The Life-Changing Lesson I Learned from Minimizing My Shoes

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A few weeks ago I got the urge to minimize my shoes. I had no idea that I’d also be hit with some important life lessons or that it was the start of a massive decluttering snowball.

There was nothing special about that morning. I just wanted to get rid of the shoe bin by our front door that had holes in it. I put two stacking plastic bins in its place as a temporary solution. Top bin is for my shoes since I have boots, and the bottom bin is for my preschool daughter. My husband’s two pairs of shoes fit neatly in a nearby cabinet.

declutter your shoes

In order for my shoes to fit in the smaller bin, I had to declutter. I sat in indecision for a moment, but quickly realized that I could let go of three pairs of shoes that I don’t wear. (I know, three is a small number, but stick with me here).

The Shoes I Decluttered

The first to go was a pair of Unshoes sandals that I loved and wore a lot in past summers, but now have torn and are not repairable.


The second pair was harder to part with because they were my most beloved black heels. Not only did I wear this pair of pumps for over 10 years, but they were comfortable and stylish too (and went with all my clothes). But, as you can see, they also were beyond repair. One heel cap had fallen off and they were literally shredding to pieces. I am looking to replace them, but no decisions have been made yet.

black heels

The third pair was a pair of beige sandals. Not cheap ones either. It was a brand I splurged on last year after hearing them highly recommended. Well, this pair didn’t fit perfectly, so first strike against them. But more than that, was the color.

beige sandals

Here on this third pair of decluttered shoes, I learned something very important about myself.

I wear black shoes. I wear black skirts. I like black dresses with accents and pops of color.

I like silver and black.

I don’t actually like to wear much else, even though I’ve bought loads and loads of all kinds of styles and colors of shoes and clothes over the years. Where are those things now? Not in my closet.

Those beige shoes? Worn less than 5 times. The brown shoes, jackets and skirts? Less than 10. The white ones? Somehow my closet discolored them before I could wear them.

Decluttering teaches us what we actually wear and like.

But beware that it will also make it abundantly clear how much money has been wasted on “cute” sale and clearance pieces in all kinds of colors and styles. You’ll suddenly have the clarity to see what your personal styles and colors aren’t, and it’s often before you find out what they really are.

I had no idea what I liked. So endless bargain shopping brought all these miscellaneous pieces into my wardrobe that weren’t even a good deal because I never ended up wearing them. 

A $5 shirt is not a good deal if you don’t wear it. Slowly I began realizing that cheap clothes came at an incredible cost, from production to the space in my closet. I’ve become a much more conscious consumer as a result.

If you’re searching for your personal style, I highly recommend reading The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. It was very influential in helping me identify my style and design a minimal capsule wardrobe, though she doesn’t teach solely on that goal.

The Shoes I had Left

I now own 6 pairs of shoes. That’s it.

six pairs of shoes

In the future, I will most likely replace my black heeled pumps, but it’s likely I will also get rid of my black casual sandals when their life is up, perhaps next season.

Here’s what I have found works for me:

  • sneakers
  • heeled boots
  • waterproof winter boots
  • flip-flops
  • dressy black sandals
  • casual black sandals
  • black heeled pumps (looking to replace)

Could I get by with less? Certainly! But this number works for me. It covers the variety of weather we get. It’s comfortable. There are no duplicates (except for the flip-flops and casual sandals, which as I said, will likely not replaced next season).

They all serve their purposes and are worn repeatedly. I am getting my investment’s worth out of each one of them (yay!).

And most importantly, they are all “me”. My style. My colors. They inherently fit my current life.

They’re Just Shoes. What’s the Big Deal?

Yes, they’re just shoes. But for some reason, even after decluttering my closet for years, it still hadn’t occurred to me that I simply do not like wearing light colors. I don’t know why. I just don’t! And yet, I still wasted money on adding those colors to my wardrobe. Perhaps I’m not the only one who does this!

When I saw those 6 shoes in a circle on my floor, suddenly this idea of minimalism… this concept of finding “enough”, set in.

And I’m going to tell you, that the weeks following this revelation have been intense. Once I realized that my “Ideal Self” was hiding in every single area in my home, I’ve been on a desperate mission to clean her clear out.

There is incredible freedom in letting go of the person you thought you’d become and embracing the person you truly are.

Is there room in minimalism and simplicity for personal growth? YES!! A growth mindset is absolutely core to minimalism. By removing a lot of the excess distractions, we’re actually able to focus on learning, creative pursuits and personal development.

If there is something in your possessions, whether a book, course, hobby tools, etc, that you have been stashing but still want to pursue, keep it. But don’t just store it away. Set it out. Look at it. Read it. Use it. Do it.

Stop saving things for someday and use them!

I know, easier said than done, but once you start dealing with these issues of Ideal Self and letting go, your mind will keep plowing down the path of self-discovery and each and every decision you make will be progress.

The Decluttering Snowball

Those three pairs of shoes started an intense (and massive) decluttering snowball. I declared June 2019 to be another Minimalist Game Challenge. I’m in Week 3 and by the end of the month over 500 items will be intentionally gone from my home.

But that’s not all.

Every day, I’m looking around. Digging in boxes, bins and piles. See, now that I’m clear on who my Ideal Self is, and that she has been doing nothing more than holding me back, I’m on a determined mission to get. her. out.

I’m done. Done with the stashing, the someday, the shoulds. I cannot be everything all the time and I refuse to even try!

Instead of wishing I could do it all, I am tossing off the chains and weights of expectations and simply enjoying who I am right now.

Am I still keeping things for the future? Of course. But only very specific and limited things that correlate with where our family is heading. The things that have slim to none chances of being utilized? Yea, those are leaving.

The 50 empty boxes in our tiny storage closet? Gone.

The extra packing and eight different types of mailing envelopes? Bye-bye.

The box of fake flowers and decor from my baby shower four years ago? Greatly minimized. (I do on occasion use fake flowers for photo props…but only my favorites!)

While my Ideal Self is off teaching seminars in her beige sandals, my real self is playing thinking skills on the floor with my preschooler. Now, will I ever teach seminars again? Sure, I probably will! But I won’t be wearing beige sandals.

You’ll find me in black shoes. =)

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  1. Gosh this is spot on for what I’m needing to do. After I had my daughter, my feet grew about a half size (ugh!) so a lot of my shoes don’t fit anymore. I wore heels and flats and cute sandals to work and would visit Payless A LOT so there are way too many shoes ha. I appreciate this post and it is encouraging me to just do it and get the old shoes out, and even some that do for but that I don’t wear now that I’m not working anymore.

    1. Aww, my feet were sooo swollen during pregnancy and for like a year after so I feel you on that! They did eventually resume my previous size (haha), but that was actually the start of my shoe clean out too. There were lots of heels and impractical shoes that I just was never going to wear chasing a kiddo around!

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