Pretty Price Check (Shoe Edition)

The average woman owns $660 worth of shoes that she never wears, reports Jezebel. That’s 11 pairs out of an average of 20 total.

I’ve talked before about my own shoe issues, plus it’s spring closet-cleaning time, so I went and did the math on my collection.

I own:

  • 40 pairs of shoes. (Not counting 1 pair of snowboots, 1 pair of hiking boots, 1 pair of trail runners, 1 pair of hiking sandals, and 1 pair of weird wool clogs that I swear I’m giving away as soon as I finish writing this post. These are all pure function and don’t photograph pretty, so I’m ignoring them for the purposes of this post.) So, double the average number. Well, I always have been an overachiever. And to be honest, this number is lower than I would have guessed. I’m feeling almost minimalist! Except…
  • Here are the 19 pairs that I have worn once or never in the past year. My sister just stopped reading this to text me a list of the ones she now wants to claim.

In my defense: I do not get invited to nearly enough places where suede stilettos —or apparently, loafers — are appropriate. I can’t remember the price tag on each of these (and several pairs were gifts, which makes them even more beloved), but let’s say it would not be over-estimating to double that average wasted shoe price and assume I’ve got $1,320 worth of shoes sitting around unworn.

  • Not that I don’t make an effort. Here are the 17 pairs that I’ve worn twice or more (some of them a lot more!) in the past year.

What we can learn from this is that I do not need any more pairs of boots or wedge sandals, despite my continually falling in love with boots and wedge sandals. Hey, at least I wear them. Sometimes.

  • Because here are the four pairs that, if you wouldn’t let me wear them, I’d never leave the house again. Most days, these are what go on my feet.


  • My feet are shockingly color-less on a daily basis. I am pretty sure I need to address that. There are too many cute red shoes out there that I’m not wearing.
  • I bought those dark brown Frye boots for $300 in a year when I really had no business spending $300 on boots and wow, was that the best $300 I ever spent. On shoes, anyway. I’m going to be wearing those babies until I die.
  • The only shoes I have any business buying this year are flat gold sandals because, um, those are busted. At first I thought I could also buy a new pair of Converse because these are also pretty beat up, but then I looked at the other two pictures and remembered how I have a pair of awesome (and custom-designed!) neon Converse that don’t get nearly enough use and a delightful pair of cream and cherry-print Converse that keep taking a backseat to these gray ones because I’m too lazy to tie laces.
  • Bottom line: Wear my other pairs of Converse. Be less lazy. And get new gold sandals. (Also, more red shoes.)

But what to do with the 34 pairs of shoes not getting their fair share of wearage? The thing about me is that I have absolutely no problem de-cluttering and throwing out stuff I don’t use. We have a constant Goodwill pile in our basement that grows at such a rate, I could make weekly trips there and never be done. I hate clutter. I love getting rid of stuff.

Except when it comes to shoes.

So. No way am I tossing the pink flats I wore for dancing at my wedding (the fuchsia satin heels were my ceremony shoes, in case you were dying to know). Or the fuchsia flip-flops I got for my honeymoon. Or the silver heels I wore to bridesmaid in my oldest friend’s wedding, the red suede heels I wore to my sister-in-law’s wedding, the brown heels I wore to bridesmaid in another dear friend’s wedding, or the pink suede heels that another good friend gave me as a wedding present because she knows me that well.

Basically, if a pair of shoes has anything to do with a wedding, I keep them. Or if I bought them on vacation in Italy (tan wedge sandals with flowers) or wore them to my first day of a new job (black patent heels with white circle).

I think what I really need to do is recognize that these shoes are no longer just fashion to me — they’re more like art. If by “art” you mean a (rather unwieldy) scrapbook with a few scuff marks. Which maybe needs to be displayed in some tasteful fashion, instead of moldering in the basement. Current idea (that my husband may or may not hate) is finding an old ladder to lean in a corner of the bedroom for sentimental shoe display purposes, like this:

Only one that doesn’t cost $129 at Pottery Barn. Because I think this post makes it clear that when it comes to shoes, I’ve already paid my share.

Your turn! Do you hoard shoes, or some other fashion/beauty item in mass quantities for sentimental reasons? Any ideas for what I should do with this collection?



