How Many Shoes Should You Have in Your Closet

TBF’s Repost Series, republishes top content from our archives. This post first appeared in Feb 2007.

Dear Budget Fashionista:

How many pairs of shoes are considered too many? I have about 50 pairs in my closet right now and I would say thats quite a bit. I would like to hear everyone’s thoughts on how many pairs of shoes they have in their closet as well as how many pairs are considered too many or “a lot” ?


At any given moment, I have 15 pairs of shoes in my closet. Not a lot for someone who’s into fashion, but that’s because I recycle my clothes quite often and because of my strange big feet, I have to spend more money on shoes than any other clothing item.  Plus I actually WEAR, all the shoes in my closet.

Remember the key to a good shoe wardrobe and a good wardrobe period is QUALITY, not QUANTITY. As women, we wear the number of shoes in our closet as a badge of honor, yet, we don’t WEAR most of them. I betcha you only wear like 10, maybe 15, of your 50 pairs of shoes and the others are long forgotten. I say sell them off, so you can fully enjoy the ones you actually wear.

To be honest, you really only NEED five pairs of shoes:

  • Pair of Tennis Shoes/sneakers
  • Pair of Black pumps
  • Pair of Sandals  (with a strap that strategically covers your “problem” toe)
  • Pair of Black or Brown boots (midcalf to knee high that you could wear in the snow or rain and still look fabulous)
  • Pair of Flats(or shoe with a slight heel if flats are uncomfortable)

Obviously most of us aren’t going to have just 5 pairs of shoes in our closet.. so here’s some other shoes you should have as “shoe wardrobe stretchers”:

  • Pair of Sexy Shoes (i.e stilletos, peep toe, red patent leather, whatever)
  • Pair of Wellies or Snow Boots (cause let’s face, sometimes it’s just too cold (or rainy) to be cute
  • Pair of cheap Trendy Shoes (bright neon, extra pointed, jelly, you get the picture)
  • Second Pair of Boots (especially if you live in the midwest, northeast or northwest)
  • Pair of Brown Heels
  • Pair of Trendy Sneakers (so you can look cute while you shop)
  • Pair (or two) of Flip-flops ( they’re just so practical)

How Many Pairs of Shoes Do You Have in Your Closet?

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    I like the idea of keeping the shoes I wear – but where do you sell the shoes you are clearing out?

    A woman can never have too many pairs of shoes.  The first thing most people look at are your shoes and hair. Even if you have too many pairs, the old ones will eventually come back in style.

    A woman can never have too many pairs of shoes.  The first thing most people look at are your shoes and hair. Even if you have too many pairs, the old ones will eventually come back in style.

    girl how you gonna have only 5 pairs of shoes, that is crazy talk.  i have at least 5 pairs of boots alone, and i am not a shoe girl.

    Wow… I am pretty much on it for the “shoe” basics. I wish I could let myself spend more than $35 a pair…I just can’t see the need. I have 2 kids to shoe first I guess….

    I am quite the fashion minimalist, but I wish I could get away with only five pairs of shoes. I think you need three pairs for every weather season. I change my shoes daily for comfort and to make them last longer. I rotate between three pairs of shoes in any period.

    So if you live in a place with all three seasons, you might need:
    *Three pairs of boots, plus one pair rubber rainboots.
    *Three pairs of flats or other comfortable dressy shoes.
    *Two pairs of walking-around sandals.
    *One pair dressy sandals (probably with a small heel).
    *One pair sneakers.
    *Two pairs of dress shoes (with heels). Maybe three.

    Also, the black shoe look is getting kind of tired. Sometimes a mid-tone color such as brown or gray or putty works better, even with dark clothes.

    I have about 100 pairs of shoes.  Granted I dont wear them all.  I just bought a new house and lost some closet space.  As a result of having to watch my pennies and lack of space I have only been wearing a few pairs.  I am either going to donate them, freecycle them or sell the ones that are in good condition. I have def had a change in my shoe buying attitude 🙂

    Now I have to admit that I have just one too many pairs of shoes…. I think I have approximately 200 pair. it’s an addiction and I know it. every year I get rid of at least 50 pair and find myslef restocking…. Where would we sell these shoes at?

    I have 77 pairs and yes I am in recovery…I think

    I think that you should have at least two pairs of “everyday” shoes – whatever you wear to the office/school – because it is bad for shoes to be worn two days in a row (of course I do that anyway because there’s always this one pair that is more comfortable than others).

