Growing up with little money is difficult. Families are forced to cut corners wherever possible, and fashion is typically one of the first things to go, and it’s an easy decision to make when the choice is between fashion and food/shelter. But when the latter concerns are no longer pressing, it can be valuable to shift the way we think about how we purchase clothes and consider other characteristics more than price.
While shopping with friends who grew up poor and/or working class like I did but have been fortunate enough to achieve a modicum of upward mobility, I’ve realized how difficult it is to convince them that spending relatively large amounts of money on individual clothing items, particularly shoes in this case, is not only excusable and are smart fashion decisions but are also prudent long-term financial decisions. To that end, I’ve put together this list of reasons why it’s better, both from a style and financial perspective, to purchase a few pair of relatively expensive shoes (if you can afford the cost upfront) rather than an endless supply of cheap shoes.
1) They simply look better
Of course this varies, but shoes that cost a bit more are typically made from higher quality materials, even something as simple as real leather, that give them a better look than cheaper shoes.
2) They are more comfortable
Higher quality materials also give the shoes a better feel and make them more comfortable. A common complaint of casual and dress shoes is that they are uncomfortable (a complaint which leads to that horrid suit+sneakers combination), but more expensive shoes are often more comfortable, or at least have more comfortable options. For example, Cole Haan has introduced a flexible sole technology to its shoes to make them more comfortable.
3) They come in colors
Men’s shoe sections are too often dominated by an unfortunate combination of blacks, browns, and navy, with little variation in color outside of a few cheap looking shoes that look like they’ve been bathed in highlighter ink. Some designers do men’s color well, but it comes at an increased financial cost. But it’s definitely worth it to get a well-rounded orange, burgundy, or purple shoe that doesn’t look cheesy and childish.
4) They are more durable
There is nothing worse than watching two pleather sections of your shoes slowly separate as the glue loses its strength. Heels coming off, insoles becoming compressed. Not good. But these concerns are eliminated or, at least, severely diminished when dealing with shoes with better construction. But everything wears out eventually so even when your new high quality shoes begin to show their age…
5) They can be refurbished
All shoes age, and even the most well-constructed, durable shoes will eventually show wear. But rather than throwing them away, some more expensive shoes can be completely restored, including having the heels, soles, and insoles replaced and the uppers restored to their original look. You can have a shoe repair shop do this or some designers even allow you to send the shoes directly back to the company. It costs less than purchasing a new shoe and makes the shoes a lifetime purchase rather than a set of essentially disposable footwear.
(Be sure to check the basics page for information on how to care for the nice shoes that you will certainly now go purchase.)