The Lesson of the $300 Shoes

Blucher-BalmoralLast week’s blog sparked a lively conversation on and offline about clothing. From those conversations I think it might help to add one more insight.

It was 1989. George H.W. Bush was president. I had just come from a podiatrist because my feet were in constant pain. I have flat feet. My prescription: wear only tie shoes with “blucher style” laces. (see photo blucher is on the left)

I happened to be walking through the shoe department of a local men’s store when this ancient man (95 year old Mr. Eggerton) hailed me with “Your shoes are too small.”

“How do you know?” I responded.

“I can tell by how they crease.”

That man knew shoes and feet. I told him my story. Up until then I had been wearing Johnston and Murphy which I thought pretty expensive at $125 a pair.

Mr. Eggerton introduced me to Allen Edmonds brand. The $300 pair put me in shock and I had to go home and think about it for a couple of days.

I remember Mr. Eggerton’s parting comment: “These will be the least expensive shoes you ever buy. If you take care of them, resole them and reheel them as needed, you will be wearing them 15 years from now.”

I still have those shoes. I have lost count of the resoling and reheeling. They don’t look exactly new but they are still very serviceable as dress shoes. And, boy, do they take a shine.

I learned two lessons from Mr. Eggerton:

  1. There are experts in every field no matter how humble. Find them and listen to them.
  2. Inexpensive clothing is an expense and expensive over time. Quality clothing looks better lasts longer and is often significantly less expensive. Quality is a long – term investment. Those $300 shoes (excluding reheeling and resoling) amortized over their 26 year life now have an annual cost of $11.53.

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