    Growing up I had (still do) a very narrow foot.  I blame my shoe obsession on the fact that I can now find shoes that fit ;and not have to settle for the ugly “Buster Brown” oxfords that were the only shoes my narrow childhood foot could wear! Hurray for Jimmy Choo!!!

    5 pairs huh? While I don’t see myself cutting down to 5 pairs, I do think I have too many in my closet – given the fact that I rarely wear some of them. I need a pair of “everyday” shoes and a pair of black pumps but I’m going to clear out some before adding to the closet line-up. Great discussion!

    It’s much harder to stop when you wear a size that seems to be an ideal—I get shoes and boots for $10 to $15 (or much less) at DSW, Marshalls, etc. because I wear a size 6 regular.  I do have a lot of shoes, more like the 50 pairs, but I love variety.  I wear them all, just not lots.  But based on price per wear, I can do so within budget.

    I agree with the five shoes statement… so many people have shoes numbering in the low hundreds. yikes!

    I have about a 100 shoes standing in my closet right now, all from Irregular Choice (so good quality ^o^), I know I have too many, but I am just obsessed with the brand and the work of art that their footwear constitutes, and yes, I do try to wear them all ^o^.

    I am such the strange girl…

    I have in my closet:

    A pair of combat boots, which I was issued, and still wear with skirts now that I am no longer Enlisted. 

    A pair of black wedge flip-flops for going to the mail box.

    A pair of Airwalks, which I have owned for almost twelve years now.

    A pair of black ankle boots.

    And a pair of mid calf boots, also in black.  Who would have guessed?? ;p

    I wear the combat boots and the airwalks more than any other pair of boots or shoes I own.  I used to wear the calf high boots pretty frequently, but they are slick on the bottom and I am pregnant.  If I fall, my husband will have a heart attack.

    I have 133 shoes, not including my flip flops…about 20 pair of those…or my snow boots…about 3 pair of those!  Does this mean I have a problem?

    I just went through a shoe overall….I’m now down to about 45 pair. I cried. I’ve never had so little. I sold those in good condition on ebay. Made a little over $200 and where do you think the money is going….back into more shoes of course. 🙂

    Until about a year ago, I was a severe minimalist, haha. I’ve since expanded my repertoire a little, but I’ve still got room to go on basics:

    2 pairs of running shoes
    3 pairs of flip flops
    2 pairs casual flats
    1 pair low-heeled, comfy black pumps for work
    2 pairs sandals – casual tan flats and strappy black heels

    Have been looking for some comfy but cute leather boots all winter, but I’m both extremely picky and on a tight budget, so the search goes on…

    As much as I would love to follow this rule…is impossible for me at least…I love shoes, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t have addictions but my shoes…I love my pradas what can I say. I own 150 pairs and I do use them all; I guess I do have a problem.  🙂

    Twelve pairs of shoes? You have got to be kidding! I bought 6 alone at DSW’s New Year’s sale. And I NEEDED every single one of them. What about beige pumps? What about navy blue pumps, flats and loafers? How about sparkly blue sandals? Red and black suede low cowboy boots? There are so many you left off the need list.

    I personally love shoes, and can’t get enough of them… but if you are trying to limit yourself to just a few pairs I’d urge everyone to consider finding a beautiful pair of metalic evening shoes. Which metalic doesn’t really matter, though its better to get a pair that go with your jewlery. Metalics look great for evening, and are so much less predictable than black, plus more versitle – you wouldn’t usually want to wear black evening shoes with a light colored evening dress, but a silver pair would look divine with either lavender and black!

    If the shoes are in good condition and still in style you can take them to a Plato’s Closet, they buy and sell shoes, clothing, bags, ect.

    Oh peculiar that a bargainista is recommending a minimalist shoe wardrobe – It doesn’t even take into consideration the change(s) in seasons…When working at home or hanging around in jeans – I have: moccasins (in red/blue/cream) and boat shoes and sneakers (3 prs.) – and that doesn’t count the clogs – Then there is the professional level of wardrobe – Then there is the dressier – and then the formal! (Not to mention the variations for climate from hot to cold.) So that’s probably 6 per level – So that would be a minimal of 24 – probably 30.  Of course, I don’t wear that same shoes everyday because it’s easier on my feet to rotate them – and they should air out between wearings. My problem is that most of the time I am extremely sporty/casual – but then the occasion demands it, I like to dress appropriately. This is L.A., after all.

