Going back to school may be a pain, but new shoes are always a pleasure.

“Back to school marks a time for new footwear,” says Joe Houlihan, head of shoes for Wal-Mart Canada. And this year it’s about getting “back to basics, with traditional styles being the real winners,” according to Katherine Chapman, chairman of Olly Shoes.

For girls, think fashion boots and ballerina flats. “Rich purples and pinks are a constant favourite,” says Chapman.

For boys, it’s all about the athletic look. “The DC brand skater shoe has been a big hit in lace-up styles, which offer greater support for activity,” she adds.

But graphic canvas sneakers are the universal “it” item for this year’s schoolyard catwalk, according to Mardi Larson, spokesperson for Payless Shoes. “What better way to show personal style than by sporting the latest in wearable art? Another big trend this season is tattoo-inspired appliqués, frayed edging, colour blocking patterns and edgier details than ever before.”

Plaid is also making a comeback.

Wal-Mart’s “Mad about plaid” styles range from small feminine plaids to tartan, tweed and Buffalo checks,” says Houlihan.

And affordability never goes out of style. The average Canadian will be spending about $80 on shoes, according to Wal-Mart.

The object is to make that go as far as possible. Payless is offering its signature Bogo sale — buy one, get the second for half-price, while Wal-Mart’s shoe assortment starts at $8 — part of its Top 10 Back to School Items for Under $10 promotion.

Chapman recommends doing your homework. “To save money, ask if they have a clearance section,” she says. “These are always the same quality products that the store carries, but likely from last season so they will be clearing them out at greatly reduced prices.

“Ask if they have a membership program that ties in to discounts for products purchased. Also many stores will email their members with sale notifications — be sure to get on their list,” Chapman says.

And when it comes to shoes, size matters. To get the most out of a purchase, make sure the shoe fits.

“It’s important to go to a store that understands how to properly fit your child,” says Chapman. “It’s fine to allow for some growing room, but not so much that it hinders the child while walking or running — which could lead to a fall.”

Latest From ...