Ask The Readers | Where Can I Buy High Quality Shoes?

by Kristen on March 24, 2014 · 90 comments

in Ask The Readers

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

Usually I answer the questions you all send in for the Q&A feature, but this week’s question is one I’m not really well qualified to answer, and I’m hoping that you can help me and my reader out!


Like you, I like to invest in high quality items that will last a long time. Previously, I’ve always bought cheap shoes, but I want to invest in higher quality ones. However, I’m not sure where to look–there are a lot of cheaply made shoes out there! Do you have any ideas?

Thanks!

Alexis

I’m so glad you wrote in to ask about this because I’ve been wondering the same thing. My cheap black flats bit the dust recently (after a sole repair), and now I’m wanting to buy a high-quality pair made of real leather, but I’m not sure where to go.

worn out flats

It’s not terribly difficult to buy decently-constructed athletic shoes, but when it comes to dressy or semi-dressy shoes, I’m a little more lost.

A reader sent me a link to Unshoes, a company that makes minimalist footwear right here in the U.S., and I’m considering purchasing this pair, (which look like they are stylish enough to wear with jeans or maybe a casual summer skirt.)

But of course, even if those meet all my summer needs, they’re not going to work in January. ;)

I also poked through this great list of American-made shoes, but I didn’t see any good leather flat options.  These ones from Bali look sort of promising, though.  And these leather ballet flats from Clarks also look like they might be good.

I’m willing to pay more for shoes if they’re made really well or if they’re fair trade or if they’re made in the U.S. I am not willing to fork over $500 for a pair of shoes (!) just because they’re Jimmy Choos.

Also, shallow as this may be, I’m not really super willing to compromise on style…I’d like to wear shoes that look stylish and that will last.

So, dear readers! Please help me and Alexis out.  Where do you go to buy high-quality, stylish shoes (especially flats) that will last?

Leave a Comment

{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda March 24, 2014 at 8:09 am

Soft Star Shoes are made in America. They have cute styles as well as offering ballet flats. I have three pairs and love them! They wear very well.

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2 Linda March 24, 2014 at 8:19 am

Nordstrom Rack
Also Macy’s end of season clearance rack which is great mid to late Feb and late August for Summer styles

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3 Susan March 24, 2014 at 8:24 am

J. Crew. The ballet flats I have from them say Made in Italy, so not made in US, but they are sturdy. I’ve worn them almost every day during warm weather (hate flip flops) for 3 yrs and they are still good.

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4 Heidi March 24, 2014 at 10:51 am

I also bought a pair of ballet flats from J Crew after my 20+ year-old Capezios could no longer be repaired. If you watch their website, they occasionally reduce them (got mine around Christmas last year). So far I am pleased with them. Kristen, I do agree that it is sometimes more frugal to spend more on shoes that can be repaired!

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5 Renee @ FeedingOurLives.com March 24, 2014 at 8:26 am

I like to buy my shoes at stores have 100% product guarantees. For example, REI and LLBean promise that their products will be of high quality and stands behind that promise with a 100% product guarantee. In my mind, this promise gives me peace of mind that the company has already sifted out and found the brands that will last a long time.

I just went and did a quick search at REI and found quite a few very cute shoes! http://www.rei.com/c/womens-footwear?pagesize=90&ir=category%3Awomens-footwear&r=category%3Afootwear%7Cwomens-footwear%3Bbest-use%3ACasual&rx=true

Of course, you won’t be finding any dressy heels here, but there are plenty of shoes to wear with cute skirts!
-Renee

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6 Kristin March 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

I really enjoy my LL Bean comfort mocs. They are comfortable and well made – but look nothing like flats. I wear them both for work and in casual situations with jeans or pants. Not made in the U.S. though. I’ve worn them *a lot* for about four years now and they have held up well. I know LL Bean does sell flats, too.

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7 rosie March 24, 2014 at 8:33 am

My husband and I really love Cole Haan shoes – they are a little pricey, but last forever, and they have a line of shoes (heels included!) that have Nike air insoles, so they are super comfy. sometimes you can catch a great sale or outlet find, and snag a pair for <$100.

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8 Amber March 24, 2014 at 11:05 am

I second the Cole Haan shoes! We are lucky to have an outlet nearby, which often runs sales. Also, you can sometimes find a good pair on the clearance rack at your local department store. I swear by their Nike Air ballet flats.

Amazon.com will also often run apparel discounts (using a coupon code) that can be applied to shoes. I bought my riding boots this way and saved 50% off the retail price.

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9 Sara March 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I will “third” the Cole Haan shoes. It’s all that I will buy anymore because they are durable, stylish, and have nike airsoles built into the flats.

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10 Kori March 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I completely agree with the Cole Haan recommendation! I have two pairs that I wear constantly (Air Talia Open Toe Wedge and the Air Talia Lace Wedge), and they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. They’re also really durable and go with pretty much everything. Bonus is that they’re cute!

