As promised in my minimalist packing post I will share more about my shoes today.
I never considered myself a shoe person until I talked about it with a friend recently who said: ‘But you totally ARE a shoe person!’ And I realised she was right. I might even be an addict. But, and this is a major point I’d like to make today: it doesn’t really show, because I am very, VERY strict with myself when it comes to shoes. Disclaimer: I do in fact own multiple pairs of shoes that are not comfortable enough to get me through the day. But they all have faults that I could not see when buying them. I’ll explain more about that later. But first, let me share with you some questions I always ask myself when looking for new shoes.
1. What kind of shoes do I need on a yearly basis?
First of all, decide what sort of shoes you need to get yourself through one year. For instance: sturdy winter shoes, casual spring/summer shoes, party or formal shoes, sandals, rain boots, etc. Depending on the climate you live in, you might not need all of these but for me this is pretty accurate since we have 4 seasons where I live.
Try to go for a couple of all round pairs that can take a little season change. I always have one pair of Converse All Stars in my closet. They can be worn from the time it’s heating up in spring to the time it’s cooling down in autumn. And if you choose a colour based on your palette, they pretty much go with everything!
2. Do the shoes I currently own fulfill my needs?
For a while I had some boots that I used for formal as well as casual occasions. Though this sounds pretty minimalist and all, after a while of wearing them casually they had lost the necessary prettiness to be formal. That’s when I decided I needed one pair of dedicated formal shoes. I had to come to terms with myself about the fact that these shoes would be spending more time in the closet than on my feet, but now that I have I’m really happy that these formal shoes will serve me for years to come. Which brings me to the next question.
3. Can these shoes last me through all the trends?
When shopping for these formal shoes I realised they had to be timeless if I wanted to keep them around for as long as they were going to last. So I chose black suede ankle boots. No frill, no crazy zippers, no contrasting soles or patches. Simple yet elegant shoes that go with anything and that I can reach for without thinking when I have a party or formal affair.
Think about the shoes you have now or that you have your eye on. Will they last you a season or a lifetime? What about them could be a reason you’d want to get rid of them within a year? Be honest!
4. Do these shoes already exist in my closet?
This one works for buying new shoes as well as for purging your closet. And it can be a pretty tricky one unless you’re being really honest with yourself. The day I was talking to the friend who ‘outed’ me was also the day we went into a shoe store together and I saw this amazing pair of dark purple/burgundy buckle shoes (on my Pinterest here). SO pretty. I looked down at my feet… and there were almost the exact same shoes: a different colour, a different brand and a slightly different nose. I knew I could never take those burgundy shoes home with me if I stuck to my own rules. And so I didn’t. But I still think about them. A lot.
5. Do these shoes fit right?
Although this seems like a silly question, you might forget how many people (men and women!) buy shoes that are not the right size or shape for them. This is one of the aspects that I am very strict with myself about. I don’t believe in suffering for weeks until shoes are ‘broken in’. If they are not comfortable for 15 minutes in the store, they surely won’t be comfortable for an entire day or night. Make sure you have a bit of room for different types of socks, that they’re easy to get on but don’t slip off when you walk and look for any other criteria that are important to you.
Admittedly, this is something that can still backfire, however much attention you pay. Unfortunately this usually doesn’t happen in the next couple of days but mostly in the coming months. For example, I found a pair of Adidas that were quite snug, but I like that in sneakers since they usually widen quite a bit after some wear. Alas, after a couple of months of trying to wear them for a few consecutive hours, I found that they were not snug at all. They were too narrow for my feet! This was a good learning experience for me, I now know Adidas are not suitable for my feet. It was also an essential argument for talking myself out of buying these (which I would still gladly accept if gifted ;)).
Experiences like this make shoe shopping risky business. So go for that extra lap in the shoe store to make sure. And the great thing is, being this critical about your shoes will save you so much money you can invest in a good pair once the time comes!
Once you do take those fantastic shoes home with you, take good care of them. Make sure you have all the necessary cleaning and polishing stuff. Being kind to your shoes will keep them around a lot longer, and cleaning them doesn’t have to be expensive. If you buy transparent leather care products you can use them on all of your shoes regardless of the colour. Non-leather and canvas shoes should be fine with (soapy) water, the important thing is to clean as soon as you see a stain! Do you have frayed laces, soles with holes, broken heels? Consider having your shoes repaired if something’s broken that’s holding you back from wearing them.
Thanks for letting me share my experiences with shoe shopping! Any tips you’d like to add?