Last month, I published the first installment of my “Rule of Ten” series, which addressed my shoes. The Rule of Ten is a concept I created to help me become more mindful of the items that I include in my “out-and-about” wardrobe. The objective of the Rule of Ten is to limit the number of pieces in each of my wardrobe categories to ten or fewer. With my footwear, I created two Rule of Ten categories: one for my summer shoes and the other for my “not summer” shoes (for the cooler months of the year).
I only want to include items in my Rule of Ten collections that I love and wear regularly, so I ended up choosing just seven pairs of shoes each for the summer and “not summer” seasons. I shared my reasons for those selections in my initial post, and I later published a different essay evaluating my six pairs of cool weather shoes that were “on the bubble.” I’ll check back in regarding the fate of those shoes soon.
In today’s post, I address the summer shoes that I opted not to include in that season’s Rule of Ten. As I did with my “not summer” footwear, I go through these shoes one by one to explore why they weren’t included among my favorites.
The objective of this analysis is to get to the point where I can do one of three things:
- Start wearing the shoes regularly
- List them for sale online
- Pass them on via donation
As a result of my introspection, I’ve made decisions about the majority of my “maybe” shoes for the summer season. For the remainder of my “on the bubble” summer shoes, I outline my plan for making “stay or go” determinations in the near future.
Summer Shoes that are On the Bubble
Of the fourteen pairs of shoes that I was uncertain about after making my Rule of Ten footwear selections, the following eight could be classified as summer shoes:
The summer season where I live typically spans from July through November, so I’m glad I’m taking the time to evaluate my warm weather footwear before the weather changes in the coming weeks. Although some of my footwear can be worn year-round due to the temperate climate of Southern California, many of my more open shoes are generally only worn during the five or so months of the warmer season.
A Reminder of My Summer Shoe Rule of Ten
Before I delve evaluating my questionable summer shoes, I thought it might be helpful to show the footwear options that I do see myself wearing frequently in the coming months. The seven pairs of shoes pictured below are the ones I chose for my summer Rule of Ten collection. These options all work well for me in terms of my style preferences, lifestyle needs, and comfort considerations.
In the sections below, I’ll show photos of each pair of summer shoes that are on the bubble, followed by my thoughts and observations about them. At the end of the post, I summarize my lessons learned, to hopefully add more value for you. Even though this evaluation is focused on my specific footwear, I believe that many of my realizations can also be applicable to others. Okay, let’s get started…
Black Born Wedge Sandals
I purchased these shoes in 2016 while I was on vacation. They were on deep sale, but they were also comfortable and I liked the style. For a while, I didn’t wear them all that much, which I later determined was because they had gold buckles and I prefer silver hardware on my wardrobe items. Once I painted the buckles silver using nail polish, I started to wear them more often (the stock photo above shows the original gold buckle). That was a simple and easy “style hack” that I also used with a pair of earrings recently.
The reason these shoes are on the bubble is because I don’t wear them as often as my other two pairs of black wedge sandals (the Sketchers and Taos versions). The Born shoes are somewhat redundant in that my need for black mid-heel sandals is pretty much covered by the other two options. However, I do still wear these shoes occasionally and I still like them, so I’m going to hang on to them for at least one more season. At the end of this coming summer, I’ll re-evaluate the Born sandals in terms of how often they were worn and how I feel about them. That will help me decide whether or not I want to carry them forward to summer 2022.
Black Ecco Flat Sandals
I wore these sandals quite a bit after purchasing them back in 2014. I love the embossed dots on the straps, as well as the minimalist design. Additionally, the shoes are comfortable and I was able to wear them for a full day right out of the box. However, the straps have loosened up over time, such that they don’t anchor my feet in place as well anymore, even when buckled securely. I now find that the shoes feel “flimsy” on my feet and don’t offer enough support. For that reason, I purchased another pair of shoes – my black Munro studded sandals (top left in the photo at the beginning of this post), to replace them last year.
