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Related to down-at-heel: dug in their heels, dig in his heels
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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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.




COMMON A down-at-heel person or place looks untidy or in bad condition. He had two rooms above a down-at-heel shop. When I was a down-at-the-heels detective, I couldn't afford to eat here. Note: The image here is of a person wearing shoes with worn-down heels because they do not have the money to repair or replace them.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
More that of a down-at-heel town somewhere in the developing world.
After being rejected from several communities in South Wales, the latest being Ewenny Road, Bridgend, T-Mobile presumes it can come to "down-at-heel Splott" and get away with it.
An imaginative scheme, with housing and retail, will help to transform a particularly down-at-heel part of Birmingham and provide fresh ammunition for the council to refute criticism that regeneration on the edges of the city centre has slowed to a snail's pace.
Albert Park manager, Stuart Johnston, said: "The days when our parks where tired, down-at-heel and uninviting are long gone.
The city centre was at that point slipping into a down-market, down-at-heel place.
The cult Channel 4 comedy series was written by the brilliant Peter Kay, who also played the starring role as Brian Potter, proprietor of a down-at-heel northern working men's club.
Glyn Williams, the vice-chair of Holyhead Chamber of Trade, said the town has been down-at-heel for many years as it has failed to take advantage of the number of visitors using the port.
Ushering the visitor into the main gallery space was another customized down-at-heel stick of furniture, Lucia Nogueira's Untitled, 1992, made up of two buckled shelves, three nails, and a pushpin.
It was a converted carpet store in a down-at-heel West Palm Beach neighborhood.
It tells the story of down-at-heel Bunnington WI, where dwindling membership means they can barely afford the hall, let alone a decent speaker.
MacLeod - saw Ian Hart portraying John a down-at-heel 50-year-old who walked out on The Beatles in 1962.
The vision is to redress the decline in Gateshead over recent decades which has resulted in poor modern development in an urban core that is generally regarded as down-at-heel.
And it's all the better for it too, as George Clooney smoulders to perfection as a down-at-heel fixer called in to handle a spot of damage limitation when a colleague suffers a nervous breakdown during a high profile case.
Following a down-at-heel performance at the world premiere in New York - where he turned up wearing muddy shoes, right - it seems Depp had decided to invest in a brush and some Cherry Blossom.
It's a refreshing change when things go pear-shaped on the opposite side of the counter, and the down-at-heel shoes are on the other foot.