We’re picking up our discussion of the 16th Art: The Art of Dressing with some sole-ful discussions on stylish footwear.
“Ugh, you haven’t moved your shoes, yet?”
That was Mom, about 2 weeks ago.
It was 3-something in the afternoon and we’d been loading and unloading trucks and cars and schlepping boxes and bins since just before 10 that morning. One week before Christmas, the old house was emptying out and the new one was filling up (at a much quicker rate) with furniture and all. those. boxes.
And, no, I hadn’t moved my shoes, yet.
See, Mom knows how many pairs of shoes I have. 85 to be exact (87 now, actually, if you count the 2 new pair of slippers I added this winter, and I do).
174 Shoes. 2 Feet.
I’m no Imelda (not by a long shot!) but even I realize that it’s kind of a ridiculous number.
Not for the usual reasons other people give or ask:
- You only have 2 feet.
- Why do you need a dozen (or more) pairs of shoes all the same color?
- You hardly wear this pair (or that pair, or a handful of specialty shoes).
But because it’s an awful lot of shoes. And moving then requires my entire trunk and then some.
In fact, when I was getting ready to write this post ages ago (aforementioned move = delay reason and then some) I took out all the shoes I owned just to see if they’d take up the entire hallway.
(Arranging all those shoes, by the way? I did it twice to get the best arrangement. Best thigh workout ever.)
But I’m no Carrie Bradshaw–my shoe collection wouldn’t even cover the down-payment of an economy car, much less a condo in NYC. They’re not big brands, most of them cost $20 a pair or less (I love shopping sales!). But they’re mine and I like them just as much as if they’d cost hundreds each (maybe more since, should something happen to one it’s not the end of the world).
And a lot of them? Are 5 years old or more. Some even go back to 1999 and one pair in particular goes back to 1995!
That’s right. For the investment-minded (regardless of the initial outlay), having 50+ pairs of shoes and wearing most on a regular basis means that each individual pair sees much less wear and tear than those residing in merely a 3-shoe-closet.
Granted, my microfiber stretch black boots with the faux-patent dominatrix-style straps along the back and toe ($22, Marshalls, at least 4 years ago) get a lot of wear and have had the heels replaced once (best $11 ever spent). Other shoes need a trip to the cobbler for some minor repairs along the same lines and I do have some favorites that could stand to be swapped out when the right ones come along (or the old ones just give up).
But 85 87* pairs of shoes seems just about right to me.
Unlike clothes shopping, shoe shopping is great.
There’s less in the way of awkward size moments and, pretty much, what you see is what you get. A good heel can make your calves and butt look amazing. A good flat can keep you running errands all day while feeling fab instead of frumpy.
One day, perusing the shoe section of the local Bealls Outlet I came across a pair of black leather, platform ankle-strap heels by Sketchers. I didn’t even know such a thing existed at the time but there they were, outlet priced and on sale even more. Would you believe that they rung up at $0.49? Seriously. And those shoes have served me well for 3 years, at least.
A couple of years ago a local boutique had the unfortunate need to go out of business. Polka Dot Shoes will be sorely missed–their demise a product of the crashing economy and a force of nature that flooded their Lake Ella shop–but I’ve got 9 pairs of their inventory (purchased for under $100 total) to remember them by. Todd and I swung by their sale that morning, I pulled everything that looked remotely interesting and was in my size and in 15 minutes had the stack down to the ones I wanted and we went to brunch. That day or the next it was Todd’s turn: he needed a new pair of all-purpose black work shoes and it took 3 stores and a couple of hours for him to finally decide.
And women get the bad rap as shoppers 😉
My criteria for new shoes:
- Will I wear them? Ever. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week, but I have to know at least one outfit or one occasion where they would be perfect. Keep in mind: a colorful shoe looks amazing with an all-black or contrasting color ensemble.
- Is the price right? When you’re on a budget (and aren’t we all?) it helps to know your comfort zone as far as cost goes. For me the upper limit is now in the $40 range, though if I find a sale I’m a happy camper. But just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s automatically coming home with me, which brings me to…
- Does it fill a need? This is a big one, for me, because I already have so many shoes. If it’s another pair of black heels, for instance, it needs to stand out from the rest in a couple of ways to justify the expense and the storage space it’ll take up in my closet. But I also keep a mental list of shoes to be on the lookout for: right now it’s a good pair of gray heels and black and brown stacked-heel loafers to replace a couple of pairs that are wearing out.
Notice I didn’t say anything about comfort–it’s a secondary consideration for a really great pair of shoes. Fit is important, sure, but a little pinch here or there can be worked around if you play your shoe cards right.
*Soon to be 88 when my next Shoe Dazzle order comes in. Just like the Haunted Mansion… there’s always room for one more!
Up Next on the 64 Arts? Our Style Discussion takes a practical turn as I share my shoe storage tips (for both home and away) as well as tips for walking in heels without becoming a moving violation.