How to Save on Shoes and Boots

These thrifty pointers on shopping and caring for footwear are sure to put a spring in your step.

  • Karen Cheney
Conduct a quality check. Before buying, examine where the sole meets the upper; you shouldn’t see glue or loose stitching, says Meghan Cleary, editor of the shoe blog MissMeghan.com. “You also don’t want to see bumps, loose threads, or awkward construction where two pieces of leather or fabric meet,” she says. Next, look for discoloration or unevenness in the material, whether leather or man-made, as it will only get worse with time. Finally, make sure the heels don’t wobble.

Scrimp on... Shoes that don’t require a lot of construction (rain boots, flip-flops) and trend pieces that you won’t wear next season.

Shop the best sales. Cleary likes Bergdorf Goodman’s end-of-season clearances (bergdorfgoodman.com). Joyce Chang, editor of Shoeblog.com, recommends Saks (saks.com). For year-round bargains, try outnet.com, yoox.com, 6pm.com, and shoebuy.com.

Give ’em a rest. Avoid wearing the same good leather shoes two days in a row. Perspiration can take 24 hours to dry, and that moisture, along with the bacteria in sweat, can damage leather, says Eileen Lewis, director of fashion strategies for e-retailer Zappos.com. You have more leeway with shoes made of a synthetic material, like sneakers.

Expand your options. A cobbler can stretch the width of shoes for about $10 and boots for around $18, but the length is tougher. Boot calves can be stretched, for about $40, or have elastic panels inserted, starting at $90―just in case tight ones are on sale. (Who can resist?)