October 20, 2017

Frugal Fashionista: Should I seriously wear second hand shoes?


IMG 0802 1 1 4 How Do I Get Odors Out of Clothing and Linens?

(Are you new to my Frugal Fashionista series? Find out how I dress for less with designer outfits for mere pennies on the dollar. Yes, all outfitsΒ  from head to toe are less than $15.)

brown Steve Maddens

One of the most asked questions of my Frugal Fashionista series is in reference to shoes. People see the cute outfits, possibly understand wearing designer second hand clothes, but they just can’t get past the fact that I wear shoes…shoes that other people had on their feet.

First off, let me just say that in no way, shape or form will I be offended if you just can’t get past the “eww” factor of thrifting for shoes, but I am going to try to sway you just a little.

I am VERY picky with the shoes I purchase. I pass by hundreds of pairs at Goodwill and yard sales on a regular basis to snatch the 2-3 gems that have been discarded. Now, with that disclaimer, there are still tons of unbelievable shoes up for grabs.

I have not bought shoes from a “real” store in…thinking, thinking…ten years (at least).

Some women spend money on make up, some on handbags, but many women spend exorbitant amounts of money on shoes. Shoes is just their “drug” of choice and and they have shoes to accessorize every outfit. When women have that many shoes, quite often none of them get worn very much. Especially with dressier shoes, they may be worn for one special occasion and then not touched again before they clear out their closet. Those are the shoes that I snag and trust me, there are plenty to go around. If you are a minimalist, this is where I ask you to PLEASE stop reading or I will feel your palatable disdain through the computer screen.

Growing up, I had three pairs of shoes – tennis shoes, church shoes and every day shoes. Money wasn’t an issue, we had money, but I didn’t get what the big deal was with shoes. Even into college, I had no care about my shoes.

Then, I bought my first pair of HIGH BLACK LEATHER BOOTS, and my life changed (in just a superficial way, of course). I realized that with just the right pair of shoes, an ordinary outfit turns from drap to fab in an instant.

Shoes, like accessories, can make the most basic of outfit pop with pizazz. There’s nothing I love more in the winter than to pull out my tall boots. They give me confidence about an otherwise normal outfit that previously I wouldn’t have had. Since the price tag on the shoes I gravitate towards typically run well over $100 in the stores, my Frugal Fashionista finds allow my new found love for shoes to flourish without heart failure.

Notably, now my biggest problem is that I need to pass on the pairs I don’t wear anymore.Β  I’m confessing this is a sampling of what I own.Β  I just pulled out some summer favorites (that were on my first two shoes shelves…lol).

Here’s the deal with excess shoes. Yes, they take up room (I’m working on weeding through them now), but it’s so fun to mix and match shoes with outfits. Considering that most brand new leather boots cost more than what I spent on all the shoes in my closet, you can judge me. I can take it. πŸ˜‰

steve madden

Two weeks ago, I bought these Steve Madden sandals at the “Fashion Haul” ladies’ yard sale for $2 (in the box). Considering they probably cost around $55-90 new, I’m all over those.Β  I always check the bottom soles; that gives me a good gauge as to how much wear and tear have occurred on the shoes.

These can easily be wiped down with some kind of disinfectant. But let me ask you if you’ve ever tried on shoes at a store? Hmm….not much difference from putting on these wooden sandals I might add.

should I wear high heels

These $1 sandals were worn once for a wedding (and yes, I heard the whole story, including the part about the ex-husband…yard sales, you gotta love them.)

liz claiborne

When I purchase shoes that have any kind of cloth on them, I always do the “smell test”. Yes, I do and I am very subtle about it. (Maybe that should be my next vlog…it’s kind of funny how I do it.) I will not purchase any shoes that have any kind of odor, and so thus, the smell test is necessary for shoes with cloth. Many pairs you can throw in the washer. I find like-new Nikes quite often. I don’t have a problem wearing them right away, but if you do, just throw them in the washer with a little bleach. It works really well on my sons’ shoes all the time (yes, even leather).

Above – Adorable blue canvas – $1 (same “Fashion Haul” ladies who LOVE clothes and shoes) They had about 70 pairs of shoes between them – all of them designer names….quite unbelievable. If only my foot was smaller.

pink shoes

$4 leather – Good Will

leather shoes for $5

Sister in loves sporting their thrifted shoes.


These red Birkenstocks were approximately $125 new, and I bought them for $1 at a yard sale. They had virtually no wear on them. If they were in a box, I would have thought they were new. The white sandals were brand spanking new in the box with the tags at Goodwill for $4.


