How Many Shoes Do You Really Need?

In the spirit of “less is more,” could you get by with only five pairs of shoes? I have a friend who has 125 pairs—and I love her dearly—and another friend who goes barefoot 90% of the time, and I think that’s pretty cool, too. There’s nothing wrong with either approach.

As I was packing yet another box (this time, it was an entire box of red shoes) into my storage unit, I wondered just how many pairs of shoes a person really needs. After giving it some thought, I think the magic number is five.

Why only five? Or, if you’re a minimalist, you may be asking, “Why do you need five pairs of shoes when one pair will do?”

I base my five-pairs approach on the role each pair of shoes will play:

  1. Everyday shoes for walking, shopping, hanging out and walking Fido. This is your go-to pair. Ideally, it will be your absolute favorite pair of shoes, ever. Find one brand or style that works for you and go with it. My everyday pair happens to be from Frye. Even though I don’t ride a motorcycle (very often), I love a solid, lasting shoe.
  2. Sports shoes for running, long walks, easy hikes and hanging out with your sporty friends. It’s worth investing in these shoes, as they will carry you through your workouts and weekend fun.
  3. Work shoes—these will vary depending on whether you work as a personal trainer (in which case #2, above, will do just fine), in an office, in a restaurant, or at a construction site.
  4. Fancy shoes (also known as your “good shoes”) for special occasions like weddings, funerals and job interviews. Go with black for these, and go ahead and get the shoe polish to keep them looking new and spiffy.
  5. Sandals, for vacations, going to the beach, and really hot days. I love Teva sandals because they last and last.

There are two exceptions to the five-pair rule: weather-related shoes and sports-specific shoes.

Weather-related shoes: If you live in a place like Boston or Chicago, you’ll want to add winter boots. In Portland or Seattle, rain boots will come in handy (though most people who live in Portland or Seattle are too cool for rain boots and will just tough it out).

Sports-specific shoes: Ski boots and SCUBA fins count as sports gear, not shoes! The same goes with bowling shoes, lacrosse shoes and any other footgear you need to perform your best in the sport you love.

For now, I’ll tuck away all my red shoes. Stepping forward, though, I’m going to try out the five-pair principle: invest in a few pairs of great shoes, and enjoy the results of a “less is more” approach.

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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