The Dead Giveaway of Cheap Shoes


(Image credit: Sandra Semburg)

We were recently schooled on the dead giveaway of cheap skinny jeans, which inspired us to find out how to spot the signs that make another wardrobe essential look cheap: shoes. You can probably quickly tell when a pair of shoes feels cheap (hello, blisters), but being able to put your finger on exactly what makes them look cheap can be a little trickier. And because being able to spot warning signs of a cheap pair of shoes before you buy them is a very useful skill, we reached out to the designer of celebrity-favorite brand Dear Frances. (Bella Hadid, Emma Roberts, and Selena Gomez are fans.) Dear Frances Spirit Boots have reached cult status since their release in 2015, and the rest of the lineup is equally lust-worthy. 

Designer Jane Frances candidly shared with us her expert take on what makes shoes look cheap and what makes them look expensive. On the subject of cheap shoes, Frances said, "An expertly cut pattern is one of the most important processes of high-quality shoe-making, so a poorly cut pattern is an instant giveaway for cheaply made shoes." She added, "Cheap shoes will often fit too wide or at an unflattering point of the ankle, both signs that the pattern has been poorly designed. The pattern should hold your foot firmly without cutting too tight, so any pair that gapes in the wrong places, rubs your heels, or doesn't support your arch should be given a wide berth."

Now that you know what to avoid when choosing shoes, this is what Frances told us to seek out when choosing pricier-looking footwear: "When it comes to expensive shoes, you can't go past soft, supple leathers, with folds in all the right places. High-quality leathers will soften over time and mold beautifully to your foot, so they'll never be mistaken for cheap shoes!"

Now that you know what to look for, keep scrolling to shop our shoe picks from brands that are known for having high-quality footwear, regardless of the price tag.

Allyson Payer
Senior Editor

Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.