What’s the story with women and shoes, do you think? Is it a truth universally acknowledged that every woman is “obsessed” with shoes? Nah. I’m not buying that.
Despite what I discovered during my painstaking, and painful I might add, research. All the gushingly, hyperbolic blog posts about shoes, and the articles showing the supposedly ‘enviable’ fashionista closets, and the many hundreds of pairs of shoes certain celebrity fashionistas have in these closets. Apparently Celine Dion confided to Ellen Degeneres that she has over 3000 pairs. Or was that Imelda Marcos? I’m a bit confused. And no wonder… I’ve seen way too many pictures of pink closets today, with rows and rows of gold shoes… hmmm, whose closet was that? Oh yes, Mariah Carey… I think. But despite all this palaver over shoes, I don’t believe every woman is obsessed with shoes. I know I’m not.
But that doesn’t mean that shoes aren’t an important, even vital, part of a great outfit. In fact, quite the contrary. Shoes can make or break an outfit. The minute you put them on and look in the mirror, you know. They’re either too chunky, too prim, too flat, too high in the heel, not high enough… or just right. And if they’re just right, they make a good outfit look even better. Right?

Contrary to the opinion of some of my friends and acquaintances, I don’t own a ton of shoes. I counted them when I read that Celine Dion statistic. I own 23 pairs of footwear. That includes sandals, flats, ankle boots, over-the-knee boots, heels, loafers, and my trusty Stan Smith Adidas. I didn’t count my running shoes or my Hunter fishing boots in that total. And of those 23 pairs, I have my favourites. Well, you’ll know that if you read my blog regularly. I repeat the same shoes and boots. Over and over.
I love my patent leather Stuart Weitzman loafers. I like them with skinny jeans, with leggings, and with my leather trousers.
Stuart Weitzman loafers with Paige high rise skinny jeans, Tory Burch tie blouse, Vince coat sweater; Vince leggings, Theory striped silk blouse, Paige jean jacket; Holt Renfrew leather trousers, Rag and Bone silk tank
My Stuart Weitzman loafers with jeans, leggings, and leather trousers.

I’m very happy with my brown Paul Green ankle boots that I bought last fall. I particularly love them with flares or with boot cut jeans, as you can see.

Current Elliot jeans, Theory white tee, Twiggy suede jacket by M&S, Alexander Wang striped tee, Max Mara coat, Elie Tahari animal print cardigan, Paul Green boots
Paul Green boots with jeans, jeans, and jeans.

These Stuart Weitzman low-heeled pumps are always in my current rotation. The low heel and the grey-edged bow make them very early sixties, I think. They can be a bit prissy, so I like to wear them with jeans and a nice jacket. Like this Helmut Lang blazer which I bought in the spring of 2015.

Citizens of Humanity jeans, black silk Rag and Bone tank, Paige high-rise skinny jeans, white long-sleeved Vince tee, Helmut Lang black blazer, Stuart Weitzman low-heeled pumps
Stuart Weitzman low-heeled pumps with jeans and a good jacket

And of course, I still adore my Stan Smith Adidas from last year. And which I wear with just about everything I own.

Stan Smith Adidas with white Theory shirt and Holt Renfrew skirt, blue Veronica Beard pant suit, Paige high-rise skinny jeans, Equipment blouse, khaki suede Twiggy jacket by M&S
Stan Smith Adidas go with pretty much anything.

Below are some of the shoes in my closet that don’t get out enough, but which I kept when I did my closet cull last spring. I love the silver hardware on the black, chunky-heel Stuart Weitzman pumps. And the caramel, platform T-strap heels look so great with a skirt. I bought the Tod’s driving shoes with my retirement gift card from my work buddies in 2013; they never go out of style. I also have a pair of chocolate brown, suede Prada booties with a small heel that I don’t wear nearly enough, but I’ll probably never give away. Because…well… Prada. One day I’ll wear them again.

