I totally agree with you on
Oh, the cute shoe trap. :( I used to be that girl. Sometimes I miss being that girl. More than once, I have seriously considered painting my shoes just to jazz them up a little. "Responsible" shoes are so boring.
If your budget is $100, go to the running store, get fitted, say you have to think about it, and then come home and buy the ones you found on Zappos.
I'm "with you" on the cute shoe trap...case in point, the running shoe that fit the best was a men's New Balance extra wide shoe.
I have a lot of clients come in with shoes from Payless that are garbage and they get annoyed with me when I suggest that they buy "proper" shoes.
Even the client who I've trained for 2 years, balked at going to a running store to get fitted even though we were going for 5-7k runs every week. She just bought the same shoe I wear! GAH!