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The Price Thing, Again. | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Price Thing, Again.

Oh y’all. I feel like we have to do this again. The price thing.

Listen, we get it. Boy do we get it.

The economy is not where one might hope it would be, our homes aren’t worth the shoeboxes they contain and the days of wine and roses are being temporarily replaced by the months of malt liquor and ramen noodles (so basically it’s college, but without the risk of getting the chlams from your RA.) It is not in everyone’s budget to spend a thousand dollars or even a hundred dollars on shoes, and –to steal a line from Stuart Smalley– that’s okay.

Every superfantastic person I know is superfantastic on a budget.

That budget may allow for buying a pair of $600 shoes without batting an eye, or it may not. I can tell you the last time I spent $600 on a single pair of shoes I batted my eyes so hard I caused a small tornado in Kansas and I’m a relatively well-off girl with no kids or mortgage who writes about the damn things for a living. So trust me, we do not think you are a bad person if you truly cannot afford good shoes.

However.

The Manolo Empire will always live by the rule that cheap shoes are a false economy, so we do not recommend cheap shoes. Ever.

We believe it is far more economical (and environmentally friendly, and ethical and stylish and…) to save and own two pairs of quality shoes that will outlive you than an entire closet of plastic and cardboard that will need replacing every year or two. You may feel free to disagree personally, but that is the stance of this blog and it’s not changing.

Does that mean you need to go out and buy every pair of $2,000 crocodile kicks I send up the flagpole? YES. Wait, I mean NO. (Wait, what? No? Really? But what about my commish? -ed.) This is a fashion blog and fashion is aspirational. There’s always an element of fantasy, of daydream and can’t we all use a good daydream right about now?

So once again, this is how most folks in shoebiz break down the price points. Remember these are the original manufacturer prices, so if you find a pair of elaphe skin Jimmy Choos on megaclearance for $90, that doesn’t make them inexpensive shoes.

inexpensive = under $100
designer = $100- $300
premium designer = $300-$600
ultra premium = $600+

“Inexpensive” you have your lower-end department store shoes, Payless, Target, Wal-Mart, teetering on the upper level of inexpensive is Nine West, DSW etc. I do not say it is impossible to find an investment shoe at this level, but I have not come across one.

“Designer” will generally get you decently-made department store house brands and your entry-level luxury lines (Kate Spade, Tory Burch and Juicy Couture) there are some excellent values to be had in this range, particularly if you pay attention to construction and not the label. If all your shoes come from this category, pat yourself on the back, you’re doing well. Stuart Weitzman, Delman, and Cole Haan are reliable heavy hitters in this price range.

“Premium Designer” is where the committed shoe junkie lives. In this category your shoes will be crafted in Italy, France or Spain of excellent materials. Most of the designers who occupy the “Ultra Premium” category have a home base here including most non-runway shoes from Manolo, Chanel, Dior, Jimmy Choo and Prada.

“Ultra Premium” is the shoe as art form. These are often made of exotic skins or feathers that are no longer allowed to be collected (they get them from the archives of old feather houses) these shoes will be limited edition and usually available in boutique only.

34 Responses to “The Price Thing, Again.”

  1. Kai Jones November 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    Where in that algorithm do I find supportive, attractive shoes to fit my 10WW feet? I mean, what price point should I be looking at to find good shoes that fit and will last longer than a season? I have many pairs by Munro but sometimes I want more style.

  2. Evie November 18, 2008 at 3:08 pm #

    Well put, Plumcake. Regardless of the economy, buying for quality over quantity is always a wise financial decision. I admit it was difficult for me as a young twenty something to start thinking in terms of investment pieces that will last for years–I can barely think about dinner tomorrow–but no one notices that you have a very small wardrobe if it’s also a very superfantastic one :)

  3. Plumcake November 18, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Kai, my fat-footed sister. I have never yet been let down by Stuart Weitzman, who offers many if not most of his styles in wide and sometimes WW. Another option, though spendier is Taryn Rose. Taryn used to be an orthopedic surgeon before she started her shoe line.

