Second-hand shoes?

Are there some items of clothing that you would never consider buying or using second-hand? Underwear immediately springs to mind, although I do confess to passing it down amongst my three daughters (predominantly vests and socks). I have, in the past, picked up second-hand children’s vests from a charity shop but I’m not sure I’d do the same for me if it was bras or knickers.

But what about shoes? At the Clothes Swap last week we encouraged people to donate shoes, as well as other accessories. Last time I picked up a great pair of red wedge sandals which I still wear regularly.

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I have bought second-hand shoes before but very infrequently and usually for a costume party (hence the great silver platform shoes that were bought in a charity shop in Bournemouth many years ago):

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I’m not a big e-bayer but I have loads of friends who have picked up some great footwear online.

I have to say, though, I have always been wary of second-hand shoes because of fit (if the shoes have ‘moulded’ to the wearer’s feet) and, let’s be honest here, hygeine. Yet I seem to be happy to make my children wear second-hand shoes so is this fair?

Well, for a start, I tend to pass on pre-loved shoes to the girls if I can wash them (ie trainers or Clarks’ doodles). It’s amazing how clean and good as new they can look after a wash in the machine. Welly boots I’m also happy for them to wear. All of the above footwear tends to be worn for messing around outside so why would I buy brand new? They are also worn infrequently, as are ‘party shoes’ of which we have loads that have been given to us.

The problem I do have is when it comes to school shoes as, like most parents, I have been brainwashed into believing that only Clarks or Start Rite shoes are suitable for my children to wear all day. But with three girls at school a single shoe-shopping session can cost over £100!! My eldest is now shoe size 2 1/2 and I’m realistically paying £32-£38 for a pair at least twice a year. If I factored in the ‘cost per wear’, though, they would probably be worth it but it’s a lot of money to find.

So for the moment I seem to be either buying in the sales or have started shopping at Marks & Spencer who stock half size fittings. I am also passing on shoes from the eldest, if the size and width fitting match.So the outcome is that at least one child will be wearing her sister’s cast offs. Those shoes that are now too small for any of them will go into the school’s clothes and shoe bank, or out with the recycling box.

I realise this isn’t an ideal solution to childrens’ footwear and wondered what other people do?

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