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11 Rachel March 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Agreeing with this! I have the Air Violet heels (which sadly I think t hey don’t make anymore?) and they were a huge splurge but they are the most comfortable, beautiful heels I’ve ever owned!

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12 Walnut March 31, 2014 at 7:59 am

Another positive plug for Cole Haan. I find mine on discount from the local outlet, Amazon, Nordstrom Rack and (surprisingly) Neiman Marcus. I just purchased a pair of classic black heels for 65% off retail!!

I can safely assure that a pair of their flats get 15 hours of daily wear from me and are still going strong after a year.

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13 Amy O March 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

Zappos has a lot of shoes for decent prices – and free shipping both ways if you need to return them.

I also just got some Born sandals online at the 6 p.m. website – really good closeout deals. Free shipping to you (but you have to pay to ship them back if they don’t work.)

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14 sydney March 24, 2014 at 9:41 am

Good ideas Amy! I just wanted to throw in my two cents that I bought the last pair of a certain kind of Frye boots on 6pm dot com, and when I got them they didn’t fit, and 6pm refused to let me return them. I do love that web site; they have lots of great deals, but buyer beware.

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15 Diane March 24, 2014 at 8:46 am

I’ve always wanted to order from this company:

http://www.aurorashoeco.com/

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16 Kelly March 24, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Me too!

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17 Alyssa March 26, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I love my Auroras! I wear a few of their styles but love my black new Chinese the most. Mine are 15 years old and look and feel great. They form around your feet so they feel like gloves. They also re-sole, though I have not needed it. Money well spent!

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18 Sloan March 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

Check out the blog The Art of Simple. She has an ethical shopping guide on her blog and there are lists of places to buy certain things. http://theartofsimple.net/shopping/

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19 Kelly March 25, 2014 at 12:47 am

Thank you! This is a great reference.

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20 Kat H. March 24, 2014 at 8:52 am

I’m fond of Merrell. At least for casual shoes as they don’t have anything dressy.

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21 Susan K March 24, 2014 at 8:58 am

The best shoes I have ever had were Ecco brand. They were on the sake rack at Nordstrom, and were still not cheap ($90 if I recall), but have been my go to summer shoe for 18 years now. They are just now showing wear where the upper meets the sole.

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22 Carol March 24, 2014 at 9:07 am

I swear by my SAS shoes. Made in Texas. Super comfy. Kinda sensible looking, but they wear well.

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23 gail March 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

Yes, SAS…but Kristen wants style, too, being a mom and not a grandma, so I am not sure she would agree. SAS is all I wear and have worn for years (pre-grandma) because of foot pain and standing all day teaching.
Kristen, if you have a Dillard’s there, their shoe dept. is huge and has a wide range from ugly comfort to pretty comfy and cute.

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24 Nancy from Mass March 24, 2014 at 9:11 am

Clarks are fantastic shoes and they last quite a while. i have a pair of flats that i wear for work and they are about 4 years old. you would hardly know i’ve worn them.
I also like Born (have a pair of leather clogs that i bought from Zappos for $25! about 8 years ago) they wear well also. Ecco, Merrill and LLBean also have good shoes that they stand behind.
check out Nordstrom Rack online, Zappos and the Clarks outlets. i bought Clarks boots at the outlet for $40 a couple of years ago. (just ankle high boots, but very nice).

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25 Tami March 24, 2014 at 9:48 am

I have not personally owned but Clarks are the only shoes that my father and brother wear. They love them for comfort, durability, and style.

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26 ann a March 25, 2014 at 8:30 am

I like Clark’s a lot. I will buy flats or sandals at Walmart or target now and then, but when I need “new shoes”–a good pair of shoes to wear to work–I look for Clark’s. The backless shoes, which they seem to have a lot of, don’t work for my feet, but I have had two pairs of Clark’s that gave me a lot of years. I had a pair of Mary Janes that were adorable and that I wore with shorts, jeans, skirts, slacks, and dresses. Those finally pooped out, but man did I get my money’s worth. The pair I have now are only good for jeans and slacks, but I wear them most days of the week. Also, I’ve always gotten compliments on my Clark’s shoes. They feel like athletic shoes but don’t look like them. I have bought mine at Shoe Carnival. (They also make very stylish and comfortable men’s shoes.)

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27 Patty March 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

Good Morning, Love your blog. I just wanted to tell you that I have a shoulder bag I purchased from the company in Bali that you put the link to the shoes in this post. I’ve not ever purchased their shoes, but love my bag and they are great to work with, Olga, the owner is very quick to respond. As for shoes, you have some great reader suggestions already, I learned long ago you get what you pay for with shoes. NAOT is another comfort (pricey though) brand – I’m on my 8th or 9th year with a pair of their sandals and they still look brand new.