Black chunky heel pump with silver buckle, caramel platform t-strap heels both by Stuart Weitzman. Burgundy Tory Burch flats, Tod's driving shoes, black Stuart Weitzman flats with gold detail
Stuart Weitzman chunky-heeled pumps, platform T-strap, & black flats. Tod’s driving shoes, burgundy Tory Burch flats

So if you look at the fact that of the 23 pairs of footwear I own, 6 are not worn regularly… and 2 pairs I didn’t mention are probably on the way out very soon… I think I can be classified as a shoe minimalist. At least in my books. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love shoes. Just that I shop wisely, buy what I love, and then love them for a long time.

And yet, minimalism is no excuse for wearing the wrong shoe or boot with an outfit. I still need enough variety in my closet to work with all of my pants and skirts and dresses.

You know, I started thinking about all this shoe stuff a couple of weeks ago when I was sitting in airports, travelling to and from New Brunswick where I was visiting my mum. In the Montreal airport, in the Fredericton airport, in the Toronto airport… I began to notice how many women were wearing exactly the wrong shoe for the rest of their outfit. In particular the wrong shoe and pants combination. Trainers and mom jeans seemed to be a popular choice for women travellers, with the jeans pooling on top of their sneakers in a very unattractive way. A different shoe or maybe hemming or rolling the pants could have made all the difference. You don’t need to be obsessed with shoes to do that, do you? I’m not talking about when you’re out walking the dog or going for your morning run, but when you actually plan to be out in public.

I mean, there has to be a middle ground between wearing trainers with totally inappropriate pants and feeling the need to own 3000 pairs of shoes. Don’t you think?

Which brings me back to all that painstaking… and painful… research I did this morning. Painful does not begin to describe it, people. From pictures of closets bigger than my whole house and which we are all supposed to be dying to own, to the story of a woman from Houston who owned a three-storey, 3,000 sq. ft. closet and who was robbed after she showed her closet and its contents on Good Morning America and then went out to dinner without setting her alarm system. Really? And then there’s cringe-worthy Imelda Marcos, who is reputed to have said: “They went into my closet looking for skeletons, but thank God all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.”

Oh my. Shoe story overload, or what? I had to stop and go outside and help Hubby clean up the garden. Or something. I think I actually lost brain cells while I was reading all this stuff.

Enough of that. I’m beginning to sound cranky. And what the heck am I driving at, anyway? Well, only that despite how it might appear in fashion-blogger-land, we’re not all obsessed with shoes. Doesn’t mean that we don’t love shoes. Or that we think shoes are unimportant. They definitely are. They definitely can make or break an outfit. But how many pairs do we really need, anyway? I mean… really… need?

So, that’s my shoe story for today, folks. And I’m sticking to it. I could go on. About shoes and work, and the wild rumour when I was the English head at my school that you had to have good shoes to work in my department. Ha. Remembering that makes me laugh.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your story? Are you a shoe minimalist? Or maximalist? Or somewhere in between… or maybe you don’t care much one way or the other? Do tell.


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41 thoughts on “Shoe Story”

  1. Boots. I love boots. I love skinny legged pants (generally jeans) with tall leather riding style boots and a nice "chunky" sweater or tunic. Bliss. I can't wear heels to the same extent that I used to when I was younger. I like your Paul Green ankle boots! -Jenn

  2. Currently committed to managing with three pairs for ten weeks as I travel (we'll see what I come home with though!), and that includes my runners (I bought a black pair that easily double as a street shoe, thanks to the current trend for a sleekly-sneakered foot). And as part of our downsizing, I gave away a few beloved pairs I'd had for years but was scarcely wearing anymore (can still enumerate those quite precisely and will probably miss them from time to time — but I don't have a 3000sq.ft. closet!). 23 seems like a very reasonable number to me. . .

    1. And you are travelling in a tricky shoe season. I remember when we were in Australia and new Zealand one year. We were away for three months. I needed to bring my hiking boots, and running shoes for hiking and walking, so I only packed my good flat sandals for going out for dinner. But when we reached Sydney at the end of the trip it was May, their autumn, and cool and rainy the whole time. I couldn't bear to go barefoot in the evening, especially if we were walking to restaurants. So hiking boots it was…with jeans. Better to be warm and comfortable than freezing in sandals and nice cropped pants. It was dark, anyway, so no one noticed.

