I probably own too many pairs of shoes. And if not too many, at least more than the minimum that I need. But every minimalist has her Achilles’ heel, right? She might as well have a pretty boot to cover it up with.
Bad jokes aside, if we’re looking for a diagnosis, I’ll be the first to admit that the problem with my shoe collection is not the total number as much as it is the diversity. Not enough range, too much depth.
I have more clogs than I need and zero dress shoes. This makes twisting my ankle fairly easy and being prepared for anything formal more difficult. But this isn’t a post that offers a perfect formula for minimal shoe preparedness. If you work on your feet all day your needs are no doubt different than mine. If you log long hours at a corporate law firm, there again, I imagine that our footwear needs are quite different. Ditto for people in very snowy climes or very sunny climes, and so on and on.
But as much as my own collection could benefit from some editing and some adding back in, and as much as I can’t know what particulars you might need, I think there are a few things that are right with the shoes in my closet. And these things might help you (and me) get on the path toward a minimalist shoe collection.
I try hard to only buy good quality shoes. In high school I had a mortifying habit of indulging in whatever super cheap shoe caught my eye. I ended up with a ridiculous number of shoes, the vast majority of which were shoddily made and even worse looking. These days I try to do better. I’m not a shoe conoisseur, but I tend to go by feel. I look to see if the sole has been well attached, if the stitching is straight, if they have a nice weight to them. I read reviews if I shop online. I ask friends for advice. I make my best judgement.
All of the shoes in my closet are more or less comfortable. I no longer buy shoes that are uncomfortable just because they’re on sale. It’s taken me thirty years, but I’ve finally decided that I’m a size 6, not 5.5 and acknowledged that I can’t wear ballet flats or pumps without an ankle strap, because my heels will flop out.* Being honest with myself is usually the first step in this process, practicing letting go is the second. Heh.
I have strong feelings about good cobblers. Getting to know one should be at the top of your list if maintaining those shoes you splurged on is a priority. I’ve reheeled my cowgirl and riding boots multiple times each (and have added super slim rubber soles to help protect them from the biggest enemy of leather shoes in this city: sidewalk salt).
For the curious:
Clogs: My clogs are made by Sandgrens. They’re affordable—and have really great sales—and they make some nice classic versions which I especially like (Disclosure: Sandgrens have given me clogs in the past, but I have also purchased their shoes on my very own.)
Chelsea boots: John Fluevog just started making these chelsea boots again. I wore them more than anything else last winter. They are a decidedly casual shoe.
Cowgirl boots: My boots are made by Lucchese. They were hand-stitched in Texas. They’re the real deal. Be prepared for some sticker shock.
Frye: I have invested in three pairs of Frye shoes over the course of my adult life (these and these and these) and I’ve found them to be of consistently good quality. And they make a good quality ballet flat with an ankle strap, which: thank goodness.
Saltwaters: Saltwaters are super durable and my very favorite thing for cruising around the city in the summer. So sturdy. So comfortable. And they’re good in a rain storm, too!
Pons: My Pons Avarcas were indispensable this summer with a new baby. I could get myself all strapped into baby carrying mode and not have to worry about bending over to buckle up a sandal.
Sneaks: Have any of you guys bought sneakers at Paragon Sports? It’s the most awe-inspiring, intimidating experience. Those guys know their sneakers. They were disappointed that I chose mine based primarily on looks. But still, a good spot to go if you’re in New York and on the hunt.
*To clarify: I am not so much of a comfort-fiend that I care to eschew style for fit entirely. I do believe in the power of a good heel, I just happen not to own any right now. Suggestions for beautiful, classic, heels (with an ankle strap of some kind, please) are more than welcome. Come one, come all.
**I’m a vegetarian and I sometimes get questioned about wearing leather shoes. I wear them in the name of longevity and style.