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28 PBE March 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

Sorry I don’t know if these are made in the U.S. but check out the brands Dansko and Merrell. I have to wear casual/dressy shoes to work AND have to be prepared at a moment’s notice to walk kind of far for meetings. I have had back surgery and my left side is still numb. I have to wear good shoes, these are two brands I’ve been wearing. They have a wide range of styles too. Good luck! I too think it’s worth spending more $ on shoes, now that I’m older and wiser :)

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29 Kim C March 24, 2014 at 9:25 am

Usually I LOVE Clarks and they seem to be pretty long lasting. However, I did look at the flats you linked to and although they are pretty one thing bugs me. The fact that they have elastic around the top. Why? Because elastic wears out and loses it’s elasticity. I’ve had this happen to more pairs of pants than I want to mention. Mostly my kids pants. I’ve replace so much that I ended up buying a big roll to have on hand. I’ve even bought brand new so called ‘quality’ clothing and have had the elastic to go within just a couple of months. (past the time to be able to return it) I’m not sure why it doesn’t last like it used to. But that is the reason why I’d pass those up. EVEN if they used the best elastic on the market I would think the shoes would last longer sans elastic. Of course, that’s just my two cents worth. Unfortunately my experience with quality shoes is this. It’s kind of like a lottery. Even when buying expensive shoes, sometimes you still get a lemon. I was wearing a pair of pumps that were quite expensive even on sale. My husband sings in a gospel quartet and we were going to be gone all day. I’d had these shoes for a few years, but hadn’t worn them more than a handful of times. We rode the bus with the rest of the group and we were about 2 hours away from home. When we got to the church for the concert I noticed that stuff kept sticking to the bottom of my shoes. I finally went to the restroom and pulled off my shoe to look at the bottom and it looked like it had melted! The other shoe was the same way. By the time another hour went by, the soles were almost completely gone! This was homecoming celebration at this church so we were there basically all day. I had no other shoes with me and since we rode the bus, no way to go get anything else. When we were done, I walked to the bus with my toes hanging out all around and took them off and walked barefoot onto the bus. Thankfully it was summer so that was okay. After that I NEVER left home without a pair of flip flops in my bag. You just never know. The guys in the group said they’d never seen anything like it before. Neither have I. I did contact the company, but I never received a reply. As I said, these were pretty expensive shoes and not a cheap name brand. You just never know what you will get, really.

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30 Erin March 24, 2014 at 9:28 am

You can find Clark’s, Born, and other higher end shoes for much cheaper if you watch the flash sales on Zulily. I have also had really good luck watching the end of season sales for Naturalizer and combining with a coupon code online.

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31 EKALangr March 24, 2014 at 9:29 am

Hello!
I was in the same predicament last summer. I wanted to stop buying cheap things more often. As my dad used to say “Payless (more often)”. :-) I usually buy my shoes at DSW, but I am careful to look for real leather. I also poke around on Macy’s clearance. I recently went on the hunt for a great pair of leather boots and found them at SHU (http://www.shuglobal.com/location/), which is in St Paul (but idk where you are!). I would recommend heading to the nearest city and looking for a smaller shop that sells real leather shoes.

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32 STL Mom March 24, 2014 at 9:29 am

Just checked my dress shoes, and they are Clarks, Easy Spirit, and Naturalizer. My boots are Timberland, Ecco, and Merrill. The Timberland and Merrill boots are both made of waterproof leather and have been worn in slow and slush for at least three winters. I have some casual shoes from Born that have lasted well too.
Personally, I avoid suede and nubuck, because I always mess those shoes up.
Clarks also sells socks, with a lifetime warranty. I brought in some old (clean!) socks with holes in the toes and was told to go pick out a new pair. I like their wool socks for winter and bamboo for spring and fall.

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33 Lori March 24, 2014 at 9:35 am

I don’t know about flats, but I have a pair of Dansko clogs that are 8 years old and look as good as they did the day I bought them (although, admittedly, I don’t wear them super often), and my husband has a pair of Doc Marten boots that has lasted him through 11 Michigan winters and are still in great shape. Both pairs ran around $100 each.

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34 Linda March 31, 2014 at 7:26 am

I love my Dansko shoes. I have to wear shoes with backs, so I do not have the clogs. I have 3 pairs of Danskos: sandals, shoes and flats. I love them. They are comfortable and I have had them for years. The shoes I have had for about 5 years (wore them everyday for about 2 years), sandals for about 4 years (wear them everyday in summer) and the flats are my everyday shoes no and have had them for about 3 years.

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35 Barbara March 24, 2014 at 9:43 am

As one of your older readers (pushing 70 in a few weeks), may I share my experience? I always bought cheap shoes as a young woman (but never wore very high heels) and eventually paid the price. I developed Morton’s neuroma in one foot, very painful (think carpal tunnel in your foot). Surgery is an option but not always successful so now I am VERY careful about my shoes as I must have excellent support. If I’m going to wear wispy flats or sandals or cute 1″ heels (my max now) it must be to an event where I’ll do a lot of sitting!
Clark’s are my go to shoes (I can find nice sandals) as well as Merrels and I shop department store sales, Marshall’s/TJMaxx and outlets usually. I am reluctant to shop online because I like to try them on first.
Lesson learned the hard way: take care of your feet while you are young! It’s an investment worth making!

