My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In May of last year, I published a two-part series (starting with this post) that I called “the state of the wardrobe.” I covered a number of topics in those essays, one of which was a new concept I termed “The Rule of Ten.” I created this rule to help me reduce my “out-and-about wardrobe” to a more manageable size – and keep it there.

The basic tenet of the Rule of Ten is that I should limit the size of each wardrobe category to ten or fewer items. At the time when I created this rule, I divided my closet into three distinct sections: at-home clothing, out-and-about clothing, and “crossover” pieces (which could be worn either at home or when I’m out).  Since out-and-about items have long been my “problem area,” in that I have too many of them for my lifestyle needs, I opted to apply the Rule of Ten only to that section of my closet.

the rule of ten

Revisiting the Rule of Ten

I didn’t do much with the Rule of Ten after its introduction, as I got swept up in the chaos going on in the world and forgot about many of my wardrobe management efforts. I’d like to revisit it now in a series of posts that I’ll publish throughout the coming months. Each post will cover one distinct area of my wardrobe, beginning today with my shoes.

I decided to start with shoes because it’s one of my easier categories. I don’t have an extremely large footwear collection and I have a good sense of my favorites. Later in this post, I’ll show you photos of the shoes I’ve chosen to include within my Rule of Ten, and I’ll explain my reasons for those selections. In later posts, I’ll feature other wardrobe categories one by one and highlight the “all-stars” in each section of my closet.

If any of you would like to join in on the fun, I welcome your participation – the more the merrier! You don’t have to use the number ten; you can select a smaller – or larger – number in each given category as desired. I won’t always choose ten items in each category, either, but I thought it was a good round number and a nice starting point to work from. Let’s begin….

A Few Clarifications

Before I dive into my Rule of Ten related to my shoes, I want to clarify a few things. After reviewing the May 2020 post in which I outlined the Rule of Ten, I’ve decided to make some shifts to the parameters of the rule. I noticed that I was a bit too liberal last year with what I considered to be the crossover pieces in my wardrobe. Some of the items I thought I’d wear both at home and when out and about have actually served only the latter purpose.

These exceptions include many of my tops and toppers, as well as some bottom pieces and dresses. Although most of those items could conceivably be crossover pieces due to their casual and comfortable nature, I typically only reach for my dedicated at-home garments to wear when I’m at home. As a result, I’ve recategorized quite a few crossover items to be part of my out-and-about wardrobe, so they’ll now be subject to the Rule of Ten.

For now, I’m only going to apply the Rule of Ten to my out-and-about wardrobe, but I may later opt to view the remainder of my closet through that same lens, especially as I work to apply my 2021 theme of “less” to my wardrobe and my life.

As I compile my Rule of Ten lists, I won’t force myself to get rid of things that don’t make the cut just yet. However, I will put those pieces on a sort of “probation.” I’ll move them to a central location in my closet and push myself to wear them as soon as possible and decide upon their fate. That’s what I did with some of the cardigans I wrote about (the ones I classified as “maybes”) in my post on wardrobe over-duplication, and it’s helped me to pare things down further.

My Shoes – An Overview

At first, I thought I would include all of my shoes within a single Rule of Ten category, to end up with only ten pairs of shoes overall. But I’m not sure I’m ready to be that minimalist just yet! After reviewing my shoe collection, I’ve decided to divide them into two sections: summer shoes and “not summer” shoes. Of course, there’s some overlap between these two categories, as I live in a temperate climate with a lot of unseasonably warm days and some unexpectedly cool days as well.

Since the seasons are less extreme and more fluid here – and because I have the space, my closet houses my entire wardrobe at all times, including all of my footwear. This makes it easy for me to dress in accordance with the weather, no matter what time of year it is. However, I typically move the pieces for the current season to more easily accessible locations in my closet. I’ve had some trouble with my shoes, though, as the places where I store them have become somewhat overloaded. That’s part of why I’ve opted to consider my shoes first in regards to the Rule of Ten.

I currently own 28 pairs of shoes, not including the shoes I wear in my house and on walks (which is just a few pairs). If I reduce my shoe collection down to ten pairs each for the summer and “not summer” seasons, I’ll end up with twenty pairs, which is a more manageable number. I’m not going to choose that many today, though, as there are a lot of shoes in my closet that I don’t love or wear on a regular basis – and didn’t even before the pandemic. I’ll cover my “on the bubble” footwear at a later date, but today I’ll reveal which shoes made the cut for my summer and not summer Rule of Ten collections.

“Not Summer” Shoes

We’ll start with my “not summer” shoes because that’s the current season I’m in. The cooler weather will likely continue well into June (we typically have overcast weather here in May and June), so I’ll mostly keep wearing my less-open footwear for the next month or so. Here are the seven pairs of shoes I’ve selected as my favorites for cooler temperatures:

rule of ten shoes for "not summer"

These are the seven pairs of shoes I’ve included in my “not summer” rule of ten.

The above shoes all work well with my color palette and my three style guideposts (dramatic, polished, and elegant). All of them are also comfortable and have low to moderate heel heights. I like to wear at least a small heel most of the time, even though I’m tall, because I have high arches and I like the proportions that heels create with my outfits.

Most of the above shoes are in excellent condition and should last me a few more seasons. However, the Ecco wedge booties and the Munro peep-toes are becoming increasingly worn out, as both pairs of shoes have been worn probably hundreds of times. I purchased the Regarde le Ciel booties in early 2020 to replace the Ecco booties, but I continue to wear the Eccos with some of my pants because their higher heel height works better in those instances. The Regarde le Ciel booties have around a one-inch heel, whereas the heel on the Eccos is more like two inches, and that makes a difference with some pant lengths. The shaft on the Eccos is also narrower, so I’m able to pair them with slimmer pants and jeans without the bunching effect that occurs with the Regarde le Ciel booties and some of my other boots.