    Also as a rule of thumb, American designers run wider than the rest (Loeffler Randall in particular runs crazy wide, as does Valentino) The British, then Italian and then French, with the exception of Dior which IME almost always runs wide while Prada runs narrow and small.

  4. slownews November 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    But where is the HOTNESS?

  5. Plumcake November 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    she’s typing the damn post!

  6. TropicalChrome November 18, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    I love my Munros – I guess they count as designer shoes since I paid over $100 for them, and they’ve been worth every penny. And they’re supportive and comfortable and I think they’re quite sleek and powerful-looking at the same time.

    Investing in shoes only makes sense if you’re going to wear them enough to amortize the heftier initial cost over their lifetime. That’s where cheaper shoes come in for me – there are certain styles of shoes that I don’t know if I’m going to wear enough to make it worth the investment. So I buy a similar style at Target or Payless, and see what happens. Often, I stop wearing these shoes long before they wear out.

    But once in awhile, like with my low suede boots, I find I wear them far more than I ever anticipated. So I’m looking to replace them with a better pair (and perhaps with a teensy bit lower heel). I don’t consider the money I spent on the pair I have wasted – I’ve gotten two seasons of wear out of them besides the knowledge that yes, I like this look. That’s a good return to me.

  7. irene.g November 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    Extra-long post (sorry!)
    As a poor, unemployed student, I don’t know how I feel about the “quality over quantity” argument. I simply cannot afford to buy shoes that cost between $100-300 dollars. It would take me months to save for a simple pair of “investment” footwear, even if it is a good idea and will last me years. It’s not about spending the money- it’s about not having any money. But, I still need to, occasionally, buy shoes. This doesn’t mean I buy five pairs of shoes at Target or Payless, I only buy the one pair I need and it has to last. The quantity of shoes I buy is the same, regardless of quality. I would love to outfit my feet in Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade- trust me, I got fantasy shoe shopping on neimanmarcus.com often enough- I simply cannot. So what I sometimes what to know about is what affordable but still attractive options are out there. But of course, I love fashion even though I can’t afford it, so keep all your posts coming, regardless of price! The Manolo blog collection is awesome!!

  8. heather November 18, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    I keep hearing that these shoes are an investment, and they will outlive me. But when you’re spending $75,000 to get yourself through grad school and you just don’t have the extra cash to even save for these shoes, well, you have to wear something on your feet. Shouldn’t those be cute too?
    Please, please try to find us poor folks some shoes too!
    You post great sales on clothes, why not shoes?

  9. Genevieve November 18, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    Plumcake: I have to admit to having a crush on DSW. I’m super, super picky, but ever since finding a pair of Stuart Weitzman’s for 50% off in the exact shade of chocolate brown suede, heel-height, and style that I had been daydreaming about . . . I’m a believer. :) You gotta spend some time though, and not vomit on all the bad shoes there, but I also picked up some beautiful forest green Charles David boots once…That being said, you and the Manolo Empire are truly superfantastic, and you are superfantastic because of the daydreamy fashion you recommend. Keep it up!

  10. Plumcake November 18, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    Heather, we do post great sales on great shoes. However, a $600 pair of shoes on 75% clearance (and when does THAT happen) is still $150. We get that you may not have the money for it, but our stance isn’t going to change. You will not see cheap shoes on this site because we are not about cheap shoes. I am sure there are many sites that are, and of course we encourage all our readers to shop responsibly and within their means, even if we do not serve their particular market.

  11. La BellaDonna November 18, 2008 at 6:56 pm #

    Heather and Irene G, I am all about Teh Poor, and being it. But this site is dedicated to educating the eye, so that as you skim through the science fiction that is the Bloomingdale’s website, you can spot the shoe or the boot that is the Good Value because it has dropped to under $50. Yes, and I wish I’d moved faster, too, because I liked those boots! Sometimes the sale will happen when you have no money. But sometimes you will pick the one pair of boots or shoes that you live in, and you can get it on sale. I can’t afford the boots I have on at their normal price (over $300). But I wandered into the Too Expensive For Me shoe shop, and they were having a sale. These boots were $99, and I’ve worn them for seven years, virtually every day. I expect to wear them seven years from now, too. Sometimes the good places have the good sale. I haven’t seen these boots at Target or Payless, either.

