Monday, 21 November 2011

The smart girls guide to buying shoes!


Whether it be courts or sandals, moccasins or boots we are constantly shopping for the ideal pair of shoes. But with so much choice how can we know when we eventually choose the perfect pair?

When buying shoes it is easy to go for the bargains, and the styles that companies are offering "20% off for today only!" But if this is the only thing we are interested in as consumers, then how are we ever going to be happy with our purchases, feel good in what we wear or feel like we've got a real steal for the pair you really wanted?
A shoe expert myself (having worked in shoes for 5 years) I believe there are several key rules when buying a pair of shoes.
Number 1. Shop around.
Know what you want. Is there a pair of amazing wedges you want to go with that maxi dress you bought last summer or maybe a pair of courts for work? Know exactly what you want to buy.
The best ways to do this are buying the magazines. Many magazines like Elle or Marie Claire feature shoes from popular retailers and give examples of outfits that would look great with these items. This gives you an idea of what exactly you need to look for and also what is in fashion.
Search the shops, browse the web, look everywhere, whether it's Gucci or New look make sure you have looked at all possibly variations of the style you are looking for to give you an idea of a style that you will feel 100% happy with.
Number 2. Check your bank balance!
How much do you have to spend on your shoes? More importantly how much do you need to spend on your shoes?
If your shoes are for a night out to go with a bright orange catsuit you've bought for halloween don't go mad in Harvey Nics for an amazing fair you've seen that will sit in the wardrobe for the rest of eternity! Go to Primark or Peacocks and give yourself an extra couple of twenties for booze.
If you're buying a work shoe you need something hard wearing and smart. Set aside the money you feel necessary to do this, after all you don't want to find yourself in the awkward position when your heel snaps off on your way to a meeting with your boss about that oh so important promotion you've been waiting for 15 months and sooo not counting. Also to be frank. You don't want your work colleugues to think you look cheap. That is not professional.
When buying winter boots, again quality is key. Don't go for the "Oh but i get ugh boots every year" They look sloppy. Lets face it girls - we won't be married by the time we're 35 wearing those around in our spare time. And also, every year! A good pair of boots should last you at the very least two winters.
Number 3. Buy into a brand you like.
So you've heard the Kurt Gieger in Covent garden has a shoe chandelier, and the Dune in westfield has a shoe catwalk attached to the ceiling. Go! Have a look get a feel for the brand. Don't feel like you have to buy, and definitely don't buy if you don't get good service. Advice from the sales assistants are priceless. Ask them the questions you've always wanted to know, like why do my party feet not work when I wear them in my killer heels? And how do i tell my shoes need re heeling before it's too late? These are the important things you need to know to ensure your shoes last as long as you pay for them to!
Always ask the sales assistant what she would wear them with. Don't tell her what you will be wearing them with because she will always compliment your opinion. Wearing something similar to what you want to wear them with when you're trying on is never a bad idea because then you will get a feel for how you will look.
Wear the right kind of socks. Don't rely on the shop having pop socks or letting you try on without any socks on what so ever. If you're trying winter boots on, take your comfy big socks you want to wear them with. You will never know how they're going to fit without them.
Number 4. Know the quality.
As you can see on the right, usually the bottom of the shoe has some of these symbols. These tell you what materials the shoe is made from. BE AWARE if you pay over £80 it is still VERY common to buy plastic shoes. Companies such as Kurt Geiger and Faith are particularly common culprits.
In my opinion if your budget is above £60 you should be buying Leather outers at least. This is important as leather as we all know is a natural fibre and will therefore be kinder on your feet. When wearing plastic shoes we sometimes get blisters very easily and feet get smelly very quickly.
A rubber sole is a good investment particularly for hard wear. Geox is a reliable brand for both leather shoes and rubber soles. For work courts especially they will last well.
The only exception to these rules is when you buy patent shoes. Patent leather has a tendency to crease and crack and so plastic may be a better option for amore hardwearing shoe. However if getting a plastic outer make sure the inner is still leather as again this will be more comfortable.
Look where the shoe was made. 9 times out of 10 you will see "China or Taiwan" this is a true sign of bad quality. Brazil and Italy are the best places to source leather and when paying high end prices make sure you buy from retailers who take pride in where they source their materials.
If you have questions about the materials always ask the sales assistant.
Number 5. Know the returns policy.
This is one of the most important things to ask when buying shoes as different companies have different policies. Most retailers go by the 28 days refund or exchange with your receipt, however legally you are only within your rights to get a refund or exchange when an item is faulty, so if you may change your mind make sure you know you will be able to get your money back if you want to go elsewhere.
Try the shoes on around the house for a few days before you wear them. Some leather shoes give more than others, if you haven't bought leather will they give you blisters? Knowing this before you spend a 9 hour day in them is very important. Also if you are not happy with them you still have an opportunity to take them back if you haven't worn them outside, therefore saving you money on buying a replacement pair.
Above all else, buy shoes that make you happy. Go for that killer heel because it makes your calves look skinny, buy those amazing sandals with all the sparkles on because you want to feel like a princess. The most important thing to remember is if you put on a few pounds round your waist, or if you spill red wine all down your dress, your shoes are still going to make you look and feel fabulous.


  1. Great post! I think you need to do one for guys as well as we could use a guide like this too!