Black boots are a signature piece for me, so it probably makes sense for me to own two pairs of closed-toe booties. For this reason, I’ll need to purchase another pair of medium-heeled boots soon, as the Ecco wedges are less than pristine and won’t last much longer. The same is true for the Munro peep-toe booties, which are rapidly losing their luster despite my taking good care of them. I’ve been actively trying to replace those with the exact same pair, but since they’re no longer being sold at retail (I bought mine in late 2016), I’ve been searching on resale sites. I haven’t found the booties in my size yet, but hopefully it’s just a matter of time before they crop up.

Other than the two replacements I mentioned above, I can see myself adding another pair of metallic shoes to my not summer footwear collection. Ideally, I hope to find a pair similar to the black Arche Enexor sandals that I bought on Poshmark last fall, as those have quickly become a favorite. The retail price of those sandals is very high, but similar styles exist that are within my typical price range. I just need to find the right shade of metallic, which for me is either silver or pewter because my wardrobe is mostly cool-toned.

The gray booties and metallic peep-toe sandals were purchased just before the pandemic set in, so I haven’t worn them much yet. However, they’re a nice change from wearing black shoes most of the time, as are the burgundy booties that have been in my closet since 2016. If I were to add another non-neutral shoe to my not summer collection, it would probably be in some shade of blue or a two-toned or patterned option (perhaps snake print booties). Making this addition would add some great variety to my footwear options, but I don’t plan to go over ten pairs of not summer shoes total. With the replacements and two potential additions, I would still only be at nine pairs, which I feel is a reasonable number.

Summer Shoes

I also selected seven pairs of shoes to include in my summer Rule of Ten collection:

rule of ten shoes for summer

I’ve included these seven pairs of sandals in my summer rule of ten collection.

As you can see, all of these shoes are either black or metallic. Most of them have been in my wardrobe for at least a few years, but both pairs of Munro sandals were purchased within the past year. I have several other pairs of summer shoes that didn’t make the cut for this collection, mostly for comfort reasons or because they’re too similar to the pairs shown above. Those shoes will be addressed in a follow-on post that will focus on my “on the bubble” footwear, as I plan to decide relatively soon which pairs will be kept and which will be purged.

The five pairs of summer shoes that have been in my closet for a while (all those shown besides the two new Munro pairs) have all been worn many, many times, with the Black Taos sandals being the biggest “all-star” performer. In fact, those are actually my second pair in that style. I was lucky to find an almost identical replacement on eBay for my original pair that I wore into the ground.

If I were to add a new pair of summer shoes, I might try to find sandals in another color (maybe blue or red) or perhaps in some sort of pattern (like snake print or gray-toned leopard print). I’ve also seen a few pairs of two-toned (black/metallic or black/white) shoes that I really like, so I might consider adding one of those to my closet this year. However, before I purchase any new footwear, I need to decide what to do with the shoes I own that weren’t added to one of my Rule of Ten collections. Addressing those shoes (14 pairs!) will be the focus of future essays (one for summer and one for “not summer”) within the next month or two.


I found it very helpful to view my shoe collection through the lens of the Rule of Ten. Although I’ve noticed for a long time that I mostly wear a small number of favorite shoes, I’ve held on to the remainder of my collection because it can be difficult for me to find footwear that fits well and is comfortable. I actually don’t purge shoes nearly as easily as I do clothing, so some of the footwear I own has been around for a long time. It’s fine to keep shoes – or clothes – for many years, as long as we still like them and are wearing them, but that’s not the case for me with many of my shoes. This exercise, as well as later efforts to address my “maybe” shoes (coming soon), will assist me in releasing footwear that is no longer meeting my needs.

My style aesthetic has also been in flux, such that I wasn’t sure what types of shoe styles I might need for my ensembles. Some of the footwear that I haven’t been wearing has been due more to a lack of pieces to pair with them than an actual issue with the shoes themselves. Because I’ve shifted my summer style away from long skirts and dresses and more toward shorter dresses and cropped pants (as I wrote about in a recent post), some of my shoes were left in a sort of “purgatory” status. The same thing happened when I shifted the pants silhouettes that I liked wearing during the cooler months. I found that some of the shoes I wore with wider-style pants didn’t look as good with the narrower bottoms that I had transitioned into. None of our pieces exist in a vacuum, so we have to consider the big picture when determining what to purge – and what to buy.

Your Thoughts?

I’ll delve into some of those other issues in future posts, but now I’d love to hear from you! I hope my review of the footwear section of my closet helped you to consider your own shoe collections. You don’t necessarily need to use the Rule of Ten like I have, but sometimes determining our favorites can be beneficial in terms of future purchases and our overall style direction.

I welcome any feedback you’d like to give regarding this post, but here are a few questions that might help to focus your thoughts:

  • How do you feel about the SIZE of your shoe collection? Is it too large, too small, or just right?
  • What do your favorite pairs of shoes have in common with each other?
  • Do you feel that your footwear appropriately reflects your personal style aesthetic? Why or why not?
  • How many shoes do you feel you need for each season? How many distinct seasons of footwear do you need for the climate in which you live?
  • What suggestions do you have for those who are looking to pare down their shoe collections?

I look forward to reading what you have to say about all things footwear!

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35 thoughts on “Applying “The Rule of Ten” to My Shoe Collection

  1. Vildy says:

    This topic is on my mind all the time. I don’t aim for a minimalist wardrobe though the times I have had one – long before the idea was so popular – I was happy with it. So I have no objections. When we moved in, over 30 years ago, hubby teased about my 70 pair of shoes and I had the classic
    response of “You’re not counting flip flops, are you?” I have at least that many now, counting slippers, boots in.