    P.S. I sell my excess shoes at yard sales &/or donate them to Goodwill/Out of the Closet.

    i work in a shoe shop so i get to see beautiful new sexy shoes arrive every week.  All my money is spent on that
    i hav pairs in my closet that i hav not even worn-but i still cant stop spending.

    If you do follow her 5 shoe rule – imagine the affordability of quality shoes. We say we can’t afford quality designer shoes but buy 200 dollars worth of quantity at a place like target or payless(no offense to target or payless)… You could easily have the designer brands… nobody is giving out awards for a large wardrobe but you will get the respect of people if you buy quality.

    At outlets of course, or clearance sales… But even at those we find excuses to slip into a cheap store because it is our comfort zone. And spend the exact same amount on many shoes. Satisfying cravings but the need for a proper pair of pumps is still there.

    With her system of the ten shoes – you could get chanel flats, stuart weitzman pumps, stuart weitzman boots, a great pair of funky sneakers from adidas/nike, the sandals could be from a line that you thougth you couldn’t afford. The sexy shoes could be the ones that you absolutely love and salivate after from a really good quality line. Instead of the payless ones that will be uncomfortable, will not mold to your feet and will have to be chucked because of the blisters they cause. Your wellies could be a posh burberry or j. crew and your brown heels could be stuart weitzman.

    And with babying your shoes will last and last and last. while being chic and comfortable. who cares if you wore those shoes yesterday?

    I really don’t wear ALL my shoes, but if I didn’t have them all I would feel sad.  They’re like security.  I like having a lot to choose from when I select my shoes every day!!

    Usually I have three pairs every year.But every season I will buy two pairs,one for the rainy days,one for the sunny days.When the season past,I will throw them away.So most of my shoes will not be expensive,but nice looking fashion shoes

    I have 50-100 depending if you count flip flops (which I have more than a lot of becasue my summer job). I think there is a limit to how many is to many… but I dont know what number that is. lets just do a simply run down of a few that I have

    I have 4 black heels, low heel, med heel, work wear, and super high fashionable.

    I have 3 running shoe. My really (!) old ones for doing yard work or a service project, my not very worn out pair and my new pair which I couldnt pass up because the price oringally was $170 and I got them on sale at DSW for $60.

    I have black, brown, and white dress flats.

    Simply mocisans borwn and black.

    3 boots, gray with heel, flat tan clothe/knitted detail ($5), and carmel ankel with a small heel.

    plus some fun ones, a pair of red wedges, denim floral print, i had an obssesion with converse a few years ago (about 7 pairs), and 2 pairs of sanuks.

    this is just the short list. im just the kind of person who refuses to wear certain colors together so I need a style of shoe (flat, running, heels, casual) in every nautural tone (black, brown, gray, beige). Now i havent achieved EVERY style with EVERY color but I think that you get the idea.

    One pair I can never find in the right price/size/color and I have been looking for YEARS! is a pair of brown heals. Im just not willing to settle.

    I also should add that I am very price aware my $60 running shoes are the most expensive shoes I own.

    I am 20 and in college, sp I don’t really have any “business” formal attires shoeware. Being a 16 yr old teen, I ue to be a compulsive buyer, didn’t matter if i needed them or not, I bought them. Usually from payless, old navy flip flops in every color, eh , anything under like $40. I also did that with clothes too, if i liked it i bought it–but then I would never wear it and give it away later. Now, being more mature and aware of my spending, I have bought a lot of higher priced shoes, but never anything over $100/pair. I love my sperry’s $85 each, was lucky once and found a pair of white leather ones on sale, but i got like 6 pairs of sperry’s. Just ordered 2 new pair of Nike tennis shoes (hoping that it can give me some encouragement to work out–haha) and because my work one’s are ancient and the ones i didn’t wear to work(vet clinic) wil become my new “work shoes”. Prob 1 pair of black heels and 1 pair of black strap heels…..not many dressy shoes at all…but I do like to spend at least $60 per pair…hoping the quality will be better than any cheap shoe. i also own 3 pairs of dress boots (leather-black, tan,black) and 3 winter boots-furlined, and 1 rain boot pair.

    I use only one pair of Nike sneakers. All year long, summer, winter. shopping, work, theater too. They are very comfortable and still look good.

