Building a Shoe Wardrobe

Jenn left this comment a few weeks ago, and I thought it would make a fun post.

What I’d really like help with is a basic, go with everything, shoe wardrobe. I have a pair of black walking sandals, a pair of black ballet flats (suede, not very summery), a pair of black high heeled sandals, and a great pair of brown fabric wedges. What should I look for to fill in the gaps?

I may not be the best person to ask, because I subscribe to the philosophy that you can never have too many shoes, but I’ll take a stab at it. (And please tell me you have more than four pair of shoes, because I suddenly feel incredibly self-indulgent.)

I have more shoes than I can recollect without actually going up there and counting them off one by one. My husband frequently calls me Imelda, if that gives you any indication.

Of course I don’t have anywhere near 2700 pairs of shoes, but I probably have more than 27.

Who needs 27 pairs of shoes!?

I decided to take inventory, and um. *whispers* I have way more than 27 pairs of shoes.

I am embarrassed to tell you how many pairs of shoes are sitting in my closet.

So I asked myself, if I HAD to get rid of all but 10 pairs of shoes, which ones would I keep?

It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Originally I was going to pick 10 essential spring/summer shoes, but I was able to narrow it down to 10 total. I would probaby swap out my casual gray Uggs for one of the pairs of ballet flats, but they were already put away for the season so we’ll go with these.

10 Essential Shoes

  1. versatile boots that can be dressed up or down
  2. dressy pumps in a neutral color
  3. casual wedge sandals
  4. sneakers
  5. flip flops
  6. sensible but cute walking shoes
  7. flat sandals
  8. ballet flats in a versatile metallic
  9. neutral ballet flat in black or brown
  10. bonus: bright colored ballet flats for fun

How about you? Could you live with 10 pairs of shoes?? What did I forget?

Join The Conversation

34 Responses

  1. Hi Jo-Lynne, I’m tickled you’re answering my question! First off, yes, I have more than 4 pairs of shoes. (Although not many more–my husband is the Imelda in the family) I had spring/summer in mind when I asked so I listed the shoes I have for that season. I like your list and I have all except for #6 (walking shoes) and #8 (metallic flats). And my #10 (bonus shoes) is a pair of red ropers. I adore them but they’re not great for summer. But many of the shoes on my list are very old or I don’t like them so I need to think about replacing them soon in addition to filling in the gaps.

    This is really helpful. I’m not as bad off as I thought. Shoes are a challenge for me because I’m not a shoe person; plus I’m very cheap and picky and I don’t like much of what is available in my area. And since I’m trying to rebuild my entire wardrobe I don’t want to spend too much money on shoes. Thanks for your help!

    1. I am so glad it was helpful. (and that you have more than four pairs of shoes, haha.)

      Shoes are one of those things, you’re either into ’em or you’re not. Me? Into ’em. LOL!!

  2. Personally, I think you’re missing basic black loafers, and I’d include a second pair of boots – but then, I also live near Vancouver, BC, where we rarely get temps over 80-85F and it rains 9 months of the year! Also, if you’re ever looking for an awesome place to get well-made, stylish shoes with a twist, check out http://www.fluevog.com. My new favorite place for shoes… just waiting for my new black loafers to arrive, actually.

  3. I’ve raved about these on my own site- but I love my Puma ballet flats, they look like a ballet flat, but as comfy as a tennis shoe- and way more stylish! I love them!
    I also love my snakeskin ballet flat- they work as a neutral and can be paired with anything!

    Great list- you’ve covered the essentials- and I’m like you with well over 27 pairs of shoes. No matter how much weight you gain, shoes will always fit, right?!

    1. I keep meaning to check those out! And yeah, that is the nice ting about shoes — unless you’re one of those unlucky ladies whose feet grow when pregnant. I think mine actually shrunk, if that is possible.

  4. Your essential list is great! I love Privos. I would add in cute rain boots. Nothing can dampen a day more than wet feet! 🙂

  5. I would add a brown boot (cowboy in my opinion, lol) but other than that…great roundup!
    I own way more shoes than I should…might be time to go through the old shoe wardrobe:)
    Happy weekend.

    1. Yeah, I have a pair of brown uggs (not the traditional suede ones – they are cuter than those, lol) that I wouldn’t want to part with. Never had cowboy boots. I always admire them on others but not sure I could pull ’em off.