    As I get older, 72, my feet are fussier. I have some minor tailor bunions and for maybe a decade have the beginnings of a bunion on one foot and
    I pamper that. I used to live in a semi-rural area as a girl and we thought nothing of cramming our feet into heels and walking miles that way. And being so young it wasn’t a problem.

    One thing that causes me to get rid of shoes is the practice that many brands have of pairing leather uppers with non-leather linings and/or insoles.
    This peels and cracks and you can’t remove it because underneath is a fabric that blackens your skin. If it’s only the insole, then I can pull it out
    and add my own insole but that doesn’t work if it’s any kind of sandal construction because it shows. So I’m trying to be vigilant about not adding
    any more shoes like that because I *want* to get a lot of reliable use out of my shoes.

    Some years back, I found a brown and a black pair of Payless faux leather ankle boots and they worked so well for me that I wore them year
    round for a couple years but when I tried to replace them, the style had changed slightly and maybe the fit because the new pairs didn’t work.
    I also found a pair of SafTStep black “patent” loafers at a sidewalk sale for five bucks at a mall. Sheer luck because I’m rarely in a mall and we needed something else so landed there. I loved these so much – plus very sure footed – that I wore them out along with a replacement pair or two I
    found resale. My husband said they looked like rain shoes. I countered that they look like French rain shoes. When I have shoes that I’m happy to wear daily, I do get rid of many others and lose desire to add new pairs. I need shoes to be well-fitting but also stylish in a way that’s acceptable to me. Otherwise, I am not actually, despite the high numbers, a “shoe person.” I don’t lust after shoes. Though I do keep up with what is in style.

    For most of my life I couldn’t wear sneakers/athletic shoes because they seemed to hurt the bones of my feet. Now, however I can wear them and
    I do and I even have a couple of Dad sneakers. I’ll wear those out of the house so long as sneakers and dresses, say, are a common look.
    Before that became the case, I wouldn’t have. Do not want to be the little old lady in tennis shoes, even though that would be accurate. Or maybe
    exactly because that would be accurate. Too much information. It’s exactly why I’ve never worn skinnies or show any cleavage.

    With all those shoes, I still find myself missing having a pair, like a bone colored pair. Can’t seem to turn up what I like. Most of the rest of
    my shoes are black, a few brown, quite a few red. I find I need either lace up shoes, boots, or otherwise do best with an ankle strap. Though five
    feet tall, I don’t care anything about a shortening effect.

    I come from a home, by the way, where my older parents were, indeed, minimalist, without the cold modern look. They had a surfeit of empty
    drawers and cabinets and very small wardrobes. My mother, who *really* had trouble with her feet, had one or two pair of a specific style
    of Red Cross wedge sandals (southern California) and when they started to wear out she demoted them to house shoes. She had a few good
    dresses, one or two housedresses she sewed herself, one jacket and one purse. But I was thrilled by clothes ever since a tot. My husband
    deems my interest in clothing hobbyist. I definitely do move clothes out if they don’t satisfy me. As well, a lot of other hobbies I once had –
    I used to read a book a day, used to be consumed by movies, no longer interest me. So my discretionary income goes to clothing, and most usually
    from one of a few thrift stores or sometimes online resale. *But* I feel better emotionally when I eat the same things all the time, have my
    one mascara, concealer, blush, have a reliable cleanser, shampoo. I get a lot of pleasure from putting outfits together and wearing them but
    also I have liked wearing the same things all the time, as I’ve said. So it’s a tension. When I was wearing a small wardrobe of a few tweed
    or woolen pants, a couple sweater sets in grey and cream, my elderly father brought home a peculiar short pleated nylon? pull on skirt in
    a vivid geometric abstract print that he got from his friend’s thrift store and thrust it at me saying that I should be wearing lively clothes.
    I still have it, it has all my favorite colors, and I wear it once in a while every year for 45+ years. And , honoring that, have been pointedly
    adding more color to my wardrobe for a while now and eliminate more and more of the dun colored clothes. 😀 .

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on shoes and small wardrobes, Vildy. I always like reading what you have to say. I don’t aim for a minimalist wardrobe, either, but I do want a workable and manageable wardrobe. I hear you about there being more shoe comfort issues as we age. I’ve read that we lose padding in our feet, but of course there can be other issues as well. I agree that it’s frustrating when the linings and insoles in shoes crack. I’m glad the current Dad sneakers trend is working out well for you. I think that we can have large shoe – or clothing – wardrobes and still feel a gap, especially if we haven’t been in tune with what we need to tie our outfits together. That’s part of why I’m doing this type of exploration, as I realized I had quite a few pairs of shoes that I wasn’t really wearing.

      Like you, I enjoy clothes and putting outfits together. A lot of people have more utilitarian approaches to clothing, which is totally okay, but there’s more to it for some of us. Of course, we all need to consider issues like comfort and our lifestyles, but there’s also fun to be had in getting dressed, for those of us who enjoy that. I love that you still have the abstract print skirt that your dad gave you and still wear it from time to time. You seem like someone who has a lot of fun with fashion! Yay for being inspired to add more color to your wardrobe by that beloved skirt.

