One little tweak can mean the difference between a pair of shoes that never makes it out of the closet and one that repeatedly hits the pavement.

By Yolanda Wikiel
Updated May 05, 2009
James Baigrie

Consult with a skilled cobbler to see if these modifications will work with a given style. (You can find a trained expert in your area at, the site of the Shoe Service Institute of America.)

  • Lower or raise the heels: Generally, a half inch higher or lower is the limit. But that’s enough to see and feel―a difference. Cost: $6 to $30.
  • Change the heels: Replace the heel blocks with a thicker or thinner shape. Cost: $25 to $100.
  • Dye the shoes: Leather and fabric dye best; don’t even bother with suede or man-made materials. Also, it’s only possible to go from light to dark. Cost: $23 to $45.
  • Add embellishments: Use your own decorations, like faux gemstones or grosgrain ribbon, and attach them to the toes. Cost: $5 to $50.
  • Convert knee-high boots to ankle booties: Different factors, like the presence of a lining or zippers, can increase the price. Cost: $20 to $150.
  • Alter the toes: Make pointy toes round or create peep-toes out of closed shoes. Cost: $25 to $95.
  • Add or remove straps: Create a Mary Jane or ankle-strap look from pumps or flats―or make pumps or flats out of Mary Janes or ankle-strap shoes. Cost: $6 to $40 or even higher if matching straps need to be made.