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.
WHAT COLOURS TO CHOOSE FOR SHOES
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.
ONE (1) PAIR OF CASUAL SANDALS
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.
ONE (1) PAIR OF SLIGHTLY DRESSY SANDALS
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).
ONE (1) PAIR OF NEUTRAL HEELS YOU CAN WALK IN
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:
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:
- 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.
ONE (1) PAIR OF LEATHER BOOTS
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.
ONE (1) PAIR OF CASUAL FLATS
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.
ONE (1) PAIR OF DRESSY FLATS
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.
[OPTIONAL] RAINBOOTS AND / OR WINTER BOOTS
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:
WHAT I PERSONALLY HAVE AS A SHOE WARDROBE
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:
- Pair of Birkenstocks – this is for traveling / walking a lot
- Pair of Reef Champange Leather Flip Flops
- Dressy Sandals — with a heel and flowers on the front
- 2 Pairs of work heels — Manolo Blahniks (thrifted) with mid-heel heights in a pointy-toe style
- Frye Melissa Back Button Boots in Dark Brown
- Short black dressy boots — Manolo Blahniks (thrifted)
- Converse Sneakers
- Aigle Rainboots in the Miss Juliette Satin Style
- Kamik Boy’s Hunting Boots used as Winter Boots
- Authentic UGG Australian Made boots (not the ones made in China, sold outside of Australia)
- 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.