fashion, living well, Sustainable living
Comments 11

Save or Splurge

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (better late than never, eh?)

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and your 2018 is off to a wonderful start.  I’ve spent the past few months reflecting on what the blog was, what I want it to be moving forward, and all the fun it’s been and the opportunities it’s provided me.  Be prepared to see some changes over the next year…changes that will provide even more meaningful and creative content. On that note…

I’m introducing a new series-SAVE OR SPLURGE-where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how to decide if an item, product or service is worth splurging on; or if it’s better off being borrowed, purchased secondhand, made or done yourself, or not worth the trouble at all.  Hold tight and I’ll be talking SHOES in a moment (or you can scroll past the next few paragraphs if you just can’t wait!)

My dad was and still is the ultimate minimalist-he was coerced into getting a mobile, flip phone just several years ago by my mom and he still uses the same barbecue grill I remember him using as a kid 15 years ago. (what’s a Big Green Egg?)  If it breaks, he’ll fix it, but you better believe when he buys something new-it’s an investment in the highest quality, top-of-the-line model out there.  We share an appreciation for all things Made in the USA, and he can tell you what stores within a 50 mile radius sell his favorite USA made shoes.

Over the years, my genetic minimalist habits have shifted into a focus on sustainability.  I’ve learned a tremendous amount on how our consumption habits impact the environment and how easily trash is sent to the landfill without giving a second thought.  Which leads to said items taking thousands of years to decompose because they aren’t biodegradable, emitting dangerous, toxic gases into the atmosphere, causing the Arctic ice caps to melt and innocent polar bears to starve! Sorry-rant over.

Marketing ads convince us we need the newest, latest and greatest product every second of our day in every format imaginable and we fall for it.  The American home contains over 300,000 items and storage facilities are one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the real estate market.

33% of Americans say they want to save money this year, while a frightening 50% of folks live paycheck to paycheck and a majority of them don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency.  Yet, some of those same individuals suffer from compulsive consumption, succumbing to the powerful marketing tactics that fuel our money spending habits.

Hopefully, my SAVE OR SPLURGE series will at least provide a new perspective on your own consumption and will help you decide what factors are most important in making a purchase, big or small.

Now-on to my first SAVE OR SPLURGE topic. Shoes!


The average individual owns roughly 19 pairs of shoes with men averaging 12 pairs and 27 the ladies! How does your collection stack up? I just counted 13 pairs in my own closet, and that’s after donating and selling A LOT this past year.

Cold weather, warm weather, spring, fall, business, casual, formal, snow, rain, running, hiking, athletic, water and work make owning multiple pairs of shoes a necessity, but how many do we really USE?  Studies show we rotate only about 5 pairs of shoes at any given time, while the rest collect dust in storage or on the shelf.  A growing shoe collection is made easy with fast fashion’s extremely low prices and tempting sales.

Several years ago I attended a business conference and I needed a good pair of comfy shoes since I’d be walking a lot throughout the conference and around the city I was in.  Normally I attempt to find what I’m looking for secondhand, but with being short on time, I purchased a pair of new shoes and spent about $25.00 after being discounted 30% and using a store gift card.  I wouldn’t have considered them ‘fast fashion’ because their full retail price was just under $100, but after only a year, they were unwearable after stretching out and having rips in the material around the toes and heel.  My clumsiness and tripping up stairs and over curbs didn’t help the matter much.

Around the same time, I discovered capsule wardrobes, slow fashion and sustainable brands producing ethical, high quality garments and I’ve slowing been weaving them into my closet.  I still thrift or purchase many items secondhand, but shoes can be hit or miss.

IMG_0458IMG_0158IMG_0515

I bought an amazing pair of vintage, woven leather loafers last year for only .99 cents (pictured above) but eventually had to superglue the soles after several months wear. No shame in my game!  Having them professionally repaired wouldn’t have been cost effective for the overall, used condition they were in.

Here’s how I determine if I need to borrow, thrift or splurge on a pair of shoes.

When to SAVE? (thrift or borrow)

  • You’re buying for a kid! Thrifted kid’s shoes tend to be in excellent condition since they’re worn for a limited time before needing to size up.
  • You discover a rare, high-end fashion find that matches what you need. Think vintage Prada or Manolo Blahnik.
  • You happen upon the item and it’s a miracle from heaven that they’re exactly what you’re in the market for.
  • You only need them one time for a special event.
  • You are in a tough spot and can’t afford to spend the money.  (totally been there)

When to SPLURGE? (buy new)

  • You need heavy duty shoes that can withstand wear and tear.
  • You will wear them more than 30 times.
  • You have a capsule-ish wardrobe and they pair well with multiple outfits.
  • You have a medical issue that requires specific footwear.
  • You are training for a race/athletic event or workout often (tip: search for discounts on last season’s models.)
  • You can’t borrow a pair, don’t have time to look secondhand and absolutely nothing in your closet fits the occasion. (tip: Poshmark almost ALWAYS has fantastic secondhand options).

