New York's fashion week is wrapping up and spring is just around the corner. It is time to think about shoes—in a sensible way, of course. Here are some ways to find fancy footwear on a shoestring budget.
Hit Up Your Local Cobbler
A recessionista rule to live by is to always shop in your closet before hitting up the register. Gather up your old heels that may have gotten bruised or scraped over the years, and revitalize them with help from your local shoe repair shop. It may cost as little as $5 or $10 to breathe new life into last spring’s worn out open toe wedges. A secret savings tip: Use cash and ask for a discount. Smaller merchants despise processing credit cards since they have to pay the bank a 2 to 3% “interchange” fee for each transaction, which can really take a bite out of business. Offer to pay with cash and ask for a 10% discount in return for the favor.
We love the web because it lets us comparison shop at home, saving precious time and gas. As a precautionary note, buying shoes online is best if you know your shoe size by designer, since a size 7 from Michael Kors may not fit the same as a pair of 7s by Steve Madden (Stock Quote: SHOO). Still, there are web sites like Zappos.com, PiperLime.com (Stock Quote: GPS), ShoeBuy.com and RevolveClothing.com, which offer free shipping and returns on all items, in case your purchase doesn’t size up. For more discounted designer labels, check out DSW.com, the site for Designer Shoe Warehouse, which is currently offering free shipping with a $25 purchase. Styles there can go for 30 to 40% off retail prices. BlueFly.com, which also stocks upscale labels, is having a pre-spring sale with shoes marked down an extra 15%.
Boots on a Budget
AldoShoes.com is currently knocking 50% off all sale boots, with free shipping on all orders more than $80. NineWest.com says it is taking another 20% off already reduced boots and booties. And if you’re in the market for the uber-popular Hunter rain boots, discount shoe and accessory retailer 6pm.com has some going for $50 a pair, down from $145. Some advice: At this point in the season, avoid over-the-top styles that you’ll regret buying next winter. Stick with black or brown and boots that have a medium-sized heel.
My most prized pair of pumps hails from a small consignment shop in Chestnut Hill, Penn.. There, I snagged a pair of “Mr. Seymour” (aka Stuart Weitzman, circa 1960s) satin peep toes with lace overlay. I discovered them on the mannequin in the display window and literally shrieked. I paid $45. I ran into Stuart Weitzman one day, mentioned the shoes and he recalled them as being one of the company’s top selling heels back in the 60s, when his father ran the business. Today, they’d probably retail for around $300. Consignment shops are actually booming right now with a flood of good quality merchandise dropped off by owners who’ve decided to part from their Prada pumps in exchange for cash.
—Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 7.