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Don’t Get Ripped Off Buying Shoes | 6 Signs Of A Quality Dress Shoe

6You see a beautiful pair of shoes. 

Perfect style, great fit, and versatile.

So…naturally you buy them. 

3-6 months pass and then…?

Worn out… 🙁 

It’s a common tale. 

You’ve heard the expression , “it’s about quality, not quantity.”

The number of shoes you own is not as important as the quality of them.

So how do you decipher what is quality? Here are 6 things to look for in a quality dress shoe:

Cobbler#1 A Quality Cobbler


What is a cobbler?

Someone who makes and/or repairs shoes. This is a respected field among inner shoe aficionado circles, but it should be just as important to you because the quality of the cobbler has a direct correlation to the quality of the shoe.

Where did your shoes come from? It’s not a common question. The obvious answer is…”well, they came from the store.”  But the question begs a deeper answer. Where were the shoes manufactured? Which hands or machines stitched what you have on your feet? Were they guided by experience?

There’s a term that is quickly earning the “derogatory” label for many brands. That term is “fast fashion”.  In a nutshell, it’s companies that mass produce clothing cheaply and re-sell at ultra low retail prices. I won’t get into the entire ethical/humane argument, which deserves an entire article on itself, but it does affect the quality of the shoes when they pay workers about $0.75/hour to make them.

Shoes are one item that commands the highest quality since they undergo the most wear and tear. It will pay to know experienced hands made them.

We clearly don’t live in a time where we go directly to a shoe cobbler to get our shoes made, but we do live in a time where we can research the practices of the designers we purchase from.

Don’t buy shoes from a shop where labor is overworked, underpaid, and inexperienced.

Ideally, you want your shoe to have had the guided eye of a craftsman who takes pride in their work. This requires experience, passion, and time. A quality cobbler oversees the construction and completion of the shoe. Even if it the shoe is mass produced factory style, the distinct eye of a trained cobbler guiding the process can ensure that the shoe is put together perfectly.

Does it increase the price? Maybe, but you can still find affordable shoes guided by the hands of quality cobblers. I’ll tell you where at the end of this article. 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset#2 Type Of Leather Used


There are plenty of options of materials for shoes.

Outside of the visual appeal, there is a big difference in their ability to withstand weather conditions as well as the physical demands put on them by the wearer. 

For a quality shoe, your preference should always be Full-Grain Leather.

Full Grain Leather has been minimally treated, and includes the natural imperfections that play into the beautiful aesthetic of shoe. In addition, because it has not endured harsh treatments, with proper care it has the ability to age well and last for years. 

Corrected Leather has been sanded down to remove imperfections, and an artificial grain has been applied and coated with sealant. The continuity of color may be appealing to some at first sight, but with wear, it can crease, peel, and over time look less like leather and more like plastic.

Blake-Stitch#3 Quality Stitching: Blake Vs Goodyear


Blake: Single stitch

Pros – It’s common among shoes! The stitching is virtually invisible because it’s on the inside. Also, the single stitch makes the shoe more flexible. These shoes are affordable.

Cons – This type of stitching can only be repaired with a Blake machine which can be costly to repair. These shoes are also less water resistant and water can pool in the sole.

Goodyear: Double stitch

Pros – The stitches are created by hand or by machine. Because of the intricacies in the double stitches, these shoes are considered to be a little more durable. The extra stitching not only provides structure but also makes the shoe water resistant and occasionally more comfortable. Although, many other aspects also play into the comfort. 

Cons – Extra layers in the shoe decrease flexibility. Although easier to repair, these repairs can be very expensive.

When it comes to stitching I prefer Blake stitching, simply because I enjoy the flexibility of the shoe over the stiffness of the double stitch. At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference. Just make sure the shoe has one of these methods of stitching. 

What you don’t want is a sole that has been glued on, which leads me to point number 4.


Construction#4 Shoe Construction


A quality cobbler means quality construction. To define that a little further, I broke construction out into 3 parts.

  1. Sole Bond Adhesion
  2. Water Resistance
  3. Sole Material

A shoe should be constructed such that it is able to reasonably withstand the elements.

Sole Bond Adhesion

The sole needs to be bonded securely. Ideally, you want to go with stitching that keeps everything in place. If your sole is affixed with adhesive please know that you will not be able to replace those soles. More than likely you will have to purchase another pair of shoes.

Water Resistance

Water resistance correlates directly with sole bond adhesion.

Soles that are stitched securely will resist water much better than those that are lazily glued on. 

Of course, you want your shoe to be water resistant, who doesn’t? But, in the event it is not, be sure to treat your leather with a water repellent. 

Sole Material 

Ideally, you want dress shoes to have leather soles. Leather breathes better than rubber and keeps the foot a little cooler. (Less sweaty feet) However, It can be a bit slicker than rubber so if it’s a rainy day it may be nice to have a backup pair of shoes dress shoes with rubber soles. 

Another route is to find a dress shoe with leather soles and a rubber grip built in. It keeps the formal look of leather soled shoes while maintaining the grip on the ground. Less slipping, formality retained. 


#5 Toe Shape



Not too narrow or long, but not too wide.

I know that sounds like a lot, but anything too extreme can become old and dated very quickly and in the end defeats the purpose of being a good looking quality shoe.  The toe of the shoe should never be too square, too pointy or too round. It just doesn’t look good!

Dress Shoe Toe

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset#6 Unique Style


They need to have the characteristics of a timeless design but still stand out.

This can easily be accomplished by following the things above (1-5) and also through selecting the right color shoe (one tone vs. two tones).

Remember leather can be worn down no matter how much you pay for it!

The key to protecting your investment is purchasing quality and taking proper care of that quality. Therefore, if you are going to invest into a quality shoe, go ahead and splurge on the Full Grained Leather. 

Taft is a small family owned business that has cut out the middle-man and sells online directly to the consumer.

Since there’s no retail markup they are able to sell the highest quality shoes for about half the price that you would find in your major department store.

All of the shoes are hand-made in Spain by a professional cobbler. They use full-grain leather and are Blake Stitched.

Thanks to Homeaway, and the amazing house they put us in I had the privilege of meeting the team at Taft and seeing first hand the professionalism and attention to detail Kory and his staff put into their product.

This is a company I am proud to stand behind and invite you to try. 

Click Here To Discover Taft

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Comments 2

  • Mike January 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I’ve purchased 3 pairs of Taft shoes and don’t regret any of them. They are quite possibly the most comfortable and resilient shoes that I have. They also look great , women always notice our shoes and these get more compliments than any I’ve worn before.

  • Fred February 23, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Great article and something everyone should read. Unfortunately, too many people think that they have a quality only to find out the hard way.

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