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36 Allison March 24, 2014 at 9:44 am

I frequently buy shoes at Sierra Trading Post (.com). I have a high arch and a fairly average shoe size (7 medium, sometime 7.5). I need good walking shoes as we walk a lot (back and forth to school, on vacation, around town, etc.). My job also means I am on my feet A LOT (previous job meant I was often on my feet for an entire 8 hour shift, thin carpet, cement slab), so for me, good supportive shoes are a must. I have found Sanita and Romika brands at Sierra Trading Post work really well for me on the sandal and more casual end of things. They are a bit clunky, but if I can wear something with a small heel for 5k and not complain, they are the shoe for me. Sierra tends to have a lot of upper end brands and European brands at good prices. A friend of mine swears by Fluevog, but they are out of my price range. Again, they are a little more funky looking, but still stylish. Born and Clarks are also good brands, and I have a pair of Keen I like, too. Good luck!

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37 sydney March 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

FG: thanks for the link to USA love list! This looks like a really useful tool when I want to buy American made products.

Dillard’s twice-yearly sales are where I usually buy my black heels for work. You can get $100 shoes for $40 or less. That being said, I’m still kind of a cheapskate about shoes, so mine don’t normally last more than two years.

I would also suggest shopping a local store that sells leather shoes. You might pay slightly more, but you’re supporting local business, and building a relationship with that retailer will help them understand what you’re looking for and serve you better.

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38 getting there March 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

Another vote here for Born shoes. I wear mine everyday and they are holding up quite well.

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39 Vicky March 24, 2014 at 9:51 am

Clarks are always a good buy. Sometimes they have them on sale on their web site. Macys and Penneys carry them and Penneys runs sales on them a lot.

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40 Annie March 24, 2014 at 10:07 am

I haven’t tried them but I did notice that Boden offers a nice selection of leather flats in the spring. I’ve been planning that when my current flats wear out I will purchase from Boden.

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41 Jen March 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

I got a really nice pair of leather flats from JCPenney (I think?) a couple years ago on clearance and I still wear them daily. The brand is Born.

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42 Tammy March 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

I have been saving my gift cards for Amazon from Swagbucks for shoes. I hate buying “cheap” shoes because – they aren’t “cheap” in price! And they don’t last very long at all! So I aim for quality! For church, I bought a pair of Dansko pumps. Adorable! They were $120 but I’ve heard that Dansko shoes can last well over 10 years, and I figure for a pair of church shoes that I’m only wearing a few hours a week, they can possibly last even longer than that!

Keens are great for every day. They come in a variety of styles ranging from rugged to more casual. :)

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43 Jackie March 24, 2014 at 11:10 am

If you’re ok with buying slightly gently used shoes, Goodwill is great. I find Anne Taylor, Bandelino and Talbots shoes. 3.75 you can’t go wrong! For new shoes, I like 6pm.com and I will google the exact brand and see the ratings on Amazon and compare prices. I never pay shipping on shoes. I love yard sale prices too.

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44 Amy b March 24, 2014 at 11:15 am

Our family loves keens. They are an American based company but they manufacture outside the US. They are looking at moving manufacturing to the US but have to find a way to create quality items at a reasonable price. They are big into giving back to the community and have a line of products (harvest) that are made from recycled material.

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45 Casey March 24, 2014 at 11:25 am

I travel for work and must have comfortable support but still be stylish. Backaches are no fun. Forking over $70-100 and having my shoes last 3- 4 years is the best option I’ve come up with. My shoes get a lot of wear and tear on city sidewalks.

Try:
http://www.ninewest.com
http://www.aersoles.com
http://www.zappos.com

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46 Laura March 24, 2014 at 11:25 am

I don’t have anything to add regarding shoe brands – there is lots of excellent advice above.

Something I always remember though about buying shoes is the advice I got from my grandmother: A quality pair of shoes, besides lasting longer, will make inexpensive clothing look expensive, but a cheap pair of shoes will always make expensive clothing look cheap! In other words, it’s worth it to spend money on stylish, quality shoes!

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47 Stephanie March 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

All of my shoes are Clarks except one pair of cute Doc Marten shoes that were a gift 20 years ago. My black flats are five years old and should be replaced soon but I have worn them HARD. For a few years they were my only sandal- I now have two pair summer shoes, two pair winter shoes, athletic shoes and winter boots. I adore my Clark winter boots- they are so warm and cozy and most of the winter my feet was the only part of my body that was warm.

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48 Karen L March 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

I buy shoes from places like REI or local outdoorsy shops. I like brands like Keen (great for kids and hold their value too! I often buy my kids’ Keens from Craigslist), Chaco, Merrell, and Reef. I also have a great pair of flats that I got from REI by the brand Ahnu. I get compliments on them all the time and they’ve held up great. They are similar to these: http://m.rei.com/product/857388/ahnu-arabesque-shoes-womens , but without the bow :) Other good online places to find deals on these brands are Moosejaw, the Clymb, and Sierra Trading Post.
Hope this helps! :)

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49 WilliamB March 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Point #1: it’s not possible to reliably get good quality shoes for a low price. I don’t know why, but it’s true.

