Want Stylish Shoes That Last for Years? Try Frye

By Meg Favreau on 19 July 2013 (Updated 21 August 2013) 5 comments
Photo: Meg Favreau

I hate how stereotypically girly this sounds, but I really like buying shoes.

Well, no — I don't like buying shoes. I like having shoes. I like having cute shoes. OK, that's not exactly the whole truth either — I like having cute shoes that are well-made, comfortable enough to spend a full day walking in, and basic enough to last several years.

Why I First Bought Frye Boots

I bought my first pair of Frye boots by accident, sort of. Before a trip to Italy, I was in the market for a pair of boots that:

  • Could be dressed up or down
  • Would be comfortable on days when I was walking long distances
  • Would go with several outfits
  • Would last a long time

I wear a lot of black and gray, so when I saw the Frye Sunny Wedge Cuff boots in red for around $100 on Overstock.com, I bought them.

And I was thrilled with what I received.

What's Great About Them

After five years of heavy wear (and a resoling), my Frye boots are still comfortable, still fashionable (I get compliments regularly), and still in good condition. As you can see in the picture below, the leather is somewhat scuffy — but I think that a good deal of that is due to user error. I didn't realize until very recently that using shoe polish wasn't just for dads.

Red Frye Boots

All told, I have four pairs of Fryes — two pairs of flats (the regular Carson ballet flat and the Carson ballet flat with a cut-out pattern, pictured in the main image), my red boots, and a pair of short brown lace-up boots. The company manufactures men's and children's shoes as well, although why you'd want to pay premium prices for shoes kids are going to grow out of is beyond me.

Sole Options

You'll notice that my red boots now have a leather sole, but originally, they came with a rubber sole. Since I was living in Philadelphia at the time, where streets and sidewalks can be treacherous in the winter, I loved having a pair of fashionable boots that also had good traction. My subsequent pairs have had leather soles, which are also of good quality (and ice isn't as much of a concern now that I'm living in sunny Southern California).

Frye Offers a Two-Year Warranty and a Repair Center

One of the things I like the most about Frye is that, in my experience, the expense comes more from making a quality, long-lasting product than from charging for a designer name. This is evidenced in their focus on shoe care. New pairs come with information on how to care for your shoes, and Frye also offers a two-year warranty on new pairs sold from authorized retailers. Even if you're out of warranty, you can send your shoes in to be repaired, at reasonable cost, by their service center.

Core Styles

While Frye produces different seasonal options, they also have a core line of shoes, such as the Campus Boot. When I buy something pricey, I always like knowing that I have the option to replace it with the same thing when it wears out.

What Frye Shoes Compare To

Frye is the only upper-tier shoe company that I have tried shoes from, so I can't speak to comfort or durability of their competitors. If you are looking for another company that offers restoration services, though, Cole Haan is an option — although those services are available at a higher price than from Frye. And of course, you can always bring your shoes to an independent cobbler.

Who Frye Shoes Are Best For

If you want a pair of basic shoes that can last several years, Fryes are a great option. However, if you prefer to keep your shoes in line with current trends, Frye might not be the best company for you. Sure, they offer updated styles each year — but I wouldn't recommend spending that much money on shoes you're not going to wear in a few months because trends change. (Unless you're going to take impeccable care of them and resell them on eBay.)

Paige lace-up boots

How They Could Be Better

While both pairs of flats I own are pretty comfortable, I do wish that their arch support was a little bit better. Also, with one of the pairs of flats, the regular Carson ballet flat, the leather became more supple as I've worn them more. This means that the shoes are very comfortable, but also that they've stretched a bit and now occasionally flop off my feet.

Bottom Line Recommendation

If you're looking for a pair of classic shoes or boots that can be resoled and worn for several years, Frye is a great option — especially if you buy them at a discount. I find that, even for long-lasting, high-quality shoes, some of the boots are too expensive to justify purchasing if they're not on deep discount.

Where to Get Yours

There are several places to get Frye boots and shoes, including brick-and-mortar stores, directly from the company, and on Amazon. But these are my favorite retailers for discount Fryes:

Click here to buy a pair today!

One thing I'll mention about 6pm. They're one of the best places to find deals on Frye shoes, but they don't allow you to do exchanges. So if you order a pair on sale, and they don't fit right, all you can do is return the shoes and order again — and often, by the time you've received your order, the sale is over. But 6pm.com does put Fryes on sale regularly — you might just have to wait a month or two. (And if you don't want to check at 6pm.com regularly to see if Fryes are on sale, we include many 6pm Frye sales in our Daily Deals newsletter; subscribe!)

I'd also recommend scanning thrift stores and yard sales for used Fryes. I know a few people who have found vintage Frye boots, had them resoled, and worn them happily for several years after.

What are your favorite boots or shoes?

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Guest's picture
Linda

I bought Cole Haan loafers for ages. They really last and were comfortable. I also have a pair of Tod's loafers that look fantastic despite being over a decade old.
I would also look at Nordstrom Rack for Frye shoes and boots. Cole Haans can be found there too.

Guest's picture
Dagny

I like SAS San Antonio Shoes http://www.sasshoes.com Made in the USA, I bought a pair from local shoe store - not a big box store. These are comfortable and durable, not cheap but a good value.

Guest's picture

Seriously, if you don't care about buying good quality used shoes and have a little extra time you can shop at yardsales on Saturdays. We go from 7am - 12pm just about each Saturday and you can find boots/shoes for $1 - $5 that are almost brand new.

There is really no reason to pay more unless you're strapped for time.

Guest's picture
Monica M.

I've been eyeing Frye shoes (particularly the boots and flats) for years. Thanks for the recommendation. Some of my favorite shoe brands - Merrells (the jungle moc is amazing...my first pair lasted me 7 years and my sister is now wearing them since they're still in good shape!), Clarks, and Minnetonka sandals (really nice quality for the price).

Guest's picture
Amanda

I love Frye. I have a pair of their Engineer Boots. I bought them over eleven years ago and have replaced the heel twice and the sole once. The repairs have cost approximately fifty dollars total, and the boots are still stylish and going strong.