$4 Goodwill

anne taylor loft

Anne Taylor Loft – $2 Yard Sale

anne taylor loft shoes

blue shoes

I Love finding colorful shoes for the summer. Both of these really make an outfit super fun.


I got both of these at yard sales for a couple dollars. The blue ones are Aerosoles (I think, but am not running up stairs to double check. :))

steve maddens

(Above) Fun red, Goodwill shoes from my Finding Great Clothes at a Thrift Store Video, and (below) last weekend’s yard sale shoe find – $1. (And those I will only wear for probably one special occasion. I need to practice in them first. Those are high…even for me. I don’t think my calves are in that good of shape, but they were super cool.)

designer shoes

buy wholesale shoes

(Because my dear daughter really wanted to be in my Frugal Fashionista post…she decided to take matters into her own hands (on many occasions.)

Whew – that was exhausting, even for me.

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to think twice before you disregard the notion of second hand shoes.Β  Even if I haven’t, enjoy spicing up your outfits with a few carefully chosen pairs of shoes…it will make all the difference.

Feel free to throw any questions at me…I’m up for the challenge.


  1. Love your blog and I’ve been a follower for a while now…

    After reading today’s post I was quickly reminded of renting bowling shoes at the bowling alley… you should remind your readers of that adventure!! Your deals sound terrific! I’ve got some newbies in boxes I should send to you… what size are you? Hugs, Peggy x


  2. Loved this and your cute feet! Buy mine used too, my kids have been outfitted in the best shoes! Brand new Keen’s and more…it’s incredible what people toss/donate. Thanks for sharing your finds with us!


  3. I am constantly amazed at how cheap your thrift/yard sale finds are! I’m in Australia and have never found shoes (in excellent condition) for such a bargain. I recently purchased a $12 pair of calf -high leather boots (retail about $200)- absolutely gorgeous and in perfect condition – from my local thrift store (op shop). I thought I got a bargain – until I saw how many great shoes you have bought for the same price!!


  4. I had to laugh about the whole ex-husband story – people have told me some crazy things at yard sales, too! It’s like if you’re buying the item they think you need to know the item’s entire history as well! lol


  5. I’ve purchased two pairs of shoes at garage sales. I’ve gotten over any “weird” thoughts about second hand shoes!!


  6. LOOOOVE thrift stores, yard sales and other sorts of second hand shops. I’m happy to read that I’m not the only one doing the shoe sniff (and using bleach on leather goods)!

    I’ve forwarded this article in the hopes that some of my friends will “get it” as to why I do what I do.

    Looking forward to reading more… (yes, definitely do an article on “how to subtly sniff your prospective cloth shoes”).


  7. I spray mine down with Lysol before wearing! I am on my feet a lot (even at church because I sing), so comfort is tops with me. With shoes that are $2 at pair, I don’t feel guilty if I decide they hurt my feet and give them back to Goodwill! πŸ™‚


  8. Krystal says:

    I’m wondering how many trips to the goodwill/ yards sales it takes to find these great steal? Let me phrase it this way, how many snags to you get each time you make a thrifty stop (on average)? I am all about thriftyness but I don’t find deals like you are finding. I am wondering if you vist more often or hit more yard sales or if it is the area you live in.


    Jens Reply:

    @Krystal, that’s a great question. I would say that every other time I pop into Goodwill, I can typically find a great pair. (Remember though, not all are created equal. :)) But it’s really the yard sales that are where I have the most fortunate on great shoes. I have to polish off my pro yard sale post, but I go out early on Sat mornings for about 2-3 hours and try to hit 10-20 yard sales . The key for me is going quickly from sale to sale. When you hit a great sale with someone in your size, you may be set for the summer. πŸ™‚


    Krystal Reply:

    @Jens, 10-20 in a morning!?!? Ya, I’m not going enough sales! I don’t think we have that many in our area but it gets me thinking about driving 45 min. – 1 1/2 hours to a higher end, bigger area.

    Thanks, Jen.


  9. Sarah D says:

    I totally agree with you! My sister and I ALWAYS hit up the shoes first. I have found so many wonderful pairs for cheap. Thanks for trying to enlighten others on this great way to save money.


  10. Yes, it is amazing what deals can be had on secondhand shoes! I have a somewhat unusual size, and I am VERY picky about comfort and style, and I still manage to find plenty of wonderful pairs. (The only pair of shoes in recent memory that I bought new were some Merrell light hiking boots–at $85, that just about killed me!)

