Shoeper Shoe Challenge Wrap-up: My Year in Shoes

Shoeperwoman's Shoe Challenge

Now that the Shoe Challenge is over, I wanted to write a little roundup post about how it all went, and what I learned from it. The problem with that, however, is that this has essentially been a two year challenge for me: I started the 2011 Challenge just a few weeks after the end of the 2010 one (which, in retrospect, was a mistake – I should have given myself more of a break between the two!), and in many ways I feel the second challenge simply cemented the things I learned in the first one, and which I wrote about when it finished. (You can read that roundup here, if you so desire…)

Rather than simply re-hash the same observations I made last time, then, I thought I’d make this wrap-up a look back at my year in shoes, as documented by the challenge. And here it is!


February 2011
Shoes Saved: 5
Shoes Bought: 1 

I started the challenge – along with almost 100 of my readers! – on Valentine’s day. And I started the way I meant to continue: in a green dress, Louboutin heels, and with some badly lit, slightly blurry photos. The month was cold and miserable, but I was excited to have so many people taking the challenge with me, so it didn’t really matter. And, of course, having just completed the first challenge a few weeks earlier, I felt I was in a much better position going into this second one. The first time around, I’d had a random collection of footwear, some pairs of which I’d owned for years. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a proper clear-out, and I was also in the habit of impluse-buying shoes which I had no hope of ever wearing. Oh, dear…

This time, though, was going to be different. The first challenge had forced me to take a long, hard look at my shoe buying habits, and the shoe collection that had resulted from them. As well as purging a lot of shoes during the challenge itself, I’d also had a clear-out at the end of it, and had started to shop much more carefully, only buying shoes which I really loved, and knew I would wear. So this challenge would be super-easy, wouldn’t it? Again: oh, dear…

(Oh, and before I go any further here, I just wanted to point out that while the “Shoes Saved” numbers I’m adding to each month should be correct, the “Shoes Bought” ones may not be, because I sometimes didn’t blog about new shoes in the month I bought them. I also got rid of a few pairs during the course of the year, so adding up the “saves” and purchases won’t necessarily give you 90 pairs of shoes: I’ve just added those figures to give a rough idea of what each month looked like – I definitely acquired more new pairs of shoes than these figures suggest!)

Shoeper Shoe Challenge roundup

March 2011
Shoes Saved: 3
Shoes Bought: 2 pairs of ballet flats, which I didn’t include in the challenge 

After a not-too-shabby start in February, March was a harder month. As regular readers know, I’m not much of a fan of winter, or its fashions, and I was already starting to regret starting the challenge in February, at a point in the year when I was already sick to death of wearing boots and other wintry clothes all the time, and was well and truly out of inspiration for outfits! March was also the month I decided it would be an awesome idea to cut my own hair. Because God knows, that never goes wrong, does it? I was just a little bit camera shy after that…

April 2011
Shoes Saved: 4
Shoes Bought: 1

Ah, April. It was actually one of my favourite months for the Shoe Challenge, although it was by far the worst month of the year overall. At the start of the month, I discovered that another Shoe Blogger had copied the “Shoeperwoman” name and brand: not only had she set up her own shoe blog using the name “Shoeper-Woman”, she’d also tried to trademark the name, which would’ve prevented me from using it. So that sucked. We ended up having to take legal action, which was expensive and stressful, and made April a pretty awful month all round. On the plus side, however, we had some wonderful, sunny weather (much better than what passed for “summer”, as a matter of fact!), some fabulous days out, and I managed to save another four pairs of shoes. Not a complete loss, then…


May 2011:
Shoes Saved: 3
Shoes Bought: 2

Much of May was spent dealing with the “Second Shoeperwoman” situation,  and preparing for our vacation in June, and the month is honestly a bit of a blur to me because of that. Although I managed to save three pairs of shoes, my heart wasn’t really in it, and the last thing I felt like doing was putting together outfits or photographing them, so I missed out on some Shoe Saving time there! There was some good news, though: our legal action was successful in putting a stop to the copycat site, and this was also the month I was invited to join the Sarenza Brand Ambassador programme, which was to be a definite highlight of 2011 – and the source of many more pairs of shoes!

