Giving Old & Unneccessary Shoes the Boot

I have worked my way down to 11 pairs of shoes! When I arrived at 17 (seriously, I had to make big cuts to get to 17), I was met with surprised reactions from ladies around my age – are you serious? I have at least 30! I can’t imagine having only 17 pairs.

My Shoes

Now, looking at these 11, I’m in awe at how many this still is. In fact, there are a few of the shoes in the photo above that I will not be replacing once they’re worn out. From now on, I’m only intending to buy shoes that last forever (or close to that – those green flip flops are at least ten years old and they’re still one of my favorite pairs).

Being young and female, I feel that there is a huge expectation for me to be constantly open to adding new shoes to my wardrobe (a small survey shows that women own an average of 20 pairs of shoes). I feel that cutting down this far is unheard of in “normal” social circles (although I’ve found a huge online community of minimalists that would say otherwise). But the energy I get when I walk into my closet with plenty of room to breath is unmatched.

While my paring down does come with a sacrifice (less diversity and a slightly more plain personal style), it’s been teaching me a valuable lesson in want vs. need.

Questions to ask yourself when getting rid of shoes

Shoes can be a difficult possession to part with for some, so I’d like to share some of the questions I asked (and will continue to ask) myself while reducing my collection.

  • Have I worn this pair more than once? Seriously, I had to ask that. Several times.
  • Is this pair comfortable enough to spend an evening standing in? If not, they’re gone. Shoes aren’t as cute if you’re carrying them around in your hands and going barefoot.
  • Is this a quality pair that I can see lasting a long time? I kept some lower quality shoes, but have vowed to not replace them once they go.
  • Can I walk normally in them? Can I move quickly in them? Call me crazy, but I like to know that if I needed to, I could run away from potential danger.
  • Is this pair entirely useful? Does it have many applications? I like to know that I can wear the same shoes for an interview as I would wear to a party or to a casual coffee date. I think I have two of those pairs – and if I wear them right, no one would know I use them for all of the above.

I wanted to share this with you all today to get your reaction – how many shoes do you own? Or, a better question might be how many shoes do you actually wear?


13 thoughts on “Giving Old & Unneccessary Shoes the Boot

  1. I have two pairs of winter boots, two pairs of steel toed shoes, two pairs of runners, 3 pairs of sandals and three pairs of dress shoes. I need to buy a pair of hiking boots next year and I am going to get rid of a pair of sandals. I admit I have never had an urge to own too many shoes.

    • That’s great! I’m really enjoying having fewer shoes, and have committed to not purchasing any more shoes unless they’re absolutely needed 🙂 thanks for reading!

  2. I think it’s funny people even own that many pairs of shoes. I own 6 pairs. One pair is exclusively for interviews, and one is a pair of running shoes that I don’t use anymore. So, really it’s only four pairs that I wear regularly.

    • That’s awesome, Ren! I’ll admit there are still some that I can get rid of, but I’ll have to give it some time to see which ones I wear least at this point. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Great questions, and I am impressed with your ability to cull down to eleven pairs! The comfort part is key for me since I had to go through and cut down on my shoes after I messed up my feet with too many super-high heels (it’s a weakness). I’m struggling with accepting my more “practical” shoes. I’m still not as excited to wear my work-horse ballet flats as I was my stilettos, but they’re starting to grow on me 🙂

    • Thanks, Erin 🙂 I had to sadly part with a lot of adorable high heels but I had to face it – they were only cute in my closet, because otherwise they got pretty painful pretty quickly. I’m starting to get hooked on my practical shoes (especially nearly-flat combat boots – they’re practical, comfortable, and add some spice to almost any outfit).

  4. I have an over the door shoe holder so I know I own 12 pairs (that includes 2 pair of slippers) however, just last night I actually BROKE the heel on a pair of shoes (that I have owned for over 10 years) so that pair is going in the trash. I may have 9 pairs of shoes, but I always revert to the same 2 pairs 99% of the time. Comfort is the first priority. I live in Easy Spirit slip on clog style but fabric black shoes through the winter months and Birkenstock sandals through the summertime. Maybe 3 times a year I need those fancy shoes collecting dust in my shoe holder!

    • 10 years for heels! That’s how to get some good use out of a pair of shoes 🙂 I’m sort of the same, I wear my floral patterned boots almost year-round unless it’s way WAY too hot, then I stick with my simple sandals. Comfort is super important, so the only heels that I have left in my “collection” are ones that I can wear and walk in for at least an evening (if I couldn’t handle the heels – I had to say goodbye). Thanks for reading!

  5. I’m a recovering shoe person. I’ve managed to cull my shoes down to 11 pairs (including two pairs of slippers, one for Winter), down from over 20, but it wasn’t easy.

    I used to have a lot of sneakers, mostly due to the fact that I work at a casual office and because I like shoes. I got rid of a few pairs of sneakers because of the comfort factor. They were stylish, but weren’t all that comfortable, and I realized that I wasn’t wearing those sneakers as much of others because they were less comfortable. That made my culling decisions a lot easier.

    A long time ago, I worked in a more formal work environment with a wardrobe to match. As such, I had a lot of dressy women’s shoes (heels and such). After I purged 99% of those clothes, I also got rid of many shoes. Right now I own only 3 dresses/skirts, with one pair of heels. I’m considering getting rid of all those clothes and the shoes, too. I have not worn any of those in more than 6 years, but it’s hard to let go because of the “What if I need them?” mentality.

    Of my 11 pairs, I wear nearly all of them regularly. I could probably get rid of one more pair (possibly two) and still be okay, but I have attachment issues to this pair that I’m thinking of. 🙂 Some of the shoes are seasonal or for specific purposes (hiking/outdoors, slippers, gym, sandals for Summer, dressier shoes), so they don’t get a lot of wear all the time, but I still need them because I use them. I wear two pairs of shores as “everyday” shoes, and that goes up to three pairs in the Summer (lighter weight shoes), in addition to slippers.

    I’m tempted to buy shoes, but I think very carefully about inviting a new pair into my collection.

    • Oh, the “what if I need it” mentality gets me too! I find this piece by the Minimalists to be really helpful (although I still struggle):

      It is difficult to get rid of clothes/shoes from different time periods in my life because of that fear (and, of course, the emotional attachment to some of them). I’m lucky to have not yet worked in a highly formal workplace, because I would definitely have to change up my wardrobe.

      It’s great to hear that you only have shoes you need regularly or seasonally. I think I still may have a few more to cut down on, but I’m with you on the last comment – every shoe or even clothing purchase now gets carefully scrutinized. My wallet and my closet both thank me 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  6. It’s great to have a few different pairs of shoes, not only for the changes in weather and occasions, but also to let them breathe between uses. Ten is definitely a reasonable amount, it’s hard for me to say yes to a pair at the store if I already know that I have something similar at home.

    • I agree Amanda! A few years ago, I would argue that the more shoes the better – as long as they were cheap. Now, I’m looking forward to maintaining a high quality, reasonably sized shoe stash instead of constantly adding to the “collection”

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