    Just yesterday, I was at a local thrift store and walked away from a $5 pair of adorable Camper brand bowling-style shoes ($150-200 new)–buttery soft and showing NO wear–because they were 1/2 a size too small. I left them for the next smart lady to find! πŸ™‚

    I also pick up terrific kids’ shoes for my daughter: Keen, Teva, Stride Rite, Nike, and Gap are easy to find, and I also see fancy boutique brands pretty often.

    I do worry about teaching our daughter (and myself . . .) habits of over-consumption, even though we are living off the “fat of the land”–other people’s excessive purchases. Like you, I grew up with three pairs of shoes at any given time (church shoes, sneakers, and school shoes or sandals for summer), and I don’t know that more is necessary or even good–especially for children.

    I deal with this worry by speaking often with our girl about waste and the virtues of reusing, and we “recycle” by re-donating anything that is not in regular use. I purge my own closet–shoes included, ha!–at least every three months, and my husband and daughter’s things twice a year.


    Jens Reply:

    So, So, true about the waste and consumption…in fact, it will be an upcoming blog post. I stopped buying “just because” toys at yard sales. Even though it was only a quarter, my daughters were buying into the whole “entitlement” attitude….they were entitled to it just because…
    Nope, not having them lose the whole gratitude aspect. πŸ™‚


    Sheri Reply:

    Sal just posted about some of these issues over at Already Pretty:
    The comments are worth reading!


  11. I don’t mind thrifted shoes – as long as they are in decent condition – but I’ve never found tennis shoes, I have to wear good running or walking shoes or my feet hurt, so I buy those new. Sometimes clearance.

    However, ALL other shoes I get second-hand! I’ve been watching for the basics – summer and winter in black, brown, white – since my feet grew with my third pregnancy, and have found most of them!

    It does matter where you live though, and if there are neighborhoods with people who wear designer stuff – we live really in the middle of nowhere and close to nowhere. So my choices are more limited than other places we’ve lived. But I still manage. πŸ™‚ Probably my closet is just emptier and my wallet a bit fuller! (Not that I’m judging you, Jen, I totally would buy most of those you showed us, I just don’t have the option! So I’m looking on the positive side of limited choices. :))


  12. I buy shoes from yard sales and Goodwill. I look for those with little to no wear. My latest buy was a cute pair of Franco Sarto heels for $2.50!


    Mary Ellen


  13. Love that last pair! I have no sense of smell (ever!), so the sniff test doesn’t work for me. πŸ™ I did once ask a fellow yard saler to sniff a chair for me, and I’m glad I did b/c she said it reeked of smoke. Too bad, b/c it was a lovely chair!!


  14. Wow! I never even considered thrifting shoes. You found some great buys!


  15. I love your Frugal Fashionista posts!! You are my inspiration. Now, if only I had your shoe size. (For that matter, your dress size, too.) I wear a shoe size 11, and always flats. Once in a great while I find something, but not too often. I love shoes; always have. Keep it up!!


  16. Remember my Steve Madden shoes? http://kelleighratzlaff.com/life/goodwill-shoes-clearance-meat-and-other-things-i-never-thought-id-do/

    You ruined me. And now I’m wondering what I’m doing sitting here reading blogs on a Garage Sale Friday Morning!! Gotta get going!


  17. you got me on the “do you ever try shoes on?” πŸ™‚ I’d love to see the smell test! Kelly


    Jens Reply:

    @Kelly, hee hee…I always feel really silly smelling shoes, so I typically pretend like I am itching my nose or something with the shoe in my hand….lol


  18. I never got into shoe shopping because I wore/wear (as a teen/adult) as size 10 or 11, medium or wide, depending on the shoe. It was frustrating 20+ years ago to find cute shoes in this size, in a store. Now there are plenty of online stores,catalogs and some department stores that carry larger sizes. I wish I could find these sizes at yard sales or thrift stores. I haven’t noticed them, but then again I don’t look much because I am so conditioned to just order what I need out of a catalog!

    But, I do purchase some shoes for my children at yard sales or thrift stores. Usually a second pair of tennis shoes, sandals or dress shoes. When they were young, it was easy to find new looking used shoes for them. But I find as they get older it’s more difficult to find new looking shoes because kids’ feet growth slows down, and they can wear shoes longer (and wear them out more!).


  19. Jen, I just love you. You have the best way of teaching people. I’ve been doing this for years myself. Like you, I only buy new looking shoes, and have been blessed with some fantastic bargains. I could afford to buy new shoes, new clothes, new home accessories, but why? THIS is so much more fun! It’s the thrill of the hunt. But it’s more than that. It’s praying, asking God to lead me to what I need, and having those prayers answered. I feel like it’s being a good steward of what God ha given us. You do it well, sister!