  2. Gail says:

    Oh dear, Debbie! I have three pairs of shoes, all comfortable: Navy lace-ups for most of the time, Black Mary Jane-ish “dress” shoes and black Oofos slides one small step up from flip-flops. I don’t need or want more. All occasions, even in a climate that has winter and summer.. This is my simple way of dressing, and I cannot imagine having 70 or 20 or even 10 pairs of shoes. To each her own!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I don’t think you mean to come across as judgmental, Gail, but that’s how it seems sometimes. We all have different feelings and approaches to our wardrobes. I get that clothes and shoes aren’t really your thing, but some of us enjoy having variety and more options to choose from. I honor and respect your choices and I hope you will do the same for mine, Vildy’s, and others. I’m glad that you’re happy with your simple wardrobe, but I don’t think I would ever want to have only three pairs of shoes. I would want all of my shoes to be comfortable, though, which is why I’m paring things down. For me, 10 or 20 pairs of shoes IS minimal, but we’re all different – and that’s what makes the world go around.

      1. Gail says:

        Not judging, I promise, Debbie! I think I am the odd one. I enjoy and am interested in how lessminimal people are with their clothes. I devour your entries on this topic. It kind of hurts that anyone would misunderstand and think Iwas judging. There is no way the amount of itmes one owns is up to anyone else, an even though it fascinates me, I am not trying to be critical in the least. I am more like you with regard to kitchen equipment, I am sure, and I have LOTS of faults and quirks (neuroses?) that would never allow me to judge a more normal peron!🤪 I am sorry if I come across in a negative way; I feel now hesitant to be open about what I own.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          I don’t want you to feel hesitant to share what you own, Gail. As you can see, there’s a lot of variation among the readers of this blog in terms of how much is in their wardrobes. Tone is hard to read in writing, but sometimes I do sense judgment in what you write. In the comment above, it was the beginning and the end with the exclamation points that made me bristle a bit. But you have often written very kind comments about non-wardrobe topics, so I know you’re not a malicious person who wants to make anyone feel bad. I want everyone to feel free to share here and if those who have very small wardrobes comment in certain ways, those with larger closets might not feel free to share about what they own. This got to be a problem with my last blog, as people wrote harsh and judgmental comments about me and my readers sometimes, which is why I had a closed Facebook group for a few years. I want to avoid anyone feeling judged or shamed if at all possible.

  3. Juhli says:

    I have right now I have 5 pairs of shoes (2 sandals, 2 flats and one slightly nicer shoes) plus one pair of walking shoes. My retired lifestyle is casual, my feet hard to fit and as long as I can alternate shoes I’m good. That being said, you have some lovely shoes. You didn’t mention how they fit into your current and near future lifestyle though. I’m assuming you considered that as well in your selections and aren’t splitting your wears. I’m curious why you would be considering buying more? Is it the decision to have “10” of each category?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good to see you commenting here again, Juhli. It sounds like you have a shoe collection that really works for your individual lifestyle needs. My footwear works well for my lifestyle, too. I’m not totally sure what my future lifestyle will be at this point, but I am focusing on comfort a lot more than I used to. I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear in my post, but yes, I’ve decided to have 10 pairs of shoes (as a maximum, but I don’t have to have that many) in each category. I’m not planning on buying more YET, as I need to work through what I have and make sure that I choose wisely. There is SOME splitting of wears with black sandals and black boots, but since those are signature shoes for me, I’m okay with a bit of that. Sometimes it helps with comfort to switch off between two or three pairs from day to day.

  4. RoseAG says:

    It seems to me your have a pretty narrow shoe collection that runs dressy. I don’t see any oxfords, loafers, sporty water sandals, keds, birks, hiking boots.
    Given the focus I think you’re good, but were you to have more shoes for active living I think you could easily double your wardrobe.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I do tend to skew dressy with my footwear and clothing, Rose. I do have a few pairs of active wear shoes that I didn’t include in this post, as I’m focusing on out-and-about footwear. I don’t have much there, though – just walking shoes, slippers, and sandals I wear around the house (Hoka Recovery Slides – they’re the best, and I wear them for short walks, too). I like the idea of water sandals for walking on the beach. You’ve given me food for thought there! You’re right that if I were a super active person, I would need more options there, but my main outdoor activity is walking, so I have what I need there.

  5. Sally says:

    Hi Debbie

    It’s good to see that you are pairing down your wardrobe slowly and consciously following your analysis, with the aim to have enough that works for your lifestyle and your need for variety.

    The only potential downside that I can see for a “reformed shopaholic” with setting an amount, in this instance 10, is that where you currently have less than 10, there may be the temptation to increase to 10, because in your mind you are then still within your goal, but did you really need the extra ones?

    Everyone has different wardrobe needs according to their lifestyle, personality, need for variety, types of weather etc. There is no right or wrong. By sharing how we all approach things differently, we may find something that we had not thought of, that we could apply to our own wardrobe.

    Where I live we only really have 2 seasons too, like you.

    I approach my wardrobe needs slightly differently.
    My whole wardrobe (clothes, footwear, bags, accessories and jewellery) are split into Imogen Lamport’s Levels of Refinement, where:

    “Out & About” are Level 1 – Smart & Occasion Wear and Level 2 – Smart Casual.

    Level 3 – Casual is for my loungewear/sleepwear, swimwear and activewear.

    Then I look at the most common colours that I wear for my clothes. As my colouring is dark and warm I wear black and then warm shades of brown, tan, cognac etc, so I make sure that I have 2 colours of shoes that will go with all my clothes, 1 that is black and 1 that is a shade of brown/tan/cognac.

    Now I have decided on my 2 colours, I look at my shoe needs depending on the weather. I need sandals, closed toed shoes and boots, so I have each of these in my 2 colours.

    I have 10 Out & About Shoes in total, split as follows:

    Level 1 – Smart & Occasion Wear 5:

    Shoes 2 – black & tan
    Sandals 3 – black, nude & gold

    I don’t wear boots for Level 1 occasions, but I do need a pair of special occasion sandals.

