Want nice shoes -- and don't want to spend a lot of money for them? Follow the three rules of eco-shoe shopping: 1) Buy pre-loved, 2) Go for quality, and 3) Make them last. I haven't paid full price for nice loafers and high heels in years -- but I still get compliments on my Prada loafers. Here's how:
1. Buy pre-loved. Since I’ve got a whole bunch of resale and consignment stores near me, I spend an afternoon hitting all of them in a row when I, say, need a new pair of brown heels. Yes, it’s good to shop with a plan — or else you’ll end up carting home a bunch of pretty shoes you don’t really need! This method helped me find a pretty pair of brown slingbacks at a consignment store near me.
If none of the stores have what I’m looking for, I set up a very specific search on eBay for the type and size of pre-loved shoes of my desire. EBay then e-mails me a list of results every day, and once what I need turns up in my inbox, I put in my bid. That’s how I got a very gently worn pair of BCBG black leather heels for $24.99!
2. Go for quality. Cheap synthetic pleather shoes may look cute on display shelves, but start looking grungy really fast once you walk around in them. Whether you shop new or used, look for well-made shoes crafted with quality materials.
A lot of my dressier shoes tend to come from high-end designer brands that use high-quality leather, simply because I can make these last for decades. Just make sure you pick practical colors — lime green stilettos just don’t go with a lot of different outfits — in styles that will work with a good chunk of your closet.
3. Make them last. Sedler’s Shoe Repair isn’t glamorous, but it’s practical. This is where I take all my loafers and heels to get resoled and reheeled — and polished and unscuffed too. For just a few dollars, I get new-again shoes! Plus I feel good about supporting a local business that is focused on helping people reuse.
For those with DIY skills, shoe care can be done at home. Planet Shoes offers some options for both homemade and greener store-bought leather care products, while Ethical Style recommends some more conventional leather polish options. I haven’t tried any of these myself simply because Sedler’s will polish my shoes for me whenever I go in for reheeling — which is quite often, because I walk a lot — but frequent shoe-scuffers may save a few bucks by self-polishing.
Last but not least — buy fewer shoes! Quality, well-cared for shoes will get you compliments every time you wear them; relatively new but already scruffy looking cheapies will not.
Got eco-shoe shopping tips of your own? Share them in the comments.
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