Point #2: go to Nordstrom if you possibly can. Especially if this is your first foray into pricy shoes. They have fantastic customer service and stock a lot of good quality shoes. They’ll set you right.

A very recent example of fantastic customer service. I recently needed to buy new work shoes. I described what I wanted to the clerk. She listened carefully to my preferences and kept bringing out possibilities till I found a few that were OK (good service point 1). I bought one pair of each and took them home to walk around in. I found the one I liked, bought several more pair online, and returned the rest (good service point 2). *After* wearing the winners to work for a month I decided they were wearing badly, looking 6 months old instead of just one. Not only was it easy to return the 3 pair I hadn’t work, they insisted on taking back the pair I had worn (good service point 3). Then, to save me from having to try on even more shoes, the clerk found my initial reciept on the system and resold me the other shoes I’d taken home, so I can try those out (good service point 4). IOW, a perfectly typical Nordstrom experience.

For which you’ll pay full price. Nordstrom has (semi?) annual shoe sales but, of course, you don’t know what you’ll find. Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly recommend Nordstrom for quality shoes.

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50 Linda March 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm

You mentioned Wolverine in Rockford MI as making shoes. I live close by and believe all are imported.
For a low cost sandal made in the USA try http://www.kinosandalfactory.com/
made in key west florida.
I like Marshalls for good quality name brands-it’s better in the shoe department than TJMaxx. And as I said before the clearance rack at Macys 75% off at end of season.

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51 Amy March 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Another vote for Danskos. Their newer cute styles are quite fashionable, but just as comfy as the clogs. I’ve got three pairs, 10+ year old clogs, some “winter” dressy-enough-for-an-office-job mary janes, and some “pumps” (with platform, feels like only a 1″ heel). I pretty much don’t wear any other shoes.

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52 Jennifer March 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Due to having very hard to fit feet (narrow with foot surgery) I usually find a brand that works and try to try them on at a brick & mortar store. If you feet are usually easy to fit you could forgo the trying on step. I will then check out that same brand on 6pm.com which is the clearinghouse for Zappos. I’ve gotten really good deals there for both myself & my grands. 6pm has always had great customer service.

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53 Ange K. March 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I just bought two new pair of shoes at Goodwill. One is Naturalizer and the other Enzo. Both are leather and look almost new. I’m pretty sure these were returns from a major department store. All of the shoes at this Goodwill were very nice. I paid $4.99 a pair. I would imagine they will last me a long time. If I buy new, I usually buy at JC Penney on clearance (off season) with a discount. I rarely pay more than $20 for a pair of shoes, and they last forever! I still have shoes from 25 years ago.

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54 Esther March 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Try to find a high-quality shoe store in your area. Here in Lexington we have a small, privately owned store that only carries good-quality shoes. Get on their email/facebook list and you will find out when they have sales. When I lived in Pittsburgh there was a much larger shoe store, also privately owned, where I would buy my shoes. You will probably have to spend about $100 for a decent pair of shoes, even on sale. Possibly less if there is a great sale.

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55 sara March 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm

My casual shoes come from Naturalizer (the most comfortable brand ever), Kenneth Cole Reaction, Bass, and Minelli.

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56 Dawn Tucker March 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Here’s my take on this one: I’m hard on shoes. Even when I try to take care of them, I scuff them up. They start to look bad in the same amount of time an inexpensive pair falls apart anyway. When that happens, I’m out more money than if I’d just bought an average pair of shoes. I don’t go cheap, but I don’t “invest” because there is just some wear you can’t repair.

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57 Emily March 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm

In terms of affordable shoes, I’ve purchased a lot of shoes from thrift stores. I check that they are made of leather (at least the uppers), and preferably made in Italy/North America.

As for brands, I really like Sofft. Their shoes are incredible. Cushy, comfortable, awesome. Plus, they look really cute.

My favourite boots are made of waterproof leather, always gets compliments, and are made in Canada- they’re made by Blondo, and I love them. Other brands for comfortable shoes I like are Bandolino (heels), Ecco (sporty/hiking), Cole Haan (everything), and Sorel (for winter boots), etc.

If you’re buying online, I really suggest you read the reviews- they give you a good idea if you should size up/down, if it’s narrow, etc.

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58 Faith March 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

I buy almost all my nice shoes at Clark outlet stores. I can often find a pair of flats for $25 to $45 dollars on sale. Often they have coupons and a bogo free deal going on. They are the most comfortable and best price j have been able to find. They also last a long time. I bought a pair of flats when I was pregnant from Clark’s and paid a little extra ($60 on sale). But I wore them every day for nine months as I walked around a manufacturing plant with concrete floors. I still wear them two years later and I love them. I bought an identical pair several months later because they were on the clearance rack. But I still haven’t opened them since the first pair is going strong. I love Clarks!!!!