    Level 2 – Smart Casual 5:

    Boots 1 – brown
    Shoes 2 – black & tan
    Sandals 2 – black & cognac

    Our mild autumn/winter weather means that I don’t wear boots as often as shoes, so I only need 1 pair and brown goes with all my clothes.

    These suit all my occasions and needs. When I see footwear that I really like and am tempted to buy, I know that I don’t really need them, unless one of my current ones need replacing as worn out or fit issues and if I buy them I will be splitting my wears, this is enough to stop me buying them.

    This is a completely different approach to when I used to have a huge wardrobe and shoe collection and I used to buy things just because I liked them or for my imaginary lifestyle, where I thought I might have an occasion to wear them. I never ended up wearing most of them, so it was a waste of money.

    Regards Sally

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sally, you make a good point about the danger for recovering shopaholics in having benchmark numbers. I have this issue with clothing budgets, in that I sometimes view it as money that I will definitely spend, rather than money that I COULD spend if the need is there. I will keep what you wrote in mind with the Rule of 10. It’s really more of a guideline than a rule, and I have to remember that. The truth is that I already have more than 10 pairs of shoes in each category, but I only wanted to include the shoes that I love and wear for this particular exercise (I’ll be addressing the others in future posts). I can see lowering the threshold for certain categories over time, as I may not actually need 10 choices.

      Thanks for reminding me and others about Imogen’s Levels of Refinement. I remember reading about that a long time ago, but I had forgotten it. I would have to read more to better understand the distinction between Levels 1 and 2, but I would guess that most of my shoes are Level 2, with a few that are Level 1. I also have a handful of Level 3 shoes, but I didn’t include those in this post (I just have slippers, home sandals, and walking shoes). My two main shoe colors are black and metallic (silver or pewter). I appreciate your sharing how you determine your shoe wardrobe. It makes a lot of good sense. I’ve wasted a lot of money on shoes, too, including on some of the pairs that I will cover in future posts. I used to just buy whatever shoes appealed to me in the moment (I did the same with clothes) without really considering how they would work in my wardrobe. I shake my head when I look at some of the items I used to have (and even some of my current pieces), but we all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them!

      1. Sally says:

        Hi Debbie

        As a refresher, here is the link to Inside Out Style Blog, The 3 levels of refinement:

        I had a typo in my comment above, it should say Level 2 – Smart Casual 5

        I love clothes and shoes and like to look stylish. However, now I know my style, what suits me and what type of shoe is comfortable and I no longer work or go out as much, I don’t need as many shoes as I used to, so I am now more picky about what I buy.


        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks so much for sharing the link, Sally, so that I and others can read Imogen’s words of wisdom. I corrected the typo in your other comment. I thought that was maybe what you meant, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. I can totally see how once one knows their style – and if they’re not super concerned about following all of the trends, they can maintain smaller collections of shoes and other items. It’s good to be picky! I didn’t used to be picky enough, which is part of why I have too many shoes (among other things). I could stand to be pickier than I am now, but that’s part of why I’m exploring many of these issues on the blog. Sometimes we’re all learning together, and we teach each other things, which I appreciate.

  6. Vildy says:

    Looking at this part of your shoe collection, it looks like you don’t buy dupes. I realized this morning that more than a third of my footwear are dupes of one sort or another. Since this is a conscious deliberate practice I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me. 😀 In many cases I have 3 of the same and in others two of the same. Either it’s the exact shoes or boots but in different colors, sometimes an exact dupe in every way, occasionally the same style
    of shoe but different brands – example, I have been trying out lace up suede ghillie flats, preferably with back zipper and now have dark red, beige, and a cross between teal and blue (color names are hard 😀 ). I *would* have gotten the same brand as the red but couldn’t.

    Next I realized that some of the shoes that are singletons were actually once part of a duplicate or even triplicate set except that a different colorway did not fit and feel the same at all and were passed along. This goes a long way towards reconciling not being besotted about shoes while having
    so very many of them!

    And I realized this is my strongest buying trigger. I will put on a piece of clothing and, as with the overbuying recently of the shirts, be moved to search out additional of the same but in other colors in order to duplicate what feels like success. What keeps me from a ridiculous amount of overbuying is that usually I can’t find any alternative colors. The one thing I don’t seem to do this with is handbags – and I have plenty of those, too.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I actually DO have some dupes, Vildy, as you’ll see in my follow-up posts. Actually, if you look at my summer group, you’ll see black and metallic sandals that are almost identical. What I did that was smart there, though (which I didn’t used to do in the past), was WAIT until I knew the black ones were workhorses before purchasing the metallic ones. While I have worn the black sandals more often, the metallic ones have fortunately also seen a lot of wear. I do more duplicates with clothing than I do with shoes, but I do it with shoes sometimes, too. When it becomes a big problem for me is when it’s like you describe in your last paragraph. I always seem to think I NEED more than I actually do. It’s much better if I wait for a while before adding additional colors in the same or a very similar style, but the FOMO often gets to me. But I should realize that there will ALWAYS be more things that I like, as it never fails 🙂

  7. Jenn says:

    It looks to me like you have a nicely curated shoe collection.

    As for mine… Let me preface this by saying my dress pumps are leftovers from pre-retirement. I keep them because they are relatively classic and comfortable. If I need a pair for some reason, I won’t have to go out and buy new.

