Minimize: the Project Where I get rid of All the Things (in the shoe closet)

Minimize | the Project Where I get rid of all the things (in the shoe closet) - 3 Simple Steps to minimalist shoe storage

This post is part of my project #minimize: the the project where I get rid of all the things. It’s an awesome project. And it comes from a deep-rooted place in my soul – which is why you should check back on Thursdays to see all of the small yet awesome ways you can downsize clutter and live like a minimalist. If you want to know more about why I’m doing this project, read the first post.

Sometimes it’s easy to share my clutter pictures. Sometimes it’s not. Today is the latter. Many (most?) people have spots in their house that could use some attention. It happens – we get busy with other things (like kids, renovations, blogging, reading… ) and tell ourselves “I’ll do that later” – but “later” never comes.

The shoe section of my closet is one of those spots that requires regular attention. Seasonal weather changes in New England require it. I mean, I would love to wear pumps and heeled boots all year long, but with record snow fall and below-zero days, it’s completely impractical to think I’m going anywhere in anything other than my Bean Boots.

And while I LOVE my shoes (I really do), it’s time to say goodbye to some of my favorites and accept the fact that broken soles, ripped lining, and broken heels that can’t be repaired are all appropriate reasons to throw old shoes (especially when they have the mileage these had).

Ugh. Here it is. The BEFORE picture.

Minimize | The shoe closet: before

Minimize | The shoe closet: before

Isn’t it awful?! Seriously.. why did it take me so long to address this?

Step 1: Get rid of all the tights that have holes in them or are uncomfortable to wear. I had an overflowing box of tights (in the bottom, middle) that never really fit my broad selection of legwear. When I sorted through, I found almost half of my tights had holes in them, were uncomfortable, or never really fit right. And I kept them for years.


Because I told myself a story about how I “needed” them, how I “didn’t have time” to replace them, and that I didn’t want to “spend the money” to invest in new pairs.

So I changed the story.

I told myself that I wanted quality, not quantity. That I cared about my appearance. That I cared about myself enough to “invest” in a few new pairs (I mean, seriously, tights start at under $10 a pair).

This reduced the volume by half. I also got rid of a couple pairs that I just didn’t like. Which left me with a nice, small group that I curled into balls and placed back in a shoe box. And, actually, as I look at the “after” picture – I see two more pairs that I could get rid of.

Minimize | Collection of tights: after

Minimize | Collection of tights: after


Step 2. Get rid of shoes that are too worn, have soles broken, and are beyond repair. I’m the type of girl that gets into long-term relationships with shoes. Once I find a pair that I like, I will wear them out several times over. I have a great relationship with my shoe cobbler, who does a phenomenal job bringing my favorite pairs back to life – over and over again. And each of these pairs have visited him at least once, if not twice.

But it’s time. The new sole on the brown pair cracked recently – and I still wore them again. What the hell is wrong with me? Why does it take so long to get rid of old shoes?

If I had to guess, I would say it’s 80% laziness, 20% lack of creativity. It’s easier to not replace them. That is, until the shoe’s sole cracks on a rainy Saturday morning and you’re S.O.L. while pursuing locally grown veggies at the farmer’s market, just hoping, as the muck starts to wick up your socks, that the muddy field isn’t also covered in a recent layer of animal poo.

And while these shoes and I have logged many miles, many apartments, and many trips together – it’s time to say goodbye. They have more than justified the minor investment I made at the discounted outlet-style store in my city neighborhood so many years ago.They have visited coffee shops, strolled through Saturday markets and second-hand shops, they have carried me to casual dinners at great local pubs, they have dined and danced and lived a full and proud shoe-life. They have survived through the full lifetime of a career and, still, I held on to them. Until today.

So goodbye good shoes. It’s been awesome.

Minimize | I love you, shoes, but it's time to say goodbye

Minimize | I love you, shoes, but it’s time to say goodbye

Lots of great miles in those shoes.

Step 3. Create smart short-term and use-based storage options. After the last two steps, this was easy, though my short-term and seasonal storage options are definitely the subject of a future post. In short: the summer shoes go with the summer clothes, the pumps go with my work wear, and my event-only sparkly shoes go with my event wear – all of which is in short-term storage in the basement.

Again – it’s winter in New England. And it’s a tough, cold, snowy, gross winter. In seasons like this, function wins over fashion every single time.

When I was working, I got a fair share of hell for having a “shoe drawer” at my desk. But as a walking commuter, and someone who clearly cares about their footwear, there is no way I was going to put my pricey heels through unnecessary mileage.

So if you’re considering this project – think about where you use your shoes. Think about time of year. Think about practicality. And if you have the option for short-term storage outside of your closet – USE IT. It not only saves you clutter, it also helps your stuff last longer and makes it feel new again, if it you’ve had the same spring shoe for many seasons.

Minimize | The shoe closet: after

Minimize | The shoe closet: after

Each shoe left in my closet has a purpose. It’s for the gym. Or for walking outdoors. Or for walking outdoors in snow and wetness. Or for an occasional dress-up opportunity. And if I find myself avoiding a certain pair, it’s time to think about replacing them. And that’s exciting in itself.

Minimize | the Project Where I get rid of all the things (in the shoe closet) - 3 Simple Steps to minimalist shoe storage

Minimize | the Project Where I get rid of all the things (in the shoe closet) – 3 Simple Steps to minimalist shoe storage | Click to Pin

Here’s to happy closets and happy feet.