Save. Spend. Splurge.

The Principles of a Practical Minimalist Shoe Wardrobe

This is a follow-up post (request!) to my post on Principles of a Practical and Minimalist Wardrobe, where I basically detailed out a sample ‘perfect’ minimalist wardrobe:

As for shoes, I’m not really someone who is into shoes. I don’t know why… no wait, I do.

It’s because shoes are bulky and hard to pack, so I’d rather have 5 great tops and 1 pair of simple boots than 5 boots and 1 top.

Currently, I own about 14 pairs of shoes and boots but only 10 are truly essential, the rest are just because I wanted a pair of comfortable sheepskin boots (true UGGs made in Australia), and different colours of ballet flats for instance.

Depending on the seasons and the weather you are accustomed to, you might want to eliminate some of these shoes from the wardrobe.


Really it’s up to you as long as you are able to wear them with anything in your closet.

I like neutrals in my shoes so that they match everything, and I reserve colour / print / excitement for my accessories or my clothing.

I may indulge in a pair or two of ballet flats that are not a neutral tone but that’s because I usually own at least 3 pairs of ballet flats, and I have at least one pair in a neutral brown, tan, beige, nude or black.

I also try for a variety of colours and textures, so if I have dark brown knee-high boots, I’ll opt for black ballet flats or black short boots instead of getting all my shoes in the same dark brown tone.


I find these extremely handy for the beach, but also just when you need a pair of simple shoes for the summer.

They can be any kind you want — plastic, leather, however you like it, and any colour you like.

I personally have one pair of Reef leather gold flip flops that I love and paid good money for (around $55) that are comfortable and padded. It sounds like a lot to pay for a damn pair of flip flops, but I hate wearing plastic flip flops (you sweat like a pig) and I like dressier items.

Instead of always picking black, why not try a metallic sandal? Gold, silver, bronze.. those are dressier colours but the function of the flip flop stays the same.


Lots of choice here!! Don’t feel confined to the images above, pick something that works for you and is comfortable.

I like the idea of a slightly dressier sandal that you wouldn’t wear to the beach (something fiddly with straps, or maybe a slight heel) because you could wear it in summer without having to resort to heels or something ‘nicer’ to wear on the weekends when you don’t want to feel like a beach bum, nor do you want to wear covered shoes because .. well it’s THE SUMMER!

As mentioned, I would prefer to have a true ‘dressy’ sandal that isn’t an actual pair of heels, but you can also opt for a flat version if you aren’t interested in wearing heels of any kind.

Plus it’s a great alternative to wear to summer events or parties without feeling underdressed (this is the case when I wear flip flops, I feel underdressed even if the rest of my outfit is fine).



Whatever “you can walk in” means to you, buy a pair of heels for this. They’re handy for interviews, events, dressier nights out for those rare occasions you do need to dress up, and anything in between.

Make sure it’s in a closed toe style meaning no toes should be showing. This type of shoe is the most versatile because it’s the most formal. If you want to add another pair of heels that are open toe, by all means go ahead, but your one and only pair should be closed toe in whatever shape and neutral colour you want:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Navy
  • Beige

Avoid white or grey, as they aren’t true neutrals for a shoe and will look very dated.

It doesn’t have to be a solid smooth leather, you can also experiment with a different texture like snakeskin, or suede as long as it is overall, a neutral pump.

I would suggest that you avoid patent leather however, it can look cheap as it looks like plastic if not done well.

In any of these toe shapes:

  • Pointed
  • Almond
  • Round
  • Square — I guess you can also pick square but why would you? It’s kind of fugly as a shape for a foot.

A chunky heel is also fine as long as it doesn’t make your feet look like they’re potted.

My favourite brand is Manolo Blahnik (thrifted at a significant discount, natch!) but as long as they’re a comfortable height for you (even if that means 1″), go for it.


I consider these staples in any wardrobe because you can either have them knee-high, or shorter and they look good thrown over jeans, or with skirts.

Personally, I’d go with knee-high leather boots as they are the most versatile — looks good with any kind of bottom, tucked in jeans, etc, whereas shorter boots can look very strange with skirts or dresses if not done right.

Totally up to you in this regard, but keep it neutral so that it matches everything in your closet, just don’t make it so neutral that it’s the same colour in all of your shoes (e.g. your pumps are cognac brown, and your boots are ALSO cognac brown; get them in black instead); mix it up in the colours, textures and heel heights among your shoes so that you have diversity.