    However, that does not explain the:
    • 10 pairs of boots/booties
    • 14 pairs of sandals
    • 4 pairs of flats
    • 7 pairs of (non-workout) sneakers
    • 8 pairs of dress pumps

    Considering I live in Michigan, where sandal season is quite short, I have too many of those. I expect to get eliminate some once sandal season actually arrives. Overall, my shoe collection is too large (it makes up over 25% of my wardrobe!), but it’s half the size it once was and better suits my lifestyle today. Cute, comfortable flats are hard to find, so I usually wear sneakers, sandals, or booties. Very few of the sandals have a heel, and every pair of shoes—even the tennies—are at least subtly feminine, consistent with my style.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your numbers, Jenn, as well as your thoughts about your current collection. I know that for me, shoes can be harder to get rid of than clothes, so I always seem to have some stragglers hanging around. You’ll see the rest of my shoes in future posts… This exercise is forcing me to better examine what I have and I’m grateful for that. Probably the best thing for many of us to do is actually push ourselves to wear what we have so we can decide what to do with it. It seems like you’ll get that opportunity with your sandals soon. Sometimes we buy more for our favorite seasons even if we don’t need as much for them. I know that I have too many toppers for someone who lives in San Diego, but I actually love a good third piece, even if I don’t always need one. It’s great that you’ve found a way to incorporate feminine details into all of your shoes. Sometimes that can be hard to do, but I know that I feel better when everything I wear is true to my style.

  8. Dorina says:

    I live in a 4 climate area and I think I have 12 pairs in total.
    Pre-pandemic, I worked in an office 5 days a weeks, walked an average of 5-7 km daily to work and back, so most of my shoes are comfortable to walk.
    I would donate part of my shoes, if I would knew exactly how the next year’s of my work life will be: continue with remote-working, hybrid.
    But I live in a small apartment and I would extend my Oxford shoe collection, but am not to clear if it’s the case in the next year’s.(it’s not at the moment,as I am actively trying not to shop)

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That’s great that you can get by on such a small shoe collection in a four-season climate, Dorina. You must have a very good sense of your style and what you need. How great that you were able to walk to work and had shoes that were up to the task. It sounds like it’s smart for you to hold on to your shoes until you better understand what your future will look like. I’m sure many, many women are in a similar situation in terms of their work wardrobes. Hopefully, you’ll gain more clarity soon, but good for you for not shopping while you’re uncertain about what you may or may not need.

  9. Murphy says:

    Another great post, Debbie, and very timely for me because I have been struggling with my shoe collection lately. I have always had difficult feet – I wore orthopedic shoes when I was a kid and everyone else was wearing penny loafers. After some surgeries I was able to wear other kinds of shoes, but I have never had a huge collection due to my flat, narrow feet. The last few years I have developed some other foot issues as well, so that has complicated things.
    Right now I have more shoes than I have ever owned at one time – around 25 counting 3 pairs of waterproof snow boots , quite a few athletic shoes and several pairs of Birkenstock sandals. The problem is that some of them hurt my feet, but I can’t figure out which are the worst culprits because my feet are feeling so fussy right now. So I’m hanging onto all of them, searching for new ones that don’t hurt or rub at all, and then I will re-introduce the suspects. So far I have one pair of sneakers, one pair of nicer tie shoes (for work), and a couple pair of Birkenstocks that are in the clear. Since the sneakers are almost worn out I’m searching for another pair just like them. And I need to be realistic about shoes that hurt, even if they used to be comfortable. But it’s hard getting rid of expensive shoes that hurt my feet 🙁

    1. Sally says:

      Hi Murphy,

      I too have problem feet, so I know what you are going through.

      I have flat, narrow, size 11 feet so I struggle to find shoes that fit and my sandals and shoes all have to have a Mary Jane strap to keep them on.

      I developed really bad pain and had to have foot surgery and 6 months of physio in order to be able to walk properly.

      Podiatrists say that a 1-2″ (2.5-5cm) low broad based heel or wedge is better for the feet and the back than flats, so that is what I wear now.

      I can no longer wear heels more than 5cm as it hurts my feet and I had to get rid of them and some were expensive designer shoes (I tried to sell some and gave the rest to charity). However the cost of getting rid of these is far less than the cost of hurting my feet again and having to have more surgery and physio.

      Often I buy shoes that are comfortable in the shop but hurt my feet after walking in them for a while so I have to get rid of them, as life is too short to be in pain.

      Buying shoes is so hit and miss for me. Once I find a style that I like, that fits and doesn’t hurt my feet when I walk in them, I then buy them in a different colour, so that I have 2 in that style in my 2 colours of black and a shade of brown/tan/cognac.


      1. Murphy says:

        Hi Sally, I can relate to a lot of what you said. I also need straps or ties to keep shoes on my narrow feet. It is so frustrating when I buy shoes that were comfortable in the shop and then they start hurting when I am out and about. I used to say « 3 strikes and they’re out » but the podiatrist pointed out that I should only give them one strike! After all, it does take quite awhile for my feet to stop hurting after wearing problematic shoes.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like you’ve been on a frustrating road with your shoes, Murphy! I can relate to some of what you wrote, as I see that Sally can as well. Part of why I have held on to some of my “on the bubble” shoes (which I’ll cover soon) is because of comfort-related issues, either because they ARE comfortable but I don’t love the style – or vice-versa. I think foot issues are more difficult at the moment because so many of us have mostly been at home and either not wearing shoes or only wearing our most casual and comfortable ones. It often feels strange to put on “regular shoes,” and I’ve found that I’ve become even pickier about comfort since the pandemic started.

      Like Sally, I’ve found that low heels are more comfortable than flats, but I’ve always thought that was because I have very high arches. Also like Sally, I can’t wear heels that are much higher than 2 inches anymore. Life is too short to wear shoes that hurt our feet! Your podiatrist is right that one strike should be all that it takes! It sounds like you’re getting a better grasp on what does and doesn’t work for you. I know it’s hard to contemplate getting rid of expensive shoes, but nothing is worth sore feet!

