To repair or not to repair, that is the question

A FRIEND recently asked me if she should throw out her old shoes or get them repaired. What is it about women and their shoes? Shoes are my weakness – as they are for most women. Marlene Dietrich once said, “Shoes are more important than suits and dresses. Buy one good pair of good quality instead of three pairs of bad quality”. You know what? She’s right.

For me, that is a no-brainer. If the shoes are of good quality, absolutely get them repaired – but only if they’re worth it. However, if you only paid, say, $29, then they probably weren’t meant to last. So why bother. Or if they have seriously passed their use by date, then, yes, toss them out. Why should they take up valuable space in your wardrobe.

A good investment means outlaying a moderate amount for a pair of shoes that won’t date and will last beyond one season. Quality will always outlast quantity, which in time is more cost effective. So always buy the best quality you can afford as those items should last for years, not just a single season. That way you get a great return with your cost per wear ratio. This logic can be applied to everything!

So if you paid more that $300 for a pair of classic-style shoes, you would expect them to last for several years. But you can also extend the life of your shoes if you invest in them. I have shoes in my wardrobe that are more an 15 years old and still look good because I’ve looked after them. Yes, I’ve bought wisely – I never used to – but I’ve also invested in my investments!

The trick is to check your shoes and boots every season. Do they need re-heeling or re-soling? Or just a good old “spit and polish” to breathe new life into old or well-worn leather? There is nothing worse than seeing a well-dressed woman – or anyone for that matter – with badly scuffed shoes and damaged heels. Trust me, you can tell a person by their shoes. So don’t allow your shoes to let you down. 

“When you buy expensive shoes, unless you put a non-stick rubber sole to protect the leather sole, they will be ruined after a few wears,” says Rocky

Next, find a good shoe repair man and make him your best friend. I’ve got mine. I take every new shoe purchase to Rocky Reale (above), of Double Bay Shoe Repairs in Double Bay, and get them Topy soled before wearing them. Rocky has been re-heeling, re-soling and modifying my shoes for 14 years.  NO this is not a sponsored post – just some good old-fashioned advice.

Rocky is a good old-style Italian cobbler who is passionate about what he does. He appreciates quality, but more than anything he appreciates people who appreciate what he does. He takes care of all my basic shoe repairs. Every winter I take my boots to him so he can do a “grease and oil change” –  reheeling and general polish. I have one pair of Sergio Rossi boots which must be 16 years old. And after Rocky performs his magic they look like new again. Seriously! And because the boots are plain and classic in style they won’t date, so I’ll get another 12 years wear! As long as Rocky works his magic!


  • Prolong the life of new shoes by applying a Topy sole (an antislip sole) immediately before wearing them. This is most important at this time of year. When leather soles get wet, they stretch. When they dry, they shrink. So with this constant wet and dry process, the soles will eventually crack and become misshapen.
  • If buying suede, always waterproof with an appropriate waterproofing spray.
  • Keep your shoes in their dust covers (if provided) in their boxes, stacked neatly in your wardrobe. Keeping shoes in their boxes also keeps the rather offensive sweaty shoe leather smell permeating through your clothes. But if you don’t remember what shoes are in what box, take polaroids or pictures of your shoes and stick them on the outside of the relevant shoe box for easy identification.
  • To repair scuffs on patent leather shoes, colour the spot with a marker pen the same colour as the patent leather. Once the colour sinks in, paint over with a very light coat of clear nail polish.
  • Keep all your leather goods in top condition by using a leather polish or saddle soap. Purchase from any good shoe repair shop.

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