Once upon a time, I had over 99 pairs of shoes. I figured this out because I posted this last August:
And that was after a MASSIVE purge post-spider-bite that resulted in the donation of *at least* 22 pairs of shoes, which was AFTER donating several the prior December as part of a big Goodwill donation. Fast fashion. Barf.
So I figured at one point, I had MANY, MANY PAIRS OF SHOES.
I started reading minimalist blogs a lot more after that and realized a lot of people have more like 20 pairs of shoes. Which seems like a lot of shoes. Do I need 60? SIXTY? Probably not. Nay, DEFINITELY NOT. I have proved this through my Project 333 experiments: since February 14, 2013, I have worn about 13 pairs of shoes regularly, plus about four or five pairs that are “utility-based” (Uggs, Sorrel rain shoes, running sneakers, flip-flops – these are not shoes I would really wear all day and away from the house except for particular circumstances – really cold and casual, pouring rain and muck, going for a run, putzing about or pool/beach). I figured, 9 months later, it was time to revisit the shoes, which were EVERYWHERE (when you only wear about 1/6 of whatcha got, storage becomes an issue…):
And a few pairs floating around the house…
And of course, the pair I was wearing…
P.S., TOMS are super-comfy. I resisted them for so long, but HI. THEY ROCK.
So I started lining them up, in chunks of 24. I started with winter/cold-weather shoes…
I started with the easy ones, and didn’t figure out whether they could be donated, tossed, or sold. Anything I pull is just going to hang in my “purgatory” bin, emptied and labeled, just for this purpose:
I managed to cull 6, and pushed to 8 (1/3). Then 12 (1/2)! So that was pretty easy – but I *do* think it’s easier to cull the items from the season you’re not currently in. I cannot fathom wearing boots right now, but one pair that’s under consideration (due to fit issues, which aren’t much of an issue if I don’t wear the shoes on back to back days) are my grey-blue cowboy boots, and considering that they were part of one of my favorite ensembles from Season One of P333 and ended up with a “green” score at the end of the project, I may indulge in allowing myself to keep a second pair of cowboy boots (since you can see I already have red) in light of likely ditching of some sad sandals at the end of this P333, if my “shoe numbers” are otherwise okay and would make it reasonable…
So 24 became 12.
So next were some flats and things. I have a lot more “disposable-type” summer shoes, because it’s easier to get away with cheap sandals than cheap boots and sneakers. I do well to protect my feet in the winter with good, well-made (and expensive) shoes (seriously, the above photo probably represents about $1500 worth of shoes at their original retail price — though these were acquired over 22 years, some were gifts, and several were purchased at deep discount at end-of-season sales — so needless to say, I don’t think I paid even 1/2 of that from my own pocket — STILL).
When I added up all of the shoes I have left, I had just thirty-five pairs!
Yes, thirty-five pairs of shoes is still a lot of shoes, but if the goal is to have only what you believe represents you and is beautiful, this is getting pretty close. I love my Danskos, even though they haven’t made a P333 yet (mostly because they are generally too casual for court, and the booties or lace-up boots are better for that purpose). Ditto that for the Birkenstocks. Those are five pairs of really well-made, comfortable shoes that I will own until they fall apart (remember when I said I’d been accumulating some of these shoes for 22 years? The green Birkenstock sandals were purchased by me for my mom when I was in 8th grade). A few pairs are truly “disposable” (in the sense that they aren’t made to last season after season, and the cost doesn’t justify repair – these include the TOMS, the espadrilles, the brown Mary Janes, and the brown strappy/criss-cross sandals in the front and back row), but they have a little life in them, and I’m applying the “use them up” approach (Use It Up/Wear It Out/Make It Do/Or Do Without) to them. Many are in sad shape because they get near-daily use when I have the option (ahem, cough, brown strappy sandals). Otherwise, most of the rest of the shoes are pretty well-made, are seasons old or are expected to last for many years, and/or have usefulness in a wide variety of applications. A few are sentimental, but also give me that little extra “range” I enjoy in my accessories: the brown bejeweled suede heels are my “engagement session” shoes; the tan beaded strappy heels are my wedding shoes, and the brown butterfly sandals were purchased by me on a whim in England in 2003, during my last trip abroad. The grey-blue cowboy boots might make it back in to this group on that methodology alone, which would put me at 36 pairs… which is, rather perfectly, exactly the number of shoes I’d need to wear each pair in six 2-month “33-item” clothing rounds if I allow myself 6 pairs of shoes per round (which seems like the “sweet spot” number).
On that note, I’m pulling the blue boots back out of the bins now.
So let’s call it 36 pairs. I like the multiple-of-five-ness of 35, but I like the 6×6=36-ness even more.
And in the meantime, everything else will stay in “purgatory” until I finish the challenge next February 28. Then I will see where I am with only “green” items and figure out where to go from there. And this is why, even though I’m not going to Goodwill every few months, this Project 333 is still part of my “Clothing Diet”, and why I’m doing these William Morris projects. Because it’s not about the number of items you have, but about their beauty and usefulness to you. If you love everything and use everything, it doesn’t matter if the number is 1 or 5 or 50. Forcing yourself to look at the things you own more carefully to determine whether they deserve the space and energy in your life they require? That’s the point of all of this craziness.