This covers a range of shoe styles, and in fact you could merge the leather boots above with this section “covered shoes”, but I find that most people like having an option to have tennis shoes or something casual and comfortable.

I’d probably throw any gym shoes in here, or if you picked knee-high boots above, I’d probably select a loafer or something casual and flat as a short boot for this option.



I obviously have a penchant for ballet flats, but loafers work well in this category as well.

Something dressier, fancier, and nice to wear with skirts and dresses.


If you like rainboots (and I do), or if you live in rainy conditions this is the shoe for you. Ditto for winter boots. I don’t really wear my nice leather boots in the winter because of the salt, snow and ice. It’s better to have a pair of boots JUST for winter.

And that’s what I think is a minimum in a wardrobe. Of course, I have more than said minimum pictured above, and here’s what it looks like:


I wouldn’t say I’m as minimalist as what I have pictured above as a minimum in a shoe wardrobe, but I am not excessive either.

This is a pictorial representation of the shoes and boots I own:


From Top to Bottom, Left to Right:

  1. Pair of Birkenstocks – this is for traveling / walking a lot
  2. Pair of Reef Champange Leather Flip Flops
  3. Dressy Sandals — with a heel and flowers on the front
  4. 2 Pairs of work heels — Manolo Blahniks (thrifted) with mid-heel heights in a pointy-toe style
  5. Frye Melissa Back Button Boots in Dark Brown
  6. Short black dressy boots — Manolo Blahniks (thrifted)
  7. Converse Sneakers
  8. Aigle Rainboots in the Miss Juliette Satin Style
  9. Kamik Boy’s Hunting Boots used as Winter Boots
  10. Authentic UGG Australian Made boots (not the ones made in China, sold outside of Australia)
  11. 3 pairs of ballet flats in silver, yellow and a blue/yellow mix

That makes a total of 14 pairs of shoes, but I still need (*laugh*.. “NEED”).. 3 more pairs of shoes to round out my entire wardrobe and make it complete:



I still need:

  • Pair of casual summer sandals in a low wedge
  • Those Frye Engineer 12 boots in black — I am stalking them as we speak for a sale on Black Friday!
  • A pair of dark brown / neutral ballet flats, I have my eyes on some Lanvins but at $500 apiece I am hesitant to pull the spending trigger

Another pair of shoes I MIGHT also buy but haven’t decided if they’re necessary are a pair of heeled knee-high boots. I think I need them but really, I want to see how many outfits I think to myself: Gee I need knee high heeled boots to wear with this.. before I buy a pair.



  • Angelina

    I think 10 shoes is minimalist. I’m a reformed shoe addict. Now that I’m middle-aged with two bunion surgeries and plantar fasciitis finding attractive shoes that don’t hurt automatically limits my options.
    Having 2pr of sneakers help them last longer.
    Some people can get away with rain boots with a boot liner; I did that with my Hunter boots. I loved my Kamik boots too.

  • Stephanie

    14 pairs of shoes sounds excessive and doesn’t sound minimalist. I currently own five pairs and that includes my running shoes. Also there are plenty of gorgeous vegan shoes (“patent leather”) available these days in all kinds of fabrics and styles so there’s no need to wear dead animal skin to satisfy your ego and/or your ignorance about non-leather shoes.

  • Danielle A.

    This doesn’t look or sound minimalist at all haha I need some magical shoe that would work for anything… what happened to the days when we were younger and 1 pair of sneakers worked for everything and 1 pair of “dress” shoes for church\funerals, etc.

    Ahh well…those days of innocent ignorance and simplicity are behind us. Can’t live in my Birkenstocks I guess 😛

    • save. spend. splurge.

      OH no it isn’t, it’s PRACTICAL. 🙂

      How can you live with just one pair of shoes as a woman? Maybe some can, but not me. Men have it easier.

      I suppose that would work — one pair dressy, one pair casual. DONE.

