Clearing out a closet of any kind usually strikes fear (or at least distaste) in the hearts of most people, but it doesn’t have to have that effect. Overstuffed closets make us feel stressed and irritated, especially when we can’t find what we want. Whether your shoes are in boxes or all over the floor of your closet, clearing out your shoes will give you a sense of control and help you enjoy your shoes more.
The first thing you need to do is look. Really look at each pair of shoes. Most of the time, we don’t really pay much attention to our shoes once we bring them home from the store, and then we wonder how we ended up with a closet full of black shoes but not the right pair to wear with those new capris. To clear out your shoes, look at each pair carefully and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does this pair of shoes fit well?
This may be the hardest question for women to answer. All of us have that fabulous pair of shoes that feel great as long as we don’t have to stand for longer than ten minutes. You know, the Oprah shoes (I bet she never walks through the mall in the shoes she wears on her show). I still have a few of those not-so-comfortable-but-really-cute shoes in my closet, but I have gotten rid of the ones that continuously rub my heels or give me blisters. Good shoes should fit well. Really uncomfortable shoes need to go.
2. Do I like these shoes?
We often hold on to shoes (or clothes) that are “just okay” with the idea that some day they will look different on us (or we will look different in them). That never happens. If you don’t really like this pair of shoes or have another pair that look better, let this pair go.
3. Do these shoes match or coordinate with current clothes in my wardrobe?
I had a friend in college who bought her shoes first and then outfits to match. Unless you have a lot of time to shop, I don’t advise this method.
Your shoes should coordinate with the colors and style of your current wardrobe. You might need to have your own fashion show. If those brown boots don’t go with anything you own, it is time to let them go.
4. Do these shoes need to be cleaned or repaired?
All shoes should be clean and in good condition. Is the cost of repair worth the price you paid for the shoes? Are you really going to get the repairs done? Be honest. If the answer to either question is no, let this pair go.
5. Do these shoes reflect the image I want to portray?
Shoes (like clothes) have a “shelf life” of three to five years unless they are super trendy. Colors and styles change. A lot. Even if the style or color comes back (and it will take 10-15 years), something will be different. If your shoes are outdated, let them go.
Your shoes (as well as your clothes) tell the world who you are. What do your shoes say about you? Is that message still accurate? Do you need to say goodbye to styles that no longer reflect you or your lifestyle? If you still have that perfect pair of shoes to dance the night away but you are in bed by ten, then it’s time to let them go.
Once you have cleared shoes out of your closet, what do you do with them? What about the “sentimental favorites?” First of all, it is okay to keep a few pairs of shoes that are unique, expensive, or hold a memory for you. We all have those shoes. Yes, I still have my satin wedding shoes. I’m waiting to dye-them-to-match as a future bridesmaid. (Wait, do they even do that anymore?) Either limit the number of shoes or the space they occupy.
You have several options for shoes that don’t make the cut. Damaged or well-worn shoes should be thrown away. “Gently used” shoes can be donated to your favorite charity or a friend or relative with the same sized foot. Still others can be sold on the internet.
Clearing out your shoes can be a rewarding experience. Fewer pairs of shoes mean that you are surrounded by only shoes you truly love--those that fit your feet and your lifestyle. You may now even have a reason (or an excuse) to go shoe shopping. Just make sure that your new shoes fit the same criteria (comfortable, likable, coordinate with existing wardrobe, and reflect your image).
Also remember that organization is a process, not an event. It comes in layers. You will need to clear out more shoes again at a later date, but it won’t be as difficult. After you have had time to think, it will be easier to make a decision about the pair you weren’t sure about. Like my satin wedding shoes.
No matter what, take a moment to celebrate the fact that you took the time to create some order in your life. A little order goes a long way.
Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer, is the owner of Get It Together, LLC, offering clients simple practical solutions to organizational challenges.
Renee has expertly organized kitchens, closets, “junk” rooms, children’s rooms, garages, and offices for over 20 years. Clients find her calm, capable, and easy to work with. Renee is a creative problem-solver, always looking for the best solutions to organizational dilemmas.
Aside from her memberships in NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) and NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), Renee has her Masters Degree in education. She enjoys speaking to groups and has published several articles. She can be reached at www.get-it-together-llc.com.