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How Many Shoes Do You Need?

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 that’s 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”?

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How many shoes do you need? This question pops up now and again, along with related queries like How many pairs of shoes is too many? and How many shoes should I own?

As a quick answer, I can drop a few stats:

  • A 2010 study from found that the average woman owns 19 pairs of shoes.
  • A 2011 study from ShopSmart found that the average woman owns 17 pairs of shoes.
  • My shoe count today (in 2021) is 27 pairs.
  • Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos was rumored to have 3,000 pairs of shoes, but the actual number was probably closer to 1,000.

So, thousands of shoes like Imelda? Definitely too many. Rumor has it many of Marcos’ shoes were destroyed by mold and termites for sitting in their boxes too long. Even my 27 pairs is too many. I say that because some of them I don’t wear.

Quality not quantity

View of inside woman's shoe closet with too many pairs of shoes.

Remember the key to a good shoe wardrobe (and a good wardrobe) is quality, not quantity. As women, we wear the number of shoes in our closet as a badge of honor — even if we don’t wear most of the shoes making up that count.

If you only wear 10, maybe 15, of your 50 pairs of shoes, then you have too many. The others are long forgotten, possibly disintegrating slowly or at least getting moldy. You’re better off selling the forgotten footwear and letting someone else enjoy it. You’ll raise some cash and clear some space in your closet in the process.

You probably need only 5 pairs of shoes

The number of shoes you need is relative to your lifestyle. I’m certain some women can live happy, stylish lives with only a few pairs of chic sneakers. But assuming you sometimes go out, work out, dress up, or dress down, you probably only need five pairs of shoes:

  1. Trainers/running shoe/walking shoe
  2. Black pumps
  3. Sandals 
  4. Black or Brown boots (mid-calf to knee high that you could wear in the snow or rain and still look fabulous)
  5. Flats (a shoe with a slight heel if flats are uncomfortable)

Admittedly, my shoe collection goes well above those five shoe styles. My weakness is sneakers. I currently own two pairs of Converse, plus mint-green Pumas, classic Stan Smiths, grey Keds, and a few other randoms. I know this is economically inefficient, but I like to have options. I bet you do too.

In that vein, here are seven more styles you might like to add to your collection. Consider these wardrobe-stretchers. They’ll give you a good range of choice — so you should always have a shoe that matches your mood and occasion.

  1. Sexy shoes (e.g., stilettos, peep toe, red patent leather, whatever)
  2. Snow boots (because let’s face it, sometimes keeping the toes dry takes priority over being cute)
  3. Affordable trendy shoes (bright neon, extra pointed, jelly, you get the picture)
  4. Another pair of boots (especially if you live somewhere with four seasons)
  5. Brown heels
  6. Trendy sneakers (so you can look cute while you shop)
  7. Pair (or two) of flip-flops (they’re just so practical)

Again, your needs may be different. If you anchor the morning news and your feet are visible on TV, for example, you need at least five pairs of pumps and another handful of boots.

The 12-pair shoe collection

That’s a total of 12 pairs of shoes for a woman who lives a balanced life. Take a look at the gallery below for an idea of what that collection might look like.

That’s my answer to how many shoes a woman needs. How many shoes do you have in your closet?


Thursday 19th of January 2017

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.

Catherine Brock

Thursday 19th of January 2017


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!



Monday 12th of December 2016

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

I am replying late but i had to..

Catherine Brock

Tuesday 13th of December 2016

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by!

Anna Tsatoke

Monday 19th of October 2015

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 I need to let go...and get rid of some shoes.....


Monday 1st of July 2013

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! :-)


Tuesday 2nd of July 2013

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. =)

Fit Chick

Tuesday 30th of April 2013

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!

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