  10. NATALIE K says:

    Thank you for writing about your shoe wardrobe. I have difficult feet because I have narrow feet and had gout for years that ate away the part of the padding between the bones of my feet. I really had anxiety when you spoke of getting rid of perfectly good shoes so you would only have ten in each category. I just couldn’t do it!! I’ve been slowly building a good shoe wardrobe over the last seven years. I need black, navy, chocolate brown, navy and metallic gold in sandals. I would also like to add maroon and maybe even grey. Of course I have a mushroom color in a few as my nude and taupe in tall boots. I don’t feel I have too many but I also don’t feel I need many more either. It angers me when other women try and tell us how few they have and act as if we have the problem. I immediately think they probably aren’t very fashionable anyway!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like you’ve endured some very difficult foot issues, Natalie. Gout sounds awful! I’m glad you’ve been able to build up a good shoe wardrobe that meets your needs well. I can tell that you like to have a good variety of color in your footwear, which is nice. I don’t plan to get rid of any shoes just for the sake of getting rid of them, but if something is uncomfortable, worn out, or simply not in line with my style aesthetic any longer, I will pass them on (either sell or donate). I’ll be addressing the rest of my shoes soon…

      I’m sure people can still be fashionable with smaller footwear collections, or maybe some of them don’t have being fashionable as a high priority. Also, some women just aren’t all that into shoes and are more into handbags or jewelry, for example. But I agree with you that there is no right or wrong in terms of the numbers. I want everyone to feel free sharing and I want us all to respect each other in terms of our differences. This blog usually have a very supportive community, which I appreciate very much. I know you’re relatively new here, but I thank you for openly sharing and I hope you continue to do so.

  11. NATALIE K says:

    Sally, I am no longer able to wear heels now either. When I find really comfortable shoes I buy them in several neutral colors. When my arthritis is acting up in the winter, I must wear a shoe that not as fashionable as I would like so I will wear the same color long skirt with the same color tights and shoes. It tends to make them less noticeable. I can identify with your foot issues!

  12. Lori says:

    Ah, shoes. I was a shoe-aholic and at one time had over 150 pairs!!! Three years ago, I had a severe ankle injury and have a very limited type of shoe I can wear. My nieces were thrilled to inherit my extensive and gorgeous shoe collection. I have saved one pair of heels to be buried in (my Manolo Blahniks) because that is the only time I can wear them now lol. I still have quite a few pairs of shoes, all flat, that I hope I will be able to wear with orthotic inserts, but it is still too many. In reality, I wear Birkenstocks almost exclusively. I think it will be fun to try to pick out just ten pairs of shoes per season. I am heading to the closet right now!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your ankle injury, Lori. That must have been really rough on many levels, including having to give up so many of your gorgeous shoes. I’m excited that you plan to join me in selecting ten pairs of shoes for each season, and I hope you report back on what you learn from that exercise. I know that Birkenstocks can be super comfortable, and it’s great that they are now also viewed as much fashionable than they were previously. I have a friend who has an extensive Birkenstock collection with many fun colors and patterns. I remember when they were pretty much all tan or brown, but they’ve come a long way!

  13. Katrina B says:

    What an interesting post, and the readers’ responses are interesting too – a wide range of shoe collecting habits. My shoe situation breaks pretty much every minimalist “rule.” I have shoes over ten years old that are still new and have rarely or never been worn. I have duplicates (and possibly one triplicate) of shoes in a style and color I like. And I keep old grungy shoes until they fall apart – sandals and athletic shoes – for working in the yard. However, even with all that, I only have 21 pairs that could be worn for work or going out. I say “only” because this is WAY less than I ever had, say, in the 80s or 90s.

    I have been getting rid of shoes on and off for many years now, but I have never done a huge one-time purge. I think slowly winnowing out the ones that don’t work is probably better for me. I don’t want to make that pants mistake where I still regret donating all my old work pants and then needing them again later. I won’t ever be on a red carpet and cocktail parties are unlikely but if I get invited to a wedding I want to have my proven comfortable-but-pretty shoes ready to go, not have to panic-shop and end up with uncomfortable ones.

    My situation is similar to what you mentioned, about keeping ones that fit well and are comfortable. I have issues that cause me to collect “good” shoes and hang on to them. My feet are very painful most of the time and to try to minimize that the shoes have to have a very slight heel, have arch support but not too hard or too soft, have straps or laces or a high enough vamp that my foot won’t slip out, not rub my ankle bones, and have a square or round toe. In addition I’m a bit picky about color contrast between pants and shoes. I’m OK with black shoes and navy pants for example, because they’re similar value. But I’m unhappy with brown shoes and tan pants, because it’s too much contrast. All of those things make finding shoes difficult to say the least. Also this is probably TMI but I have a foot sweat problem and my shoes have to “rest” and dry out for several days between wearings.

    So I feel very happy with my 21 pairs of good shoes and 7 pairs of house shoes. If I start noticing that one of them has become uncomfortable for some reason, that will be the time to throw them away.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Just as people have different shoe collecting habits, Katrina, we all have different ways of paring things down that work for us. I’m pretty much like you in that I winnow things down gradually (same with my clothes) rather than all at once. Sometimes it takes me a while to decide how I truly feel about something, but if it’s a comfort issue, the decision should definitely be easier than it often is. I think I WANT something to work when it should be clear that it does not. My feet has gotten fussier as I’ve aged, which I think is true for many of us. I understand what you’re saying about contrast between pants and shoes, and I feel the same way. I’ve read that we shouldn’t wear the same pair of shoes (or the same bra) two days in a row, so I try to keep that in mind. That’s why I have some shoes that serve the same purpose (black boots and black sandals, as two examples) because they’re wardrobe staples that I wear all the time. We all have our different factors that come into play, and sometimes we’re not even truly aware of them until someone else articulates it. I’m learning a lot from the comments here, as I always do!

