Frugal Feet

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Shoes are a weakness for many women. It's easy to spend a fortune on a closet full of shoes, but it's very impractical. Instead, try to make wise decisions when purchasing shoes and avoid buying "cute" shoes for that reason only.


All Year Wear

For those who live in seasonal climate, getting year-round wear from clothes is difficult. Shoes can help with that. A pair of boots (fashion not snow) can be worn during most of the winter, but limit themselves to that season. However, they're a very versatile style of footwear. First off, they can be worn with a variety of outfits, giving them solid wear during the winter months. A plus is that they can help to adapt other outfits for year-round wear. Wear boots with a knee-length skirt to take it from fall to winter. Take an ankle-length skirt from a summer sandal outfit to a winter riding skirt look with a pair of boots.

Mules are diverse shoes for areas that have varying weather throughout the year. In winter, add patterned trouser socks to mules to make nice cool weather shoes. In spring they make the perfect transition shoe, open yet closed. Then, in summer wear them with toe stockings only and they look great - a versatile year-round shoe style.


Avoid strappy and open-toe shoes. These are only useful during warm weather months and may not get year-round wear.

Color Combinations

Shoes don't have to be black, though that makes them more diverse. A basic black pair can never be wrong. However, it may not add the fashion that one desires.

Contrary to what most learned growing up, a lightly patterned shoe or a vibrantly colored shoe can be worn with a variety of outfits. In fact, it adds punch and style to an outfit to wear a shoe of unexpected color. Red shoes really dress up denim. When paired with a red outfit, they look sleek, but when worn with navy blue they add unexpected style.

Similarly, a colorful combination can make a plain outfit into something special. A plain salmon sweater and tan pants looks stunning when paired with a patterned yellow or green shoe. Gold or silver shoes are equivalent to a neutral color with the exception that they add pizazz where the neutral black will not.


Avoid colors that must coordinate with selected outfits. While this looks put-together, it won't help your budget to fill your closet with a pair of shoes for each outfit.

Comfort is Priceless

No matter how good they look or what a great deal you found, shoes that are not comfortable aren't worth a dime. Feet are crucial to maintain overall body energy. Only purchase well-made shoes, and learn the brands that fit you well. Shoes should be comfortable from the beginning and shouldn't need to be "broken in."

However, no matter what brand and what fit, consider slipping an insert into your new shoes. Dr. Scholl's makes gel inserts for high heels that offer additional arch support. Often shoe insoles loose their cushioning with normal wear, and gel insoles add a wonderful feeling to tired feet. They cost between $5-$10, but they're worth it. Inserts are available for the ball of the heel, the heel itself, or the entire foot. Most are unnoticeable in open shoes, and their clear color keeps them modest.


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June 17, 20090 found this helpful

Don't forget thrift stores and garage sales. I have found brand new $75.00 leather shoes for $5.00 several times. Also dress shoes worn once for a wedding for about 50 cents. I hardly ever shop retail anymore for shoes and dress clothes. They are usually worn once and discarded to a sale or thrift store.

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June 17, 20090 found this helpful

Great post! I love shoes, but only since the past few years. I buy expensive shoes but only when on sale. I don't have to throw them out every year (i am hard on my shoes) and they are better for my feet than the cheap brands. I have found which brands suit me best and I agree with the gel insoles...they are great.


Another thing to remember is to keep leather shoes/boots well polished/protected for longer wear.

Also, having more than one pair per type of shoe (say, two pairs of black heals...) is better since you won't wear them out so quickly. I change my footwear almost daily right now, which means my shoes don't get worn as much and will last longer.

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June 18, 20090 found this helpful

Great article, only wish I'd known years sooner about the "not worth a dime" if they look great but aren't comfortable-- back in the day when I was on my feet in heels for 10 hour stints over 25+ years for the sake of fashion, :)

Am semi-retired now and in a tropical climate. Guess who's got more shoes now? The hubby.

I work at home on the computer--and you'd better believe! Shoes? Learned to hate 'em here.

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June 18, 20090 found this helpful

Another tip - WATCH SIZES - less expensive oriental-made shoes may run SMALL - so don't just pick up your usual size- try them on. I have sizes from 6 to 9! (my size is actually 7 1/2M) Also, some shoes if leather and unlined will stretch - so you can buy them snug and they will expand to fit nicely.


(I bought a bargain pr. of Topsiders in 7M after getting another in 8, because I knew they would eventually fit nicely!) If you want to wear pads, remember that they take up space in a show, so you may want to go a bit bigger in size to accommodate that.

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