My new black sandals are more substantial and have a thicker sole, so they provide sufficient support for my feet in a way that the Ecco sandals no longer do (and never fully did, although they used to be much better). Since the Ecco sandals are still in good shape, I plan to list them for sale online. I don’t believe the flimsiness issue will be a problem for everyone, as I have fairly narrow feet with high arches that often don’t make contact with the full length of my insoles, especially when the shoes are flat. If the sandals don’t sell, I’ll donate them later in the year.
Black Sam Edelman Suede Heels
I purchased these shoes in summer 2018 to wear to my brother’s wedding. That ended up being the only time I wore them, as the heels are just too high for my personal comfort. Fortunately, I didn’t pay too much for these shoes, as they were part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale that year. I thought I could wear them for other occasions beyond the wedding, but after having them on for a number of hours at the reception, I couldn’t wait to remove these shoes from my feet.
Since the Sam Edelman heels are still in excellent condition, I will list them for sale shortly. Actually, these heels are still being sold at Nordstrom, and probably other locations as well. The style is classic and still current, so hopefully someone with a better tolerance for heels over three inches high will be able to wear them comfortably and enjoy them.
Black Taos Boardwalk Wedge Sandals
I brought these shoes into my closet in May 2015, after having wanted them for more than six months previously. I had initially tried them on in late 2014, but was hesitant to buy them at the tail end of our warm weather season. When I saw that they were still available the following spring, I snapped them up.
I’m probably not exaggerating in saying that these sandals have been worn hundreds of times. They were by far my favorite pair of sandals for years. In fact, I liked them so much that when I noticed they were starting to wear out, I searched for a replacement on eBay (the style was no longer being sold new). Luckily, it didn’t take me long to locate a replacement, although it’s not exactly the same (the silver button details on the straps are smooth rather than textured). The newer pair is part of my summer Rule of Ten collection, as shown above.
I should have passed these shoes on as soon as I purchased the replacement pair, but I think I hung on to them for nostalgic reasons. However, my recent footwear evaluation led me to make peace with letting them go, so they’re now in my donation bag (which I’ll take to charity as soon as it’s full).
Sometimes I’m not sure whether to donate something or throw it away, but I usually opt to let the charity decide if an item is in good enough shape, unless of course it’s in horrible condition. I think someone would probably still wear these sandals, but I like my shoes to be fairly pristine, which is why I opted to find a replacement. Hopefully I’ll be able to wear my new pair of black Taos sandals for a few more summers.
Black Adrienne Vittadini Strappy Flat Sandals
I bought these shoes during a thrifting excursion with a friend several months before the pandemic began. At the time, the weather was already too cool for me to wear them, and I didn’t wear them last summer because I rarely ventured out and usually had athletic shoes on whenever I did. I almost forgot that I owned these shoes until I did my shoe evaluation last month and pulled all of my footwear out of the closet.
I still like the look of these shoes, but the only time I had worn them was when I tried them on at the thrift store. In order to make a determination about their fate, I put them on recently to run a short errand on a warm afternoon. Sadly, I discovered that the shoes are probably a half size too small for me and the straps also cut into my feet. Despite the fact that they look good on me and are in alignment with my style, I couldn’t wait to take them off when I got home. They’re just not the right shoe for me, so I plan to list them for sale shortly. Perhaps their previous owner had the same comfort issue with them as I did!
These sandals illustrate an issue that I’ve had with shoes on multiple occasions. When we try on footwear, it’s usually in a store and we only walk around for a short time before making our purchasing decision. Even if we order shoes online and test them out at home, it’s often still not a proper representation of our actual wearing experience. We can’t test them out too much or else they won’t be in returnable condition, so we just have to make an educated guess about whether or not they’ll work for us.
Sometimes we think something will work and that doesn’t end up being the case, which is especially true for those of us with “fussy” feet. We can’t always know whether or not shoes – or clothes, for that matter – will be comfortable enough for an all-day wearing situation. Sure, we can learn to better pinpoint the types of styles that will work for us so we can make fewer mistakes, but we probably won’t ever reach a 100% success rate.