  14. wjgravity says:

    Ah, shoes. This is definitely an area I need to spend some money in this year to finally replace most of mine that are falling apart. I live in New England, so I have 4 full seasons with all manner of weather (and lots of mud!). Luckily I live on a shared private road that we have plowed, so I don’t need to have full winter boots. I also work in a casual environment, so even if I go back in office, I don’t need a huge variety.

    For the shoes I have (ignoring the ones that are going into a yard sale this summer):

    * Heavy, waterproof walking sneakers (need to be replaced, these will get downgraded to muddy yard working)
    * Lightweight walking sneakers (need to be replaced, I don’t even know if my currently ones could be downgraded)
    * Black flip-flops. I only use these for going outside briefly or for pools/beaches/lakes while travelling
    * Slippers for around the house when it’s cold. I prefer to be barefoot/in my socks, so I don’t use them much. These ones were a Christmas gift this year.
    * Black pumps. A little uncomfortable, but manageable. I will eventually replace these with a high quality (comfortable) pair that will last hopefully forever
    * Black heeled Mary Janes. These are my favorite dress shoes. They also will need to be replaced eventually with a higher quality pair
    * Blush pink pumps. I bought these to wear to a wedding. I like them, but because of the color, I can really only wear them with the 1 navy blue dress.

    I think I’d like to add a colored Mary Jane, a pretty sandal, and a hot pink pump to replace the blush ones. Hot pink is my signature color (when I wear lipstick it’s hot pink and my hair is currently hot pink), so it will oddly be more versatile than the blush!

    But looking mentally at the stack for the yard sale, all of them are either uncomfortable or they only go with 1 outfit, and most were only worn once or twice. I tend to either wear shoes until they fall apart, or have to buy something specifically for an event on short notice (often resulting in mistakes I don’t wear again). I think I also need to pay more attention when buying clothes (especially dressier clothes) to make sure that they go with the shoes I already own. If I had bought a dress for the wedding that would go with my black shoes (or worn a dress I already had), I wouldn’t have needed the blush pumps.

    That being said, my breakdown of shoes versus wears is definitely skewed. I wear the 2 pairs of sneakers (or no shoes) 95% of my time, yet I own more dress shoes than sneakers. I not terribly mad at that since there isn’t a ton of variety in my everyday wardrobe, and I don’t mind wearing the same shoes everyday. But I should remember that I spend more time in my sneakers than anything else, so the quality of shoes should reflect that.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on shoes, wjgravity. I can imagine that the weather in New England would be hard on one’s shoes, especially the winter season. I’m actually from the New England area, but my family moved to California just before I turned six. I think many (most?) of us have some shoes that we wear a lot more than others, like you with your two pairs of sneakers. My black boots and sandals definitely fit into that category. It sounds like adding pink footwear into your wardrobe would work well with you and would coordinate nicely with the hot pink hair (sounds cool – I’d love to see a picture!) and hot pink lipstick. It’s fun to have a signature color! Cobalt has long been mine (in addition to black, of course), although I’ve found myself wearing it less often since I transitioned to my natural hair color. I think a lot of women spend more money on their formal shoes (and clothes), which can seem backwards because most of us wear our casual items more. The pandemic has helped me to shift more of my spending toward the items I wear most often, but I still need to be careful not to overbuy “out-and-about” items. It can be tricky because it’s often more fun to purchase such pieces. It sounds like doing a review of your footwear was helpful for you. I wish you the best with the yard sale and with your future shoe purchases!

  15. NATALIE K says:

    Debbie, I really can identify with some of your earlier writings about your emotions. Thank you so very much for your opening up. I now realize I’m not alone! My best friend helped me Marie Kondo my closet. Lets just say that in the end I spent the next year buying literally 1,000 of dollars on a new wardrobe. I am still adding!! I am disabled with many very serious medical issues and I must use a walker. I have always loved fashion and so, of course this is why my Bachelors was in Fashion Merchandizing. I have always dressed very well. What is so very sad? I only have one friend. The ladies at church seldom talk to me. We have been active there for over 12 years. My best friend said to me that they are just jealous of me. She told me to be careful and not to wear all my new clothing at once. I am just so tired of people judging me. I am a natural introvert, which makes it hard. I am following you closely. I need the encouragement. I am so thankful that I have the Lord and I have the most wonderful husband! This is what gets me through!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you benefited from my earlier writings on emotions, Natalie. I appreciate you letting me know. You are definitely not alone! Downsizing our closets can be a good thing, and it’s also possible to go overboard sometimes. That’s why I usually wait a little while between deciding to get rid of something and actually doing it, as I periodically change my mind about things.

      I’m sorry to hear about your serious medical issues and needing to use a walker, but I’m glad your illnesses are not impacting your ability to dress well. It’s good that you have your husband, your best friend, and your faith for support. It can be very difficult to make friends as an adult. While I have friends who live in other areas, I don’t have many local friends, either. It’s possible that people might be intimidated by your great fashion sense, but a lot of women would be inspired by that rather than being put off by it. People can definitely be judgmental and cruel, but fortunately not everyone is like that. I hope that you will be able to make some connections at your church soon (or perhaps visit a different church to see if they might be more welcoming there). If there are some activities you might be able to participate in other than the regular service, that might help, but if you’re an introvert like I am, it’s still challenging to meet and connect with new people. One day, and one step, at a time!

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