Tips from The Tightfisted: Lose the 5″ Heels

Poof, 200 readers lost, just with the title of this post. The 150 who are hovering over the release button – hear me out.

If you’re the same kind of “broke” I am, you’re not hopping into your conveniently-parked, easy-to-drive, magical-GPS-open-parking-spot-locating vehicle and just driving yourself around all day running on a fuel that’s made from Top Ramen and optimism… You’re walking your ass to the bus stop, you’re accidentally stepping in puddles, and you have that longed-for ability to get your heels stick in the sidewalk cracks when you’re waiting in line at the coffee stand for 15 minutes.

Hence: ditch the 5″ heels.

I know they’re only $19.99, and I know what they do for your calves… But trust me – if you’re counting your pennies to afford to live under a roof for another month, you can’t afford many piece-o’-crap accessories. Like it or not, accessories might be the most important part of your wardrobe for their transformative abilities, so investing some time and some (only a few) dollars into some solid pairs just makes sense. If they last forever – yay you. If they go with everything – double yay you. If they’re not expensive to begin with – eff yay you!


Jen’s magic shoes from this post. (For the record, she walks all over town in these!)

The thing I’ve noticed in my years (decade…!) of online shopping and bargain hunting – cheaper shoes love to pile on the inches. It can’t just be me, can it? I see more $25 shoes with 5.5″ heels than moderately priced shoes with 4″ heels.  It is because the fashion is faster? Is it because there’s only one use for 5″ heels and it doesn’t involved any walking? Who knows.

When you start looking at your day-to-day routine, if you’ve read past the “if you’re the same kind of ‘broke’ that I am”… You know those stilts just aren’t cost effective. You will have busted up, bleeding feet. You will have back-aches, foot-aches, and Who-Knows-What-Else-aches. You will hate every moment you wear them, regardless of the style. As soon as you have to pee, you’ll find that walking around the office barefoot is… not quite as embarrassing as teetering your supposed-to-be-glamorous? ass to the bathroom. (Trust me, I’ve been there.)

Besides, do you even want to waste pay $20 for a pair of shoes you’ll be lighting on fire in two weeks? Better luck just renting a beautiful pair for a week and telling everyone they’re yours until you “just get tired of them.”


Lindsay’s magical boots from this post. (Also all-over-city boots! So comfortable…)

Good shoes, however, are hard to find. I have some go-to brands that I scour every time I’m in the mood for a few addition to the accesso-family. Here are a few brands that I would trust with my life:

  • Seychelles
    Not only do that have some of the cutest, vintage-inspired shoes, but their quality is top notch.
  • Converse
    Whaaat? It’s true! Chuck Taylors are notorious for staying wearable for decades!
  • Dr. Martens
    Seriously, same as above. I know people who still wear Doc Martens from the 70s!
  • Pleaser
    …What? It’s not like you’re going to wear them that much…
  • Via Spiga
    If I can walk around in a gravel pit, blasted on tequila for 5 hours every Thursday night for 1.5 years – you can wager that these are walkable, at the very least.
  • Frye
    Pricey, but if you can catch it on sale – by God, take that deal. They are another company you can consider the “vintage of the future.”
  • Cole Haan
    This is for the ladies who like to look amazing whilst rocking public transportation to their daily 9-5. When Cole Haan partnered up with Nike Air, the world of workwear changed. & We should all be ever-thankful.
  • Wanted
    The price is right, and these shoes are definitely for the more adventurous, fashion-forward lady. They’re a little fast fashion, but as you can see by our reviews, they’re well worth it.
  • farylrobin
    I’ve heard enough people rave about the quality of farylrobin’s shoes that I’m constantly looking for a pair to test drive.
  • Clarks, Naturalizer, Sofft – The Comfort Crew
    Oh heck yes I peruse the offers from “old lady shoe” designers. They are wising up, and have been for years! Newer styles are much more modern than you’d expect.
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It seems limited, but it’s not. There are tons of brands I haven’t experienced yet – so many to try (so many shoes, so little time!), but these are my solid gold oldies. Because there is both a positive and evil force within me, I also have a list of brands that I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole, if I wanted to get a good pair of shoes that wouldn’t fail me at inopportune moments:

  • Wild Diva
    No. No way. Current, fashionable shoes for cheap? Oh, you bet. Will they tear your feet off in little chunks and ruin your life? Probably.
  • Michael Antonio
    While it’s been hit-or-miss, the “miss” has ended in bleeding toes and band-aids, so to me it’s just not worth it.
  • Aldo
    So sad, I know! This is only because of my personal relationship with Aldo’s sizing. I tried on so many pairs of Aldo shoes that I would have bought multiples of, and they were so narrow I could barely get my feets in them.
  • Chinese Laundry
    Another “too cheap to be true” brand who offers up gorgeous, beautiful, Right Now shoes but falling apart is imminent.
  • Sugar
    Because we’re not 13 anymore.

Outside of these brands, there are experiments-in-progress and a lengthy to-do list of [delicious] shoes to try. Oh, speaking of… Delicious is another brand of shoe I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot insole.

Here are a few babies that I’ve been eying lately:

Via Spiga Sandals Farylrobin Boots Seychelles Booties Seychelles Sandals Indigo by Clarks Skimmers

Are there some go-to brands that have saved you? Some “never again”? Share!

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  • I refuse to ever by Wild Diva again, since one of there shoes (on the first outing) the heel snapped right off. Not a good night.
    My go-tos are aereosoles when I know I’m going to be on my feet for hours and hours, via spiga, cole haan, and tahari make some of my favorites in general. Banana republic ain’t bad either, but then again I always get them off of DSW or ebay 🙂

    • Ugh yes! The number of blisters is almost impossibly high.

  • Sigh..sad but true..being a student definitely takes a tole on the ability to make excuses to buy expensive fabulous shoes 🙁 I’ve got few good pairs that get me through but yes, I agree the cheap ones are always so high and even when I go to a fashion show they’re not very practical because you’re walking around so much!

  • I’ve had one of my pairs of converses since I was 12. I’m 23 now and my feet have grown two sizes, but I can still wear them! They have holes in them, they’ve faded, but I love them more than ever 😀

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  • I try to snipe designer shoes from ebay at really low low prices, for in my experience, there’s most of the time good engineering behind the big names. I’ve got a pair of 5″ Marc Jacobs that feel like home when I’m walking in them.
    That aside, Nine West rarely failed me in the reasonable heights (3.5-4), and you get them dirt cheap on second hand.
    I’ve got a pair of 3″ Pons Quintana that I would wear for trekking the Anapurna, they are SO easy to wear.

  • I LOVE this blog! Great post! I totally agree… we only get 2 feet, why be so mean and waste money on shitty shoes to kill them? Chinese Laundry is my favorite. I have high heels and ankle boots that I love. I want to afford some Seychelles…