Whether you’re about to buy a new pair of heels or want to invest in long-lasting boots, shopping for quality shoes can be challenging. We have to bear many things in mind to purchase items that look great and stand the test of time. From deciding on the materials to checking the details, buying new shoes needs our full attention. But it is worth spending a few extra minutes when looking for shoes we’ll never want to take off.
Decide on Your Preferred Materials
Shoes are made from natural or man-made materials or a combination of both. Examples of natural materials are leather, fabrics from natural fibers like cotton, or natural rubber. Synthetic materials are used to replace leather (faux leather, vegan leather), textiles, and rubber or to add comfort (e.g., PU foams to increase shock absorption in sneakers).
All materials have their pros and cons. For instance, vegan leather is animal friendly but, as a man-made material, not necessarily environmentally friendly. But I know that there’s an increasing number of manufacturers who try to get both goals aligned. High-quality leather, on the other hand, is very soft, comfortable, and absorbs moisture. However, it is also sensitive to rain and sun, thus needs to be protected and treated well.
What materials you prefer for your shoes depends on your preferences and values.
Tip: If you’re unsure how to spot quality leather, check for tiny scratches on the shoe’s surface. When they appear in the same color and not lighter or darker, the leather has been tanned properly. This means you’ll be able to fix small scuff marks only with a little bit of transparent shoe cream.
Check the Shoes’ Construction
Usually, the upper part and the sole of a shoe are made separately. The sole has to be properly attached to the upper part for a durable result. You can see whether this has been done well by checking the following:
- When the shoe is stitched: Look if the stitching is done accurately. The stitches should be placed evenly, and there shouldn’t be any loose threads. Also, check if the threads are waxed for water resistance.
- When the shoe is glued: Examine the entire shoe from heel to toe. Check that there’s no glue visible on the surface. If there is, it’s an unmistakable sign of low quality.
But don’t only check the outside of the shoe. The inside can tell you a lot about how well they are made. Good shoes are fully lined. If the lining is only partly done, it’s another sign that quality wasn’t the highest priority in the production process.
Tip: When it comes to flat shoes, like ballerinas, remember that our feet are not perfectly flat, and therefore require some support. So ideally, there is a cushion to support the natural arch of the foot. If not, consider buying an inlay that makes your flats more comfortable.
Check Heels and Soles
Finally, pay attention to the sole. There are two common types of soles: leather and (synthetic) rubber. Leather soles are fragile and can get damaged quickly, as they absorb everything you step on. Rubber soles are less slippery and can be replaced easily. It’s a question of personal preference what you choose.
Tip: Always get the soles of your shoes replaced well before they are entirely run down. By this, you protect your shoes and increase their longevity.
When purchasing shoes that have heels, examine them carefully. The higher the shoe is, the more important it is that the heel has been placed correctly. It should be below your natural heel (in the middle) and not placed at the outer corner of your shoe. Only then your heels will give you the right support.
Tip: Always shop for shoes later in the day. Then your feet are usually a bit swollen, so you know your new shoes will also fit you at the end of a long day.
And there you have it. These are my tips on what to check when buying quality shoes.
More Tips for Buying and Maintaining High-Quality Clothing
Know What You Want Before You Go Shopping
Before you even enter a store, know what you are looking for. If you need help deciding what to buy, check out this comprehensive post:
When your goal is to add some hardworking staples to your wardrobe, you probably want to get the best quality possible. So this is definitely the right time to apply the above tips.
Become a Shopping Pro
- Shop smart – based on a wardrobe wishlist
- Learn how to become a mindful shopper
- Practice how to spot quality also when buying quality clothes
Commit to Take Care of The Item – Before Buying It
Always read the care instructions before making a purchase. Ask yourself if you’re prepared to invest the time and effort in maintaining the item. If not, put it back on the rack. If yes, my wardrobe maintenance articles can be helpful:
- 7 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Clothes
- How to Take Care of Luxury Fabrics
- Laundry Symbols Explained
And not to forget, here’s how to take care of your quality shoes:
Store Your Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories Properly
A rule of thumb is that knitted items should be folded, shirts, skirts, and blazers hung. Use suitable hangers, so they don’t lose shape. When you have an open, walk-in closet, use garment bags to protect your clothes from dust and sunlight. Just like you would store your handbags and delicate shoes in a dust bag. Find more tips here:
Shopping for quality shoes and clothes requires time and patience. Be prepared that you might leave a shop empty-handed or spend twice as long as you planned on looking for a new pair of shoes or piece of clothing. However, if you follow the above instructions, chances are you find items you love and enjoy longer than just a couple of wears. And this not only supports you in building a curated wardrobe but also to smoothly transition into slow fashion.
I truly believe investing in quality means investing in YOURSELF!
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How do you get on with these shopping tips for quality shoes? Is there anything missing? Let me know!