Last week, I wrote about my shoes in the first installment of my periodic “Rule of Ten” series. I decided to split my footwear into two Rule of Ten collections: one for my summer shoes and the other for my “not summer” shoes (for the cooler months of the year). While I could have selected ten pairs of shoes for each collection, I only wanted to include the footwear that I love and wear regularly. Therefore, I chose only seven pairs of shoes each for the summer and “not summer” seasons. I also shared my reasons for making these Rule of Ten selections and speculated on the types of footwear I might be interested in purchasing in the future.
As I mentioned in my last essay, I don’t want to make new shoe purchases while so much of my existing footwear (14 pairs!) is still “on the bubble.” I’d like to make concrete decisions about each of my “maybe” shoes so that I can do one of three things:
- Start wearing them regularly
- List them for sale online
- Pass them on via donation
Today’s post kicks off that decision process. I look at the six pairs of shoes that didn’t make the cut for my “not summer” Rule of Ten collection. I explore my feelings regarding these cool weather shoes and highlight why I didn’t feel right including them among my favorites. I then let you know what I plan to do in order to make up my mind about each pair of shoes in the near future.
I decided to begin with this group of shoes (which I’ll show below), as the cooler weather “season” will be wrapping up in another month or so (it typically lasts from December through June). I’ll address the eight pairs of shoes that I didn’t include in my summer Rule of Ten collection in a few weeks.
A Few Words About Numbers…
Before I delve into my shoes that are “on the bubble,” I’d like to share some thoughts about numbers. A few readers questioned my decision to have two separate Rule of Ten footwear collections, as they themselves easily get by with fewer than ten total pairs of shoes (and some even have fewer than five pairs!). While I’ve become more minimalist in many areas of my life, my wardrobe is one area in which I’m still more of a “maximalist,” although not nearly as much as I used to be.
That being said, I do want to pare down my closet – and also decrease “closet churn,” which is a big part of why I created the Rule of Ten and am writing these posts. While it’s possible that I may eventually be happy with only ten total footwear options, that’s not what I’m choosing today. As someone who owned over fifty pairs of shoes for many years, I’d be quite satisfied to get down to twenty or fewer pairs this year – and maintain that level.
There is no one right number of shoes – or any other type of wardrobe item – that a person should own. It’s a very individual decision and is dependent on many factors. For some people, clothing and shoes are just basic necessities that are decided upon for purely practical reasons. But there are many others who enjoy the creativity of putting outfits together and using clothing as a means of self-expression.
While it’s definitely possible to be creative with a smaller number of pieces, many people like to have a wider array of options from which to choose. That’s true for me, but I also don’t want to hold on to items that I’m not using, as that can become overwhelming. Many of the shoes in my closet are simply gathering dust, so I’d like to either have them become part of my working wardrobe – or sell or donate them so that someone else can hopefully use them.
“Not Summer” Shoes that are On the Bubble
I classified the six pairs of “maybe” shoes below as “not summer” options, as they either have a closed toe or a peep-toe.
These shoes are less-open forms of footwear than what I wear during the warmer months. I realize that they’re likely more open than what many of you wear from December through June (at least in the northern hemisphere), but it doesn’t get that cold where I live. Therefore, I often wear both closed-toe and peep-toe shoes in the cooler months, and my feet are usually warm enough. If I’m going to be outdoors for a longer time period, I’ll generally reach for closed-toe footwear worn with socks, but that’s not how I spend most of my days.
I’ll go through the above shoes one by one to explore why they weren’t included among my favorites and what I plan to do next to get them out of “limbo land.” So that you don’t need to keep scrolling up to the picture above, I’ll include a photo of each pair of shoes in the appropriate section.
Black Ecco Chelsea Booties
These boots are ten years old! I actually gave them away at a 2017 clothing swap, but I got them back a year later when my friend decided she no longer wanted them. I thought that perhaps I’d enjoy wearing these boots again, but that hasn’t really happened. My main reason for taking the boots back is because they’re very comfortable and I can walk in them for long distances. In fact, I purchased them in Las Vegas when the boots I had been wearing there gave me some pretty extreme blisters (if you’ve ever been to Vegas, you know that extensive walking is the name of the game in that town).
Comfort is always a big plus, but there are two main issues with these boots. The first is that I usually choose to wear my other two pairs of black booties (shown below at center and right) instead of the Ecco Chelsea boots, as I prefer those styles (they were both included in my not summer Rule of Ten).
The second issue is that these boots pair best with either boot-cut or wide-leg pants/jeans because of their wider opening. Back in 2011 when I purchased the boots, my pants all had wider hems, but now I mostly wear a narrower straight-leg style.