Filed under Pretty Price Check

14 responses to “Pretty Price Check (Shoe Edition)

  1. lala

    I took all the clothes and shoes that I never wear— but could not part with— in large boxes, and I put those boxes in the back bedroom. If a full year passed without me rummaging through the boxes for a certain shirt or heels that I missed, the entire boxes go right to consignment or goodwill. It makes it easier to part with things when you realize you went a year without missing them!

    • Lala, that’s a great rule. I definitely employ that on clothes — just sent three garbage bags to Goodwill over the weekend in fact. It’s just when it comes to shoes, I have a hard time parting with them… even when they haven’t been worn in forever. Sigh.

  2. Jodie

    Actually, I hoard costume jewelry which I rarely wear. I have some really gorgeous and outrageous pieces; the more color, sparkle, or flash, the better. And then…sometimes I wear a piece or two around the house, but more often I just take things out and look at them. Some I got as gifts, and others I’ve found along the way.

    • I love costume jewelry and think that sounds like a great beauty hoard! Plus you could display it on dressers or walls for such pretty sparkly-ness. (Though see below re: Elizabeth’s warning on dusting…)

  3. I have 47 pairs of shoes which are stored in 2 big shoe racks, bought when there are big discounts. coupon

  4. I don’t hoard shoes but I definitely hoard clothes and develop emotional attachments to particular items even when I haven’t worn them for several years. It’s resulted in me having a closet and dresser full of clothes that I don’t really even *like*, but that I feel *attached* to and therefore can’t bear to part with.

    Also if you ever feel any need to get rid of any of those flats in the first picture, I would gladly take them off your hands!

  5. Elizabeth

    Virginia, if you put your shoes on display like that in the bedroom, then you’ll have to dust them! And who wants more crap that needs to be dusted?

  6. Caroline

    I do have a willing home for any shoes you feel it is morally wrong to keep in your possession.

    Those purple ones with the ankle strap are very cute, and the same pair in blue that you gave me are pretty beat up… plus I gave you back the brown boots with the ribbon, and they don’t appear to have been very well loved…

    Also, THE RED FLATS THAT I WORE TO DEATH YEARS AGO AND HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO REPLACE YOU DON’T WEAR??? Incorporate more red again, or I’m going on a vigilante rescue mission, because clearly they are suffering from abusive neglect.

    (Clearly I am giving myself until my 30th birthday to get all responsible and learn to de-clutter… happy to help with your self-improvement, as always! Really I’m just incredibly selfless, if you think about it. Taking on the burden of your shoe-spending for you, giving them a loving home…)

  7. Maggie

    The feminist blogosphere (as much of it that I read regularly) has been flipping out about this, but I sort of wonder what the big deal is. Most of your (and my) extra pairs wouldn’t be practical to donate to needy women, mostly because they’d be overkill even for a job interview. And the discussions I’ve read don’t touch the ethics of consumerism and the garment industry. It just seems to be “OMG WE HAVE A LOT OF SHOES IS THAT FEMINIST?????”

    And I think you’ve made your opinions on that sort of antibeauty handwringing quite clear on this blog.

    • Maggie, awesome points. I regret some of my shoe purchases just from the sheer financial outlay — I’d rather have that cash now to spend on different/better/cuter shoes! But for the most part, I feel no guilt about having an impressive shoe collection. (I do wish there were more sustainable/ethically-made options in the women’s shoe market, but that’s just not really a reality right now, at least at my price point…)

      I associate them with great memories, they’re pretty and they make me happy. Nothing anti-feminist about any of that!

  8. Cheryl

    this is by far the most fabulous post i have ever read. and i’m sorry and sad to say—i’m probably worse :/ I’ve lived in four states now since high school, and have managed to somehow drag along the most dingy, messed up shoes with me, in the hopes that some day, for some reason, I would ever wear them again.
    you’ve inspired me to do a little spring cleaning of my own. ASAP.
    Also, love the ladder idea 🙂

  9. Jennie

    Ha! This shoes-as-art thing is exactly me – I did my senior art show on this. What I did: built boxes with unfinished wood from hardware store. Taped photographs behind. Set shoes in boxes. Hung on wall. E-mail if you want pics – it was so easy and you could do it too! My favorite one was the silver strappy heels with the page of Marilyn Monroe paper dolls that had the “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” dress on it. But you could EASILY do it with 8×10 wedding pictures.

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