  12. RHCD November 18, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    It’s because of your shoe rec’s I’m starting to love shoes. Yeah they are out of the my price range but dang they are pretty and are slowly opening my eyes to pretty shoes that might actually fit.

    My big issue is I wear orthotics so cute shoes are hit and miss for me. But I say keep bringing on the wearable art.

  13. Anne (in Reno) November 18, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    My “investment” range is $50-100. Above that is basically not going to happen. I wear a 12w and have had great luck with Clarks and other brands that I consider mid-range. I aspire to shoes like Born and Ecco as the gorgeous shoes you tend to feature have no place in my life. But I consider myself as doing great because my shoes used to be from Payless (oh those 12w feet!) and Clarks last much better.

    I like to look at the wearable art. But my lifestyle and budget pretty much rule it out. I think it’s just a matter of finding your own breakdown on what you are willing to spend for the look you want. In your size.

  14. alyssa November 18, 2008 at 8:59 pm #

    also, i think plumcake has mentioned this brand before, but duo shoes also sells wide fit shoes and boots. they are based in the UK so shipping may be an issue, but they have a super fantastic selection with a large range of fits. they are good quality investment pieces. be careful if you order boots from there, though–the fit on the calf may be correct, but the ankle fit runs a bit small.

  15. Violet November 18, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    There are degrees and degrees of this — I mean, Clarks really is that much better than Payless. Also it never hurts to keep looking out. I once got some Stuart Weitzman slingbacks in taupe skin for $90 off a clearance rack and they’ve been staples in my life for like seven years, they really are that good and that durable. (I wish I had that kind of luck every time but I have difficult feet and sadly even SW is hit or miss for me.)

  16. sara November 19, 2008 at 12:13 am #

    Slightly OT:

    I’ve said it once, but I’ll continue to say it: I appreciate the shoe talk, especially when it comes to wide-width shoes, but I really don’t understand the plethora of shoe posts on this blog. That’s what the original Manolo blog is for.

    That being said, the same claims can be made about clothing – you invest in quality, you’ll get quality (usually).

  17. Binwah November 19, 2008 at 12:53 am #

    Your title – The Price Thing, Again. » Manolo for the Big Girl! – caught my eye on the google blogsearch page. Just goes to show you how important good titles are! ;-) I’ve added manolobig.com to my reader, so I can see what else you come up with

  18. Tellicherry November 19, 2008 at 8:16 am #

    See, I love the shoe posts because even if I can’t afford the style shown, Plumcake is teaching me what to look for in terms of style and construction. I really wish you would write even more fashion posts, Plumcake.

  19. ChaChaHeels November 19, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    I second what Tellicherry says. And add that, for some reason, I often stumble on some incredibly good deals with pricier shoes. I don’t have the budget for the most expensive shoes, but I have a very nice collection of better designer shoes. I always look for sales. You never know what you’ll find. I’ve been able to find a lot of brands like Weitzman, Robert Clergerie, Ferragamo, Kenneth Cole and others at extremely reasonable prices, often under $50 (if I tell you what I paid for the last pair of Weitzmans I bought, you’d all despise me, so I won’t). There are no particular special shopping places–department stores, shoe stores, I don’t rule out consignment shops, either (where I found a pair of pristine Kenneth Cole, still in the box and apparently never worn, T-strap waisted heel black pumps for exactly $7, very retro looking and chic). I don’t really go out to shop for shoes, I seem to be out shopping for other things, and “find” good shoes at very good prices. Then, I don’t pass up the opportunity to buy them.

    I’m sure that if I actually went out to buy a particular shoe for a particular purpose, I’d find nothing but stuff I couldn’t like and wouldn’t be able to afford.