  20. Seriously, you make me want to run to Salvation Army and stock up on shoes… not that I have room for them, but it would be fun!


  21. Kassandra Wood says:

    I must admit Frugal Fashionista is what caught my attention with your blog. For many years, my husband and I have purchased our clothes this way. From vintage, throw-back jerseys for him (which by the way, sell for HUNDREDS of dollars online) to fun, playful outfits for me to “trendy” clothes for our children. He and I are ALWAYS complimented on the uniqueness of many of the outfits our family wears. Another Mom approached me at our daughter’s gymnastics practice and said, “You always wear the cutest clothes.” Considering every item (except for my undergarments) was thrifted, I humbly accepted her compliment, thanked her and giggled a little inside. It’s so fun to thrift because you are able to put your own personal twist on your wardrobe and you’re not restricted by what the current trends are… My favorite find recently was two pairs of high leather boots, new with the tags on them ($50-80 RV) at my local Goodwill. I paid $3.99 aper pair. πŸ™‚ I also found a fun pair of like-new black and white polka sandals and a couple of weeks later found the sundress that was donated along with them. I am happy to find that there is someone else out there who does this. I dress myself and our children better than what I ever imagined I could based on thrifting, yard sale-ing and hitting the clearance racks in the off season. Thank you for acknowledging the fun, frugile and creative spirit of doing so! πŸ™‚


  22. Jen, you also convinced me to look at the shoes at my local thrift store and Goodwill. I never thought I wanted to wear second hand shoes, but most of them look so new that I don’t give it a second thought now. I wear a size 6, which is what is usually used as a display shoe at the mall/shoe store, so even when I bought new shoes, they had already been tried on by many people before me. I’m like you and stick to only those that shoe little or no wear on the bottom, but I have found many pairs of designer shoes for around $5/pair. Thank you for your inspiration!


  23. Kristina says:

    My hero! I had to pass up a darling pair of Kenneth Cole heels the other day at a Hope Chest, when my kids made a very persuasive argument regarding the height of the heels and my personal safety. And I know there is seldom an allowance for second thoughts when it comes to such things… Just as well, I probably would have ended up in a cast!


  24. jennifer says:

    What size shoe do you wear? I will take your hand me down, thrift shoes any day~all of those are FAB! LOL!!


  25. Okay, you convinced me to try this. However, I don’t know how much luck I am going to have finding my size. Thanks to having kids, I now wear a size 9 1/2 – 10 shoe. Not many ladies wear this size.

    Off to google the address of the local Goodwills.


    Angela Reply:

    @Anne, So why is it that your feet have to grow in order to have a baby?! I’ve always wondered that. I wore a size 7 when I got married, and now after 6 babies, I’m in an 8 1/2. With 3 pregnancies they didn’t get any longer, with 3 others, they grew 1/2 size each time. Glad to know that I’m not the only one. πŸ™‚


    Anne Reply:

    It is really strange. My kids are 6, 4 and 2. It was between babies 2 and 3 my feet changed. Prior to kids I was a size 9 shoe. Boy, having kids does a number on our bodies. LOL


  26. Even in the “middle of nowhere” areas (where I am is “the end of the earth”), I find that craigslist is a HUGE help. When I have time to do the yardsale thing, (maybe every other weekend when I’m not working weekends) I will find them on CL, mapquest the addresses and make a route. It’s very easy to hit 10 – 20 when you’re doing the kamikaze yard sale thing. Lots of times I will see signs for other yard sales and catch those on the way as well.


  27. A few years ago my hubby & I were taking ballroom dance lessons and he wanted to buy me dance shoes for my birthday. I started looking at them online and found that they run around $70-125. Shortly after that I was doing my usual run-through at our local Goodwill and was looking for some black dress shoes. I tried a pair on and thought the buckle was kind of weird and immediately thought of the dance shoes. I turned them over and, sure enough, leather soles! They were brand new ballroom dance shoes, in my size, for $3.00! I took them home and told my husband that I got my birthday gift!


  28. I have a hard time finding comfortable shoes and often spend quite a bit of money on them… but I also will sell them on eBay if they don’t work out. Some of your readers may want to try there… I know I have sold some excellent shoes for no where near the original price. They really have only been worn a time or two before I realized they were going to give me trouble. I am sure that is where the good buys at Goodwill or yard sales are coming from, too!


  29. Your shoes are SO cute! What size are they? πŸ˜‰


  30. Wow, now I’m about ready to rush out and look for yard sales!!! Your great finds are awesome!! Thanks for the inspiration! πŸ™‚ I LOVE your Frugal Fashionista posts! They’re one of my favorite things to read!!