In order to make a decision about these boots, I need to try them on with all of my pants. If any of my pants work well with the boots (hopefully at least one or two will), I’ll wear the combination at least once to see how I feel – and if I might potentially reach for this shoe option over others, especially in situations when I might be doing a lot of walking.
If I don’t have any good pant options for the boots, I still might hold on to them for the comfort factor, especially since wider-hemmed pants are becoming more popular again (and I’m likely to embrace that silhouette). But the bottom line is that I’d like to make a decision about the boots – and all of my “on the bubble” shoes – by the end of the year, if not much sooner.
Black Gentle Souls Cross-Strap Wedges
I purchased these shoes in 2018 because I liked the style and they felt comfortable on my frequently fussy feet. I still like the style, but I’m not sure if I like the way the shoes look on me and with the types of outfits I wear. I often put these shoes on, only to remove them shortly thereafter and choose an alternate footwear option. I’m not exactly sure why I do this, but that’s something I need to figure out.
These shoes have a small wedge heel, which is in line with my preferences. I generally opt for heels instead of flats when wearing pants or jeans, as I like the slimming effect the elevated height creates (yes, even with my tall stature!). Although I appreciate the look of flats with pants on other women, I often feel frumpy and bottom-heavy when I wear that combination myself. I’ve been trying to get past this perception for the sake of increased comfort, but it’s still a struggle for me. Interestingly, I can embrace certain styles of lower-heeled sandals with pants, but I’m not as keen on the closed-toe options for some reason.
Maybe the heel on these shoes is too low for me, or perhaps the silhouette is different enough that my eye hasn’t sufficiently adjusted. In either case, it’s frustrating to own shoes that I ostensibly like and not know how to make them work in my wardrobe. Maybe I haven’t tried hard enough, though. I’ve mostly stayed in my comfort zone wearing the same few pairs of shoes over and over again, and these cute shoes have gotten lost in the shuffle.
Since I like these shoes and they’re comfortable, I’m going to push myself to wear them soon. I’ll figure out some potential ways to wear them that I hadn’t previously considered. Perhaps I’ll try pairing them with a dress instead of pants – or maybe with different pants than I’ve tried in the past. If you have any suggestions as to how to wear this type of footwear, please share them, as I’d love to make these shoes part of my regular rotation.
I used to “play” in my closet on a regular basis, putting outfits together and taking photos to remember the combinations I liked the most. I haven’t done much of this for years, which is part of why some of my wardrobe pieces have become orphans. Because I’m unsure how to wear some of my closet items, I primarily stick with the “tried and true” when getting dressed. If I want to incorporate some of my less worn pieces into my regular repertoire, I need to put a little work into styling them.
Black Vince Camuto Lavette Peep-Toes
I picked up these shoes at a local consignment store in February 2020 and never got around to wearing them prior to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders. When I had an opportunity to include them in an outfit not long ago, I discovered that they weren’t as comfortable as I thought during my simple try-on at the store. I have very high arches and insteps, so shoes often fit snugly at the top of my feet, which was the case with these peep-toes. My husband put them on a shoe-stretcher a couple of times and they fit better now, but I’m not sure if the heel height is manageable for me.
I used to love wearing higher heels, but now my upper limit is two inches – or maybe two-and-a-half, and these have a three-inch heel. I’ve hesitated to wear them because I didn’t want to be stuck out and about with uncomfortable feet, but I need to figure out if these shoes will work for me – or not. I love the style, but I’m committed to no longer owning any “sitting shoes.” I’m going to try wearing these shoes soon for a quick outing to see if they can be worn without discomfort. If my feet hurt, the shoes won’t get to stay in my closet!
Black White Mountain Peep-toe Mary Janes
These shoes are even older than the Ecco booties I wrote about above! I bought them in April 2011, and I’ve worn them many times over the years. However, they fell out of my favor a few years ago when I purchased new options that better fit my current style aesthetic, including the ones featured in my post last week.
In the past few years, these shoes haven’t left my closet much. I no longer track wears, but I think I’ve only worn them a handful of times in recent years. I’ve mostly hung on to them because they’re comfortable and used to be a favorite of mine. I have a hard time letting go of comfortable shoes because it’s difficult to find options that don’t hurt my feet in one way or another. However, these peep-toes are less than pristine at this point – and even though they’re still technically wearable, I always seem to choose something else instead. Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps the black Gentle Souls wedges I covered above might work for outfits in which I used to wear the White Mountain peep-toes. I’m going to experiment and see if that possible substitution is a valid option.
Taking the time to go through my shoes has helped me decide to let this pair go. I don’t love and wear them anymore, so why hang on to them? I’m going to donate these shoes soon, along with some other closet items that I’ve culled over the past month or so. The Rule of 10 exercise is helping me determine which pieces I like most, which is making it easier to let go of lesser-loved items.
