Much like the electricity bill, the dollar amount spent on summer clothing is traditionally much less than for fall and winter. The warm weather demands less covering altogether, and light, washable fabrics that can be breezily tossed in the wash after each sweaty summer day are more appealing than anything that asks to be dry-cleaned. Shoes are open, perfunctory vehicles to bring you from one barefoot destination to the next. Such is the broad sketch, anyway, of summer's freeness of mood, especially in comparison to the looming reform of fall fashion.

Winter simply takes more equipment, and the more serious your supplies the longer they will carry you through winter months to come. Everyone, regardless of age or income, needs a coat, a pair of warm gloves, and—of course—shoes fit for the nasty weather.

If you ask me, I'll tell you that the best and most important thing to invest in each fall is that pair of shoes that's going to be your go-to. They'll pair with damn near everything in your wardrobe, be water resistant, and comfortable enough to walk to work and back in. Most importantly, you'll love them enough to not get sick of them until at least January. They should upgrade everything you wear, so that on the days you're grubbing around in whatever is handy and warm and passably clean, it all looks intentional when you add your good shoes.

Without wanting to steer anyone off a financial cliff, I will say that in the case of fall shoes, especially if you choose carefully, you're going to get what you pay for. The ultimate luxury, of course, would be a custom pair. This could mean going to Mario's (833 SW Broadway) and ordering leather, crocodile, or alligator men's dress shoes to be handmade in Italy for $995-4,000, but even small-time mopes can squirrel away for a pair of Ese Carnal ( shoes for men or women, handmade in Portland for a fraction of that cost.

If your idea of a splurge is satisfying a status craving, consider purchasing a high fashion pair of fall shoes. You may not be able to wear Prada and Marni all year, but if you saved your pennies and actually bought yourself that pair of Chanel shoes, you'd probably wear your money's worth out of them before the sticker shock even wore off. Just don't forget to pass them on to your grandchildren.

But label chasing isn't really Portland's game, and the creative class' tastes demand quality shoes in original designs. This is where a shop like Halo Shoes (1425 NE Broadway) comes into play, where sky-high oxford wedges straight off of the Dries Van Noten runway share shelf space with the gorgeously textured, intellectual lines of Cydwoq shoes for both men and women. Halo has also been adding lines at a more moderate price point. I know a number of people who simply avoid the temptation of visiting the place for fear of their urge to splurge, but even the frugal among us should check in with them routinely—the already good sale section is only going to get better. Other good shops for fall dress shoes for women are Olive Shoes (1040 NW 10th) and Zelda's Shoe Bar (633 NW 23rd), where one great pair of Bettye Muller party pumps will get you through every holiday party until Easter of '08.

Great shoes can be found at other, less expensive stores all around town—pedX Shoe Shangri-la (2230 NE Alberta), Imelda's and Louie's (3426 SE Hawthorne & 935 NW Everett), and Baddoll Shoes (1639 NW Marshall) are some great places to scout out less expensive versions of key styles. Another of my favorite shoe sources are the boutiques—sometimes the perfect pair of shoes is found off the beaten shoe store path, when store owners pluck just a few (or even just one) pairs that complement their overall aesthetic. This fall Denwave (811 E Burnside, #113) will carry the Common Projects Italian sneakers, while their neighbors at Stand Up Comedy (811 E Burnside, #119) are awaiting a fall sandal from Rachel Comey, for example. Other shops worth peeking into: Moulé (1225 NW Everett), Olio United (1028 SE Water), Local.35 (3556 SE Hawthorne), Odessa (410 SW 13th), Souchi (807 NW 23rd), Seaplane (827 NW 23rd), and Le Train Bleu (748 NW 11th).

Whatever you end up with this fall, make sure to get the most out of your purchase by having a cobbler protect leather soles with waterproof rubber, scoring some Scotchgard, and shelling out every now and again for a good old-fashioned shoeshine.

Put some shoes on, hippie: