When we think of cleaning out a closet or updating a wardrobe, we usually picture getting rid of pants that no longer button or jackets with outdated 80’s silhouettes. (Remember when everything came with massive shoulder pads?)
But decluttering isn’t just for clothing. Accessories, including shoes, also need to be evaluated every now and then.
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself when you're ready to get rid of some shoes:
First, since you’re going to be trying on a lot of shoes, wear something comfortable and basic that you won’t trip over, like a knee-length jersey skirt or some old cut-offs. Alternately, declutter your clothes and shoes at the same time by trying on different outfits along with your footwear. Although shoes need a bit of extra time, you can incorporate them into a project like decluttering the closet in 30 minutes.
Next, gather all your shoes and boots in one place. If you divide your shoes between cold and hot weather, you may want to stick with the shoes of the upcoming season. (It actually makes the most sense to go over your summer shoes in the spring and figure out what you've got and what you might need ahead of time.) Or, you can tackle your collection all at once.
Now you’re ready to start. Here’s what to look at when deciding whether to keep or toss old shoes.
1. Condition of Your Shoes
Look for shoes with wobbly heels, or those which have become misshapen over the years.
Often, busted shoes can be brought back to life by a shoemaker, so don’t despair if a favorite pair is a mess. Do be realistic, though. Although quick fixes like replacing a heel are inexpensive and can give a shoe years more life, other repairs are more costly. What’s worth it for a quality leather pair you love may not be as good an investment for a $20 pair that was never meant to last more than a season.
Find a cobbler you trust and ask what can be done, for how much. You might actually be amazed at how much a cobbler can do to fix or reshape a boot or a pair of shoes.
2. Check for Fit
Try on all your shoes, one pair at a time, and just as if you’re trying them in the store for the first time, see how they fit. Feet can grow and change shape even in adulthood, so don’t just assume the boots you’ve been wearing for 20 years will still be fine. And take the time to walk in them. If you’re wondering why you haven’t worn those pretty and oh-so-comfortable pumps you just discovered in your closet for years, it may be you’ve forgotten that after half an hour of standing, they feel like little silk torture devices.
3. Assess the Fashion
It’s not that you need to keep up with every new trend or care about what’s on the runways if that’s not your scene. It’s just that shoes, perhaps more than any other thing you wear, can make you look dated or weird if you don’t keep an eye on them. And though fashion is cyclical, shoe fads rarely come back in the way bell-bottom jeans or plaid shirts do. Sure, there are some classics. And yes, pointy toes will always return. But next year’s pointy toes will likely look quite different from the pointy toes of five years ago.
Unfair, but true!
4. Think About Your Lifestyle
Now that you’ve got a bunch of presentable, well-fitting shoes that don’t make you look like a time-traveler, you have to consider how they fit into your current lifestyle. If you’ve gone from an outdoor job to a corporate office job, or just gotten ten years older, you might be left with an amazing shoe wardrobe…for someone else. Much like deciding when to get rid of clothes, evaluating shoes has to do with thinking about who you are and the image you want to project.
Now that you’ve decluttered your collection, make the job easier for next time by learning how to store shoes. The more organized they are, the easier it is to keep them up to date.