There’s just a few days to go now until the start of the 2011 Shoe Challenge, and I have to admit, I’m feeling a little bit daunted by the thought of having to “rescue” all my babies shoes again. Every time I completed a challenge last year I’d heave a little sigh of relief, knowing that another pair of shoes was “safe”, but now they’re all vulnerable once again, which is a bit of a disturbing thought for a shoe lover, so just in case you’re taking part in the challenge and having an attack of the “OMG-what-have-I-let-myself-in-for’s”, here are some quick tips I put together on how to get through the challenge with your shoe collection intact.
1. Purge your shoe collection before you begin
Be ruthless. Will you really be able to find a way to wear those worn-out old pumps you’ve had since high school? Or the super-high heels you’ve never been able to walk in? Or, to put it another way: do you even want to wear them? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, the shoes have got to go. (Poet/Didn’t know it.) Trust me: you don’t want to spend the last two weeks of the challenge wearing nothing but old pairs of shoes that you now hate, so get rid of them now and make it easier on yourself.
2. Reorganise your shoe storage
If you followed my last challenge, you’ll know that the thing that helped me most was moving my shoe collection (or at least part of it) from the dark depths of my closet to the shelves in the office, where I can easily see what I have, and which shoes I haven’t worn yet. Now, obviously this isn’t an option for everyone, but even if you’re not able to keep your shoes where you can see them, it’s a good idea to try to organise your storage in such a way to make the challenge easier. I’d recommend:
- Putting out-of-season shoes into storage somewhere to clear space for the ones you’ll be wearing right now. Obviously this depends very much on your shoe collection and the type of weather you have, but for instance, I know that I can only wear sandals, peep toes, espadrilles etc during the summer, so before I set up my current storage system I put all of those shoes at the front of the closet during those months, and put the boots into the attic: there’s no point spending the summer in boots and then realising in November that you only have a couple of months to go, and you still haven’t worn all of those sandals that were lurking at the back of the closet!
- Using a system whereby as soon as you’ve worn a pair of shoes and eliminated them from the challenge, you put them to the back of the closet, say, and bring an unworn pair to the front. That way the unworn pairs will be the first thing you see when you’re deciding which shoes to wear, and you won’t be tempted to just keep pulling out the same pair and putting them on.
3. Reorganise the rest of your closet
Yes, I know, I’m asking quite a lot of you with this challenge, aren’t I? First I want you to reorganise your shoe collection, now I want you to start in on the clothes… If you’re anything like me, though, I bet you do much the same thing with your clothes as you do with your shoes, i.e. cycle endlessly through a few, favourite outfits, and leave the rest hanging there all sad and neglected. In fact, if your closet is a big ‘un, you’ve probably forgotten half the things that are in there, right? By sticking to the same old tried-and-tested combinations, though, you lower the opportunities you have to wear all of those shoes you now have to “rescue” by Valentine’s Day next year, because the chances are that you have certain shoes you wear with certain outfits, and the rest just lie there gathering dust. When you have your closet clear-out, you’ll rediscover items you’d forgotten about and be able to put together new combinations to wear with those shoes: and even if you don’t manage to come up with new outfits to get your shoes through the challenge in, at least you’ll get a better idea of which shoes you should’ve ditched in step one. (You’ll also probably discover that you’ll never need to buy another black sweater/cardigan again until at least 2020. Or that might just be me…)
4. Only buy shoes if you know you could wear them tomorrow, if you had to.
Ever found a fabulous pair of shoes and thought, “Hmmm, I have absolutely nothing to wear with these, but they’re so pretty I’m going to buy them anyway: I’m sure I’ll find something to wear with them!” Yeah, me too: and nine times out of ten, those shoes NEVER get worn, or I end up spending more time and money than I really wanted to shopping for something to wear with them. These days I try to only buy shoes if I think of a way to wear them using what’s in my closet right now. (I say “try”: I still have slip-ups with this. Well, there are always those shoes that just HAVE to be worn, aren’t there?)
So there you have it: how to complete the Shoe Challenge in four, um, “easy” steps! Any other suggestions are, of course, more than welcome!