    I love shoes! So much so that I started blogging about it. I too, like so many who have posted here, had beautiful shoes in my closet that I wasn’t wearing (of the 60 or so that I have donated, many had never been worn or worn only once). My blog is keeping me honest (although it hasn’t curbed my appetite for shoe shopping)…a self proclaimed Shoe-A-Holic…I think I have converted more to my addiction than those who have tried to cure me from it!
    I love shoes and where they take me…where they have taken me: Roma, Florence, Venice, London, Paris, Munich, Malta, Monaco, Miami, Toronto, New York; and where I have yet to go in them. Some of my best memories are connected to a pair of shoes. Five pairs is great, 15 is wonderful, 30 incredible…300 indescribable; tomorrow, I post pair number 210!
    I’ve worked hard to get to where I am; I have struggled quite a bit as well. I do not apologize for the collection I have amassed -I love my shoes (beauties, I call them), and I am taking to task of wearing Tutte Le Mie Scarpe (All My Shoes)!

    Damn!!!!! I thought I’m someone with shoe addiction problem. That really stopped once I saw how many shoes you peaople own!!! I have only 21 pairs and I thought they were too much (not anymore by now). In all honesty I don’t live in a cold country and that’s maybe why the boots are kinda excluded from the list of pairs. but I have:
    1 pair of boots
    1 pair of black ankle boot
    6 pairs of open toe heels
    2 pairs of pumps
    3 pairs of ballerinas
    1 pair of flat sandal
    3 pairs of sneakers
    2 pairs of wedges (pink and white merged with black) I’m really thinking of buying the classic nude wedge
    they don’t even complete 21 I don’t know how? -_-
    Anyhow whenever I intend to buy new pair the guilt comes across and i cant face buying new pair I don’t know why. perhaps I need to get rid of those i don’t wear at all, cause honestly I only use 2 most comfy flats out of them all, the rest i wear them on occasions; travel, outings, weddings,etc not as often

    Would proffer that most women buy shoes to feel pretty/elegant/stylish, etc. Save your money, go to the gym, lose a few pounds and enjoy the bragging rights. It’s easy to spend money and the whole world is designed to separate you from your hard earned dollars. Don’t be a marketing-prone lemming. Get on the treadmill!

    5 pairs of shoes? Seriously???? Shoooo…I have 5 pairs of sneakers alone (for different activities). I live in a region that has 4 seasons, so 5 pairs would be impossible. It is true that I seem to wear the same 5 pair all the time. But, that doesn’t include formal events you need formal heels, job interview you need dress heels, snow storm you need snow boots, etc. I am ashamed to admit I own 50 pairs. I sold and donated about 50 more over the past 3 years. I am very frugal, and never realized I had so many- and that apparently, according to these studies, I am abnormal! I blame it mostly on the fact that I buy and buy and buy pairs until I find a pair that is super comfortable, then wear it everyday. Heck, my husband as 50 pairs of shoes too- and I think he is straight! If he can, I can too! 🙂

    That’s a good point– the seasons can also affect the number of pairs you own! And it’s good that you’re selling/donating those pairs you don’t wear. Shoes are made for walking, not for displaying ala-shoe museums. =)

    I am beginning to feel ridiculous…I have over 130 pairs of shoes…which I always buy because of my weight…since I can’t find stylish clothing. However, I am 59 and my sons tell me I buy inappropriate styles for my age… I love the bling, which was not out in my day… you younger ladies get all the fun stuff… can break all the rules and still be stylish… some of my shoes… I have not worn… seeking some special occasions which never comes… and the heels have gotten higher than when I first brought them…lol I need to let go…and get rid of some shoes…..

    Anything above 30-35 pairs of shoes is boderline obsession.

    I am replying late but i had to..

    Hi there! Thanks for stopping by!

    Heh, I’m also replying late. It’s just an interesting discussion.

    I have about 12 pair right now. Personally I allow myself to have several of a particular category–some basic/neutral and others more colorful or interesting.

    Let’s say you go through a pair of flats every year. You can buy just one pair in a basic color (black, for example) and wear them for a year then replace them. Or you can have a black pair and a leopard pair and alternate between them, replacing them after two years.

    Either way you’re buying a pair a year (on average) but in the first scenario you only ever get to wear black shoes. The second scenario gives you variety.

    Of course if you have a ton of shoes you might end up with storage issues, so you need to find a happy medium.

    I also find that having a few extras ends up being more frugal overall, because if one pair starts to wear out I can wait for a sale to replace them. It doesn’t become an urgent need like it would if they were my only shoes.


    I love your point about how having more than one option allows you to wait for sales! That is so true. When you are desperate (like your only pair of heels got stuck in a sidewalk grate and broke), you will undoubtedly spend more.

    Thanks for sharing!


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