      Enjoy the rest of your trip, Frances!

  3. Years ago I read that sexy women are shoe obsessed ??? That's not me then . Like you I like the right shoe but don't need masses of them . I'm lucky with my feet in that I can still wear heels easily , not that I do very often , but I blister quickly so must have good comfortable shoes . I find high boots tricky now – I feel like something is grabbing my legs & clinging on , so I'm struggling with cropped jeans & trousers for winter . Summer was easy with sandals , sneakers & bare ankles but boots / shoes with a couple of inches of my bare white leg looks odd to me , especially in bad weather . Can I wear long socks to match my footwear or should they clash ? If we meet at an airport will you tell me off 🙂
    Wendy in York

    1. Cropped jeans and pants are the bane of my existence (wardrobe-ly speaking) in the winter. It's so hard to find jeans that one can wear socks with. Or the right ankle boot to wear with cropped jeans. I've been trying to match socks with my boots with some success. Last year I found a pair of brown knee socks the exact colour of my Paul Green boots, so you could hardly notice the two inches or so of sock between pant leg and boot. But I promise if we meet at the airport and your sock-boot thing is not working I will avert my eyes… if you will avert yours:)

  4. Being a size 3 in the UK I couldn't develop a shoe thing as there wasn't the choice when I was in my 20s. Now I find it exciting as there is choice but generally on line. I developed a scarf and handbag thing instead but yes 20 scarves and 7 bags about covers it. As for footwear, probably 35 in total currently which is not bad for someone with my small feet.

    1. Sounds as if you have been lucky to find that many pairs. I will admit that part of my desire to hang onto shoes and boots is that my foot is also a difficult fit, and I have to work so hard to find appropriate shoes. Plus this usually means that I have to buy good, and generally more expensive shoes to fit me… and then can't bear to get rid of them. Now I'm spoiled. I hate shoes made of cheap leather, and find them really uncomfortable.

  5. Leslie in Oregon

    I learned to care very much about shoes when I worked long-haul international flights for Pan American World Airways. Female cabin crew members were required to wear dress shoes with a heel of at least a prescribed height whenever we were in uniform, except during a flight on which we were crew. Once the doors were closed on such a flight, we were allowed switch to a dress shoe with a lower heel (but no flats or lace-up shoes). Finding shoes that met the airline's requirements and were comfortable throughout our long flights was almost impossible, even for those of us who had no foot problems (yet). In the late 1970's, modifying the shoe requirements became one of the most important goals of our collective bargaining. I finally found a cobbler in Italy who custom made the shoes I wore when in uniform, on the street and onboard, and decades later, I still wear those shoes. Unfortunately, I have not found anything as beautifully designed and made, so my interest in shoes has waned.

    1. I can imagine that standing on your feet so much combined with the tendency of feet to swell during air flights must have made for many, many shoe and foot issues for you. And combined with silly footwear requirements this must have been a real pain…. in both senses of the word.

  6. I agree with you, this whole 'women are obsessed with shoes' thing is totally overblown. I think women like to get things done and that's impossible to do with sore feet. Good quality shoes are key, I don't have many pairs and maybe that's because I find there are only a few brands I like, and they are quite expensive. I take good care of them, go to the cobblers on a regular basis etc. I like the low-heeled Ferragamo pump, I have them in red, bisque and black. They last forever with proper care. I love boots too and buy them from La Canadienne, I have a black pair of riding boots and three pairs of brown boots, bought over the last several years. I have a pair of brown Gucci loafers that I had re-soled over the summer in anticipation of autumn, I wear them all the time. I have less than 20 pairs of shoes/boots but now I'm curious and I might do an exact count today.
    I have to say I really like your shoe collection and you know just how to pair them with your outfits. xx

    1. You are so right, Dani. My buddy Liz who is a personal shopper and who has worked in retail for many years has a pair of Prada flats and a pair of low-heeled Jimmy Choo shoes. She always tells me how old they are but, boy, they still look fabulous. I tend to get my boots resoled, and repaired especially if they are good quality. Well worth the minimal expense and the time not spent shopping for new ones:)

  7. I do love shoes, and your post prompted me to count the shoe and boot boxes in my (small but tall) closet. I'm embarrassed to say there are 53. But I do purge them regularly and I'm due for another round. My feet and knees have forced me to lower heels and more 'sensible' shoes over the years, so I have a few pair I can't really wear and I am parting with them one or two at a time with season changes in the closet. Waaah.

