In May of last year, I published a two-part series (starting with this post) that I called “the state of the wardrobe.” I covered a number of topics in those essays, one of which was a new concept I termed “The Rule of Ten.” I created this rule to help me reduce my “out-and-about wardrobe” to a more manageable size – and keep it there.
The basic tenet of the Rule of Ten is that I should limit the size of each wardrobe category to ten or fewer items. At the time when I created this rule, I divided my closet into three distinct sections: at-home clothing, out-and-about clothing, and “crossover” pieces (which could be worn either at home or when I’m out). Since out-and-about items have long been my “problem area,” in that I have too many of them for my lifestyle needs, I opted to apply the Rule of Ten only to that section of my closet.
Revisiting the Rule of Ten
I didn’t do much with the Rule of Ten after its introduction, as I got swept up in the chaos going on in the world and forgot about many of my wardrobe management efforts. I’d like to revisit it now in a series of posts that I’ll publish throughout the coming months. Each post will cover one distinct area of my wardrobe, beginning today with my shoes.
I decided to start with shoes because it’s one of my easier categories. I don’t have an extremely large footwear collection and I have a good sense of my favorites. Later in this post, I’ll show you photos of the shoes I’ve chosen to include within my Rule of Ten, and I’ll explain my reasons for those selections. In later posts, I’ll feature other wardrobe categories one by one and highlight the “all-stars” in each section of my closet.
If any of you would like to join in on the fun, I welcome your participation – the more the merrier! You don’t have to use the number ten; you can select a smaller – or larger – number in each given category as desired. I won’t always choose ten items in each category, either, but I thought it was a good round number and a nice starting point to work from. Let’s begin….
A Few Clarifications
Before I dive into my Rule of Ten related to my shoes, I want to clarify a few things. After reviewing the May 2020 post in which I outlined the Rule of Ten, I’ve decided to make some shifts to the parameters of the rule. I noticed that I was a bit too liberal last year with what I considered to be the crossover pieces in my wardrobe. Some of the items I thought I’d wear both at home and when out and about have actually served only the latter purpose.
These exceptions include many of my tops and toppers, as well as some bottom pieces and dresses. Although most of those items could conceivably be crossover pieces due to their casual and comfortable nature, I typically only reach for my dedicated at-home garments to wear when I’m at home. As a result, I’ve recategorized quite a few crossover items to be part of my out-and-about wardrobe, so they’ll now be subject to the Rule of Ten.
For now, I’m only going to apply the Rule of Ten to my out-and-about wardrobe, but I may later opt to view the remainder of my closet through that same lens, especially as I work to apply my 2021 theme of “less” to my wardrobe and my life.
As I compile my Rule of Ten lists, I won’t force myself to get rid of things that don’t make the cut just yet. However, I will put those pieces on a sort of “probation.” I’ll move them to a central location in my closet and push myself to wear them as soon as possible and decide upon their fate. That’s what I did with some of the cardigans I wrote about (the ones I classified as “maybes”) in my post on wardrobe over-duplication, and it’s helped me to pare things down further.
My Shoes – An Overview
At first, I thought I would include all of my shoes within a single Rule of Ten category, to end up with only ten pairs of shoes overall. But I’m not sure I’m ready to be that minimalist just yet! After reviewing my shoe collection, I’ve decided to divide them into two sections: summer shoes and “not summer” shoes. Of course, there’s some overlap between these two categories, as I live in a temperate climate with a lot of unseasonably warm days and some unexpectedly cool days as well.
Since the seasons are less extreme and more fluid here – and because I have the space, my closet houses my entire wardrobe at all times, including all of my footwear. This makes it easy for me to dress in accordance with the weather, no matter what time of year it is. However, I typically move the pieces for the current season to more easily accessible locations in my closet. I’ve had some trouble with my shoes, though, as the places where I store them have become somewhat overloaded. That’s part of why I’ve opted to consider my shoes first in regards to the Rule of Ten.
I currently own 28 pairs of shoes, not including the shoes I wear in my house and on walks (which is just a few pairs). If I reduce my shoe collection down to ten pairs each for the summer and “not summer” seasons, I’ll end up with twenty pairs, which is a more manageable number. I’m not going to choose that many today, though, as there are a lot of shoes in my closet that I don’t love or wear on a regular basis – and didn’t even before the pandemic. I’ll cover my “on the bubble” footwear at a later date, but today I’ll reveal which shoes made the cut for my summer and not summer Rule of Ten collections.
“Not Summer” Shoes
We’ll start with my “not summer” shoes because that’s the current season I’m in. The cooler weather will likely continue well into June (we typically have overcast weather here in May and June), so I’ll mostly keep wearing my less-open footwear for the next month or so. Here are the seven pairs of shoes I’ve selected as my favorites for cooler temperatures:
The above shoes all work well with my color palette and my three style guideposts (dramatic, polished, and elegant). All of them are also comfortable and have low to moderate heel heights. I like to wear at least a small heel most of the time, even though I’m tall, because I have high arches and I like the proportions that heels create with my outfits.
Most of the above shoes are in excellent condition and should last me a few more seasons. However, the Ecco wedge booties and the Munro peep-toes are becoming increasingly worn out, as both pairs of shoes have been worn probably hundreds of times. I purchased the Regarde le Ciel booties in early 2020 to replace the Ecco booties, but I continue to wear the Eccos with some of my pants because their higher heel height works better in those instances. The Regarde le Ciel booties have around a one-inch heel, whereas the heel on the Eccos is more like two inches, and that makes a difference with some pant lengths. The shaft on the Eccos is also narrower, so I’m able to pair them with slimmer pants and jeans without the bunching effect that occurs with the Regarde le Ciel booties and some of my other boots.
