It’s hot out, y’all, and beautiful. On the streets of NYC folks are shedding layers like snakes on a rock, caterpillars emerging from their cocoons into butterflies, or beefy, red-faced roadies peeling off their flannel outer layers to reveal the sweaty, fetid Queensryche shirt beneath. It’s time to show those bare legs and shoulders to the sun and get some much needed (but not enough to be carcinogenic!!!) color.
To me, one of the most satisfying parts of the winter-to-spring metamorphosis is shedding the boots and Wellies we’ve all been wearing for months and embracing the beauty of open toed shoes. Whether espadrilles, sandals, flip-flops or slingbacks, showing some foot-skin is the official signal that it is summertime in the city.
I have a love/hate relationship with this reality though, because every spring I realize I need to buy at least one pair of new shoes. I can never afford to shell out the $200+ dollars for the shoes I want , so I wind up buying a couple of crappy pairs at places like SHOEGASM.
Yes, you read that right. A loan officer at some bank somewhere went ahead and approved a loan for some hopeful merchant to open a shoe chain of three stores called SHOEGASM, one of which happens to be right near my place of work. Aside from offering merchandise of questionable quality, SHOEGASM has provided my coworkers and I with much fodder for many a witty one liner:
“You look great, did you just have a SHOEGASM?” haha.
“Wow, these prices are SHOEGASMIC.” ha.
And so on.
Unlike clothes or makeup, cheap shoes are sometimes tough to justify. If you buy an $11 knockoff dress from Forever 21 instead of the $411 Chloe original, the worst that’ll happen is that you’ll look like the girl who hangs out at Webster Hall. Regularly.
The upstairs part.
On the other hand, if you buy some knockoff shoes instead of the hot Loeffler Randall originals that you’ve been wanting, the worst that can happen is a mild to serious back injury. For that reason, I am reluctant to fuck around when it comes to footwear. My feet are flat like a pancake and narrow like the hips of a barely legal Eastern European exotic dancer. On more than one occasion, cheap shoes have caused embarrassing falls. On exactly one occasion they sent me to the hospital with a broken metatarsal.
If I can’t afford the well-structured, gorgeous shoes I covet (and I never ever can, save for the one time my dad, flying between Vegas and NY for work decided to stop at the blackjack table, won a shitload of money and gave my sister and I $1000 each, half of which I promptly tossed at a pair of black patent leather Prada pumps so beautiful that I’m scared to wear them) I try to hit up vintage shops for old Ferragamos or places like INA which have more recent designs, but their “gently-used” status makes them a bit more affordable.
Nine times out of ten though, I can’t even afford to do that. So, I succumb to the cheap shoes in April. By August they are falling off my feet and giving me blisters that make me too embarrassed to get a pedicure which is the one thing that might help. Oh, the irony!
Nevertheless, needs is needs and we all needs some affordable shoes. So with that in mind, here are my Top 5 cheap-ass shoe shops in NYC.
5. David Z
Yes, we’ve all passed it and yes we’ve all made fun of it, but the fact is, when you need some emergency rain boots, cheapo- sandals for a weekend away, Booty-ho platforms for someone’s dance party or some decent sneakers, David Z, like his dad Dr. Zizmor, is there to ease your pain.
Sigh. What can I say about SHOEGASM that hasn’t already been said about Anna Nicole Smith? You know what you’re getting into, so does she and so does anyone who finds out.
I fucking hate this place. It feels like a shoe supermarket and it smells weird. I’m adding it here cause shit is cheap and girls I know with a greater tolerance for crowds and Ciara’s music really like it.
2. Shoe Mania!
Do you like shopping for shoes mildly drunk at 10 PM?
Do you like aggressive techno music?
Do you like never being able to tell whether someone is an employee or a shopper?
If the answer to even one of those questions is a resounding “Kinda!” then Shoe Mania! is for YOUR ass! Yes all of the above are frighteningly, horribly, real! But so are the savings.
1. Steve Madden
If you can get past the freakish bobble-head cartoons and the fact that in 8th grade you thought this shit was high fashion, you should shop here. Yes, it’s embarrassing when someone compliments your shoes and asks where you got them and you have to ashamedly half-laugh and say “Steve Madden”. But that’s a compliment in disguise cause you were able to find some shoes everybody likes without paying like a sucker.
But ladies, don’t even think about turning your shit out before the first pedicure of the season. Cheapest awesome pedicure in NYC is at Jeniette. 58 13th Street between University and Broadway. 24 bones gets you a sweet pedicure, a great foot massage and an awesome polish selection.
P.S. I was kidding about David Z and Dr. Zizmor being related. I just thought it was a hilarious image.