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59 Sakura March 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I shop at Dillards for shoes. I wait until they are on clearance, they usually have my size. I can get a good pair of shoes for 1/2 or less of the cost. You get great styles and brand names and a good return policy.

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60 Venus Martinez March 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

If you have a Bass outlet in your area..this is the best place to go for deeply discounted shoes that last forever…or just go online…to their website..I still have a pair of boat shoes I bought 4 years ago…and they look great and are super comfy..BTW..your yogurt recipe is amazing…Im already on my 4th batch and my family wont store bought anymore..;D

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61 Linda March 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Soft Star shoes made in America. They have cute shoes, ballet flats and wear really well!

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62 Ruth March 24, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Super happy Zappos shopper here. Excellent selection and price on quality shoes.

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63 Michelle K March 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Yes, Nordstrom Rack!!! They have fabulous shoes, but you have to visit often as their inventory switches over. So, you may not find something on your 1st visit, but check back a week or 2 later.

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64 Barb March 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Clarks/Bostonan. Without fail. No doubt. Best.Shoes. In.The World. Worth every penney, and they do go on sale.

Having said all that, for years my go to sandals for years were from the Earth’s best line at Walmart, but they discontinued my kind of shoes.

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65 Mary Hart March 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm

After several years of wear, my Clarks flats still look & feel great! I also have several pair of Naturalizer sandals that have been around 7 or 8 years & still have a lot of wear in them. I usually watch for sales & clearance at the better shoe stores. I would second the warning about the elastic in flats, too, though as I have had that problem with an otherwise good pair of flats.

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66 Susan March 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I recommend Frye shoes and boots. They are a little pricey, but are VERY well made, and they will last forever. Frye has a two-year warranty on their goods, and if it’s past the two years, they have a refurbishing center. I’ve had one pair for 6(!) years, and they look like new with just regular cleaning and good care.

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67 Becky March 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I always have to spend more on shoes because I have extra-wide feet, and it’s a hard width to find. My new favorite is Hotter–it’s a U.K. based company, but seriously comfortable and high quality. Look up Hotter USA if you want to check them out.

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68 Kristen March 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm

I just want to say that you guys are awesome…thank you so much for the helpful suggestions! I’ll definitely keep you posted on what end up buying.

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69 Alexis March 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I second this. Thank you all for answering my question–I have so many new leads on shoes now!

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70 Kristen March 26, 2014 at 6:31 am

I know! I started a Pinterest board just to organize all the options. ;)

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71 Wanda March 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm

I shop mainly at Naturalizer,Bass or Clark’s because they care the most wide sizes in shoes. They do have stylish stuff but I tend to stick with leather only because they last longer. I get all my sneakers from new balance again it’s a wide shoe deal and they do make shoes in the USA.

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72 Renee March 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I know not everyone considers them stylish but I love Danskos. I work on my feet and have done so most of my life, my last pair of Dankso held for nearly 5 years of daily wear in the food service business and food service is tough on shoes.

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73 ClaireL March 24, 2014 at 9:59 pm

If you’re wanting to also consider environmental impact and the conditions of the factors where the shoes are made (in addition to quality, comfort and style), I’d check out Patagonia. They’re mainly a hiking/backpacking company, but do have stylish shoe and clothing options. The company is focused on their overall environmental impact and coporate responsibility. Their website even has information about the factors their goods are produced in. I’m not saying that they’re perfect, but at least they provide some transparency. I don’t own any patagonia shoes, but the other products I have from them are top quality. Most REI stores carry patagonia shoes.

http://www.patagonia.com/us/home

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74 Rebecca March 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I almost always buy Clarks because they are comfortable, last and seems to be well made. However, their styles can be a little too stylish for me and sometimes they don’t fit my wide feet so well. I always buy them on sale or at DSW. I usually wear them for 4-5 years before they start falling apart.

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75 Kristin March 25, 2014 at 7:41 am

I love Clarks. Without a doubt the best shoes I own. They last a long time and are super comfortable. As a college professor who is on her feet for long periods of time, I always wear Clarks to school.

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76 Wendy March 25, 2014 at 8:10 am

I love my Clarks! I have had them for about 6 years, at 60$. They are a clog/mule type and I love them. Dillards’ Macys’ DSW all carry them in North Texas. Or you could shop at their store down the road a bit. Have not tried the ballet flats just because of the failing elastic syndrome. If you are not walking all day and just want a pair of pretty flats try Etienne Aigner. Mother-in-law has at least 12 pairs in assorted colors, as that is all she wears with her stylish jeans and summer skirts. She pays a bit for them. about 70$, but they last her about 6-10 years.

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77 Jenessa March 25, 2014 at 9:55 am

I love Clarks shoes, I have several pairs of sandals and boots made by them. They are very durable and comfortable.
I just happened to get a set of 20% off coupons from Clarks yesterday. So if anyone wants a coupon code to use on the Clarks website, let me know.

