Ask any of my close friends or family members, and they’ll tell you I’m an extreme shoe addict. I’m also a bit of a hoarder, since I have a problem getting rid of shoes and clothes. I recently counted all the shoes that were visible to me without moving any boxes, and the number totaled 65! (I’m actually embarrassed by that number and refuse to count all my shoes now.) Yet, I tend to wear the same few pairs of shoes each season. So how do I keep my favorite shoes working hard for me year after year? I know the great value of a good cobbler!
Whenever I buy a mid- to high-end pair of shoes with leather bottoms, I take them to the cobbler to have him put rubber half soles on them. I usually only have to do this step once. And if the shoes — usually high-heels — have plastic heel taps, then I have those replaced with rubber ones too. Rubber is so much more effective at protecting shoes and absorbing the shock of walking than leather, but shoe companies and shoppers feel a leather sole makes shoes more high-end. That thinking is expensive and annoying in the long run, but that’s the price we pay for hot kicks.
I don’t discriminate when it comes to shoes. If they’re hot and don’t look too cheap, then I’ll wear them. But often cheaper shoes require more prep work and a larger upfront investment than higher end pairs. The plastic heel taps should definitely be replaced with rubber ones before you wear them. Wearing inexpensive shoes once can wear down the plastic heel tap, and by the end of the day you’ll be clacking on the pavement with every step. Trust me, I’ve had this happen. I also have a trained ear that can detect a worn-down heel tap even on a crowded NYC street, so I imagine others do too. Save yourself the embarrassment!
A good cobbler should also be skilled enough to fix a broken heel — and do your research before handing over your favorite pair to one. Once, after a night of cocktails, I fell down the steps to the train and completely demolished the heel on my favorite shoes. I’d only had them for six months, and had worn them only once after having the heel taps repaired. I was pissed, to say the least! I took them back to my local cobbler, and after speaking with him, I suspected that he knew he’d damaged the heel while putting on new heel taps. I didn’t leave them with him again.
So give your shoes what they need in order to keep you happy. Take them to a skilled cobbler. This might take a bit of trial and error, asking around — or in my case, traveling outside your neighborhood — but it’s worth it. Have the cobbler replace or fix any parts that need some attention or TLC. With these little investments, your shoes will continue to work hard for you season after season.