That common office lady problem: Your favourite pair of work shoes needs to be replaced but where can you find the perfect shoe again? Not to fret; even if you’re in urgent need of affordable yet work-friendly heels or flat shoes, these seven tips will help make that search easier.

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How to shop for good work shoes, even while on a budget! Image: Corbis

1. Choose a timeless style: Like the d’Orsay pump heels
This style is both elegant and work-appropriate: The sides of the d’Orsay pump heel shoe style are cut away, to reveal the feminine arch of your foot.

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ASOS pointed pump heel, $97.39. Image: ASOS

Contemporary variations may show off just the inner arch on one side instead of both. The cut-outs make these pump shoes more “breathable” — you’ve the functionality of the pump heel, while worrying less about sweaty feet!

2. Ankle boots are your best (shoe) friends
More sturdy than the average ballerina flat and more suited to our weather, these trusty shoes will easily take you everywhere. Buy a pair with a bit of a block heel for an edgier look.

3. Keep the glitter and embellishments to a minimum
You know the situation: Your new (and cheap!) shiny shoes leave a trail of glitter wherever you go. While that sounds the stuff of fairytales, the reality is less pretty; when chunks of glitter chip off your shoes, it leaves behind those ugly “holes” that make your shoes look like they’ve seen way better days.

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A subtly bejewelled heel is a chic way to wear that touch of glitter. ASOS faux suede jewelled heel, $97.39. Image: ASOS

You also risk looking more tacky than you’d expect with over-embellished shoes. The fail-safe way: Pick a solid shade in a matte fabric.

4. Pick the right heel height for you
Seen one of your friends stumbling around in towering heels that she’s clearly not comfortable in? That will be exactly how you’ll look too, if you’re in shoes with heels too tall for you too.

Honestly, discomfort is almost a certainty when you wear any heel higher than two inches. It’s the equivalent to being on your tiptoes all the time; any heel-loving girl will share that only vanity keeps you in these all-day instead of putting on some flat shoes.

Skip the stilettos if you’re just not at ease with wearing them; there is no point in wearing them if you don’t look and feel confident when donning these shoes.

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Aldo peeptoe heels, $139, Zalora. Image: Zalora

Should you insist on wearing these high heels to work, the trick is to spend a little more for stilettos with well-designed heel arches and cushioned insoles. High street brands like Aldo, Nine West, Vince Camuto and Kurt Geiger retail well-made stilettos that will make the price of vanity much less painful to bear.

5. Make sure the shoes fit your feet as comfortably as possible
Buy shoes that give you that close-to-ideal fit, whether you have narrow or wide feet. Do slip in foot cushions to wear your shoes more comfortably and to give your foot arch more support, especially if your heels do not come with well-cushioned insoles.

Avoid “sale delirium” where you insist on buying a pair of shoes clearly too big or small for your feet. If it’s uncomfortable even to put them on or to walk in, you’re unlikely to ever wear them to work.

6. Avoid heels with super thick platforms
As cute as those Jeffrey Campbell-style platform heels may look, they’re a little less appropriate for work, especially if you’re working in a formal office setting. These tend to look bulky and perhaps a tad too attention-seeking.

7. Get the sole replaced
If you still can’t find the perfect new pair of shoes, why not just fix an older (but still well-loved) pair. Since you can’t bear to throw them away, spend a bit more to get the soles or heels replaced. Master Fix and Mister Minit are two of the most popular (and convenient) shoe, bag and accessories repair chains around. You can also check out the street cobblers at “Cobbler Square” on Eu Tong Seng Street in Chinatown plus a few others around Singapore including old-timers like Yamaguchi Taro, who runs a cobbler’s shop with his daughter at the Yishun bus interchange.