Bettie Page Captain dress

June 2011
Shoes Saved: 3
Shoes Bought: 3

I spent most of June in California, and because I knew we probably wouldn’t get much of a summer back home, I packed as many pairs of summery shoes as I possibly could: people scoffed, but I possibly wouldn’t have completed the Challenge if I hadn’t done this, because although I have gotten better at buying weather-appropriate shoes since my first challenge, I still have more of them than a Scottish summer requires! I would say this experience has finally taught me to stop buying peep toes, but I’d be lying: I just love those summery styles too much! (The same can be said for my collection of summer dresses: I have way too many, but… I just don’t care.)

I technically “saved” at least ten pairs of shoes in June, but because I was on vacation, I didn’t blog about them until I got home, which accounts for the low total of saves this month, and brings us to…

July 2011
Shoes Saved: 12
Shoes Bought: 2

Definitely one of my most successful month for shoe saving, although, in fairness, many of these were shoes which had been worn in June. July itself was most notable for being the month I managed to persuade Shoeperman that my shoe collection really needed to be on display AT ALL TIMES:

These shelves really helped me see which shoes I had, and which still hadn’t been worn. They also looked nice. (I’m actually freaking out a bit here as I look at this photo, and then turn my head to see how much fuller those shelves are now: eeek!)


August 2011
Shoes Saved: 12
Shoes Bought: 2 

Wow: I didn’t actually realise how many pairs of shoes I’d managed to get through in August until now! By this stage I was starting to panic a little, because I’d realised I still had a lot of summer shoes to wear, and not much summer left to wear them in. As the rules of the challenge state, it was a case of use ’em or lose ’em!

Bettie Page Rita dress

September 2011
Shoes Saved: 6
Shoes Bought: 0 

September was my least favourite month of the challenge. By this point, it had been going for eight months: I noticed that people were starting to lose interest in the posts, and there had also been an increase in the number of negative comments about my outfits and appearance in general (“You have really ugly feet!” is one that sticks in my mind…). Although I had been expecting this to happen, having gone through the same thing the year before, those two factors combined to make me lose some motivation to continue with the challenge. Negativity is something you’re always going to have to deal with as a blogger, but had never been intended to be an outfit blog, so I decided to tweak the rules slightly and just focus on just the shoes instead. This always felt a bit like cheating to me, though, so by the end of the month I was back to posting occasional outfit photos – and really looking forward to the end of the challenge!

Edited to add: I actually debated taking the above paragraph out of this post, because I don’t want to give the impression that it was more important than it really was: it was just one aspect of the Challenge for me, and certainly not the most important part – I’m lucky to have lots of very supportive readers, who I’m hugely grateful for, and they by far outweigh the occasional bit of rudeness, which every blogger encounters from time to time. In the end I decided to leave it in, because I wanted to be honest, and not just talk about the good parts of the past year: I do just want to add, though, that I went into this project fully expecting to get some negative reactions from people, and I actually think it helped me    learn how to deal with that a little better – I didn’t let it stop me, anyway!

Yellow skirt and Christian Louboutin shoes

October 2011
Shoes Saved: 4
Shoes Bought: 1 

October was the month of my great wardrobe switchover: I packed away my summer clothes, and got my boots back out of storage. The Shoe Challenge had now come full-circle and we were back to wintry weather – luckily I’d already managed to save all of my summer shoes, so I gave myself a little bit of break this month, and just enjoyed getting as much use as possible out of my favourite shoes before I had to make the switch to warmer choices!

polka dot dress

November 2011
Shoes Saved: 8
Shoes Bought: 0 

November was a surprisingly good month for the Challenge: I think I must have found some brief novelty value in having my winter clothes out of storage again, although I certainly don’t remember feeling happy to see them all again! I also don’t remember getting through the month without any shoe purchases, but I seem to have managed it: I’m now thinking I must have been kidnapped by aliens in November or something…

stripe skirt and red shoes

December 2011
Shoes Saved: 14
Shoes Bought: 7 (although two pairs were Christmas gifts!)

