific: I want them to look enough like regular sneakers that if I was wearing jeans, it wouldn’t be obvious they were backless. Not so much because of that specific look, but because that means they’re of a sturdier construction, with more arch support, etc. I do not like the fit of the thinner styles, the ones that are almost streamlined and aerodynamic in appearance – like these – because it hurts more to put on more form-fitting shoes, so I want something that’s, I don’t know, more structural or something.

And, blah, blah, blah, the point is, I’ve developed a very specific picture in my mind, of what I want – a friend of mine had a pair back in Keene, but that was five years ago and I didn’t ask where she bought them and we’ve fallen out of touch now – and can’t replicate it.

I did come close, though, last night. I found these, and they look like they would fit the bill. After several years of searching, this is no inconsequential find. But $120?? For shoes?!?

I just don’t know.

Ooh, stop press! These look like they would work, too… and within my normal price range… hmmm…


  1. Have you tried skechers?

    I have their ‘biker’ shoes, and they are super comfortable

  2. GET THE SHOES. When your feet hurt, everything else ends up hurting too. If you start favoring one side or the other for relief, or modify your gait to adjust, you’ll get pain in your back, too. Just what you need, right? Almost none of my work shoes cost less than $100 anymore.

    And yes, the New Balance ones would be good too. Order both and try them. Zappos pays shipping both ways. We loves them.

  3. Yep, I have found that my blogreaders are not the people to talk me out of an expensive shoe purchase! And I bet yours are no different.

    Get the shoes! I haven’t tried those Ecco’s, but I have some Merrell slip-ons like that, and they are grrrreat!

    Sorry to hear about your ankles!

  4. I was thinking Sketchers as soon as I read this…they also IMHO run a bit wider than most, but I have skis for feet…long and narrow! Seriously try a pair of Sketchers they were my favorite shoes when pregnant! I am considering their no-slip work line for nursing school this October.

  5. More Skechers:


    If you don’t like these I would absolutely but the ones $120 pair. Pregnancy comfort trumps finances every single time.

  6. I have a pair of Nikes that I bought several years ago that are similar to the New Balance ones. I’d say go for whatever is comfortable- I’ve found with clothes and with shoes, sometimes more expensive is worth it for the quality and the comfort. My more expensive pieces have lasted far longer than the cheaper and have stood up to more use.

  7. Here you go- same shoes, lower price! 🙂

    ps congrats on your pregnancy!

  8. I have 2 pair of Naot sandals that I paid around $130 each. I LOVE them. Look for Naot Montreal – they are slide sandals, but really, really cute. That’s the pair I wear most often.

  9. As someone who has grown a shoe size and half in the past few months, I am one happy girl to read these suggestions. I’ve got flip flops and one pair of maryjane style slip ons that still fit. Thanks to you and your commenters for the awesome suggestions!

  10. sad news after 5 1/2 years and 2 pregnancies one pair of my sketchers bit the dust today, I did get my money out of them though. 🙂

  11. Did your feet permanently change size with Emily and Jacob, or did they go back to normal afterwards? I regularly spend that much on shoes-my trade off is to have fewer pairs of shoes.

    I love my current Birkenstock sandals that were, yes, $120. I’ve also gotten years out of a pair of Born leather slides.

    Your feet are totally worth the $120!

  12. If you’ve been looking for a long time for the perfect shoes, then I think it’s okay to spend a lot when you find them. I justify +$100 for Birkenstocks because my feet love them more than any other shoes and I know they’ll last a long time (my oldest pair is almost 10 years old).

  13. Get the shoes that will be the most comfortable. I can almost guarantee that if you get the cheaper shoes, you will say to yourself, “I should have gotten the more expensive shoes,” at least once. Probably every day. You can go cheap on maternity clothes or whatever, but shoes are an investment in your sanity.

  14. I agree with almost everyone. I spend a lot of money on my feet in one big hit, but my shoes last forever (I’m still wearing a pair I bought 8 years ago). Spanish shoes are the way to go Kate. Try anything from Camper (but I just had a look at their latest season stuff and wasn’t overly impressed), or El Naturalilsta. You might even save a bit and pick up a couple of pairs in Paris, that will last you for the next 10 years (like I have done ;))

  15. I love the way Skechers look. But you know that ankle that’s plagued me all summer? done in on my first wearing of my first pair of Skechers =(

    You think $100 is bad? As we walked Carmel during Concours week a shoe designer outside his shop heard us speaking Spanish and started talking us up. Well, he had us pegged as he handed the sister purple and me emerald green leather sandals with Swarovski crystals. We both kind of looked at each other and I took the plunge. $285 in a little corner of the tag.

    If you can find ostrich-skin shoes, that’s been the best leather I’ve loved.

  16. I think around $100-$120 is a good price to pay for a pair of high quality shoes. If shoes are comfy, it’s so worth it–I’ll wear them for years, until the soles wear all the way through. Except for cheap Converse and Keds canvas shoe knockoffs, I haven’t had good luck with cheap shoes–they give me blisters or foot/knee/back pain.
    Check out for good deals. I believe they’re the discount branch of Zappos. And this blog has lots of tempting links:
    I’ve had good luck with these brands in the past: Merrell, Ecco, Dansko, Josef Siebel, Naot, Clarks

  17. So, wearing a size 11 as I do, I don’t always have the luxury of buying exactly what I want, exactly when I want it, because of the nature of having size 11 shoes.

    I often shop at DSW, for the combination it offers of nice shoes, a huge selection, discount prices, and a generous smattering of size 11’s thrown in their stash.

    The only shoes I’ve ever spent over $100 on are my running sneakers, which magically made the bit of knee pain I was having when I walked/ran disappear within a week, so they were definitely worth that expenditure.

    Otherwise, I am very, very happy to drop a little extra money on stylish, comfy shoes. I spent $80 on the Bjorn brand black slip-on shoes that I wear a ton throughout the winter because they look halfway stylish and they are oh-so-comfy. I also have a couple pair of gorgeous shoes from my working days that were like $70. Generally my upper limit price point is $50, but I will splurge for something that fits the bill PERFECTLY, only because for my big honkin’ feet, it’s not very often that shoes do fit the bill perfectly.

  18. Before I clicked on your last link there, I was already shouting at the computer, “New Balance!” Those exact ones. Check out TJMaxx or Marshalls first though, if you can. They sell them there for around $30 or less.

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