As a self-proclaimed shoe lover extraordinaire, I unabashedly relish venturing up to the shoe floor of a department store to ogle the mouth-dropping selection. Few things provide greater shopping satisfaction than perusing the rows of delicately embroidered flats, admiring pair upon pair of smooth leather boots, and relishing the aisles of glittering, sumptuous sandals. The only caveat in this dreamland is the tragic moment when I gingerly pick up a pair of shoes I like, glance at the sole to check the price, and half-laugh, half-scoff at the inordinate sums one must now fork over for a designer shoe.
In the past few years, prices for luxury goods have soared tremendously. Shoes that used to cost a maximum of $600 are now retailing for $1,000+, easily. Does anybody else remember the line in the first Sex and the City film where Sarah Jessica Parker’s iconic Manolo Blahniks were only $525?! Um, yeah – those are $995 now. The first film, wherein these shoes were prominently featured, came out in 2008. Within 10 years, this shoe has nearly doubled in price. (Adjusting for inflation, these should be $615.55 in today’s money, though this does not account for changes in labor or cost of goods.)
LOUISE: Hello? There are never been worn four hundred dollar shoes!
CARRIE: Five twenty-five.
I am personally an avid shopper and advocate of discounted outlet-style stores like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Century 21, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. I’ve found plenty of shoes that are even currently in stores at these outlets – and for prices I consider fair, taking into account the retail price of the given shoes. In this post, I’ll be featuring some recent acquisitions, as well as some helpful tips and tricks for shopping at these types of stores and scoring good deals.
Sparkly and whimsical, these fun Miu Miu sneakers are a style I first found myself admiring at Saks. I was delighted when I found them for $200 – a significant discount from their retail price. $200 is still quite a lot for a pair of sneakers in my book, but even brand new Nikes and Adidas sneakers now cost upwards of $100 nowadays! I’d pair these with a cute summer dress and denim jacket, or a light washed pair of jeans and a tee. Personally, I’ve been opting for sneakers more and more over the past several years, unlike my younger self, who remained passionately loyal to the ballerina flat. I’m glad that so many designers are jumping on the sneaker trend, since it means there are loads of cute designs to choose from. I used to have a strong aversion to metallic shoes, particularly gold and silver, but now I think they’re quite fun and cute! My only concern with these shoes is the glitter falling off, but I’m not overly worried because I have a nearly identical pair of Miu Miu Mary Janes I purchased at the Woodbury outlet several years ago, and they remain in great condition.
Oxford-style shoes and loafers have been a mainstay in fashion, and I find them immensely appealing. These navy and black Burberry brogues are the perfect shoe to wear with a pair of slacks or cool pants and a gorgeous blouse, or a monochromatic suit. These were a steal at $179.99, which is a great price for such a classic and beautiful shoe. I absolutely love them! I find that this pair manages to strike a delicate balance between a classic “menswear” shoe while not appearing too oversized.
The same week I spotted the brogues at Nordstrom Rack, I also stumbled upon this cool pair of rain boots. I have two pairs of tall Burberry rain boots I’ve featured on my blog before, but I much prefer shorter styles. They’re easier to slip on and don’t leave you feeling overdressed. I find it somewhat ridiculous when people wear large, oversized Hunter rain boots when it’s drizzling at best, so I typically just wear more worn out or older shoes in the rain. Rain boots are reserved for heavy rain or slushy snow season. This shorter biker-style rain boot manages to look like a regular boot, which is my preference with “weather” shoes. My other favorite pair was featured in my old blog – the lovely Jimmy Choo Jai boots.
These Céline slip ons were incredibly popular a few years ago, though I never took the plunge to purchase them. They’re quite simple and similar to Vans, so I could never justify the cost. Finding them on clearance for $100 was very lucky and I couldn’t resist! I found them at Saks Off Fifth. I figured, for this price, this would be a good pair of casual sneakers to have in my shoe arsenal.
Mine for: a little under $200 at Saks Off Fifth
Buy similar (on sale!): here, here, here
Pairing shearling and light brown is one of my favorites for winter – I’ve even found myself lusting after shearling Chanel flaps and, of course, shearling coats like this classic Acne piece (this has been on my wishlist forever). When I spotted these adorable shearling Rag & Bone booties for a great price, with only one pair left in my size, I rushed to order them. I absolutely love how these look – they’re so perfect for autumn and winter, and look very elegant.
I’m a huge fan of Vince sneakers, though I do not believe in paying anything close to full price for them. A couple of years ago, I stocked up on five pairs for $50 a pop at the Barneys Warehouse sale. This pair was a clearance find at Nordstrom Rack, priced at $37.50. They’re good quality sneakers for sure, and I get a lot of wear out of them. I find them very comfortable!
7. Manolo Blahnik Tres Sandals in suede blush/light pink and iridescent glitter
Manolo Blahnik, infamous for its inseparable association to fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw, is known for masterfully crafting high-quality, elegant shoes akin to works of art. I’ve always lusted after the classic jeweled pair Carrie wears in the first Sex and the City movie. Each of these pairs of Noe sandals was $250 at Nordstrom Rack, and since I couldn’t pick between the two, I got both. However, once I found these thrifted brand new Aquazurra sandals, I decided to return the suede dusty pink pair, keeping only the iridescent, sparkly Noe sandals.
Finally, as promised, some shopping tips for spotting designer shoes at outlet-type stores!
TJ Maxx & Marshalls: Be on the lookout for purple tags, which typically denote “luxury” items at these stores. Designer shoes tend to be at the forefront of the shoe section when they are available, but tend to be overpriced. Check the clearance section – you never know what you’ll find! Be wary and careful regarding authenticity – sometimes, people can return inauthentic shoes and employees are less than savvy regarding authentication.
Nordstrom Rack: If you’re a frequent Rack shopper, you already know all-too-well that Nordstrom Rack shoe prices can be….well, not much of a discount. It seems the best bet are the couple of pairs they occasionally get as store transfers. Sometimes, Nordstrom Rack stores will get shoes from the current or previous season. For the most part, they’ll be priced between $150 and $299. These are usually random items and only a select few are ever available, but you can find some spectacular gems. I even once spotted a $10,000 python Saint Laurent Sac du Jour for $1,000 (didn’t get it as I didn’t like the color).
Century 21: Clearance time is the best time to shop Century 21 shoes; I also highly recommend checking out their website. In Manhattan, the downtown Century 21 by Wall Street is by far the best and largest one, with an entire separate store dedicated to shoes. The downstairs shoe area often boasts shoes from well-known designers like Christian Louboutin, Giuseppe Zanotti, Gianvito Rossi, Marni, and Prada, to name a few.
I hope these tips helped and I hope my finds inspired you to see what you can unearth in your local stores! Happy shopping! xx