And the award for the Month With the Most Shoe Saves goes to… December! Three things combined to make December the month in which I finally picked up my game and started getting through shoes like there was no tomorrow:

1. There kind of WAS “no tomorrow”, in a manner of speaking: the end of the Challenge had suddenly got frighteningly close, and I realised I still had LOTS of shoes to get through: and boy, did I get through them!

2. Christmas, New Year, and all of the other social events December is famous for. We were out all the time, basically, which gave me plenty of opportunities to wear all those shoes – and thank God for that!

3. The Dressember “Dress a Day” challenge. I actually gave up on this challenge fairly quickly, having remembered that outfit photos are not my forte, but the week or so I did spend photographing an outfit-a day-meant that I had no excuse not to photograph the shoes I was wearing with it. If every month had been like December, I’d have finished the challenge in six months. Then again, if every month had been like December, I’d also have a LOT more shoes, because I went a little bit crazy on the shoe-shopping front, AND got a couple of pairs as gifts, so for every step forward, there was a small step back…

coloublock outfit

January 2012
Shoes Saved: 14
Shoes Bought: 2

Joint first place for Shoe Saving! Give it up for January, everyone! No prizes for guessing why I got through so many shoe saves in January: as well as having all of those extra shoes to save, courtesy of my December Shoe Fest, I was also so close to the end that I didn’t really have much choice: it was now or never!

In this month, I did revert back to posting mostly shoe shots, which definitely helped. I had actually worn quite a few of the shoes I “saved” in January already, but hadn’t gotten round to photographing them, so this was a bit of a catch-up month, with me trying to record all the ones I’d missed, and trying my best to resist the temptation of the new Spring/Summer shoes, which had started to arrive in stores!

February, 2012
Shoes Saved: 2
Shoes Bought: 1 (not included in the challenge)

Aaaand we’re up to date! And as there were only two Shoe Saves this month, you get to see this photo again: sorry! (It was nice champagne, though.)

So there you have it: a year of my life in shoes! It’s actually been really interesting for me looking back at these photos, and the ones from the previous year, because as well as the shoes and outfits, they also bring back all kinds of memories about things that happened in the various months they were taken. Believe it or not, until I started my first challenge, I didn’t really take a lot of photos of anything other than my dog: the camera would really only come out for vacations and other special occasions, so in addition to helping me make sure I actually wear all of the shoes I buy, the Challenge has also provided me with a little photo journal of the past two years, and it’s nice to have photos and memories of what I wore and what I did on regular days, as opposed to just the “special” ones!

The Challenge was also interesting for me in terms of what I wear. Although my style is most often described as “classic” by those who’re being kind, and “boring” by those who aren’t, if you’d seen me a few years ago, you’d probably notice a difference, because as well as forcing me to wear all of my shoes, the Challenge also inspired me to do the same thing with the rest of my wardrobe, and I’ve gone from being the type of girl who wore jeans every day, to the type who wears dresses every day, and doesn’t really care who stares at her because of it. This hasn’t always been an easy process – I live in the type of town where any deviation from the “jeans or sweats” uniform is treated with derision – and I still have a long way to go, but photographing around 150 outfits over the course of the two years has definitely helped me learn a bit about my own style, and how I want it to develop.

I wonder what 2012 will look like in shoes?


  • Just one short note, ’cause I don’t have time right now – outfit photos are NOT your weak suite… that has never occured to me and I won’t let you persuade me otherwise 🙂 Love your photos, both outfit and others alike.

    • That’s really nice of you to say 🙂 I don’t think I’ll ever be up to the standards of some of the bloggers I read, but hopefully I’ll keep getting better as I go 🙂

  • I just found this site today and read all about your challenge, and I just wanted to say not only is it a complete inspiration, but I am in LOVE with your wardrobe!! I have been considering starting a blog of my own, but between everything demanding my time right now (especially college…) am still just thinking about it. I truly enjoyed this post, and it has given me complete motivation to “pay more attention” to whats really in, and going into, my wardrobe. Thank you! (Also, your gorgeous. Don’t let haters get you down!)

