Shoes. Shoes. Shoes.

Most of my girlfriends have warned me that shoes would be the hardest category of clothing to reduce. My friend Maureen says she’d have trouble choosing 100 pairs from her collection of shoes – and trust me she can pull off the most amazing foot fashion combinations. I love her style.

For me, however, two things went into my decision to reduce the number of shoes I owned. Two broken ankles and an ultimate and ongoing desire for simplicity and comfort in my life.

Shoe Obsessions Start Early

When I was a little girl, we didn’t have a lot of money. So, like many children, I wore the same pair of shoes until they wore out. Then got a new pair, usually exactly the same design, either the same size or 2 sizes bigger. I would ‘grow into them, my mom would say. My squished toes today testify to the fact that we often waited a little too long to actually measure my feet and get the right size shoe! I always wanted another pair of comfortable shoes! They became an obsession.

Shoes Fill the Empty Spaces

For years, I wore nothing but black shoes. Never in a million years would I thought of wearing beige, red, pink or leopard skin shoes. Absolutely no desire at all for buckles and bows or embellishment of any kind.  I had a pair of knee-high black lace-up boots for most of my bohemian teenage years that defined my style for years. I treasured them and will now be trying to find them in the new wave hitting the stores 40 years later!

Shoes Communicate Your Walking Style!

Over the years, I learned how shoes can definitely communicate a personality and lifestyle. In my 20’s I moved fast and my comfortable Easy Spirit shoes were a blur.  Then as a mum, my practical black slips on’s with good grip got me through the many beach trips and mountain hikes. In fact, I am not sure I ever took them off! My career shoes were conservative and let’s face it a little boring!

Fast forward 20 years. I turned 55 and got divorced. My corporate persona flew out of the window. Along with a forest green Saab convertible (don’t we all make those post-divorce purchases?) I started to buy stuff to support my reinvention initiative.

After a lot of unsuccessful experimentation with hair color and cuts, I started to accumulate shoes just for fun. They were meant to enhance and give confidence to my new emerging post-divorce personality. Buying new shoes just seemed like the right thing to do!

Those Shoes are SO Cute!

I learned how to say “those shoes are SO cute!!!” along with the best of them.  Most of them lived in little boxes, but I did have fun playing with shoes. Like most possessions we accumulate, it was the buying of shoes more than the wearing them though that gave me a sense of who I thought I was. Free, frivolous, sexy, and fun. As if shoes actually had that magical power. I know many many women would say they seriously do. But I digress.


Then one day skipping down the stairs in my heels, I fell and broke my ankle and it took 6 months to heal.  I spent 2 weeks with ice packs on my feet and then another 2 months in flats. Which is where I discovered the beauty of simple shoes.  I loved them. They were totally inexpensive but honestly gave me no foot support.  I figured that people have been walking barefoot for a few thousand years on rocky roads – and that me sitting in my car and office would not push them too far.

Then a fall in Paris in my mid-sixties reminded me that poorly fitting flats were no match for the cobblestone roads, and I then lived in not so attractive black ankle boots for 3 years. I am not kidding. It was time to downsize my shoes and find a comfortable and safe alternative!

Just Walk Away From Your Shoe Obsession

So, my downsizing approach to shoes was really very straight forward. I donated most of them and threw the worn and ugly ones away! Now I have 3 pairs of simple flats with velcro straps in black. They are comfortable and stylish. Done.  I almost decided to keep one frivolous wedge with red trim and black and white polka dots. They were kind of 20’s style and super comfortable but not me anymore.

Oh yes, I kept one pair of black ankle boots. They look good with anything and for the foreseeable future, I am living in a place where it is likely to snow at a moment’s notice.

So that’s its – shoes are done! I have promised myself that if I ever see a pair of shoes I MUST have – then I’ll trade them for one of the pairs I have selected.

I am ready now to attack clothes but have a bit of a journey with books first. Ah, the joys of downsizing. Onward with just 4 pairs of shoes to take me there.

How many shoes do you own?  Are shoes a downsizing project you are dreading or have you walked away from your shoe obsession? Perhaps you never had one! Please join the conversation! We are learning to simplify together! 

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