strappy summer shoes

Pandemic Countdown Week 7: All The Shoes

This week’s challenge is to try on all your shoes and see what still fits. The pandemic has done a number on our tolerance for shoes that pinch or blister. If no one can see what you’ve got on your feet on the Zoom meeting, why would you wear anything that isn’t comfy?

Slippers beat shoes all day long because they’re forgivingly roomy. My feet have gotten used to being comfortable, not shoehorned (literally) into pretty shoes that don’t quite fit. Of course, we can’t let ourselves go completely. To keep up standards, I have a pair of work slippers and a pair of after work slippers. To the untrained eye, they look exactly the same but one is slightly tanner than the other. Changing them out tells my brain when it’s time to wind down. Later, of course, I segue into my before bed slippers which have definitely seen better days. They’re rattily cozy, perfect for shuffling around before bed but not fit for public viewing.

This week’s challenge tackles the problem of footwear that doesn’t fit. You can play along whether you’re living in slippers around the clock like me, or whether you’ve managed to keep wearing real shoes. Research (from the University of Real Life) suggests that 997 out of 1,000 people have too many shoes. That’s miles of floor space in your closet just waiting to be uncovered.

How To Declutter Shoes

Scour the bottom of the closet, root around under the bed, pull down those boxes up high on the closet shelf. Look in the car for strays. Wherever footwear likes to hide in your house, find it and collect it all in one place. Don’t forget the shy ones hiding in their own bags.

Sort them into broad categories. Put all the boots together, all the dressy shoes together, all the sandals in one pile, all the gym shoes in one corner. Pick out all the shoes that are past it. Look for scuffed heels, fraying, missing buckles and buttons. All the ones that just look tired. Set them aside. If you’re on the fence about whether or not the shoes are decent, they most likely aren’t.

Then pick one category and start shopping your collection. Try them all on. What pinches? What rubs? How do your pampered, slipper-loving feet feel about those stilettos? You might have 74 pairs of sandals, but how many are usable? Do they fit? Does that little strappy thing between the toes hurt? What’s the ratio of flip flops to probable trips to the beach or the pool each summer?

Given you only have two feet, maximum, how many pairs of each type feels reasonable to hold onto? We all have our favorite gym sneakers, and keeping a back up makes sense but if you have over ten pairs of walking loafers or four soccer cleats, consider how many would be enough.

Donating Shoes

Shoes in good shape that don’t fit you or you just don’t wear are highly donatable. Your local thrift store or Soles4Souls will love them. Nike or Runner’s Roost will recycle your used gym shoes to use in playground flooring.

Worn down, smelly, scuffed or downtrodden non-gym shoes are best not donated. If you wouldn’t pay $8 for them, don’t kid yourself that anyone else will want them either.

Organizing Shoes

Put the shoes you use all the time back on the floor of the closet. You could use a shoe rack, but the floor is easier and when there’s room for them not to be piled on top of each other, using that floor shelf is easy. If there are still too many, take another look and see if you honestly use all fifteen pairs of Crocs. Which are the ones you reach for, kicking the others aside? Keep those and let the other twelve go.

Put out of season footwear a little further out of reach. The top shelf of the closet is useful for sparkly dress shoes during winter and fur-lined boots during summer.

If you buy shoes as art, remember to display them where you can see them so they make you smile. If they’re always in their little posh bag and never see the light of day, what’s the point? A glass-fronted curio cabinet might be just the thing to put those shoes in so you can see them and never have to dust them.

Shoe Challenge

This week, see if you can find one pair of shoes that needs to go in the trash, one pair that needs to be donated and one pair you’d forgotten you had. Wear that pair this week and decide if it’s a keeper.

Thank you for reading and sharing,



  1. All these years a professional organizer, and “If you buy shoes as art” is not a phrase that I’ve ever considered!

    Personally, I’m fairly sure that the only shoes I’ve purchased in the last ten years have been Skechers or Crocs, but I do have one pair of dress shoes suitable for a wedding or funeral. I’m the girl with minimal shoes who helps the Imeldas of the world bring down the national average. I think cleared out the last of the never-worn shoes before the pandemic, but your advice is absolutely right on every point and should get everyone going in the right direction.

    1. I was never a shoe gal either, but my daughter loves shoes and definitely treats them like art – beautiful to look at, tough to wear in some cases. My mother loved shoes too, I guess it skipped a generation. Right now, when I’m not sporting slippers, I’m hoping it stays cold here in Colorado so I can keep wearing my boots.

  2. What a good nudge to do some shoe evaluating! I’ve been thinking about this recently, as it’s getting time for me to do my spring/summer clothing switch. And that includes shoes. I have a good amount of shoes, but not too many. They fit in my closet and shoe cabinet with some extra room to spare. With the year of COVID, there were so many shoes I didn’t wear. So when I do my editing, I think that more will be going than staying. Because if I’m not wearing them, why do they need to take up space? And like everything else, I’m sure I can apply the 80/20 rule to my shoes too….that I only wear 20% of the shoes I own.

  3. I have to admit that I am personally not very good at decluttering shoes. The reason is that I wear a strange size, and I know if I need a replacement, it won’t be easy to find. I tend to wear my shoes down until they are dead. That said, I know this can be so rewarding. Shoes take up a surprising amount of space, especially when they pile up in the entry. I will try and find at least one to donate and one to trash – accepting the challenge!

    1. Not all challenges are for everyone, Seana. Having difficulty finding replacement shoes would make me hold onto them too and my guess is you don’t keep them once they’re truly done. Awarding you points for thinking about the challenge!

  4. I love that you added a challenge to the end of the post. I’m not a shoe person and have lots of issues finding shoes. So, when I find a pair that fit right and last a while, I buy the same exact one. I then get rid of the older one. It’s worked for me since I had my kids. I know so many people who have lots of shoes, so I will be sharing this post with them. =)

    1. That’s a really smart strategy, Sabrina. I follow a strategy I read about decades ago now, in the Tightwad Gazette. She said she has one new pair of sneakers, one pair for everyday use, and one pair for gardening and outside chores. When the gardening ones fall completely apart, she moves the everyday ones to gardening, the new ones move to everyday use, and she buys another pair of new sneakers. Tactical brilliance, just like your strategy.

  5. Love the idea of actually wearing a pair of forgotten shoes – this reacquaints you with the reason you bought them and maybe the reason that they got forgotten – my days have past where I have a classy pair of shoes that are only for wearing into a restaurant and then sitting down without any weight until you leave again.


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