Save My Soles: Fixing Fatigued Footware

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If there is one truth in this world, it is that I LOVE shoes.  I’ve loved shoes, specifically heels, for as long as I can remember. There is nothing like having a pair of pumps that have memorized all of the contours of your foot, have softened so as not to rub on the wrong places.  However, with shoes, like most things in this world, not being made to last as long as they used to, we sometimes only know these favorite pairs for a season or so before we must retire them and say goodbye.  I hate that, and so, I thought I’d let you in on a few secrets I’ve learned about repairing my favorite shoes in order to make them last just a bit longer.


Before I graduated high school, the local cobbler had come to know me by name.  I was bringing in a pair of stilettos for him to reheel monthly, spending $20 or more per pair.  This added up, and over  the course of a year I could spend around $250 on repairing shoes which I’d already spent a fair amount of money on.  I needed to find a way to fix them myself, and so I did.





The first thing that wares out on all of my shoes, are the heel tips.  They are made of cheap, somewhat-soft plastic.  I have lived in Chicago for about seven years now, and I don’t have a car.  I walk sometimes a few miles a day in heels.  It is not uncommon for me to wear out one of these plastic heeltips in a matter of a week.  You can buy the plastic replacements at Target, or on Amazon.  I’ve seen the kind that they call “caps” online as well, but I do not recommend these.  These “caps” stay on using adhesive, and will fall off after a day.  You must get the kind of tips with the peg that is inserted into the stiletto itself for stability.  Be sure to have a ruler handy, as you’ll need to know what size to order.  The size is in millimeters.  This site, which also sells plastic heel tips, has a wonderful sizing chart that takes away all of the guesswork.


Metal Heel Tips after multiple years of use.



In England, they sell metal heel tips.  I have never seen these sold in the US, but have bought them from overseas for many years. is my favorite site to purchase them from, as they have the best selection, but you can also try  Although the metal tips are capable of scratching certain floors (specifically hardwood, I’m told) they are still my favorite.  In five or so years since I’ve been purchasing from them, I’ve only had to re-replace the metal tips once on only three pairs of shoes.  That is INCREDIBLE.  They’re also almost the same price as the plastic ones.


Tools you (might) need:

Plyers (needle nosed and regular)





Removing the old tip can be easy or difficult, depending on the shoe.  I’ve found a pair of regular plyers works best, but if you’ve worn down tip so much that only part of the pin is showing, it may be harder and you might need needle nosed plyers.  Once you remove the old heel tip, try to place the new one into the hole where the old one was.  If this doesn’t fit, you may need to use one of the tiny metal bits on the Dremil to make the hole a bit larger.  You may also need to use the Dremil to file down the bottoms to make them even (if you’ve worn these heels far after  the plastic tip wore).  If the pin fits loosely, you may need to add a bit of glue.  I recommend E6000 adhesive.  Use the hammer to hammer in the heel tip (or bang the heel flat against a hard surface) to be sure the tip fits flush to the heel.   If you are using plastic tips, and your tip is a little larger than necessary, you can use the Dremil again to carefully sand away the excess plastic.







A cheap way I’ve found to deal with scuffed up shoes with damage to the “leather” parts of the heel, is to paint them with nail polish.  Obviously they don’t look brand new enough to maybe wear to work, but if these are just your casual heels, a dab of nail polish will do the trick.


Salt Stains



In the winter, when I wear fabric shoes, one of the things I most often have to deal with are white salt stains.  I ran across a fix for this a few years ago.  Vinegar!  Take a rag and dip a corner in a little bit of vinegar.  Rub gently on the stain.  Within a few minutes it will be completely removed!



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