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78 Isela March 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

EBay.
I will go to the store juste to find my size, bit I will buey the shoe in eBay.
I will pay $20 for a pair it will cost four times that on the store.
ApparelSave has a huge inventory of flas.

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79 Mary H March 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

I buy most of my shoes off of Ebay. I buy mostly Birkenstocks, some Clarks, Born, Dansko. I buy used/like new and I only buy from sellers who offer a return service. In over twelve years I’ve only used this return service once.

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80 A Frugal Family's Journey March 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

I’m not sure if you live close to a Kohls Store but our family loves Kohls! We never buy thing there at regular price though. In fact, we typically look for things in the clearance racks first. The best part about Kohls is when you sign up for their department store credit card, they send you almost monthly discounts (which can be applied to sale and clearance items!). You should also know that if you forget your discount at home, you can often ask the cashier or customer service representative to give you one to scratch prior to check out…they always have a few lying around. Just make sure you pay the bill when it arrives because the interest rate on their store card is ridiculously high!

Personally, I have bought nice dress shoes and Nike brand tennis shoes. Generally, my goal is to spend no more than $40 on a good pair of shoes. I find that it is pretty easy to accomplish that with the extra discount (I’ve seen up to 30% – but know that it varies from one scratcher to another though).

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81 Shannon March 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Tieks for classic looking and durable flats! http://tieks.com/

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82 Jessica P. March 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm

When I had to buy a pair of black flats for work I wanted ones that were made in America and ended up finding Munro. I’ve worn those shoes every weekday for the past 3.5 months and they still look brand new. Very comfortable too. I’ve been very pleased and would order from them again.

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83 Karen March 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Unshoes has a kickstarter campaign right now that is promoting their new line of women’s shoes. So excited for them! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/788620832/naturally-aligned-footwear-for-women

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84 Kindel March 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Okay, you’ve really played into my wheelhouse on this one… I love shoes. I have beautiful, expensive, leather shoes… from my before babies days. :) And now the budget does not allow for frivolous expendatures. However, I do believe that cheap shoes are a waste of my hard-earned money. I do like certain brands because I’ve learned over the years which ones fit my feet and last well. Here are the brands I can recommend personally:

Born – I have 3 pairs; all purchased from either TJMaxx or Nordestrom Rack; oldest pair is over 10 years and I still wear frequently. They are incredibly comfortable and their style suits me well. I do believe all of mine are made in China, however.

Vaneli – I have 2 pairs, one purchased at Marshall’s, one gifted to me from my sister-in-law who bought them from Zappos. These have never been shoes that I’ve worn daily as both pairs are dressier than my everyday wear. But they both seem to be holding up well and they are very stylish.

Frye – I do not personally own any Frye products… yet. But their reputation for quality is legendary and they do have products that are made in the US as well as items that are made elsewhere, like Mexico. I do not know of any of their items being made in China. Their prices will reflect this. However, you can look on Zappos and select a certain brand and glean through to see if they have certain styles on sale. The other recommendation on pricier brands is maybe be open to something besides black. I know black is very versatile but retailers know that. If you are open to other neutral colors like metallics, taupe, nude, ivory, gray, navy, anything in the brown family, you may find that you can afford a much nicer pair of shoes than if it has to be black. But you have to serious weigh the cost-per-wear factor on that too. If you’ll wear the black twice as often then it may be worth more to you.

Fossil – I have one pair. I love them. The leather is legendary for a reason. They are pricy but shoes aren’t their bread and butter so if you do your research you can usually find flats in one color or another for 30%-70% off the original price. Once again, I would recommend Zappos so that you can return without penalty if you don’t love them as much in person as you did on your computer screen.

Indigo by Clarks – I have one pair. I love them. They are very stylish and they are made to last. I’m not a big fan of regular Clarks not because of their quality but the styles just don’t typically appeal to me. But the Indigo line seems to be a higher quality leather and a more Bohemian style.

I did just buy a pair of Sperry’s at Dilliard’s. I believe they do a huge sale twice a year (spring and fall) to purge stock and they mark things down to a ridiculous level. It is not everything in the store but if you happen to be looking for the right thing at the right time you can really come away with some great stuff. Hubby just got some Calvin Klein pants for work that are normally $80 for $16.70! The Sperry’s I found are kind of navy with small sequins in the cloth panel on the side. I know it sounds weird but they actually look nice (the sequins aren’t very noticeable unless you really look for them). I’m not sure what the original price was but I think most Sperry’s run $85-$100 and I paid $31.