  20. Bree November 19, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    The shoes that are always posted at this site I could never wear. Not only are they out of my price range ($60 was the most I ever spent on a pair of shoes), they are always high heeled. My feet are extremely wide with no arch, and they swell. Anything higher than a 1 1/2 inch is out of the question. I know us big gals deserve to have nice things too, but there are times when you can’t afford Sex in the City on a Simple Life budget.

    On a good day, I can fit into a 12. But now, I’m wearing anywhere from a 12 W to a 13 W, and let’s face it, the majority of designers will not make shoes in those sizes. Even Payless, which I could always count on, is now making you buy online if you want extended sizes. There aren’t many options out there for ladies with Sasquatch feet, because we’re so rare.

    So as someone whose shoe shopping experiences are akin to getting a root canal, I’d like to see less shoe posts and more fashion (or is that fat-shion) posts. Pretty please, with cream and sugar on top?

  21. ChloeMireille November 19, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    Yeah, the shoe posts are almost porn-like for me. (It’s a compliment, I swear.) It takes a serious twist of the arm to get me to spend more than $20 on shoes. I almost died a couple of months ago because I spent $45 on boots from Torrid.

    People often forget that you can go to places like Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, DSW, and Marshalls for shoes. Ross is very hit-or-miss on the $100+ range, but occasionally you’ll stumble upon some Chinese Laundry, Clarks, and such. If you’re game for the $300+ bracket, go to TJ Maxx. I was at the one in River Oaks(Houston) a couple of days ago, and I saw $300 Michael Kors for right at $100.

    (OT: I’d also like to add that I spotted two gorgeous dresses at a different TJ Maxx the week before. One was a cocoa brown Tadashi in a 3x, and the other was a black sequined Carmen Marc Valvo in a 22W. Both were well below half-price.)

    If you’re up for the hunt, try those stores as well as consignment/resale shops.

  22. Kai Jones November 19, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    OH, Plumcake, I love the Stuart Weitzmans! Saving up for a pair now. Thanks!

  23. class-factotum November 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    eBay. One can procure shoes on eBay. Yes, used, but used high quality is better than new cheap. Or even thrift stores. I have seen Ferregamos at the Salvation Army store. Alas, not my size.

  24. Juliet November 19, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    I have cut back, certainly, but I’m one who enjoys the shoe posts in a variety of price ranges. I also subscribe to the belief that one pair of $300 shoes is better than ten $30 dollar ones.

    Also, I may just be lucky, but I’ve purchased many pairs of Kate Spade, Weitzman, Kors, Sigerson Morrison, and Juicy Couture shoes (among others) for under $100 at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. In fact, I purchased my first pair of Louboutin’s there for $40 and Manolo’s (yes, the real thing for $125.)

    However, I go to TJ Maxx and Marshalls about once a week. I’m picky, but I go through everything. I get top tier designer bags there, too, but those are pricier (discount Prada is still spendy, as is Dior and Versace.) But if you’re willing to work at it and get to know the local discount stores…well, you might luck out like I have.

    Sometimes being super fantastic has less to do with spending and more to do with looking for it!

  25. Plumcake November 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    A word to the wise. There has been a spate of counterfeit products, particularly accessories, at discount stores like Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls that have been marketed as the real thing. French couture houses have particularly strict rules as to where they allow their brands to be marketed. Caveat emptor.

  26. Joanna November 20, 2008 at 10:13 am #

    I’m just starting to move from strictly Payless to $50-$125ish shoes. My problem? I *need* a wide width. Worse, I found that my foot length seems to have shrunk, but the width stayed the same (the bone’s just not moving). Payless is one of the few stores that consistently stocks wides. As I said, I want to upgrade to some Clarks or something soon, though, as soon as I save up for it. I’m sick of shoes that fall apart. But it’s frustrating to walk into a department store and be told there’s no such thing as wide width shoes!!! (yes, Macys, I’m looking at you!) And Aerosoles? Telling me I can look at your catalog? Not helpful. I’ve already been to your website and want to *gasp* try them on now. Knowing that Stuart Weitzman carries a lot of wides gives me something to aspire to! :)

  27. raincoaster November 20, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    Nine West has served me well; I took a pair to a shoe repair shop to get half-soles and heel tips and he remarked on how well they were made. Not only do they come in a range of sizes, but they’re also relatively stylish.

