Tell me the differences between cheap shoes, and expensive shoes.

My wife likes shoes, but she is also cheap.

In general, she doesn’t like to spend more than 30-40 bucks on a pair of heels. Needless to say, Burlington Coat Factory and other discount clothiers are a favorite place to pick up her beloved 4 inch heels.

That being said, her sister is trying to talk he into buying a $150 pair of heels. They are quite lovely, but my wife is insisting that it’s insane to spend that kind of money on shoes. I tend to agree, but I’m biased.

This is the same sister that insisted on Doc Martin’s that looked EXACTLY like combat boots for 3x the price of combat boots, and sneered at my suggestion she should maybe just get some combat boots… “Made by the lowest bidder? I’ll take quality, thanks.”

So, is there any qualitative difference between the $25 shoes at Shoes R Us and the $200 shoes at Los Pantalones Fancie? Would the expensive shoes feel like sliding into a silk purse, vs. the sows ears she currently wears?

There can be a huge difference for certain categories of shoes but I don’t think it applies to heels very much. Women’s shoes, especially heels, are meant to be cheap and not so great quality because women tend to accumulate a ton of them and stop wearing a given pair as soon as the whim strikes. I wouldn’t be too happy spending a lot of money on most women’s fashion shoes for that reason, especially heels. I think your SIL is just being a fashionista and spending too much because she thinks it helps identify her. She probably likes overpriced handbags as well and lots of other women do too.

Mean’s shoes are a different story. Most men only have a few pair and a well made pair of leather shoes can last decades if not a lifetime especially if they are high enough quality to resole. A few companies like Allen Edmonds make shoes of that quality using high quality leather uppers that last forever. They cost hundreds of dollars a pair but they can be resoled for a fraction of that so the lifetime ownership cost of those over a mid-tier brand like Timberland is favorable.

In my experience, the difference comes down to 3 to 5 years of wear.

Yes there is a difference. Comfort, fit, quality of materials, care in manufacture…if it goes on your feet and will get substantial mileage, spring for the more expensive ones. You won’t be sorry.

What silenus. I wear Allen Edmonds shoes, and they fit like a comfy house slipper, last forever (I’ve one pair I wear regularly that I’ve had for over 17 years now) and at the end of a 15 hour day on my feet, my dogs ain’t barking.

Affordable heels are perfectly adequate for the average person. Cheaper shoes are generally less durable than more expensive ones, but heels are intended to be more decorative than they are to take heavy punishment. Heel fashion changes so much that long-term durability is immaterial, unless she’s buying a shoe she would actually want to continue wearing 5 years from now. There’s no reason she can’t try on the expensive heel to get a feel for it, but I don’t think it really matters.

Enter my soapbox: High heels are going to harm your feet equally, no matter who makes them. There is no such thing as a safe, comfortable 4-inch heel. You can get USED to wearing high heels (much like women in ancient China got used to binding their feet), but there is no way to make a high heeled shoe comfortable like there is for flats or athletic shoes.


Wha??? As an all-the-time heel wearer, this is completely wrong. Shagnasty, how many hours have you spent in heels??

There’s a huge comfort and quality difference between cheapo shoes and expensive shoes. I don’t know where the OP lives, but $150 is nothing for a pair of heels… generally mine cost about that much on sale, if I do my homework, but I’ve spent up to $1300 on a pair and the difference is in the details.

Expensive shoes are made of better quality materials, the leather will form to your feet and absorb sweat better, they will not give you blisters even if they feel tight, they will last longer without scuffing or coming apart, they will be more balanced and easier to walk in.

But the main reason I go high-end is because you actually CAN spend all night in them and not kill your feet. Wearing 4" heels all night isn’t like wearing sneakers, but even the wrong sneakers can hurt your feet. I’ve found that I get tired of standing in my nice heels, but I rarely find myself saying, “these shoes are killing me”. In cheapy shoes, you hit a point where your feet just can’t take it anymore.

Of course, the trick to buying expensive shoes is to buy more classic styles first and go from there. They WILL last you for a decade if you treat them kindly, so it’s important to avoid weird colors or a-la-mode styles that will be passe by next year… unless you have the budget for it, in which case, have at!

Then again, I hold the shopping philosophy that less items that are more expensive > more items of lesser quality. If your wife prefers the quantity > quality approach, and she will get more pleasure out of 10 pairs of different-colored trendy shoes than 2 pairs of more classic shoes, then she is making the right decision by buying the cheap ones.

It’s also possible that she was born with feet that are just as happy in cheaper heels, in which case, she’s luckier than the rest of us!

:confused: WTF??

Well I’m glad I’m not the only one who read that and went Bwah?

A $30 pair of heels will kill your feet in no time flat. The $400 pair of 4 inch heels I wore to work yesterday were comfortable for the entire day. I’ve also had them for about ages and they still look fantastic.

There’s a huge difference in quality, workmanship, materials and comfort between cheap shoes and more expensive choices. I will admit that there’s not a huge amount of difference between a $200 pair and a $400 pair, although there is some.

To kind of piggy back on this: Has anyone ever heard of Nunn-Bush brand shoes? Are they any good as far as wear and stuff? I just bought a pair on sale at the locally owned menswear store. They fit and feel good, but I’ve never heard of the brand. I assume they are good as this store doesn’t seem to sell junk. For example, a couple of the other shoe brands they had were Red Wing, Rockport and Florsheim.

I wore Nunn Bush shoes back in the day. They aren’t Allen-Edmonds, but they’re not a cheapo brand, either.