Black boots are a signature piece for me, so it probably makes sense for me to own two pairs of closed-toe booties. For this reason, I’ll need to purchase another pair of medium-heeled boots soon, as the Ecco wedges are less than pristine and won’t last much longer. The same is true for the Munro peep-toe booties, which are rapidly losing their luster despite my taking good care of them. I’ve been actively trying to replace those with the exact same pair, but since they’re no longer being sold at retail (I bought mine in late 2016), I’ve been searching on resale sites. I haven’t found the booties in my size yet, but hopefully it’s just a matter of time before they crop up.
Other than the two replacements I mentioned above, I can see myself adding another pair of metallic shoes to my not summer footwear collection. Ideally, I hope to find a pair similar to the black Arche Enexor sandals that I bought on Poshmark last fall, as those have quickly become a favorite. The retail price of those sandals is very high, but similar styles exist that are within my typical price range. I just need to find the right shade of metallic, which for me is either silver or pewter because my wardrobe is mostly cool-toned.
The gray booties and metallic peep-toe sandals were purchased just before the pandemic set in, so I haven’t worn them much yet. However, they’re a nice change from wearing black shoes most of the time, as are the burgundy booties that have been in my closet since 2016. If I were to add another non-neutral shoe to my not summer collection, it would probably be in some shade of blue or a two-toned or patterned option (perhaps snake print booties). Making this addition would add some great variety to my footwear options, but I don’t plan to go over ten pairs of not summer shoes total. With the replacements and two potential additions, I would still only be at nine pairs, which I feel is a reasonable number.
I also selected seven pairs of shoes to include in my summer Rule of Ten collection:
As you can see, all of these shoes are either black or metallic. Most of them have been in my wardrobe for at least a few years, but both pairs of Munro sandals were purchased within the past year. I have several other pairs of summer shoes that didn’t make the cut for this collection, mostly for comfort reasons or because they’re too similar to the pairs shown above. Those shoes will be addressed in a follow-on post that will focus on my “on the bubble” footwear, as I plan to decide relatively soon which pairs will be kept and which will be purged.
The five pairs of summer shoes that have been in my closet for a while (all those shown besides the two new Munro pairs) have all been worn many, many times, with the Black Taos sandals being the biggest “all-star” performer. In fact, those are actually my second pair in that style. I was lucky to find an almost identical replacement on eBay for my original pair that I wore into the ground.
If I were to add a new pair of summer shoes, I might try to find sandals in another color (maybe blue or red) or perhaps in some sort of pattern (like snake print or gray-toned leopard print). I’ve also seen a few pairs of two-toned (black/metallic or black/white) shoes that I really like, so I might consider adding one of those to my closet this year. However, before I purchase any new footwear, I need to decide what to do with the shoes I own that weren’t added to one of my Rule of Ten collections. Addressing those shoes (14 pairs!) will be the focus of future essays (one for summer and one for “not summer”) within the next month or two.
I found it very helpful to view my shoe collection through the lens of the Rule of Ten. Although I’ve noticed for a long time that I mostly wear a small number of favorite shoes, I’ve held on to the remainder of my collection because it can be difficult for me to find footwear that fits well and is comfortable. I actually don’t purge shoes nearly as easily as I do clothing, so some of the footwear I own has been around for a long time. It’s fine to keep shoes – or clothes – for many years, as long as we still like them and are wearing them, but that’s not the case for me with many of my shoes. This exercise, as well as later efforts to address my “maybe” shoes (coming soon), will assist me in releasing footwear that is no longer meeting my needs.
My style aesthetic has also been in flux, such that I wasn’t sure what types of shoe styles I might need for my ensembles. Some of the footwear that I haven’t been wearing has been due more to a lack of pieces to pair with them than an actual issue with the shoes themselves. Because I’ve shifted my summer style away from long skirts and dresses and more toward shorter dresses and cropped pants (as I wrote about in a recent post), some of my shoes were left in a sort of “purgatory” status. The same thing happened when I shifted the pants silhouettes that I liked wearing during the cooler months. I found that some of the shoes I wore with wider-style pants didn’t look as good with the narrower bottoms that I had transitioned into. None of our pieces exist in a vacuum, so we have to consider the big picture when determining what to purge – and what to buy.
I’ll delve into some of those other issues in future posts, but now I’d love to hear from you! I hope my review of the footwear section of my closet helped you to consider your own shoe collections. You don’t necessarily need to use the Rule of Ten like I have, but sometimes determining our favorites can be beneficial in terms of future purchases and our overall style direction.
I welcome any feedback you’d like to give regarding this post, but here are a few questions that might help to focus your thoughts:
- How do you feel about the SIZE of your shoe collection? Is it too large, too small, or just right?
- What do your favorite pairs of shoes have in common with each other?
- Do you feel that your footwear appropriately reflects your personal style aesthetic? Why or why not?
- How many shoes do you feel you need for each season? How many distinct seasons of footwear do you need for the climate in which you live?
- What suggestions do you have for those who are looking to pare down their shoe collections?
I look forward to reading what you have to say about all things footwear!