Just what IS the difference between a £25 pair of boots and a £250 pair? Can the higher priced pair really be that much better than the cheapy shoes? For some reason, there’s a big difference in this area between mens and womens shoes (proably something to do with the construction of ladies shoes) so today I’m focusing on menswear in this price v quality comparison. I’ve done my research and found out why some boots are worth so much more than others and that’s what I’d like to share with you this Tuesday Shoesday.It’s easy to say that the quality of the shoes is simply better in the higher priced pair but in what way specifically? I focused my research on Joseph Cheaney & Sons, who are Britain’s oldest boot and shoemakers. They produce handmade footwear for Boden, Shackleton Company and Herring to name just a few, and the price is definitely at the upper end of the scale. So let’s have a look at this producer and find out what goes into a pair of their boots.The first thing to note is that their footwear is still handmade. Okay, the product is made in a factory environment but it’s in Northampton, not China, and each stage of the process involves a real person handling the boots, not just a machine. In fact, each pair of boots goes through more than 200 hand-tooled processes and takes over eight weeks to ‘build’. When you hear the phrase ‘built to last’ this is probably what it means! Just to be clear, this isn’t a promotional blog post for Cheaney and Sons – although I’d be doing a good job if it was! – I’m just using them as an example of a traditional bootmaker that is still creating handmade items here in the UK and comparing them to the cheaper end of the footwear market.All I know for sure is that my husband’s shoes last years longer if they’re £100+ leather shoes from Clarks or Boden, or if they’re £300+ handmade boots from Shackleton. But when he wears supermarket or high street shoes, it’s barely a matter of months before they are worn through with holes that let in the rain, and have cracked, broken or flapping soles. So it must be the production method that make all the difference, right? That, and the quality of the materials too.So, back at Cheaney and Sons, the uppers are all made in genuine leather and the rubber soles are made by Goodyear. Yes, the tyre people. That probably explains why these soles don’t wear through like the cheap plastic versions in the budget fashion stores. If it’s good enough for a car, it’s probably okay for my husband’s feet! The soles of Clarks shoes also wear really well, and quite often the colour and condition of the shoes is what ‘gives up’ before the soles do. In fact, I made a video about giving my husband’s Clarks blue suede shoes a makeover with fabric dye, which goes to show that although the colour faded, the shoes were still absolutely fine to wear and could be brought back to life with just a little bit of effort (and some dye!)The same goes with real leather shoes – if you look after them and ‘feed’ them with polish, the leather will stay supple for many years. And the longevity of these higher-priced shoes is actually what makes them the ‘thrifty’ option. Okay, I know it doesn’t seem thrifty to splash out hundreds of pounds on a pair of boots, but if you’re sure that they are the style, colour and fit for you, they will probably last you a lifetime. And if they do, just imagine how low the cost-per-wear would be after just 10 years of wearing them! If you pulled on a pair of £300 boots every day it would be 0.08p per wear by the time the decade was over, and the boots would probably still be fine for at least another 10 years too.Still, as such a bargain hunter I really struggle to part with my cash all at once. It’s a difficult one to call, but when my husband can get through 4 pairs of £20 shoes in a year, yet his £100 Clarks shoes have survived 3 years without complaint, I think that the sums kind of add up in favour of the ‘investment’ footwear brands. Let me know if you have any experience of high prices vs bargain shoes and what you think is best by leaving me a comment below. And if you’re interested in watching my suede dying video – here it is:
Modern life has never been so stressful with the demands of longer working hours, domestic tasks and busy social lives leaving us drained and exhausted. It’s the fast-paced nature of contemporary living that is wearing us out every day so it’s more important than ever that the bedroom is designed with a little extra thought, as a place where you can truly unwind and relax in the evening. After the half-term holidays and the clocks going back I’ve found it really difficult to get into a regular sleep routine, which has made waking up in the mornings more difficult than ever! So I’ve been looking at ways that I can turn my bedroom into a calming sanctuary. Here are a few simple ways to create the most restful and aesthetically pleasing bedroom possible. Multiple Sources of Light It’s important to have several different sources of light in a room to create a calm space. Ideally the light sources would be on different levels to avoid too much harsh glare and a soothing ambience can be created using lamps, candles and different levels of light-bulb wattage. Recessed lighting will cast a more even glow across the room without brightness from a direct light, so opt for this instead of a fluorescent lighting fixture or bare lightbulb – at the very least, choose a lamp shade which covers the bulb for diffused rather than direct light. Small bedside lamps will create a warm and cosy atmosphere in the evenings and are essential for those who like to read before bedtime so that the light isn’t glaring into your eyes. The whole mood of the room can be controlled by simply installing a dimmer switch and can change the atmosphere from bright and energetic in the morning to sleepy or romantic at night – just remember that some dimmer fittings require a specific strength of light bulb and may not work with energy-saving bulbs.
Invest in Your Sleep I place a high value on getting a restful night’s sleep, so equally I am always willing to splash out just a little bit more when it comes to investing in a bed, mattress and bed linen. I already have a very comfortable antique bed which has been handed down through my husband’s family and so I’ve been sure to invest in a new mattress. Mattress firmness or softness is definitely a matter of personal taste so my only advice is to make sure that you try it out in the shop before purchasing! Your comfort is the number one priority in the bedroom, so spare no expense when it comes to these important bits. Use the best sheets you can afford with a thread count as high as possible to add a touch of luxury and prepare to sleep better every single night. Pile the bed with feather and down pillows and add a fluffy blanket to finish – here are my new crochet edged ribbon cushions and tasselled blanket from The French Bedroom Company which are the most luxurious bedding I’ve ever owned!
Soothing Sounds, Scents and Colours A difficult part of designing a relaxing bedroom is choosing a colour scheme that will invoke a sense of calm. Avoid bright colours and stick with shades inspired by nature, such as mink, tans, and freshwater blues along with crisp whites and soft greys. By adding natural colours, your bedroom will immediately feel like a more restful retreat or expensive hotel room – I always sleep better in hotels! In order to create relaxation, use all your senses and identify your favourite relaxing scent. Introducing this fragrance to your bedroom in the form of oils, incense and scented candles, along with regularly airing the room will help create a cosy sleep-inducing atmosphere as fresh scents are often attributed to good sleeping habits. Finally, use your sense of sound to help you relax by playing soft classical music or some people find the sea, rain or a running stream of water to be a very relaxing experience, particularly when they’re attempting to unwind before bed so use an App such as Calm.com to stimulate your senses.
Let me know if you decide to use any of these tips in your own bedroom and please message me if you have any more suggestions – what do you do to unwind and get a good night’s sleep? Please leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.