I love my shoes.

I love them so much that I have a special relationship with them.

My “dinner shoes” are the 4-inch heels that I wear only from the car to the restaurant and back to the car and then home. They are just too precious to wear anywhere else!

Then there are my white driving shoes that I bought in California that are so pristine that I haven’t worn them because they might get dirty (silly me!).

I used to think that all shoes were created equal, until the day I found an “almost-corn” forming on my pinky toe after wearing a pair of cheap shoes. You would think the whole world was falling apart as I grabbed my pumice stone and gently rubbed that toe until the “almost-corn” went away.

My mind couldn’t fathom walking around with jacked-up feet, and I have a feeling that I am not alone.

According to Komavi Kahungi, who sells shoes at Bob Ellis, a SouthPark Mall store where some pairs cost more than $2,000, women buy shoes because it makes them feel special. He says women often come to him to purchase shoes after they’ve had a hard day at work and want something to make them feel better about themselves.

As a high-end shoe consultant, Kahungi says that some women justify buying expensive shoes by cutting back on other luxuries, like eating out. If a person spends $50 a day eating out three times a week in a month, that’s $600, he says, and that equals a nice pair of quality shoes.

I agree with that concept, but some woman would never spend that type of money on a pair of shoes, and that’s okay too.

I went to Kahungi to find out why quality shoes are so expensive. Here’s what I learned.

  • The price of a handmade shoe is determined by the quality of the leather used to make it. Most handmade shoes come from Italy, Brazil or Spain and are sold in limited quantities throughout the world.
  • The average handmade shoe takes five hours to make, versus a factory-made shoe where 500 pairs are made in 5 hours.
  • Shoes made from well-aged leather will stretch and breathe when worn, as opposed to pleather shoes that do not give and can eventually cause women to have problems with their feet.
  • Every lower-end shoe is copied from a designer shoe, although lower-end manufacturers usually modify their shoes and use cheaper materials.

Kahungi says some women make the mistake of wanting a high heel shoe that is comfortable. Unfortunately, high-heeled shoes are not made for comfort. The problem is that comfortable shoes usually are not attractive, so women sacrifice comfort for style. If a woman wants a comfortable shoe, Kahungi chided, then she should buy a shoe made specifically for that.

Here are three things he says woman should consider when buying a shoe: Your weight, height and body type. “If a woman doesn’t pick a shoe that compliments those three things, then the shoe will be painful to her.”

The hottest style in shoes this spring is the Gladiator style (shown below), whether it’s a flat shoe or a heel. Also look for sandals with lots of embellishments like stones or jewels.

More tips on saving your shoes and your feet:

• Protect your feet. Smart girls carry a pair of flats or flip flops in their cars or bags, especially if they will be walking a great distance.

• Don’t wear your favorite shoes every day. Give them a chance to rest. If you wear them out, it doesn’t matter how much they cost; the shoe won’t last.

• Take care of your shoes by taking them to a shoe cobbler on a regular basis to be polished and repaired.

• Most important, invest in quality shoes over quantity. A quality pair of shoes should last for years with proper care.

Below are some of the hottest styles in spring shoes, available at Bob Ellis in SouthPark Mall:

Top left: Stuart Weitzman, $280, Futura orange flat

Top right: Christian Louboutin, $1,495, Differa, black patent leather double platform

Bottom left: Jimmy Choo, $795, brown high heeled ankle strap sandal

Bottom right: Guiseppe Zanotti, $595, Flat Thong sandal

Lashawnda K. Becoats is a lifestyle consultant and owner of La Concierge in Charlotte, N.C. Email: la@concierge.la

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