Fortunately, the Adrienne Vittadini sandals were an inexpensive mistake, and one that I might have been able to reverse if I had the option of returning them after a longer “test drive” at home. We win some, we lose some… This type of style does work for me sometimes, so it’s not like I need to avoid strappy sandals completely in the future. But I do need to pay more careful attention to fit and comfort and do the best I can to avoid buying shoes that don’t fit quite right or may be uncomfortable to wear.
Metallic Eurosoft Low Wedge Sandals
I purchased these shoes during the same thrifting trip as when I acquired the Adrienne Vittadini sandals above. My friend actually tried on both pairs of shoes before I did, but they were a bit too big for her, so she passed them over for me to try. We have similar taste in footwear and often like the same styles. As with the black sandals, I didn’t wear this pair at all last year during the pandemic shutdown.
I like metallic shoes, especially sandals, and I thought this pair had interesting details. Since the price was very low, as is usually the case at thrift stores, I decided to add these Eurosoft wedges to my collection. It’s not clear from the photo, but the heel is low, only about one inch high. I’m not sure about the comfort level of these shoes, as I have yet to take them on a “test drive” outside of my home. I plan to do that soon so I can make a decision on whether or not to keep them. I did try them on with some of my clothes recently – both pants and skirts – and I liked the way they looked, so it’s all hinging on comfort now.
Pewter Kelsi Dagger Kassa Sandals
I found these sandals on Poshmark back in 2018 after I had spent a day with a friend who was wearing the black version of them. I originally searched for black, but I could only find this metallic pair in my size. I love the look of these sandals, especially the multiple straps around the ankle. The shoes were originally very slippery and I almost fell during their maiden voyage to a local restaurant. I fixed that issue by adding nonslip stick-ons to the soles, but the shoes continued to be problematic in another way.
My friend who was wearing the black version of these sandals has very narrow feet, but my feet are not quite as slim as hers are. My heels are narrow, but the front of my foot is more average in width. These sandals, however, are cut very narrow, so the sides of my foot barely fit in the front of the shoe. This makes the sandals less comfortable to wear if I’m going to be doing much walking.
Since I’ve vowed to rid my wardrobe of “taxi shoes,” I’ve decided to pass these shoes on. I’m sad about this because I love the design, but I have little use for shoes in my wardrobe that are all about form and lacking in functionality. I plan to list these sandals for sale and hope that they’ll sell soon.
Pewter Rockport Caged Sandals
I bought these sandals four or five summers ago after seeing them on a hairstylist when I was getting my hair done. They looked cute on her, and she raved about how comfortable they were. Since hairstylists are on their feet all day long, I considered that to be a ringing endorsement for the shoes.
These sandals are definitely comfortable, but I haven’t worn them all that often for a couple of reasons. First, back when I purchased the shoes, I mostly wore full-length pants, which didn’t pair well with the tall profile of the sandals. I tried pairing them with dresses and skirts, but the shoes looked too heavy and “clompy” on me in that combination. They looked great on the hairstylist with the skirt she was wearing, but she has a larger frame than I do, which makes a difference. Women who have more substantial frames can often wear higher-profile shoes more successfully. I’m not exactly tiny or slight, but these sandals are somewhat overpowering on me with dresses and skirts. Since I’m wearing cropped pants a lot more often now, that might be a better option for me to try.
However, the other issue with these sandals is that the color is a darker and warmer metallic tone than what I usually prefer (see the previous two metallic shoes above, as well as the ones in my summer Rule of Ten collection pictured at the top of this post). This darker metallic doesn’t coordinate as well with my hair color (“bookending” hair and footwear is a styling option I like to incorporate) and the cooler-toned clothing that I like to wear, which is part of why I haven’t reached for these sandals very often.
All of that said, I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do with these shoes. I think they might work well with cropped pants and some of the colors that I like to wear, including burgundy, red, and purple. I also own cropped pants in both olive and cognac, which could match well with the metallic tone of the Rockport caged sandals. I’ll try all of these options soon and see how I feel.
Recapping My Decisions
Now that I’ve written about all eight pairs of my summer shoes that were in the “maybe” category, let’s do a quick recap…
I’ve decided to pass on these five footwear options:
- Black Ecco flat sandals
- Black Sam Edelman suede heels
- Black Taos Boardwalk wedge sandals
- Black Adrienne Vittadini strappy flat sandals
- Pewter Kelsi Dagger Kassa sandals
I’ll list most of the above shoes for sale, but I plan to donate the black Taos sandals (they’re a bit more worn out), as well as any others that don’t sell within a reasonable time period.