Zappos is my absolute favorite place to shop for shoes though. You can save so much time it is ridiculous! My best friend got married a couple of years ago. She told me they were engaged and I was on a plane for the wedding 4 weeks later. I did not have time to shop all over town for the perfect shoes to go with my dress! I went on Zappos website for the first time and selected my shoe size, the color I needed, and leather/full grain leather and hit search. I was somewhat of a daunting list but at least I had options. You can also narrow your search by brand name if their is a brand you know you like or that fits you well. You can also narrow your search by price. So if your budget for the shoes you need is $50 you can actually apply that to your search and the site will only show you shoes that fall in your budget, which will keep you from being distracted by everything else on the same rack at the store that is way over your budget. And Zappos has great employees that give what I believe to be the best customer service in the retail industry bar none! Seriously, I have dealt with them numerous times and have never had anything less than stellar service. The last time I called they even had an option for you to listen to the joke of the day! They do not always have the absolute lowest price on things but the free shipping and returns without penalty are well worth it for me because shoes are a long-term commitment for me. My last order with Zappos was for my 19 year-old cousin who wears a size 14 and needed a new pair of work boots. We live in Chattanooga and thought I’m sure their are stores who carry 14′s it was not worth the time and money to go hunting the one pair that might be on the other side of town… which probably wouldn’t have fit anyway because he doesn’t have a wide foot and no one seems to carry big but not wide shoes. We ordered 4 pairs off Zappos. They arrived with free, overnight shipping. He tried them on, found the one pair that fit well, we boxed the other 3 back up, printed the return label and dropped them off at UPS and sent them back. My girls are still playing with the Zappos box (it’s huge!) so we got boots and a toy. :)

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85 Maureen March 25, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Clarks and the Cole Haan Air line – the Cole Haan flats are $150 full price, but I’ve gotten them on sale for 25% off on Piperlime, and for half price on Rue La La (deal site). I can no longer wear heels to work, and the Cole Haans are nice enough that I can wear them every day – both to commute and in the office. They were the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought and I now have them in two colors (black and nude). Even with high arches, they are supportive and very comfortable.

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86 Jessica March 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm

I will second the eBay suggestions. I like Merrell’s barefoot shoes, but they cost a hundred dollars or more retail.

I’ve set up a saved searched on eBay for my size and favorite styles. eBay emails me when something that fits my criteria is posted, and if it looks good, I bid the most I’m willing to pay. I lose lots – lots and lots and lots. :-) But, hey, it doesn’t cost anything to lose! Sometimes I win, and then I can get the shoes I want unworn or very, very slightly worn for thirty dollars or less.

So it’s not a good approach if you know you need shoes right now. But it works well if you’re in a position to be patient.

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87 Jessica March 25, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Oh, and I meant to say, obviously those barefoot shoes wouldn’t be for everybody. But if you’ve got a pricier shoe brand you know you like, I imagine my eBay approach works just as well for other shoe brands.

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88 Emily N. March 28, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I’m all about the comfortable shoes! I’ve gotten so I can’t wear unsupportive shoes (working in retail for three years will do that to you!), so I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of quality, supportive shoes. I’ll echo other commenters’ recommendations of Dansko, Keen, and Clarks. Birkenstock is the best for sandals, and they have some styles that are reasonably stylish for flat sandals. I have a pair of Rose Petals heels, and they are quite comfortable. I just bought a pair of Vionic flats, which are incredibly comfortable and very cute. I can’t speak to longevity as I’ve only had them a couple weeks, but I’m so thrilled to have finally found a stylish ballet flat with the support of a sneaker. I want to show this shoe to all the other companies and say, “See! You CAN make a shoe that’s supportive AND cute!”

One last note: other folks are right about Zappos being totally awesome. They don’t necessarily have the best prices around, but they ship quickly and have fabulous customer service. A couple times I tried buying from another site with better prices, but they repeatedly shipped my packages to an old address, made me wait forever for refunds, and generally had terrible customer service. As I’m sure you know, sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little more.

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89 Marianne March 29, 2014 at 11:56 am

Great post-great timing. I need another pair for work. I only buy at Macy’s, Kohl’s or Naturalizer outlets.
I have a number of Clarks that are older than dirt..and still look good. Same with the Naturalizers that Kohl’s carry. My son recommended Sperry, just got my first pair, while they are very casual they are super comfy (and pricy).

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90 Claire May 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I know I’m kind of late to the party on this one (catching up on my RSS), but I have to share because I FINALLY found good shoes. A little background: I usually go through shoes in a month or two. My feet are a tad wide and I suspect they roll out when I walk, so I always get holes in the sides of my shoes. Beyond that they’re never comfortable and I often get sores on my little toe from my shoes rubbing. I really didn’t think I’d ever find a shoe that works for me, but I did! It’s Ahnu shoes (http://www.ahnu.com) and they’re made from leather (I don’t know if it’s in the US or not) so they stretch the little bit I need to fit my wide feet. And they aren’t wearing! I’ve had them for about a year and I’m seriously amazed at the lack of wear. I have washed them once on the outside and a few times on the inside (stinky feet!) with some special shoe cleaners I got at the store I bought them at, but I’m okay with a little upkeep. And they’re cute too! I have the Gracie style in grey and they look just as cute as my flats ever did (to me at least, my husband took some getting used to it) and worked well through all parts of the year except the snowy parts of winter where I wear boots anyhow. Hope this helps someone!

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