  • tianna

    so helpful!! Thank you for this

  • Ashley

    Mannnn I really need some nude pumps! I’m good on everything else though 😀

    xo Ashley

  • Michelle

    I live in flats but I’m pretty minimalist with shoes. I think I own:
    2 pairs of more “athletic flats”
    2 boots in brown and black
    2 dress flats
    2 pairs of heels (black and brown)
    1 pair of wedding shoes
    1 pair of fashionable flats
    2 pairs of flip flops
    2 pairs of sneakers

  • MelD

    LOL – I have vastly improved with shoes since I got my wardrobe (and life generally!) under control 😉 So I was amused to count along – silver flat sandals (go with everything in summer and I don’t really need anything more formal), flipflops in summer at home, canvas sneakers for casual/jeans – tick, black AND brown knee high boots because I have a hard time finding a calf width big enough and when I do, I have to have them! I also thought I needed a heeled knee high and bought some at great expense – and never wore them, so I sold them on (seems others like wide calf boots, too!). Wellies I only wear rarely in the garden and have to have the low kind, anyway. I don’t have a need for any classic pumps but have a couple of pairs of mid-heel “smart” shoes, and I love coloured shoes but have learnt to not go wild and have loads ;o Definitely red!! In winter I seem to have worn only boots and black Gabor ballerinas so looking forward to spring and a bit of variation – and my silver sandals 🙂
    I think I’ve gone down from about 50+ pairs of shoes to about 20 including every type… yay.
    My already wide feet got wider from pregnancy and weight gain but it really depends on the type/cut of shoe as to whether I take a EUR 37, 38 or 39 these days!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I’m holding off on those heeled knee high boots. I don’t think U’ll need them..

      I used to have more shoes than the ones I had, but I found I never really wore them!

  • Midori

    Sweeet. Thanks! 🙂

    • save. spend. splurge.

      You’re welcome 😀

      • Midori

        @save. spend. splurge.: So this is what I came down to:

        1 leather ankle boot with 1″ heel (Double as casual close toe shoe and just as comfortable actually… I hiked in these before and went out to drink in them too! I have Ecco Sauter Lace Boot. They don’t look too bad right? :P)

        1 sandal (For outdoor adventures. Teva ftw. I don’t think I’m going to any summer parties or weddings anytime soon… D: Someone needs to invite me more to them!)

        1 dressy flat/loafer with 1″ heel (I give up on pumps/heels because they are not good for my feet health. If I get nice penny loafer, it could be used for interviews/formal occasions, right?)

        I see a pattern though: dressy and casual version of close toe shoe, sandal and something in between (aka slip-on shoe). Feedback is welcome! 🙂

  • GirlinaTrenchcoat

    Hello, big fan but longtime lurker here. I love this post! I did a shoe purge a couple of months ago and now have only ten staples that are almost exactly like the ones you have listed. You are so lucky to be able to thrift Manolo Blahniks, I have size 5 feet and even snagging a pair on sale (let alone thrifted) is such a challenge!

    I do have a shoe-related question now that you’ve had Baby Bun, did your shoe size/ feet change?

    • save. spend. splurge.

      My goodness your feet are tiny. I have a friend who has size 5.5 feet and she says the same thing — that things never fit her and sometimes they don’t even have shoes in her size!

      I did not have any feet-related changes but I think my shoulders/torso go a bit larger..

      • GirlinaTrenchcoat

        @save. spend. splurge.: Oh that’s good to hear! My mom said her feet went up a whole size after 3 kids, so she gave away a lot of her shoes. I hope when I have kids I don’t have the same issue, though going from a 5 to a 6 would make finding shoe sizes easier. 😉

        • save. spend. splurge.

          Although you should look to your mother to see what you might experience. My mom did not grow larger in size for her feet but she felt her torso and upper half increase, which was my case.. now some of my blazers *sigh* are feeling tight in the shoulders and arms which makes me really really sad. I thought I had to take care of the feet issue but it turns out your whole body could expand.

          Anyway, my mom was also a fast labourer which was my case as well.

          If your mom’s feet went up a whole size, yours might too as it seems to pass on from generation to generation. Don’t count it out.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      You and I would be good friends IRL I think.. 🙂

  • Michelle

    I already have: gold flip flops, sandals with the gold top like the ones in third picture lower right corner. I have a pair of brown and a pair of black pumps. I discovered after a year of not shopping that I MUST HAVE BETTER BOOTS!! I will be buying Frye tall boots 2 pairs one in black, another in brown. Ankle boots again from Frye, again in two different colors. New cute dressy tennis shoes for walking, and a pair of ballet flats. Please note: I have downsized substantially from before. I will also be throwing away and donating a number of items in the next week or so after my spending challenge is done.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Those gold flip flops are the exact ones I own 🙂

      Boots are worth it. I was looking at a pair in black but decided that most of my wardrobe would go better in brown and I’d buy black boots in another style rather than 2 of the same (e.g. 2 knee high boots).