Metallic Gentle Souls Cross-Strap Peep-toe Wedges
I purchased these shoes around the same time as the closed-toe black pair I wrote about earlier, and they’ve been equally challenging for me to style. I’ve worn them, but not very often, and their mostly “benchwarmer” status can be attributed to the same reasons. I just don’t know how to wear them in a way that feels right to me. Again, I need to spend time doing a bit of experimentation, and I have yet to make that a priority. Once in a while, I’ll put these shoes on with a given outfit, but I usually take them off because the combination looks wrong or I feel frumpy.
I don’t think the shoes look frumpy and I still like the style, so maybe there’s hope for them yet. But I don’t want to keep them around if I’m not going to wear them. I want the items in my closet to earn their keep, even if everything isn’t worn equally as often. As with the black Gentle Souls shoes, I’m open to suggestions for how to wear this shoe option. What would you pair them with? Maybe I need to think outside the box a bit more…
Navy Faux Suede Arcopedico Booties
These boots were given to me by my mom just days before the pandemic shutdown occurred. She was visiting me and we did some shoe shopping together. My mom has fussier feet than mine and lives in a place (Tahoe) where there aren’t many good shopping locations, so she often wants to look for comfortable and cute shoes when she’s in town.
While we were in my mom’s favorite shoe store, I tried these boots on and commented that they felt like slippers on my feet. I didn’t own any blue footwear, so my mom offered to purchase the boots for me. I was excited to wear them, but then we all know what happened next… The lockdowns occurred and I wore only athletic shoes and slippers for months on end! I haven’t had many out-and-about occasions during the cooler months, but I know that I could have worn these boots at least a couple of times and didn’t. I’ve typically stuck with my standard black or metallic footwear when I’ve ventured out and haven’t tested out other options.
As with some of the other shoes covered in this essay, I need to figure out what to pair these shoes with. See a pattern here? When I don’t take the time to experiment in my closet and do outfit creation, I just stick with the same “tried and true” options over and over again. I know I have clothes that I can wear with these navy boots, but given my overall mood and energy level during the pandemic, I’ve taken the easy route when putting my outfits together. I’ve worn the clothes and shoes that I knew worked for me and left the more challenging or problematic options alone.
I’m not going to beat myself up for sticking with my proven footwear favorites in recent months, as it’s been a difficult time for all of us. It’s only natural that outfit creation and dressing our best has taken a back seat, especially since we’ve mostly been at home for the past year-plus. But now that we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, I’m feeling more in the mood to up my style quotient and make decisions about what to keep and what to purge in my closet.
So, there you have it… I looked at the six pairs of cool weather shoes that weren’t included in my Rule of Ten collection for that time of year. I explored why those shoes didn’t make the cut, and I created a plan for how to make concrete decisions about them in the near future. Now I just need to execute that plan, which I intend to do before the summer season arrives. I don’t want these shoes to continue gathering dust in my closet for another five or six months until it’s seasonally appropriate to wear them again. If I decide they’re not going to serve my sartorial and stylistic needs, I’d rather move them along as soon as possible so that someone else can hopefully enjoy wearing them.
As you can see, it’s not easy for me to let go of shoes. The ones I opt to pass on are usually uncomfortable, worn out, or totally not my style anymore, which doesn’t apply to most of the shoes I wrote about above. I guess the bottom line, though, is that if I have to talk myself into keeping something, I should probably recognize that I have other footwear options that better fit my current lifestyle and style preferences – and it’s time to pass the item in question on.
I don’t want to be under the illusion that I have more footwear options than I actually do just because I have a lot of shoes in my closet. I want everything I own to be worn on a regular basis, with the rare exception of a few formal-wear items. This applies not just to shoes, but also to clothes and accessories, some of which I’ll address in future Rule of Ten posts. This was a good place for me to start, however, and I believe that I gained valuable insights through engaging in this exploration. I’ll update you on my shoe decisions in a future essay, and I’ll continue to share more Rule of Ten collections and “on the bubble” item reviews in the coming weeks and months.
Even though this essay focused only on my shoe collection and personal opinions, I hope you still found it interesting and helpful. Sometimes reading about how another person thinks about things and the insights they’ve gained can help us better understand our own challenges. You may have very different issues with your footwear than I do, or you may not struggle with letting go of shoes at all, but hopefully you still benefitted from reading my process.
I’d love for you to weigh in on this post. Here are a few questions for you to answer, if you’d like:
- If you have shoes that are “on the bubble,” what do you see as the reasons for that situation?
- What do you plan to do to make a decision, one way or another?
- Do you enjoy these wardrobe review types of posts?
- What other types of posts would you like for me to do?
I welcome any thoughts and insights you want to share, whether it’s about my footwear issues, your own shoe challenges, or the future of this blog.