    It must also be noted that, strangely, as you go up in price bras become more custom-fitting, while shoes do not. Some designers don’t like their shoes in an E width. Bra designers, fortunately, are not so narrow-minded.

  28. Lyssa November 20, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    Again? Personally, I see this site alot like I see the shoe catalogs from Nordstrom or even Vogue – something to drool over. ;b

    I wonder – have people not been to the main Manolo site? And any site that takes its name from that shoe designer is not a site that’s going to be talking about Payless shoes.

    I’m not looking for a $20 shoe on here, but what I can do, is look at the $600 shoe you show me and look for something similar to it at Nordstrom Rack which is in my price point (Nine West, Franco Sarto, etc.) Plus, this is the site that allowed me to buy my Alexander McQueen shoes (regular price $800, according to the sticker, bought for $100 at yoox), so OF COURSE I have much love. :)

    (Note: I wear anywhere from an 11 to an 11W to a 12 depending on the shoe, but I definitely have a wide foot. There are many options at Nordstrom Rack for the savvy shopper, esp. during their twice-a-year large shoe size event – even for wides and double wides.)

  29. Plumcake November 20, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    OMG YOU were the one who stole those McQueen crocodiles! I hate you!

  30. Zuleika November 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Dearest Plumcake —

    I appreciate that you insist on the well-made of teh shoes. There is no point in spending one’s hard earned dollars on things that are not worth it. Sadly in the fashion world the money:value ratio is not always good. I’m often shocked at the poor quality of designer clothes. Luckily sometimes cheap clothes are decently made. Ladies of all sizes should learn to ignore labels and look at materials and workmanship. Well, after they’ve looked to make sure whatever it is has superfantastic style.

    Unfortunately, there are a few wardrobe things that I’ve learned that it’s not worth investing in — for me. I demolish shoes no matter who makes them. I can’t manage to make a pair of shoes last more than a couple of seasons. And shirts. I can’t wear one out. They usually end up with a stain at that strategic spot on the shelf created by my lovely, er, cleavage.

    Every woman should know where it’s worthwhile to invest in clothing for herself, and where to buy the easily replaced.

    I second the ebay sugggestion. But you can buy new there for many things, including shoes that might otherwise be out of your budget. Like the other reader who recommended DSW, it’s a slog, but often a worthwhile one, if you have a leetle more time than money.

    Thanks for all the prettiness you provide us!
    xoxo

  31. Kat November 21, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    I would love, love, LOVE to see your recommendations for essential footwear. I will pay for quality, but as I must make most of my purchases online, it would be great to know the specific styles that are, sturdy, offer some type of arch-support for my sky-high arches, AND offer reasonable comfort for walking.

  32. mywhimsey November 21, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    I concur with the statement that quality shows – sometimes it just takes a while to notice that you really do get what you pay for. I’ve bought 2 pairs of flat-heeled, black, nearly knee high boots in my life (I’m tall, and very picky about fit in the calf) and I bought them in the same year, 2001. One was a $100 pair from Aerosoles, and the other a $400 Marc by Marc Jacobs pair of riding boots. The rubber soles on the Aerosoles wore through about 4 years ago, about a year after the uppers started separating from the soles, and about 2 years after the leather on the toecaps started looking cheap even after polishing. The MJ boots? Flawless still, and still totally on trend. I wish I’d saved the money on the cheap boots to start saving for my next pair of really good boots. So thanks again for the reminder that really quality items stand the test of time.

  33. Christina December 15, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    I walk a lot and lift heavy objects for work. I mostly shop for comfortable walking shoes. That being said I usually spend $100 on a nice pair of black mary janes from Merrel that I know will last me a year or two. I have never found a pair of comfortable everyday shoes that last more than a year or two before I wear out the heel or the toe box. For my fancy dress shoes though, I like Fluevog because the heels are very comfortable and walkable.