    That said, there are more and more stylish comfortable shoes out there, so of course I'm forced to try them. 😉 I tend toward Paul Green, Munro and La Canadienne, plus sandals by Naot and Think. My sneakers are New Balance, Keen, and Josef Seibel. And I did count my dog walking boots and bike shoes, so hopefully I don't sound too crazy. Ha! I've also kept a couple of shoes for sentimental reasons (bought in Paris, a fun wedding, etc.) although I'm unlikely to wear them again. I guess I'll have to pass them along some day. Sigh.

    As for airport attire, I agree. I see some really awful combinations while traveling, and while it might not do my feet and knees any good walking on concrete or marble, I always wear something that doesn't look too schlumpy. Vanity.


    1. I love that there are so many chic and comfortable shoe choices these days. I still remember the first time I wore non-athletic sneakers to work… with nice cords and my good leather jacket… so wonderful, comfortable, even freeing… and it wasn't even casual Friday:) 53 pair sounds sensible to me, especially if you included athletic shoes… and since they are stackable in your "tall" closet.

  8. I keep insisting I am not addicted to shoes, but then I look up at all the boxes of shoes in my closet and think…maybe I am. I haven't counted…I will get back to you with that. But, I do think shoes are fun…though sadly my funky feet keep me mostly in flats. Good post!

    1. Thanks, Pam. Sadly, even some flats are not comfortable for me. My narrow foot is so boney that the wrong flat shoe can blister and hurt as badly as heels.

  9. I see shoes as an accessory, like earrings or a great hand bag. I just purchased two pairs at DSW yesterday .. lol !!

    However, I'm more sensible about shoes, they have to feel great of my feet or back on the shelf they go.


    1. I'm smarter about shoes now than I used to be… when I was younger I would have bought many more pairs if I could have afforded them. But now earrings… they are hard to resist.

  10. I love boots! I easily have at least a dozen different ankle, mid, and high. We moved a few years ago and my husband counted my shoe boxes when I wasn't home. He started telling everyone how I didn't really need 158 pair of shoes! (including boots)
    I immediately got rid of 10 pair I didn't wear anymore. I have since replaced them with others. My favorite brand is Stuart Weitzman and I have 5 different pairs of patent leather loafers. Houston weather says sandles for 8 months of the year and I dislike them with a passion. 4 months of the year I wear all my favorte "winter" boots and shoes. I guess it is an obsession.

    1. I love Stuart Weitzman too. They are one of a few brand of shoes and boots that always fit my narrow foot. I'm much more of a boot person than sandal person too. Although I do get tired of them come spring.

  11. I have a hard time finding shoes that are comfortable, the older I get. Right now I've reverted to just buying Stuart Weitzman because they're stylish shoes and come in a wide and even an exta-wide width. They're so comforatable and last forever so I don't mind spending extra on them. My "Guy Thing" suede loafer just arrived this morning and I'm in love! All in all, though, I probably have about 18 pair of shoes and tend to mostly wear 3 or 4 of them. By the way, I just discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and loved the Mossimo Dutti white shirt so I ordered it – that arrived this morning too and it looks great on me so it's been a fun day! Enjoy your blog!