  6. I have more than 4 and less than 27 pairs of shoes. In the last few years I have been pretty ruthless in getting rid of shoes I only wear about once a year. I don’t have the space for them. I feel indulgent have 4 pairs of boots! I think your choices here are pretty spot-on.

  7. I went on a shoe buying binge recently, I desperately needed to update my wardrobe. I will have to take an inventory, and see if I could come up with 10 essential shoes… my initial thought is that I like having certain styles in more than 1 color – like my sanuk flip flops in black, brown and silver… or riding boots in black and brown… Thanks for posting this, it really has me thinking 🙂

  8. I like your selection. I think 2 boots are essential, one with a heel and one flat. That’s just me though and I do live in the NE. Personally I hate winter shoes and don’t have many, but I adore summer shoes. I’m not sure I could live without a few bright and fun shoes for summer. My latest is a pair of turquoise flat sandals. Love em.

    1. I love bright shoes for summer, and I could use more of them. I also agree on the boots. Since we’re heading into summer, my 10 choices were heavy on the summer shoes.

  9. I love this post! Your picks are super great for the basics. I might add a pair of nude pumps because I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of mine. Love this, I’m using it to help me purge my closet!

  10. I didn’t know there was another philosophy, the more shoes the better I say. I love your collection, thanks for sharing and some ideas. I am trying to rebuild my shoe wardrobe, after 4 babies my feet changed, so I had to start from scratch a year or so ago, it is slow, but coming along.

  11. Good picks! I’m still learning about shoes, but I think a huge factor is your climate. I look at those ten pairs and immediate think that you must live in a warm place. That’s great… but if I was pairing down to 10 pairs of shoes, at least 4 of them would be boots. I would have 2 pairs of knee high boots and 2 pairs of ankle boots. A couple of pairs of ballet flats would be nice–I like my red ones and my silver ones the best. Two pairs of sandals would be plenty for me with our short summers. A pair of non-athletic sneakers and a pair of black and/or nude dress shoes are staples for me. That’s if I really had to get down to 10 pairs. I’d much rather have many more than that!

    As for not wanting to spend money on shoes, I understand because I’m pretty frugal. But I have bad feet and would much rather go cheap on certain clothing items than on shoes.

    1. I don’t really live in a warm climate, but we are heading into summer, so that is where my heart is right now. 🙂 I don’t wear my ankle boots much anymore, but I definitely have and regularly wear 3-4 pair of knee high ones during the winter months.

      I agree with spending money on good shoes. I would rather have fewer pairs of really good quality shoes.

  12. Interesting to think about the shoes I have and what I wear. I probably have VERY slim picking compared to you, especially since my back is nutso and I can’t really wear heels at all.

    I wear: running shoes, casual athletic shoes (those Dr. Scholl’s that you hate!), metallic flip flops, black boots, brown boots, nice brown wedge sandals, and lots of flats. I have gray, leopard, turquoise with polka dots, black, and my new favorite: orange snakeskin Nine West ones that I got at the thrift store for $7!! I have a few other pairs of old sandals that I wear occasionally … and a few pairs of pumps and wedges that I don’t dare wear for fear of throwing my back out.

  13. Um… I am ashamed to admit it but I own 136 pairs of shoes. (Not including tennis shoes – of which I have four pairs – or flip-flops – of which I have three pairs.) I don’t even own any flat sandals or open-toed flats. Sadly I am always finding shoes that I don’t already own anything like, that I think I need. (Currently on that list is a pair of true orange closed-toe stilettos, emerald green closed-toe stilettos and a metallic pair of flats among others.) I could probably stand to purge a few pairs… or ten! I am a shoe girl, I can’t help it. It’s even worse when you consider the fact that my feet grew after my pregnancies so all of them have been bought post-2007! Are there Shoe Addicts Anonymous meetings anywhere?

  14. I think I have around 10 pairs, maybe a little more. My boots I think are a bit dressy for more casual outings. Right now I’m on the hunt for a nice casual pair of shoes for summer and a dressy pair, though I don’t need the dressy pair. It just would have been nice to have a pair last weekend for First Communion.

    I picked up a pair of Privos this spring and absolutely love them. I’ve worn them all day and still felt great at the end of the day. One of my kids stepped on my toes and the mud wiped right off.

    I’d like to add a more athletic pair of sandals to the list. I have a pair of Tevas that I wear every day for working in the garden, errands, etc. etc. Since I wear them in the garden, I wash them a lot to get rid of the stinky feet smell, and they still look great.

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