How Much Should Shoes Cost?

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How many times have you been shopping online and thought, “Are these shoes really worth it?” 

No judgment here, shoes can cost a lot of money. And even when you decide to intentionally invest in your shoes, it is difficult to know whether something is expensive just to be exclusive or whether it is expensive because it is high quality and will last a long time. 

Here is your quick-fix guide to figuring out how much you should be spending on a quality pair of shoes.

If shoes are your thing, then you don’t need any convincing to spend money on them. But even if you aren’t that interested in shoes, this is one area of your wardrobe that is worth investing in. You don’t need to have 30 pairs of shoes in your closet, but the ones that you do have should be good quality. 

There are two main benefits to buying quality shoes.

  • First, they actually look better than cheap shoes, so anyone who notices your shoes is going to have something nice to look at. This is going to have the added benefit of elevating your style in a pretty simple way. 
  • Second, quality shoes are going to last longer and feel better on your feet in the long run. More often than not, shoes that are a little more expensive, are priced that way so that they can pay skilled craftspeople to make the shoes. I for one, cannot make a pair of shoes, so I feel better knowing that spending a little extra means getting shoes from someone who is an expert at making shoes. 

The next question then – how much should I be spending on a pair of shoes?

Since everyone has a different budget, different style preferences, and different ways of communicating through style, we’re going to give you the baseline for quality and then there is plenty of room to spend more depending on the designer that you want to be affiliated with.

For a pair of leather sneakers or flats, the minimum you should expect to spend for a quality pair of shoes is around $100. Of course you can find sales that will bring the price down, but this is a good metric to use as a quick way to determine the quality of a pair of shoes without any other available information. We could  jump down the rabbit hole of where the shoes were made, but we’ll save that for another conversation. 

For a pair of boots or heels, the minimum you should expect to spend is around $200. The simple answer for the difference in price compared to sneakers or flats is that anything with a heel takes a little more effort and skill to make, and the extra investment goes a long way in terms of your comfort. 

Both of these price guidelines are based on brands that focus primarily on quality. These would not include brands that also place an emphasis on design, because on top of this baseline quality price, they would then need to add the cost of the design as well. 

As an example, you can get a pair of heels that are made in Spain for $200, but then a pair of Stuart Weitzman heels that are also made in Spain might cost you closer to $400. The first $200 for each pair of heels is the same based on what it costs to craft a quality pair of heels. The additional $200 added to the Stuart Weitzman heels is largely because of the cost of creating the unique designs as well as marketing. This is a normal cost breakdown in the industry, so it just becomes your choice to decide whether you value a particular designer enough to pay extra for the design or whether you just want a fairly classic design with good quality.

If you think it would kill you to spend $400 on a pair of shoes, we still might have an option for you – The Real Real (or Vestaire Collective, or 1st Dibs, etc.). There are plenty of online shops that specialize in pre-loved pieces, including shoes, and we are big supporters of them personally. As long as you don’t have your eye on something that just came out this season, you can probably find a style you like for at least 50% less than retail. And the good thing about expensive, high quality shoes, is that even after someone has loved and used them for a few years, they still have a lot of life left in them for you. We recommend trying The Real Real first as they are very shopper-friendly, and make sure to try a pair that you can return so that you can test out the process with no risk. 

Spending more money on anything is never an easy decision. Especially if you aren’t that into clothes and you just want to use them as a tool for communication, this is a tough sell. But, spending more money on good shoes means that they are going to last longer and you won’t have to shop as much once you find a pair that you like. It also means that you will buy fewer pairs of shoes over time, which makes spending more on each pair more realistic. 

So whether you have a favorite shoe designer (Willow loves Manolo Blahnik so much for heels that she attempted to DIY fix one of her pairs with a sharpie after they got scuffed – true story) or you are trying to get a quality pair of shoes while spending the least amount of money, these guidelines will give you a little shortcut the next time you’re shopping and you have to ask yourself, “Are these shoes really worth it?”

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