Between Minimalism & Excess: my shoe collection

January 22, 2016

Ana’s post today got me thinking.  About clothes, and shoes, and minimalism, and the internet, and many other things.

I started thinking about excess, and asceticism, and the gray areas in between.  (And of course — just  a little bit — Marie Kondo.  Sorry, can’t help it.)

Anyway, so how many shoes is the right number?  I am not sure.  But for me, the answer is definitely greater than 3 and less than 20.  This is really embarrassing, but I’m about to link to a post from 2004 (YES) where I described the 29 pairs I owned.  They all sound really hideous now 🙂

The picture above is all of my shoes.  Yep, I am an adult professional woman who owns just 12 pairs of shoes.  For tradition’s sake, here’s the rundown (upper row, then lower, left to right):

1) TOMS platform sandals.

2) Ridiculous gold BCBGirls heels that still do spark joy even though they are 10 years old and I can’t really walk in them.

3) Striped Madewell platform sandals.

4) Frye boots.

5) New Balance sneakers.   (Typical playground attire.)

6) Adidas flip flops.

7) Camper sandals that are too casual for work BUT I wear them there anyway.

8) Slightly less work-inappropriate Camper sandals, green.

9) TOMS desert wedges.  (Ana, I know you wanted these.  I have had them ~2 years and can attest to their comfort and overall awesomeness.)

10) Fun wedge heels from Anthro.  My typical “night out” sandals.

11) Running shoes: Asics Gel Nimbus

12) Camper wedge booties (open toe) that I wear alllllll the time.  Come with 3″ heel to make me nearly 5’4″ yet are incredibly comfortable.

Items #1-3 are infrequently worn and could probably go, but still spark joy.  I would like another work-appropriate pair, eventually (but not in any rush).  To me, this seems about right.  Not truly minimalist, but perhaps essentialist.

I am of course curious whether these seems high, low, or normal to everyone else — tour your closet and weigh in 🙂

PS: yes that is a fireplace in our Miami Beach home.  No, we did not put it there (I suspect it has been there since 1934 when our house was built).  No, it does not get any use.  But Cameron does like to attempt to play in it.


  • Reply Maren March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Wow. Seems minimalist to me, but I have probably not too much less than 100 pairs of shoes. But I love to "shop my closet" and strive for variety in my attire. The whole putting an outfit together process "sparks joy" for me.

    Also, did you see Surgeon In Heels recent post about her shoes for the big academic meeting? I found it aspirational, but obviously opinions vary 🙂

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I clicked over to that 2004 post- I wish there was a picture to accompany those descriptions!! I think this is a reasonable number of shoes. I did recently start making myself throw away one pair of shoes when a new one comes into the house. i have way too many pairs of dress shoes that I wear maybe once a year.. And I always have at least two pairs of retired running shoes kicking around! .

    I wish I disliked social media, mindless games (solitaire and bejeweled on my phone!), and pancakes. I’m lad I love running, vegetables, and reading.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      the one-in, one-out rule is great. I probably should use that for a lot of things!

  • Reply KRisty March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I have 3 pairs
    -thongs (flip flops) black i use these for when my feet will get wet/dirty,
    -Birkinstocks Brown Leather that i wear for work and everyday (too causal and ugly for work really), and
    – Nike Frees’ for exercise.

    This isn’t an ideal list but until i work out what would be perfect i am sticking with it.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      WOW kristy! amazing. although if you feel #2 are ugly then maybe they need an upgrade 🙂

  • Reply Alison March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Your collection is much smaller than mine and much cuter 🙂 Living in Wisconsin means I need two entirely separate collections for summer and winter, but I am way guilty of clearance rack impulse buys, so that’s more my issue than seasons. I do find shoe shopping difficult–so I either end up buying cheap shoes that are just ok or continually searching for the elusive perfect pair (right now, black boots) and never finding something I love. Sigh. This is inspiring me to want to cull some of the old pairs I never wear and invest more in a few pairs I love.

  • Reply Dynia March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m in Scotland (so rainy climate) and have what seems like a lot of shoes. I walk about 5 miles a day so I prefer to wear boots (winter) and sneakers / Toms (summer) and change into ballet flats when I get to the office. The weather, the amount of walking I do and the cobblestones are quite hard on shoes so I try and rotate as much as possible. I also have quite fussy feet so when I find something I like, I try and buy two pairs.

    2 pairs of work wedges
    3 pairs of black ballet flats – one at home, one in each office
    Black Merrell boots
    Brown Merrell snow boots
    Brown Camper boots
    Blue sperrry wedge booties
    Pink (ridiculous) wellies
    2 running shoes
    2 pairs of Toms
    2 pairs of converse
    1 light hiking boots
    1 heavy duty hiking boot
    Sparkly pink ballet flats

  • Reply Omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    You have basically no shoes. But, several seem very similar to one another (to this I trained eye). I have way way more. I do purge pretty often though. I also have a few nostalgia pairs. Perhaps I should unload them….

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I have way more than that. Some of that is "summer shoes" and "winter shoes". I have some nostalgia pairs (my wedding heeled sandals, e.g.) and some "specialty" pairs, like the hideously sparkly type that go with Indian clothes. I probably need to do a purge. Thinking over the past few months I’ve only worn 4 pairs. None of yours look like "work shoes" to me except the boots—we have to wear close-toes even in the clinic, so sandals are off-limits. I think half my shoe collection is flats that I wear to commute or for work.

  • Reply Emily March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I think 12 pairs is pretty good. I have a few more than that, but I do have the winter weather to contend with here, so some of them are attributable to that. 2 casual boots, 1 snow boots, 3 pumps, 1 open-toed wedge dress shoe, 2 flats, 2 flip-flops, 1 wedge sandals, 1 other sandals, 2 fancy pairs of high-heeled sandals, 2 running shoes. I think that’s it. So 17 total. Probably not all of my shoes spark joy, so I should probably get on that…Also, I sort of wish I could take a lesson in minimalism from my son, who has exactly one pair of sneakers in his current size and wears them every single day, plus one pair of winter boots that he wears when it’s snowy. Then again, he doesn’t have to dress up for work.

  • Reply Susan March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I don’t think I have a huge number of shoes, and I usually wear the same ones over and over again. Without actually opening my closet (I just cleaned it out, so it’s pretty fresh)…

    – Hunter rain boots
    – Sorel snow boots
    – Tall brown dressier boots
    – Tall black dressier boots
    – Steve Madden trooper boots
    – Black flat (dress)
    – Black flats (casual, definitely need replacing)
    – Brown flats
    – Brown sandals
    – Glitter sandals
    – Flip flops x3
    – TOMS that probably need to be thrown out (a few rainy days…)
    – Old running shoes for wearing to/from work/other activities
    – Three pairs of running shoes (one in use, two new and waiting)
    – Brooks casual shoes
    – Danskos – but these stay at work!

    I suppose that’s not too bad – I don’t need shoes for work and usually make one of the above work for weddings/the rare occasion I’m not in scrubs. I know some people own a ton of shoes, but I’ve never really gotten into them. (My boyfriend has at least twice as many shoe as I do!)

  • Reply Adam March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Here is some more shoe collection for women. Ballet flats are awesome. Check out Womens ballet flats

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