The three pairs of shoes that I’ve opted to keep, at least for the time-being, are:
- Black Born wedge sandals
- Metallic Eurosoft low wedge sandals
- Pewter Rockport caged sandals
After I do “test drives” with these three pairs of shoes – or at least by the end of the summer, I’ll determine whether they should remain in my closet or be passed on for sale or donation. I’ll let you know my decisions in a future post.
During the process of evaluating my questionable summer shoes, I learned some valuable lessons. I included this information within the sections above, but I thought it might also be helpful to do a summary here:
- Don’t buy too many similar pairs of shoes (or clothes or whatever), as one or more will likely be worn less often due to the concept of “splitting wears.” While it’s great for me to have one back-up pair of black mid-heel sandals since I wear that style so often, my third option (the Born wedge sandals) has mostly been redundant. I like those shoes, but I didn’t really need them and they probably should have remained in the store.
- Know your limits in terms of comfort. Most of us have a heel height that we’re able to comfortably wear. This can change over time, but it’s helpful to understand what our limits are and to adhere to them when shopping. The black Sam Edelman suede heels were just too high for me, which resulted in my deciding to pass them on after only one wear.
- Once you replace a worn-out (or less than ideal) item, let go of the original. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to hold on to pieces even after I’ve ostensibly replaced them. This adds to the clutter in my closet and it’s unnecessary. Sure, it can sometimes be helpful to keep an old pair of shoes around to wear for things like cleaning or gardening, but my original black Taos sandals don’t fit the bill for such purposes. And even when we do need shoes or clothing for house and yard work, we usually only need a few such pieces.
- Don’t make hasty buying decisions, even if the price is low. It’s still a good idea to take the time to evaluate fit and comfort as best as you can. It doesn’t matter how much of a “deal” something is if you won’t end up wearing it. My two pairs of thrifted shoes mentioned above are a good example of this principle. One of them was a “bust” and the jury is out on the other pair. The money I spent, although small, was wasted on at least one of these pairs of shoes (and perhaps the other as well).
- When considering purchasing items you like on others, consider elements besides the visual. We often love the way shoes or clothes look on other women, but if we have an alternate body type, style aesthetic, lifestyle, or fit considerations, these items may not work for us. As one example, I loved the Kelsi Dagger sandals on my friend, but I failed to recognize how narrow the shoes were cut, which ended up being a problem for me.
- Look out for subtle differences that matter to you. Perhaps the color of an item isn’t quite right, or maybe it’s the neckline, length, or rise. Seemingly small details can make or break a garment or pair of shoes. My Rockport caged sandals are a warmer-toned metallic than I typically prefer, which is a big part of why I’ve worn them less often. I might be able to make them work with some of the colors in my closet, but it would have been better to wait for my preferred shades of metallic.
I’m sure there are additional lessons that could be gleaned from my summer footwear assessment, but hopefully the ones above gave you some food for thought for your future closet evaluations. I already feel like the Rule of Ten process has been successful because I’ve learned a lot and have been able to let go of wardrobe items that aren’t working for me. After all, if we’re not wearing something and we don’t even particularly like it, it doesn’t belong in our wardrobe.
So, I’m letting go of five pairs of summer shoes with gratitude for what I’ve learned from them. That’s a much better perspective than wallowing in guilt because certain shoes didn’t work out for me. I’m tired of beating myself up or dwelling on the past. I’m looking ahead to the future, and I look forward to wearing and enjoying my summer shoe collection.
I hope you found this post interesting, and I hope you’ll be able to apply some of my lessons learned to your own wardrobe management process. Although we’re all different and approach shopping and getting dressed in our own unique ways, we also share a lot of common ground. My hope is that by sharing my journey, I’ll help those of you who are struggling to feel less alone and perhaps ease your path toward cultivating a more workable wardrobe and a more cohesive sense of personal style.