There’s probably not that much of a difference today. But 4 or 5 years from now, the expensive shoes will be just as comfortable as they are now, while the cheap shoes will have worn out and been replaced twice.

RE: Docs, they really do last a long time. My current pair is my favorite pair of boots, and they are almost a decade old - and I wear them a lot. I paid about $140 for them, which is not that much for boots anyway, but spread out over that much time? I think it’s worth it.

The most I’ve ever spent for heels was around $120, but even those seemed more comfortable than the cheap ones at Payless or Target. (And don’t get me wrong, I buy a lot of shoes at Target.) I think it just depends on your shoe priorities.

The Danskos I bought used on ebay for fifty bucks are definitely much better than the cheap shit I’ve bought new at Payless just to wear over a single summer. Far more comfortable and more durable.

There isn’t a difference. 150 are the 25 shoes marked up. If she wants a good pair of shoes that will last her her whole life she has to spend at least 500 dollars on a pair of Manolos or Louboutins. I agree with your wife. If you’re noting to go for real good shoes, don’t waste money on the 150 pairs. They aren’t much different. Your sister only thinks that because she’s never had the good stuff.


Now in high end woman’s shoes we have two options:
Paying for style/name
Paying for quality.

I think it’s crazy to pay $150 for a name. But my SO is now addicted to Clarkes and she now admits that spending $100 on a pair of walking/work shoes does makes sense in the long run. They last longer and the comfort is great.
Shop ebay for high end, “worn once’ shoes at discounts up to 90%.

I can get Clarkes, Mephisto, Alden, etc.

IIRC Timberland were a top quality brand until the late eighties, when they became fashionable.

A few differences (men’s shoes):
-cheap shoes have the soles glued to the uppers-get them wet, the shoes are ruined
-cheap shoes use “split” leather )the hide is cut in half)-split leather isn’t as strong and wears out fast
-cheap shoes fit poorly, and are less comfortable
The main difference-you buy good quality shoes, they will last for decades (you can have them resoled). Cheap shoes: once worn out, you toss them…and buy another pair.

Not all expensive shoes are going to be well made and durable, but all durable and well made shoes are going to be on the pricey side.

Heels can be made to be reasonably comfortable, but it’s an act of engineering to do so, and that’s not cheap. In good heels, the leather cleverly distributes the pressure, so that your entire food is playing a role in supporting you. Think about how a backpack with a hip belt and sternum strap is much easier to carry because it leverages the forces of your entire torso. But making a balanced shoe takes good materials, and understanding of design, and complex cuts. Cheap heels often don’t bother, and all of the pressure ends up on your toes. It’s much like a backpack that just hangs off your shoulder. You are quite likely to become strained and fatigued quickly. It’s the difference between spending the day carrying 50 lbs in a hiking backpack and spending it with 50 lbs in a Jansport.

More expensive shoes are usually made with more durable techniques, such as sewn-on soles rather than glued ones. They are also often designed to be repairable. Usually you can replace the heel tap and sole, and leather can be stretched to adjust the fit. Cheaper shoes usually are harder to repair, and are made out of materials (especially plastics) that cannot be reconditioned or maintained. Think about couches- a leather couch can be maintained and restored, but a vinyl one is garbage as soon as it starts getting ratty.

Wether or not that is worth it to you is going to depend on how you manage your shoes. Some women consider shoes to be like costume jewelry, and prefer a larger amount of more specialized pairs that they will wear for shorter periods of time. Cheaper shoes are often good for this- they tend to be more interesting looking, and chances are you won’t be wearing your yellow feathered platform pumps for hours on end.

Others consider shoes to be more of a basic foundation, and tend to wear the same few pairs day in and day out. I’m one of these- 90% of the time i’m wearing a pair of brown heels, a pair of black heels, or a pair of tall boots, and I’ll repair them each year until I’ve worn them into the ground. Whenever I buy costume shoes, I end up not wearing them because what I really need is something I can walk in.

And frankly, it can be tough to find balance. My goal for shoes is that I want to be able to wear them to work, wear them to happy hour after, and walk home from happy hour in them. It’s a rare thing to actually find shoes that fit the bill, and if you do find them it’s basically worth any amoung of money.

I find the scales tip at $60-120; these heels are MUCH different and vastly better than $25-50 heels.

$100 heels are not different than $400 heels, in my experience. I should also add that I don’t go above 3".

What you’re getting at that 60-120$ range is stability, real leather, good soles and decent support.

I don’t find a difference between $50 Asics and $150 Asics. But I can’t wear knock off sneakers either.

Back when I wore heels all the time, there were the pumps I wore for work at a large stuffy bank - those were 3 inches or under and had sport insoles and retailed around $200. I had only bought 4 pair of those kind by the end of my 8 year career there, and none of them showed signs of wear. They were comfortable for walking both from the commuter trains and around work, which was a large multi-storied complex in three different downtown high rises. A LOT of walking and standing happened in those shoes.

For going out and “fashion” I would certainly buy Payless shoes and the like. I never expected them to either be comfortable or last more than one season.

As I’ve gotten older and caring less about being trendy and just wanting classic looks, I tend to buy pricier shoes on closeout. While I might not pay more than $50 for running shoes, they’re the ones that retail for $120 or more. The two pair of “dressy” shoes I have (1 pumps, 1 boots) retailed for $225 and I got each for under $100 on closeout. I expect it to be many years before I’ll need to replace them, but that’s also my attitude toward shoes these days. Few pair but quality among them. My feet just don’t tolerate cheapie shoes any more, though I still window shop them and drool.