Paying to fix shoes you’ve already bought is probably one of the least appealing ways to spend money, but if you’re a human with two feet that walks several miles a week (aka everyone who lives in a city), it’s a necessary one. Taking good care of the stuff you already have goes a long way to make you a more sustainable shopper, not to mention the fact that it’s your very favorite pairs that see the most wear-and-tear.
The first step is finding the right cobbler. If you live in New York or LA, we’ve got you covered on this front with recommendations for fixers in both cities; see New York here and LA here. Everyone else: Ask around! A personal recommendation from experience is way better than a Yelp review, though those help, too. Or you can try lobbing the question in our Facebook group for avid shoppers — maybe someone else lives in your area and can suggest a place.
And because sticker shock can be a bitch, the next step is figuring out how much this should all cost. You don’t want to get caught gasping as you hand over the same amount of money you originally paid for your shoes just to have them shined up. How much should it all cost — and when is it worth it? To help you figure that out, we pulled together a quick cheat sheet.
Here’s a breakdown of how much typical services cost; if it’s going to cost more than you originally paid, you might want to do it yourself. Lucky for you, we’ve got a full-on guide to winter shoe care, too.
A Quick Clean-Up
If you just want your shoes shined up and lookin’ fresh, expect to pay about $8 to $15 for shoes and $10 to $20 for boots for a simple shoe shine and leather conditioning. If you want suede brushing and a color refresh, expect to pay between $15 and $25. Cleaning more delicate fabrics will go up from there.
A Full Service Clean-Up
If you want to deodorize and remove stains, opt for a deeper clean, which will cost around $50 to $60. Suede can be dry cleaned for around $45. Many cobblers will also apply waterproofing at the same time for the same price, which is normally around $10 to $15 on its own.
Got more intense scratches and scuffs, or even holes in the leather? Your cobbler can fix them, but it will cost you an extra $25. Cobbler Concierge, a mail-in shoe repair service that can give you a quote via text, cautions that scratches in patent leather will be pricier to fix than regular leather or suede.
Adding New Soles
If you need to get your shoes resoled, the price depends on the amount of damage. If you bring them in early, you could save yourself a few dollars. If you’ve already got holes in your soles, expect to pay a little more.
Cobblers usually fix soles by adding half or full new soles; you’ll want to specify whether you want leather, rubber, or foam soles ahead of time (leather tends to be slightly more). In New York, we’ve been quoted everything from $30 to $55 for a half sole and $40 to $75 for a full sole. Note: Even if your shoes aren’t damaged on the bottom, adding a rubber sole isn’t a bad idea to help protect your shoes and give you some more traction in rain or snow.
If you need to fix a high heel (like, your heel totally came off and can’t be used), expect to pay way more than you want to — anywhere between $60 and $120. If it’s just that little plastic heel cap on the bottom, it should only be $5-$10.
Don’t suffer through too-small shoes. If you need to stretch them a half-size or full size, you can opt to do it on your own with a shoe stretcher, or your cobbler can do it for you (more reliably) for about $15 to $25. If you want to stretch the calf size of your boots, expect to pay around $45.
If you want to save yourself from heading back before the season is over, get your leather and suede shoes waterproofed now. Expect to pay around $15 to $25. If you don’t care too much about slight changes in color, you can definitely do this at home, DIY style — just buy a reputable product, like Revivex for suede and Aquaseal for leather. If you’re looking at expensive materials like calf hair, you should use a specialist.
Got a really complicated shoe issue and want to have some idea of what it will cost? Sign up for an account at Leather Spa, an NYC-based fixer that does mail-in services for those based outside of New York. Whether or not you send in your shoes, the service has an online estimate system that can help you get a pretty good idea of what you’ll need to spend.