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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Great Shoe Debate

I'm a Croc-a-holic, sort of. If you took a look at my shoe closet and saw my white Crocs, orange Crocs, 2 pairs of black Crocs and one pair of grey Crocs, you'd probably think I have some sort of a love affair with these wacky new shoes of the 21st century. This is not so. Personally, I think Crocs are pretty ugly and feel no particular fondness for them. They have but one redeeming factor, in my opinion.

The reason I have a million and five pairs of Crocs is simply because they don't sell women's shoes in my size in this country. Crocs are unisex, so I just buy men's shoes and pretend that it's really women's wear.
In the last 5 years, I have not bought any real shoes. (All those 2 dollar knock off Crocs don't count. Wait- you thought I actually had authentic Crocs? No way!) Last week was the first time in my entire time living in this country that I found cute shoes, tried them on, and they actually fit me comfortably.
The downside?

Oh, these shoes were only 150 dollars. For a gal who's grown up on Payless, and one as frugal as myself, that just wasn't happening. 75 dollars, tops, and even that would be stretching it. Sadly but resolutely, I put the shoes back on the shelf and walked out of the store, resigned to wearing my Crocs for yet another day. Or month. Or year. Or however long it takes until I find an affordable shoe option that fits me.

Shoes have definitely been on my mind as of late.
After that disappointing visit to a far out shoe store and coming home with nothing, I have begun contemplating how to be able to have a pair of shoes that actually fit me comfortably. I have a few options here:

  • Spend 150 dollars on a pair of shoes that might die within a few months. (I'm very rough on my shoes because of both my klutzy nature and how I walk.)
  • Find a way to have someone bring me a pair of shoes from the US. Tried this already. I now have 4 pairs of shoes that don't fit me, even though I sent someone to the US with an outline of my foot. Don't think I'll be doing this one again.
  • Pay a shoemaker to make shoes that fit me. I'll have to look into this. Hopefully it won't cost too much money.
  • Make my own shoes. Yes, I am seriously contemplating doing this and have done research on how to make them, what materials to get, and how to put it all together. If I end up doing this, you bet I will have a post sharing the details...
I've decided that spending a fortune on a pair of shoes is simply not worth the money. Some people say that better shoes last longer; I'm not sure I buy that one. 5 years ago, I bought my only pair of shoes in this country. They were a good 85 dollars, and broke 3 months after purchase. Expensive products doesn't mean better quality always.
People, though, are trying to convince me that making my own shoes is crazy and that I should just buy the expensive shoes, because they "probably" will last "a while". 
I'm not going to do that because I'm in essence gambling 150 dollars if I do that. That 150 dollars isn't money I have laying around with which to take that risk....

So, the shoe debate...
In other shoe news, 1 year old Spike started walking well 2 weeks ago and needed his first pair of shoes. 3 year old Lee outgrew his sneaker and his sandals were on their last leg. I needed shoes for 2 little boys but wanted to make the most money smart decision.

Lee's first pair of shoes were a name brand pair that I bought for 50 dollars. I had tried to find cheaper shoes, but his feet were a tough size to find, and I couldn't find anything cheaper. 
I've heard parents say that with shoes, you must spare no expense. That Payless shoes for kids, especially newly walking, are bad. That you should spend around 100 dollars on your child's first pair of shoes and buy "beginner walker shoes" to ensure that they have only the best with which to start their walking journey.
I disagree with this stance. 
Shoes don't need to be expensive to work well. You check if they fit comfortably and if they're flexible enough- who cares if they're name brand or not?
I got Lee's first pair of shoes one size too big on him, so that they would last him for a while. I bought him that pair at one year old, a cheap pair of sandals that spring, an off brand pair of sneakers the next autumn when he was 2 years old, again getting a size larger than needed to give him room to grow. I gave Lee hand me down sandals this past summer, and just now bought him new shoes. Off brand. For 17 dollars.
Lee's shoes are comfortable and cute as well as cheap and they hold up pretty nicely. And although my son grew quickly and went up 4 shoe sizes since he started walking 2 years ago, I only needed to buy him 3 pairs of shoes.
Once Lee's shoes were outgrown, they went into the closet to be used for the next in line.

Now that Spike is walking, instead of going out to the store and purchasing him a new pair of shoes as I had been intending on doing, I remembered where I put Lee's outgrown shoes. I pulled out Lee's first pair of shoes, and to my excitement, they fit Spike like a dream!

Maybe, according to some moms, I'm irreparably damaging my kids feet by giving them cheap shoes and hand me down shoes. 
I think differently. I got my boys shoes that fit them comfortably, that have a good amount of movement and the right amount of support and freedom. Shoes don't have to be new or expensive to work!
I'm proud to be able to give my kids shoes without needing to break the bank. 

By the way, Lee absolutely adores his brand new cheapo shoes. And Spike? He can't either get enough of his sneakers, and will often be seen prancing around my home in nothing more than a diaper and his hand me down shoes.

What side do you fall on with the shoe debate? Is it worthwhile to buy expensive shoes? Does it make a difference if you're buying for adults or kids? Should adults get expensive or cheap shoes? Should kids get expensive or cheap shoes?
How much have you spent on shoes for your kids? How do you go shoe shopping?
If you were I, would you buy those 150 dollar shoes?

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