Updated: Feb 4
3 garbage bags or similar
Willpower [ Difficulty rating: 9/10! ]
Line up all pairs of shoes on the floor, like with like.
Immediately put any pairs that don’t float your boat in a large bag if they're still in reasonable and wearable condition; we'll call this the REHOME bag, or if they've outwalked their lifespan, another bag, we'll call the REFUSE bag.
Of the pairs you have left, check each pair for their condition – check for cleanliness, scuffs, torn/scratched heels, worn soles/heels, broken buckles. If they’re beyond repair, you’ve simply got to part with them. It can be emotional, I know, I’ve been there, but you can tell a lot about a person by the condition of their shoes (I believe there’s even a whole book dedicated to this!) so consider what yours might be saying about you. Good grooming doesn’t stop at your ankles and just because your feet aren’t at eye level, don’t think people aren’t noticing. A potential date, employer or even another woman admiring your confidence and style are definitely scoping those out. Any pairs requiring cleaning or a visit to your local repair shop can be put aside for later attention.
Have you worn these shoes in the last 12 months? If not, let them go, there’s a reason you’ve not worn them (they’re not making you feel that great, the style doesn’t flatter your leg shape, or you haven’t got clothing items to work back with them). REHOME OR REFUSE.
Only those that are in tip-top shape, that work with your wardrobe, are classic in style (ie. haven’t dated) or that make your heart race a little faster have earned their place back on the shoe rack.
Grab your shopping list and add any style that’s ESSENTIAL to be replaced – to fill any void in your collection.
If there are pairs you really can’t part with, that you haven’t worn for a while, hold them for the next month and resolve to part with them if you can’t find an opportunity or outfit to wear them.
A girl can never have too many pairs of shoes, right? Wrong! An overwhelming shoe collection can mean time wasted on making decisions or finding what you're looking for. It is important, however, to have something to cover all occasions.
Home Use Only: You want something to schlep around the house in…one or two pairs at most (think canvas sneaker or a flat of some description) and slippers are ok to keep if they are in good nick because cold digits in winter no one has a good time with. Thongs are another type of breeder…a couple of colour options if you must, maybe keep a pair in the car, but other than that if they are worn down, dirty and beyond it, let them go.
Casual: Think ballet flats, embellished sandals and smart sneakers – not your athletic variety – more a street sneaker, and moccasins are always nice to have. A clean canvas sneaker is inexpensive and can tame down a dressy look for day wear instead. Be sure to use deodorised inner soles that you can regularly remove and wash or replace to keep them fresh. Waterproofing them will keep light colours cleaner for longer.
Wedges: Personally, I don’t believe wedges suit everybody. I have small feet and relatively thin legs with no prominent calf muscle and I've not found a pair that suit me yet (damn it), but if you love them and they work for you they're a sweet option to have on hand for a smart casual look or a day at the polo.
Work Shoes: If you require a specific style of shoe for work, its important they are always in good condition and it’s a bonus if you can opt for something you’d wear outside of work to get bang for your wardrobe buck.
Evening Shoes: Strappy heels in neutrals, nudes, black and metallics are always going to work with most evening wear options. A fun alternative to the nude are the clear PVC … quite popular in stores now. Closed toe (think classic pumps) and open toed options will cover the seasons.
Boots: A nice option for winter, though important to get the height and fit right for a stylish, upmarket look. Ankle boots are popular, but don’t always flatter every woman’s leg shape. Colour matching the ankle boot to skin tone, if they are going to be worn with skirts, dresses or cropped pants will serve best. Black ankle boots are most leg-lengthening when worn with opaque tights. Knee high boots are still popular, but more so the over-the-knee boot worn with a skinny jean or jodhpur, teamed with a long coat they scream European chic.
Exercise Footwear: Two pairs max should cut it unless you’re into fitness for a living.
Think outside of the shoe box when it comes to matching shoes and outfits…experiment and try clashing to change it up and have fun with your look. No longer do shoes have to match your handbag (can I get an Amen?) and a statement shoe will always liven up an LBD.
Then there's the cheap and cheerful versus luxe or the ol’ quantity versus quality debate. If you’re on a budget (let's be real, that’s most of us mere mortals), is it better to have a vast array of styles and options crammed into our space or a smaller collection of better quality shoes to get you from A to B?
This is a personal thing, especially if you value comfort more than the look. Cheaper options are usually synthetic which often means the fabric doesn’t breathe or mould to your foot over time and comfort may be the ultimate price you pay. The quality will likely not be there which means they may not last as long and you'll be dipping into your purse more often to replace them.
Where you can, buy quality, giving preference to perennials – the classic styles and colours that won’t date. For trends that come and go, you could opt for a less expensive brand, bearing in mind too that a patent option can be deliciously deceiving to the onlooker – it’s sometimes hard to tell if a patent shoe is genuine leather or not! Some synthetic leathers are overtly cheap looking, especially if lighter in colour so analyse them closely before you dash up to the sales counter (even if they’re $12 a pair, ok?).
Once you've got all your needs covered and the quantity of shoes in your collection is wrangled and under control, shoes can be purchased to REPLACE any as required…no more willy nilly impulse shoe buys now, do you hear? Ok, well you really must LOVE them – to the extent that you’d swap a family member for them…yep, THAT much - if they’re going to take up valuable space in that closet. Also, you can’t buy them unless you have four or five items in your wardrobe what work with them, otherwise you'll be throwing them away in 12 months time.
One last tip...please, please, please remember to remove the stickers (price tags, brand labels and care intructions etc) from the soles of your shoes. No one needs to know how much you paid for them and those neon yellow, sale stickers are eye catching and distracting. You want people noticing all of your fabulousness, not just your good soles.
FOLLOW UP ACTION REQUIRED:
Throw out your REFUSE bag of shoes.
Take shoes requiring attention to the repair shop.
Make time to waterproof and clean your shoes and add shoe polish to your grocery list, if required.
Wash inner soles that require washing.
Set aside your REHOME bag – we’re likely to be adding to this across the next 29 days!
Gold Coast, Brisbane & Northern New South Wales Stylist, Louise Chambers is available for personal styling, photo shoot & media styling, style workshops, fashion event MC bookings and media bookings.