Monday, March 15, 2010

Thrift Tip: Shoes

Almost everyone I talk to about my thrifting adventures seems to recoil when I want to show off the amazing shoes I just bought. "Ew, old shoes," people say, or, "There have got to be some germs in there."

Well, I've never even had a case of athlete's foot. So thrift store shoes get my vote. Here's how to make wise choices about it:

Wear slip-ons: The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of the aisle in a crowded thrift store is untying your Chucks or fussing with socks. Summertime is great for buying thrift shoes because you can get away with your flip flops. But until we're frost-free, try some simple flats. You want to be able to be spontaneous as you look through the shelves.

Seek Quality: I don't care if they're cute--this is not the time to be scooping up all the Payless shoes that you could have gotten new for $10. This is your shot to get real quality shoes for a low price, so take advantage. If you're not sure if the brand is a trustworthy name, look at the construction. Does the shoe look cheaply-made? What are the materials? Is the shoe worth being secondhand? Think about these things before you even try the shoe on.

Examine Wear and Tear: Some shoes are in mint condition and have only been worn once. Some shoes have some wear, but are still in good enough shape to be worth the purchase. And still some are just not worth trying to clean, polish, or cobble into something wonderful. Make sure none of the seams are coming apart. Make sure any scratches aren't noticeable enough to embarrass you. Make sure the sole can last for the duration of your footwear love affair. For canvas shoes (I'm looking at you, cork wedges) make sure that the fabric isn't dingy.

One exception that I often make regards the lining of the shoe. It's not a big deal when the flap is coming up, as it's easily glued back down. More important, you should check under the flap if you see that it's loose. Checking there can tell you a lot about the construction of the shoe. If it looks cheap, leave it behind. If you go, "Wow, this shoe is nice," then it's a keeper. Just get out a little super glue.

That's it! If you see a pair you like, take them home and enjoy them. If you're squeamish, spray them with some food deodorizer or something. And when people ask you where you got your hot new shoes, you can decide whether you want to admit they're thrift. The secret's safe with me.

Speaking of shoes, remember the dress I bought at the Fashion is Spinach pop up sale?   Last week I found an ideal pair of shoes to match:

I can't wait to try on the entire ensemble and see how the ivory belt and shoes look with their crystal accents.  These heels aren't particularly vintage or by a big label, but they'll be the perfect touch. 

What else do I need to be ready for a June wedding in the dress and shoes?  I'm thinking an ivory clutch, and maybe a small hair clip with little crystals.


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