  31. Theresa Charley says:

    Hey Jen~

    My question is: how do you store and organize your closet with all your good finds? I would love to see a vlog on how you organzie your great clothes, shoes and accessories.



  32. I loved your post and looking at all the beautiful shoes you have found . For years and years I have always purchased shoes from Goodwill or Yard sales. It really is no different than trying them on in the store. I have found some great deals over the especially for the kids. I bring them home and wash them if I can or use a Lysol wipe to get rid of any germs. Then ta-da you have a awesome pair of shoes for next to nothing.


  33. I love this–when I read this post, the ad at the top of your blog was for the Waldorf Astoria. Wearing second-hand shoes is a way that you can afford to stay at the WA if you so choose. . . and look just right while you’re there! πŸ™‚

    Way to encourage people to think outside the shoebox!


  34. I have bought so many shoes with the store tags still on them countless times at places like Goodwill and stuff. When I buy used, I take great care about what they look like, smell like, and the condition they’re in. Some of my frugal friends could call me picky, but then shoe storage in my closet isn’t quite as complicated then. πŸ™‚


  35. We are frugal fashionista sisters!! I NEVER buy shoes brand new!! Probably at least 7 yrs, maybe more! I always tell people, (when pleading my case with second hand things) when you eat in a resturaunt you are eating off utensils that GOD knows who ate off and your trusting that it has been washed! πŸ™‚


  36. Cynthia says:

    I love all the great shoes you find. I am not picky about other peoples shoes. I just found some Born sandals. They looked new and maybe never worn…$4!
    Love it!


  37. Those are some gorgeous finds!


  38. I love second had shoes…it’s the only way I ever own anything with a brand name that isn’t sold in target or walmart πŸ˜€


  39. Loved this post! Out of curiosity, have you ever counted how many pairs of shoes you own?? I’d be curious just for the fun of knowing! πŸ™‚


  40. I bought my first pair of thrifted shoes and wore them in Germany at a business convention that my husband’s company attended (I was a guest). I think that the thrifted shoes were fabulous, and I’ll be looking for more this summer.


  41. love the last pair. very cool!


  42. That’s such a good idea to check the bottom for wear on the soles. And I would watch a video of you demonstrating a discreet sniff test!

    But you know, I’d really like to learn how to thrift shop with two rambunctious little boys along for the trip. πŸ™‚


  43. Dawn Brown says:

    I really really love those white flower sandals!! What brand/manufacturer are they?? They would be PERFECT for my wedding. I’m hoping if I have the name I could possibly locate a pair 2nd hand. πŸ™‚


  44. SHoes are by far my biggest problem, I buy hardly used shoes for my children all the time, and even every once in a while for hubby, but I never find them in my size, since I wear an 11 W, and hardly ever even fine New shoes that fit good, and boots oh how I love boots, I have love boots for as long as I can remember!! but due to weight gain, from health problems I havn’t been able to find ones that fit! I found the answers to the health probs finally and have started loosing but it will be slow( and I have alot to lose). and now I have found 1 pair of brown winter boots the will just barely zip!! yeah!!!! but I had to pay 35$ for them! I would happily pay more for a really good pair of versital black or brown leather boots, But I can’t find any that will fit!! I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent in the last few years trying on boots!! and I have discovered that even if they fit the inches around measurement they still might not fit, so I HAVE to try them on!! Any suggestions on finding some anyone???????


  45. I love love the blue slip on sandals so cute Im going to start really checking the shoe area from now on,thanks for sharing


  46. Wow, you have found some great deals and shoes here. You are almost, almost swaying me to try my hand at thrifting.


  47. CruiseShipGirl says:

    Even better than Lysol or other chemicals…..

    Try VODKA!

    I put it in a spray bottle from the dollar store. The alcohol sanitizes and kills bacteria.

    On another note – I also had a pair of my own ballet flats that I have had forever and were getting a little stinky – I sprayed them down with vodka 3 nights in a row. The other hot sunny day I was wearing them in the Caribbean and guess what – no more stinky shoes!!!

    Oh, and it works great on diamond jewelry too. πŸ™‚


    Jen Reply:

    I would never have thought of that. So fun to hear everyone’s remedies. πŸ™‚


  48. I too buy hardly worn shoes especially for a one-time event. After I disinfect my shoes, I put them on patio table or porch on a bright sunny day! The sun and fresh air may or may not help, but it makes me feel good about wearing someone else’s shoes!



  1. […] Jen from Beauty & Bedlam gives it to us straight – “Should you seriously wear second hand shoes? […]

Share Your Thoughts