down at heel

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Having a worn out, shabby, or cheap appearance, as due to poverty or overuse. A lot of so-called hipsters try to affect a down-at-heel look, a sort of "shabby-chic" appearance out of second-hand clothing. John has been looking increasingly down-at-heel ever since he lost his job last year.

down at heel

1 (of a shoe) with the heel worn down. 2 (of a person, place, or thing) with a poor, shabby appearance.
See also: down, heel

ˌdown at ˈheel

(of somebody’s appearance) looking poor: Since he lost his job, he has begun to look rather down at heel.
This idiom refers to the worn heels of old shoes.
See also: down, heel
References in classic literature ?
His shiny boots were worn down at heel. But he forgave me, and we drove off together in a hansom to dine on board my ship.
Get downstairs, little bag o' bones.' With this, the undertaker's wife opened a side door, and pushed Oliver down a steep flight of stairs into a stone cell, damp and dark: forming the ante-room to the coal-cellar, and denominated 'kitchen'; wherein sat a slatternly girl, in shoes down at heel, and blue worsted stockings very much out of repair.
He did not cut a very insinuating figure, for a man of his stature suffers in a crowd; and having been active in yesterday morning's work, his dress was literally crushed from head to foot: his hat being beaten out of all shape, and his shoes trodden down at heel like slippers.
After a lively chat with this lady (who sat on the edge of the breakfast table in an easy attitude displaying the drapery of her stocking and an ex-white satin shoe, which was down at heel), Colonel Crawley called for pens and ink, and paper, and being asked how many sheets, chose one which was brought to him between Miss Moss's own finger and thumb.
Being somewhat negligently braced, however, and, moreover, but imperfectly buttoned, they fell in a series of not the most graceful folds over a pair of shoes sufficiently down at heel to display a pair of very soiled white stockings.
And from her tumbled hair to her pretty feet, which were disfigured with frayed and broken satin slippers trodden down at heel, she really seemed to have no article of dress upon her, from a pin upwards, that was in its proper condition or its right place.
The housemaids had been bribed with various fragments of riband, and sundry pairs of shoes more or less down at heel, to make no mention of crumbs in the beds; the airiest costumes had been worn on these festive occasions; and the daring Miss Ferdinand had even surprised the company with a sprightly solo on the comb-and-curlpaper, until suffocated in her own pillow by two flowing-haired executioners.
"Down at heel again!" shouted the captain, pointing to his wife's heavy flat feet as they shuffled across the room.
More than once, when I went there early, I had audience of him in a turn-up bedstead, with a cut in his forehead or a black eye, bearing witness to his excesses over-night (I am afraid he was quarrelsome in his drink), and he, with a shaking hand, endeavouring to find the needful shillings in one or other of the pockets of his clothes, which lay upon the floor, while his wife, with a baby in her arms and her shoes down at heel, never left off rating him.
Six songs are delivered with an array of festive feeling, from Black Fendrix Jerk Midi's long-faced opener Ice Cream, through Alessi's Ark's jangling Winter's Grace to Hot Sauce Pony's remorseful and down at heel Christmas In Prison.
The Photo ARTHRITIC fingers carefully clutch the tattered photo Invoking a painful memory from those days so long ago The gloss on the hair of the girl Like the down on a raven's wing Soft brown eyes look trustingly Though they cannot see a thing Tortured things of that terrible place They'd shared together so long ago "Why was I allowed to live" he cried When she was sacrificed and died Just because of her Jewish faith Now, old, crippled down at heel Nowhere warm to lay my head A cardboard box for my nightly bed No longer her lover, her blue-eyed boy by Lil Bordessa
A FAMILY from Suffolk have been left down at heel having planned a special trip to Tyneside to see the Snowdogs - only to find the trail is closing early.
(1987) In a creepy plot, down at heel Kurt Russell convinces spoiled heiress Goldie Hawn she's his wife after she gets amnesia.
How many Western Mail readers have recently taken a walk around Swansea city centre and seen how down at heel it is?