My overall conclusion on saving or splurging for shoes? SPLURGE, but only if it’s an intentional and mindful purchase.  If you have a closet full of shoes, it’s not sustainable to switch out every item with a slow fashion version, especially if there’s a lot of life left.

My thought process for buying shoes has shifted from one of impulse to one of investment and I don’t treat it lightly.  An investment in two pairs of shoes that will each last 5 years or more is better than purchasing two pairs of cheaper shoes each year for 5 years.  I’m still attempting to get my husband on board with this way of thinking and it’s not easy to change a mindset, folks!

However, not all fast fashion is terrible if the purchase is of good quality and the life of the product can be extended.  I have a pair of Joe Boxer flip flops from K-Mart (yes, there are still a few of those around) that I’m still wearing after four years.

I plan, budget and save when I purchase a new pair of shoes and I also practice the one-in, one-out rule.  I keep my closet decluttered by donating or selling a pair of old shoes when I bring a new pair in.  It’s difficult finding shoes made in the USA, but I’ve found many transparent brands that pay factory workers fair wages in other countries and ensure their products are made ethically, without harming the environment.

There are a ton of emerging sustainable brands out there, but I’m highlighting a few of my favorites that I actually wear, know and trust. My favorite slow fashion brands that are definitely worth the splurge (in moderation) are Nisolo, Everlane, Able and Sseko.

NISOLO: Nashville based brand selling ethical, handmade, high-quality shoes for both men and women.  They have a flagship store in Nashville, otherwise all products are sold online.  Read my review of the Serena sandal here.

Women's Chelsea Boot Brandy (Brandy, 7)

EVERLANE: California based brand selling both ethical, high-quality shoes and clothing for men and women.  The company recently opened their first retail store in NYC with plans to open more throughout the US, but otherwise all products are sold online.

ABLE: Nashville based brand that provides jobs and opportunity to women that have overcome unthinkable hardships and poverty.  At their flagship store and online, ABLE sells responsibly made clothing, shoes and accessories for women.

SSEKO DESIGNS: Responsible and ethical Uganda based fashion brand that creates opportunity and community for young women, providing a means of income toward attending university.  Their products are sold online or through trunk shows hosted by ‘fellows’.

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 3.27.03 PM

pic via SsekoDesigns.com

Leave me a comment with your favorite sustainable or slow fashion shoe brands to add to my list.

Is there anything you’d like me to cover in my SAVE OR SPLURGE series?

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a small commission if you purchase from a link. 

11 Comments

  1. I never believed you could wear dark brown shoes with black! Where I got that idea I have no idea! I never splurge on shoes, only go to Savers (thrift store) or eBay but wearing them more than 25 times, yes, it makes sense! And as I, eh-hem, age, comfortable shoes are becoming a necessity!~Kim. (Wondering about seasonal coats and jackets? Splurge or not?)

    • Haha! I remember when wearing black shoes and a brown belt was a big no no! I think it’s more acceptable these days if it’s tasteful. (at least I hope) Ah-good one! I have on spring trench coat I thrifted in amazing condition and another winter coat I splurged on, but it’s in it’s 5th season! I would say SAVE since those are easy to find if you have the patience and usually in better condition since they aren’t used but for a season!

      • And tomorrow I will be checking winter coats at Savers. It is 50% off day. Although the thrift store prices have risen, I was looking at sale coat online… no way! I did buy a faux fur attachment collar for a wool coat I’ve had for about 10 years. Plain, black, stroller length. Should give it a bit of an update!!! FYI, yes, you did pull off the brown shoe with the black! Cool.~Kim

  2. Rusty says

    Great article! Very smart! A good article to tap into could be about compulsive behavior in buying.

  3. Erika says

    Jeans/denim! I know it’s simple but could be taken so many routes; especially diving into Madewell’s program where they recycle your old jeans!

    PS: so glad I found you! I’ve been struggling with trying to become more of a minimalist but always tend to give in and go through cycles of purging then buying. Your style of writing speaks to me and reading about the “why” gives me more motivation. Thank you!

  4. Nicole says

    Double score when you find ideal Nisolo’s on Poshmark (got my favorite shoes, my tan oxfords)! Love thrifting, shopping secondhand, and carefully considering sustainable options. Your take on all of these things s SO real life! It doesn’t read overly glossy or curated-Love it!!

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