  • Debbie M

    Ha! I have almost none of the shoes on your list. My minimalist wardrobe would have the following:
    * 2 pairs casual flats – these are what I wear most of the time; they are black leather sneakers that I wear to work. I wear the old ones for gardening (burs don’t stick to leather much).
    * 2 pairs jogging shoes – white sneakers I wear for jogging. The old pair is for weekends or casual Fridays.
    * 1 pair dance shoes – for dancing; I guess you could call these dressy flats, except that they are black canvas sneakers, which are not very dressy.
    * 1 pair comfy black heels – for dressing up. I do not try to use sneakers for this use! But I wear them only about once or twice a year.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Even more minimalist than I am 🙂 I guess I’m more of a shoe fiend than I thought!

      • Debbie M

        @save. spend. splurge.: No, that would be my *minimalist* shoe wardrobe, not my *actual* shoe wardrobe which includes several pairs of heels that aren’t quite right, roller skates and roller blades I’m mostly afraid to wear these days, climbing shoes I don’t wear, sandals I don’t wear, and various back-ups. Though, being lazy and stubborn, I really do mostly wear only sneakers. Wait, I just remembered I also wear house slippers.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          OH! I see. 🙂 Wait, I wouldn’t include roller skates or blades!! That’s just unfair. That’s sports equipment.

          I also have house slippers. I should add that to the list but I was thinking of just shoes that I use to go outside in.

  • Kathy

    I never considered myself a shoe hound but I went and counted and am embarrassed to admit I have 28 pair. A lot of them are hold overs from when I was working but I keep them in case I need to go to a funeral or a wedding. I wear probably 3-4 pair regularly. How crazy is that?

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Not crazy at all. I don’t wear all my shoes all the time, but when it rains, I have rainboots.. or if I feel like wearing UGGs, I have them. I wouldn’t give any up! 🙂

  • Tania

    Oh girl, you don’t wanna know how many shoes I have. Way way too much! If I had to cut it down though, I’d go with 2 ballet flats (one black/one greyish taupe), one loafer in an animal print,one short frye ankle boot, one frye engineer boot, one black pump, one flat formal shoe, one gladiator sandal, one birkenstock thong, one black haviana, one wedge heel for going out at night and one white chucks.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Why two Frye boots — ankle and engineer? Engineer FOR SURE but I am curious as to the choice of ankle.. to me they’re kind of the same as engineer, no?

      • Tania

        @save. spend. splurge.: @save. spend. splurge.: Oops, I meant to say ankle cowboy boot (I like Frye Billys). Great for wearing with jeans, cutoffs and even some dresses on Maui (rural area). The engineers are a bit heavy to wear all the time in Hawaii but they do come in handy on rainy days and in the industrial area where I work.

  • AdinaJ

    We will NOT talk about how many pairs of shoes I have, but I will say that everyone should consider a red pair (flats or heels, depending on preference). Ok, maybe not a strict minimalist, but everyone else. Red is a great accent colour for a monochromatic wardrobe.

  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    I’m proud to say that I belong to a practical minimalist, I only have 2 pairs of high wedge sandals, 2 pairs of comfy shoes, 2 pairs of casual flats and 2 pairs of running shoes. I don’t usually buy shoe wears as long as it is necessary.

  • Erika

    Love your fashion related posts!

    I’m a shoe girl, as much as I hate to confess it. My mother has countless pictures of me toddling around in her high heels and my grandpa’s cowboy boots as a child. I own three pairs of boots for work alone (different colors and styles for each different uniform). While I’m far from a minimalist I’ve learned to restrain my shoe habit by only allowing myself one type of each specific style/ color i.e. one pair of black pumps, brown boots etc.

    Limiting myself has given me the opportunity to save up and splurge on some classic staples in my closet like my black calfskin Louboutin pumps. I now have my heart set on a pair of handmade Lucchese boots.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      @Erika: For some reason, shoes have never really appealed to me. I think they’re just too far down my body for me to care beyond whether or not I am comfortable..

      Ooo. handmade boots…!!!

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