    1. You're right SW shoes are lovely and comfortable for me too. So glad you like your Massimo Dutti shirt. I'm off there this morning to check out their fall sweaters.
      P.S. Glad you like the blog, too:)

  12. I really,really love shoes-beautiful shoes could be a piece of art for me. Or boots :-). I remember all of my boots,so it couldn't be very large number 🙂
    I always liked to have nice,original and special shoes-but it was very reasonable number-around twenty at the time,I think,maybe less without sneakers .
    Now,I mostly wear sandals,loafers,brogues,sneakers,boots and a lot of ankle boots -my favourites lately. I have only two pairs of shoes with heel that I actually wear (and some more ,just for the memory and "sparkling joy")
    I could enjoy looking the beautiful shoes (yours,for example :-)) and not feeling the need to own them or the pressure to run to the store.
    So,no,I'm not obsessed at all. A couple of really great,nice looking (and comfortable,the must-have,I'm afraid) shoes or boots,with the right outfit, could make very stylish lady. It is about style,not the numbers
    But,I could understand the different opinions 🙂

    1. I rarely wear heels anymore. Only for special occasions. Gosh, I used to wear them all the time. At work, out for dinner after work…not sure how I did that. I agree it's about style and not a huge overflowing closet of shoes. How can one cherish each pair if one has so many??

  13. Will count – but I suspect I am around your 20 ish.
    (I read your post in Feedly to escape the white on black that I battle to read here in the comments)

    I have alot of unworn shoes, beautiful! shoes, from the Bally factory in Switzerland, when I worked in Zurich.
    Now I live in flat shoes and jeans.
    And I am painfully whittling away. Time to pull out the summer sandals I don't wear, and cull a pair. Sigh.

    1. Diana,I loved Bally shoes very much (long time ago),they were so beautiful,just something I like and appreciate,but ,as I have very sensitive skin,a little bit too rigid for me.

  14. Loved this post and admire the rigorous standards you applied to your research. Don't for a minute believe all women are obsessed with shoes nor am I a fan of those celebrity shoe collections full of blingy similar styled and often overly high footwear. However I do love shoes, always have always will and agree that nice footwear can make or break an outfit. Always notice shoes and jewellery. Don't have a number for my own collection which in itself says something! I suspect there may have been some truth in those rumours about your department. Iris

  15. What an interesting blog post – loved it. I've not actually got that many pairs of shoes etc, really struggle with comfort! Needing to add colour to my collection, started to achieve this with shoes/sandals until the change of weather – but now need to start on my boots! Jacqui

    1. Colour is one thing my shoe collection does not have either. Except for my burgundy Tory Burch flats from several years ago. Almost bought the brown ones, but they didn't have them in my size. And I've always been so happy that I got the burgundy ones instead.

  16. I am not obsessed with shoes either – although your collection makes me want to add a few more (I'm at about 17 pairs). You wear yours well, every time. I *may* be obsessed with the new Ghirardelli spicy chocolate squares, however. xo


  17. Not at all obsessed with shoes but I'd say I definitely have too many shoes, boots, bags and scarves!! Like you I look after them so they last 🙂 they can really transform an outfit and bring it "up to date" so it's useful to have a choice of styles. Apart from summer sandals I do tend towards neutral colours although I have recently bought a pair of olive green ankle boots ….similar in shade to your biker jacket, I think. Looking forward to wearing them with navy and burgundy!

    1. I loved those sandals you had on this summer when we met for lunch. And those olive green boots sound great. They will look sooo good with navy.

  18. In a round about way Sue, Sue you could take some credit for me buying those sandals 🙂 it wasn't love at first sight and they were definitely a "head" purchase rather than a "heart". I wanted a pair of shoes that I could wear with lots of my outfits on holiday and they had to be comfortable so I could walk a reasonable distance in them, in cities, in the heat. So I thought carefully …made notes and tried quite a few pairs that ticked all boxes …and they came out top! It worked! I've worn them lots, they're always comfortable and I feel they look smart. Definitely versatile!! So thank you Sue, I'm learning from you!

  19. I know what you mean about outfits needing the right shoes, Susan. I can't leave the house if my shoes 'feel wrong' for what I'm wearing. I like comfy, versatile favourites that work with the jeans and cords I usually wear, and then I move into sandals for dresses in the summer. A couple of years ago, I discovered Hotter shoes here in the UK. They are, I think it's fair to say, known for being worn by people, particularly women, of a certain age, so I did feel I'd crossed a generational threshold when I bought my first pair. But they're extremely comfortable and, in my view, quite stylish. So, when I find a style I like, I tend to buy several pairs in my favourite colours, and then just wear them and wear them…

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