Brainstorming (and Daydreaming) about Secondhand Shoes

I recently donated my Goodwill-bought Puma sneakers back to Goodwill; over the course of wearing them regularly for two years, the vinyl-ish lining on the edges of the opening has peeled off and it’s no longer possible to corral the foot odor (a problem with all the Pumas I’ve thrifted, but not with any other shoes I own). So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to find new-to-me sneakers.

As I brainstormed about their replacement, I realized that apart from rain/snowboots for weather, I’ve only been wearing one pair of shoes this winter – my Lucky Brand snake print ankle boots:

Hi Frida! #favoritesocksever

I thought about what makes them so versatile and how I might find a pair of sneakers that hit that same sweet spot. I came up with:

-Print = visual interest. The print on these boots adds visual interest to pretty much every outfit. If I’m worried about looking overly color-blocked with big areas of solid color, or if an outfit just looks meh, I can add these for an instant visual relief and/or boost.

-Monochrome = neutral. Another reason these go with everything is because the black-and-white color scheme reads as neutral. (They’re also somewhat muted, more cream/charcoal than stark white/black, which means they go better with my Light Summer palette.)

-Comfort. I can walk a mile or two in these comfortably because the heel is low and the insole is comfortable.

Since I wanted to avoid the Puma odor issue, I decided to look for another brand. I knew my secondhand Sperry Topsiders were comfortable and figured that knowing my size in this brand would allow me to search online for a new (to me) pair of sneaks that had a reasonable chance of fitting. Loads of scrolling later, I found these beauties on Poshmark:

The gold helps them add interest & personality, while the embossed “python” print breaks them up just a bit and makes them more of a brushed metallic neutral. Plus they are very comfy! Once the snow and salt disappears, I’m very excited to wear these as a “pop” on an otherwise straightforward outfit. (Full disclaimer: the laces on mine are a weirdly clashing cognac kind of color; I’m either going to paint them with my leftover leather paint from this project or maybe get white leather laces instead.)

I’ve also thought about getting another pair of cold-weather boots to alternate with my snakeprint beauties to give them a little rest – I want them to last a long time! As I scrolled through Poshmark and eBay for ideas in the print/neutral category, here’s what caught my eye:

Metallic ankle boots by Miss Albright (Anthropologie brand) with a funky, fun fan detail on the back:

I have no idea about their comfort level but suspect that that heel will be too high for me to rock on the regular. (I am a lightweight when it comes to heels and favor comfort over height pretty much every time.)

Brocade ankle boots by Aldo:

I love the neutral metallic brocade on this – the lush texture of brocade makes my heart sing! – and the floral pattern (florals are another favorite of mine). The heel is low, which means they would probably be comfortable, although reviews on the Aldo site say these are not very high quality.

Pro tip: when shopping secondhand online (or even in a thrift store), if you’re not sure about quality/how something will hold up long term, Google the piece and see what reviews say.


Speaking of brocade…

Brocade floral ankle boots by Shellys London:

I have heart eyes for these. These definitely add visual interest; in fact, they steal the show! They’re not exactly neutral, but they echo the Light Summer color palette fabulously and would harmonize with the large amounts of pink and blue in my wardrobe. The only negative? That 3-inch heel. Although an online review calls them comfortable enough to wear all day, and the large, blocky nature of the heel would provide more stability, as a non-heel wearer I’m not convinced I’d find them practical.

Granted, I’d probably only wear them to church (think of the vestment-like wardrobe statement with them peeking out underneath my robe!!), which is just a few blocks’ walk and lowers the chances of them getting dirty and dingy… yes, I have tried really hard to convince myself to get these secondhand. Walking away now…


What makes a shoe super versatile to you? What shoes would you snag if practicality weren’t an issue?

5 thoughts on “Brainstorming (and Daydreaming) about Secondhand Shoes

  1. I bought some Taos heels at a thrift store and they are incredibly comfortable. They ab\re brown and have straps that cross in front. I really can wear them all day and dance in them all night. I have since bought three new pairs of Taos shoes — including one pair of low cowboy boots — at considerable discounts, but still far more than I ever pay for anything. The cowboy boots were half off at $120, and that’s by far the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve ever purchased. They are blood red leather embroidered with flowers! But I knew they wouldl be comfortable and last for years. (the $20 black ankle boots I bought from Rampage have been comfortable and lasted two years, so far, but the Taos boots should last decades) The sad thing is that all their heels are now Mary Janes, and that doesn’t look as nice as the crossed straps. Oh well. At my previous job I wore the black low heels about every other day for two years, and they are still going strong. I worked in the city and could walk for many blocks in them, all day long. You get what you pay for, I guess. I would have them make more heels so that I could buy more!

    1. Isn’t it great when you thrift a brand you wouldn’t necessarily have bought retail but then it becomes a favorite? The red embroidered cowboy boots sound beautiful – and from the little I know of high end cowboy boots, $120 is a steal.
      I wonder if you could find Taos heels on eBay or another online resale platform?

  2. You’ve certainly gotten a lot of mileage out of those “snakeskin” boots!

    I love my black leather Lucky Brand ballet flats that I got for $6 (they retail here for $85+). Boring, possibly, but they more or less go with most of my winter wardrobe and it is so convenient to leave them in my drawer at work and be able to change out of my boots. If practicality were not a concern I would wear light-colored fabric (such as canvas or linen-type) shoes all spring and summer but I find cleaning them a challenge. I like to thrift dark or patterned canvas shoes, which can tolerate a bit of mud or staining. Do you have any opinion on the “fake suede” boots and flats that we are seeing everywhere now?

    1. I wore some thrifted navy floral canvas sneakers to holes for that very reason – comfortable and easy but the darker color hid stains. I’ve since replaced them with navy polka dotted Keds (also thrifted) but haven’t been as excited to wear them, for some reason – I think I just really love florals :)
      I thrifted some fake suede boots that were too high for me but otherwise seemed like any other fabric-based shoe. But recently I bought secondhand fake suede Sporto boots on Mercari that just seemed cheap, quality- and construction-wise. (They’re also too big, so I plan to resell them which means I can’t report back on how they wear, long-term.) I was looking for waterproof but still office-appropriate boots; since treated suede apparently is as easy to clean as fake suede I think I’ll give real suede (e.g. Blondo) a try next go-around. Have you found any quality fake suede you like?

  3. I’m a new reader (just found you through The Vivienne Files), and I really like the way you think about clothes :) I’ve made a resolution to buy less and more critically, and I can tell your blog will be very useful!

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