Lovely reader Stella asks:
Plummy, I wonder if someday you might consider writing something up on how you keep your shoes in such nice condition… I wear the &%#! out of mine. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a fast walker or bear down on them too hard, but the heel tips get smooshed and worn out so quickly, and they’re always getting scuffed. One of the reasons (other than $) that I’m afraid to buy really high-end shoes is that I don’t think they’ll last me very long.
First of all, congratulations on having the good sense to share a name with my beloved Cadillac. That’s the sort of right-thinking behavior I like to see on this blog. Keep up the good work.
So, you’re hard on shoes. Me too.
As big girls even if we walk like little baby angels –personally I don’t, unless the new meaning of “little baby angels” is “drunken circus bear”– we’re just going to run down our heels faster than lighter women.
If you’re just moderately hard on your heels, you can have the tips replaced at a cobbler for about $7-$10. They’re usually sturdier than the tips on the original shoe but if you want to be extra careful (and trust me, you do) buy your own heel tips and either put them on yourself –dead easy with the right tools and a little elbow grease– or take them to the cobbler.
The Stiletto Heel Tips Shop is a fantastic British webstore where you can buy a variety of heel tips, including metal ones and extra-hard plastics. They’re about 2 or 3 dollars a pop and shipping is super cheap, and you can even go on the site to find some humorous instructions on how to replace them yourself. Hint: the best place to store your spare heel tips is in a humidor but I just put them in a Ziploc bag with a wet cotton ball and toss the whole mess into the freezer. It’s probably overkill, but rubber tips will crack more easily if they’ve dried out and it’s not like I’ve got actual FOOD in the freezer or anything.
If you’re tough on your toes too, the site also sells metal toe sole protectors. The other option is to have a rubber half-sole put on at the cobbler. I personally don’t care for rubber soles on high heels. When my regular shoe guy was being punished for ruining my brand new Prada ombre Mary Janes (that collection was what started the whole ombre trend, btw) that I have still NEVER WORN I went to another place and they put rubber half soles on my lacquered wood Zanottis AND my beloved Delman mary janes without asking and I rained down fire on them on the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the angel Gabriel got happy with the lighter fluid.
(alas poor Nottis, I hardly knew ye)
Which brings us to your concern about “really high-end shoes”…I feel ya.
I totally understand not wanting to drop bank on shoes you think you’re going to ruin. I don’t buy fabric shoes for more than $100. That’s not to say there aren’t a few pairs I wouldn’t switch teams over; I’ve been drooling around these Zanottis at Neiman Marcus Last Call for months, hoping a pair will magically turn up in my size:
(The heel is electric eel blue mirror! Love!)
but generally I stick with leather.
In some cases when you spend a shed-load of money for shoes, you’re really just buying the label *cough*Gucci sneakers*cough* but usually the more expensive the shoe –up to a point– the more abuse it can handle and still live to tell the tale.
Think about it like this: you can’t wash a paper plate.
If you strip a heel, seriously scuff or scratch a synthetic shoe, nine times out of ten that’s the ball game. However you wouldn’t believe the damage I’ve seen on some high-end heels that come out singing and swinging and getting merry like Christmas after a brief stint in shoe rehab. You just can’t be afraid to take them in for a little tune up now and then.
The other thing about buying higher-end shoes is they usually come with dust bags for storage.
Some designers give two bags, one for each shoe, which is ideal but rare. Keeping them in their bags keeps your precious pumps away from danger when they’re not on your feet. They’re also dead handy for when you want to wear flats on the subway or walking to work.
And then there’s The Wayfarer Effect.
The Wayfarer Effect is where you treat something on which you spent a wad of cash better than something less expensive, so named because I was notorious for losing my sunglasses until I bought a pair of Wayfarers. Now I still misplace them from time to time –I’m convinced my church was built for the sole purpose of giving me a place to lose my shades– but I’m a lot more careful with my $150 glasses than I was with my drugstore cheapies.
This doesn’t mean you have to drop $600 on a pair of shoes. There’s a happy medium between the $1100 shoe made entirely out of feathers and the eyelashes of early Christian martyrs and the $11 shoe composed with nothing but vinyl and the tears of 8 year old Chinese kids. In her comment, Style Spy wisely mentioned Cole Haan and Stuart Weitzman (who makes wide widths) as well-made, easily repaired shoes that won’t cost the world and I think that’s a solid place to start.
Hope this helps, Stella and thanks for reading!
P.S. For those minor scuffs on shoes without a nap (i.e., no velvet or suede) I’ve found the Mister Clean Magic Eraser sponge to be a godsend.