Deconstructing my shoe collection


(Back row, L-R: No. 6 boots, Rachel Comey Mars boots, Frye oxfords, Tod's sandals; Front row, L-R: Ann Taylor pumps, J.Crew lace ups, Comme des Garcon oxfords, Tod's flats)

I wanted to address a few issues from my last (serious) post about building a uniform and how to buy less by determining what you really need versus what you think you need. Perhaps I didn't fully explain my approach on how I deal with each individual question on my list, so I will remedy that by using a visual account. One of the areas in my life where I feel I have achieved the bare essentials is my shoe collection. I have exactly 10 pairs of shoes, all of which serves a specific purpose. Barring one or two minor hiccups along the way, I think I've basically turned my shoe collection into something that is very minimal but is full of functionality and suits my style. It took me about 5 years to learn what works and to avoid either feeling impulsive or envious whenever I see something new.

As a general rule of thumb, you really only need one pair of shoes for each of these occasions: everyday wear, good winter shoes, good running shoes, a pair of sandals and a pair of dressy pumps in a decent heel height. The truth is that if you only have one pair of shoes for your everyday wear, you're not doing your feet any favors because you are essentially putting pressure on the same areas of your feet and that brings about a slew of unpleasant things. Since I wear oxfords throughout most of summer and a large part of winter, I have allowed myself two pairs in different colors. The No.6 boots are essential for particularly rainy days here in Seattle where the ratio of wet feet and number of days in the year are highly correlated.

My mother always says that your feet is the solid base on which your whole body stands, why would you ever treat it badly? I've used that advice very often and I've also learned that if the shoes do not feel good the moment you put them on, they are not going to ever feel good. Last year I bought exactly three pairs of shoes - a pair of lace-up boots from J.Crew, oxfords from Comme des Garcons and loafers from Rag & Bone. These were things I needed because I had been trudging around in a my No.6 boots, a pair of ratty Converse and on my most obscenely lazy day, a pair of hiking boots from The North Face. While I've used the lace-up boots almost everyday, the Rag & Bone loafers are my most regrettable purchase from last year. I'm usually a 5.5 and occasionally a 6. The smallest size the store had was a 6, which would have been great except that within two months, the shoes miraculously stretched out to a full size 7. No amount of insoles or heel grips could remedy it and I'm left with no loafers and a giant boat shoe that I will never be able to wear.

Other than the shoes shown above, I have a pair of running shoes and a pair of water-proof hiking shoes which works for when I bring the dog out in the rain. That rounds up the shoe count to 10. I may be adding some new loafers during the summer if I find the right pair, preferably in cognac or burgundy. Also, someday, when the time comes, I'll be investing in a pair of Christian Louboutins Simple Pumps in 70 mm heels. But for now, I think I'm pretty contented with everything I have. I know that my shoe collection may not be the most interesting but I've never gone a single day failing to match them with my outfit. I get all my shoes resoled every year and wipe them down with waterproof leather protector every month so that they achieve their full usability.

According to Consumer Reports, the average American woman owns 19 pair of shoes, which I suppose is not a tremendous amount. How many pairs of shoes do you own and do you feel like you should streamline them or expand them? Please share!


    1. That is one well-edited shoe collection. Your posts are really inspiring me to cut down on the buying (and hoarding). I have a closet overflowing with shoes and more tucked away in storage boxes. I really need to learn to be able to let go and resist temptations.

    2. Amazing, I concur wholeheartedly with Jennifer. My closet is literally a hazard, I have had shoe boxes fall on me during my attempts to reach in and extract a pair of shoes.

    3. jennifer & LivKate: Since I've never been a shoe fanatic, it's easy for me to cut the number down to size. Dinnerware on the other hand...

    4. I thought I had pretty well-edited shoe collection, but yours puts me to shame! I did a mental count and found I had 15 pairs, including running shoes. And I had forgotten about some of them too. Time for a clean-up, I think.

    5. I'm not a shoe gal, often I buy the exact same or similar style but in different colors. I have 22. I've recently cleared out 4 pairs, and have my eye on 2 new styles to add in: yet another black boot and leopard flats.

    6. I was never a shoe girl. I had a pair of nike rubber flip flops and sandals till 2 years ago. (Can get away in grad school, i have learnt). I think i have amassed 12 pairs in the last 2 years. My collection now looks very similar to yours. Frye oxfords, Sam Edelman ankle boots, J Crew Oxfords, etc. They are holding up great for now. Need to evaluate in a years time.


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