You walk into the store and you see them… the most beautiful high end dress shoes you've ever laid eyes on.
You're in love.
You pick them up and look at the price… ouch.
Okay. So they cost a little money. Shoes are the foundation of your wardrobe and they're worth investing in.
You don't mind SPENDING that money… but you'd hate to WASTE it on shoes you never use. How do you know you're making the right choice?
Today we're going to look at ten costly mistakes men make when investing in high end dress shoes – and how you can avoid them.
Mistake 1: Equating Value With Price
This is the biggest mistake people make when buying shoes. Value and price are NOT the same.
Have you come across the style theory of value yet?
Let's break that down. Say you bought a pair of shoes for $50.
You thought you were getting a great deal, but they turned out to hurt your feet, so you've only ever worn them 5 times.
Now, how do they make you feel on a scale of 1 to 100? Let's be generous and give them a 10.
Slotting those numbers into the equation gives you V = (5×10)/50. Do the math and you'll find V = 1. The value of those shoes is 1.
Say another pair of shoes cost you $500.
They feel great, they fit great, and you love the way they look. You wear those shoes 500 times over the next few years.
How do they make you feel on a scale of 1 to 100? They make you feel like a million bucks. We'll give them 100.
For these shoes, V = (500×100)/500. That means the value of these shoes is 100.
The $500 shoes are worth 100 times more than the $50 pair.
I'm not saying you have to spend $500 on a pair of shoes. But you do have to pay attention to how they fit and how they make you feel. Those are the key factors in value – NOT the price.
When you love your shoes so much you find excuses to wear them, both the ‘feeling' and the ‘number of wears' go way up, and the value goes up with them. That's what style is all about – building your confidence so you can go out there and be the man you know yourself to be.
2: Spending Too Much On High End Dress Shoes
There are two main ways dress shoes can eat your money. One is buying famous fashion brands where you pay extra for the name.
Nobody can tell what brand your shoes are.
The other is quality brands that just happen to have a really high price point, like John Lobb or Alton. They're great companies, but not everyone needs to be spending $1000 on shoes.
The Internet has leveled the playing field. You can now buy direct from companies that don't have big storefronts and don't have to pay a middleman – so they pass all the savings on to you.
3: Not Starting With Classic Men's Shoes
Leave eccentric styles for later. Start your shoe collection with a classic workhorse like a black cap toe Oxford for work, or something a little more casual like a blucher or wingtip.
Eccentric shoes can still be a great investment. But start with your foundation pieces, because you'll get more wears out of them.
4: Not Knowing How To Spot Quality Men's Shoes
Ever thought you got a great deal… until you noticed your shoes were glued together? Or made of plastic?
‘Shiny' is not the same as ‘stylish'.
The issue with shoes that are glued together is not so much the gluing itself – although that does mean they'll eventually fall apart and can't be resoled – it's the fact that it's a sign of poor quality. If they're cheap enough to glue the sole and upper together, they're cheap enough to use poor quality components in both.
Instead, go for either Blake stitch or Goodyear welt construction. I know some people prefer one or the other, but both of them are great.
Most Blake stitched or Goodyear welted shoes have a leather sole (though some have rubber) and if you look inside the shoe and take out the inner lining you can see that it's stitched on. With a Goodyear welt you can also see the stitching on the outside.
5: Only Buying One Pair Of Dress Shoes
You don't want to have one pair of high end dress shoes that you wear every single day. You need to rotate shoes to give them time to breathe.
If you like a particular style, why not grab a similar pair in a different color, or in suede instead of regular leather?
6: Not Taking Care Of Your Investment
Get yourself a quality cedar shoe tree and actually put your shoes on it when you take them off. It'll pull moisture out, act as an antibacterial (i.e. anti-stink) agent, and most importantly help the shoe keep its shape.
A lot of companies that make high end dress shoes offer shoe trees specifically shaped for the shoe. If you can buy one of these, it's well worth it.
7: Not Polishing Shoes
Too many men think polishing their shoes or using a leather conditioner is optional. If you want your high end dress shoes to last more than one winter you need to take care of them.
Wax is your first line of defense – it creates a thin layer to protect your shoes from water, salt, and abrasion. When you knock up against something, with luck it'll just knock the layer of wax off instead of harming the leather.
While you're buying your shoes, ask which polish you can apply to match the leather color. Make sure to always test the polish on the tongue of the shoe and see if it causes any discoloration before you actually apply it on the upper.
8: Not Storing Dress Shoes Properly
Do you dry your shoes next to the heater when they're damp? Stop doing that. You're damaging the leather.
When you buy high end dress shoes from a reputable manufacturer, they should give you a shoe bag to protect them from dust and damage.
Keep that bag and als0 the shoe box. Then when you put your shoes away for the season, you can bag them, box them, and stack them in your closet.
9: Not Paying Attention To Detail
If you're making this mistake, it's probably because you don't know what details to look for. Here's a rundown.
- The heel should be built from layers of leather secured with tacks (small nails).
- A little bit of rubber for traction on a leather heel is another sign of quality.
- In broguing, the perforations (holes) should be very clean.
- The shoe should have a leather lining to protect the outer part from your sweaty foot.
- The lining should be secured with a single stitch that's even around the edges.
10: Not Matching Belt To Shoes
Before you leave the store or the website, find a belt that matches your shoes – especially if the leather color is difficult to match. Most high end dress shoe companies have a series of belts that work.
Bonus: Buying From Companies That Don't Care
If a high end dress shoe company has bad customer service, it's probably going to cost you money.
If you're going to spend good money on a pair of shoes, you want them to last a long time. So if the stitching starts to come apart – which can happen even on the best shoes – you want to make sure that you're going to be taken care of.
Smaller companies usually have great customer service, and if you do your research online you'll find that some larger ones do too.