    • Oh, that’s so great to hear: it always makes me so happy to hear that people have taken some inspiration from it, even if it’s just something small! And although this challenge was supposed to just be about shoes, it really motivated me to pay more attention to the rest of my wardrobe, too: I’ll probably always be something of a shopaholic, but at least I can honestly say now that everything I buy definitely gets worn!

  • Congratulations on another great Shoe Challenge! Love seeing your photos and how you came up with outfits for each pair of shoes. I can’t do heels like you do, so I just watch from the sidelines. Though you have inspired me to be more concious about what I grab out of the closet each day. Trying to wear all my shoes, give all my necklaces a day out and use scarves as more than just neck warmers. Thanks!

    • I’m so pleased to hear this! When I started the first challenge, I also started doing a similar thing with the rest of my clothes, although in a much less formal kind of way, and it really helped me to wear things more often (and in different ways): those habits do stay with you, so it’s a good thing to do, I think, even if it’s just in the sense of paying more attention to what you wear every day 🙂

  • Wonderful round-up! I love your blogs, and your style, and I am looking forward to what is next… It was a great year of shoe saving!

  • It was a really nice way to remind us of all your beautiful shoes and outfits you wore through the Challenge. I’m glad you didn’t keep the camera only for dog photos (although Rubin is super cute!) and vacations, because you must know by now how much I love your style. If I had your body, I would definitely wear such dresses every day!
    And don’t pay attention to bad comments and haters. You don’t need to prove anything! You’re a really beautiful woman, with a great body, amazing red hair, great sense of humour and a closet full of beautiful clothes and shoes. Not to mention your amazing husband, who’s always there for you, your family, and Rubin. I’m sure they’re just jealous of you!
    So keep blogging about all these things and we’ll be here to read them. With a great pleasure!
    Have a nice day! 🙂

    • That’s such a sweet comment, thank you 🙂 I think the negativity really just comes with the territory – everyone has different taste, after all, and if someone doesn’t share yours, they’re going to want to tell you about it, and not always in the kindest way! I think it’s just something you have to learn to deal with as a blogger – it’s not always easy, though!

  • The Shoe Challenge is my favorite thing! I never get bored with it, can’t wait to see what happens next.

  • Congratulations for the challenge!
    And I have to say…your aoutfits are always so beautiful, especially your “’50’s style clothes” which I really love (I love the green dress you were wearing on september,..then august june and may…ok I like all your dresses 😀 )..
    your blog is really beautiful!
    Greetings from Italy!

  • I’ve been reading this blog for more than 2 years on a regular basis, and I have to tell you – you inspired me to go out there and dress the way I like and feel good about it. I had a way too low self esteem as a teenager and you definately help me spark my love for shoes and fashion. I love your style and your shoes, and I love reading your takes and opinions. you’re truely fabulous, and never let anyone make you feel otherwise. I will remain a loyal reader and fan 🙂

    • That’s fabulous to hear 🙂 I also had very low self-esteem as a teenager, and it can be really hard to break out of that: it took me a long time to have the confidence to wear what I wanted to wear rather than what everyone else was wearing and I still have moments where I go somewhere and think, “OMG, I’m totally overdressed!” but I honestly think people notice/care about what you’re wearing less than you think, so why not! I figured I won’t ever look back on my life and think, “Gosh, I’m really glad I didn’t ever wear all those fabulous dresses I bought!” but I’d probably regret NOT doing it, so… 🙂

  • I love your style! I don’t think it qualifies as “boring” at all. There is nothing wrong with classy! I find myself coveting your dresses and shoes

    • Oh, even I wouldn’t argue with anyone saying I was “boring”! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, though – I know what I like, and I get a lot of pleasure out wearing the things I like, so it’s all good 🙂

  • It’s been awesome and inspiring to follow your shoe challenge and your wonderful wardrobe the last two years. Your shoe saving posts where what I was most looking forward to each week, and what made me stay with the blog when it first came.

    I also love seeing your holiday photos, you two take beautiful pic, visit interesting places, and look so happy!

    I hope if you decide to do another shoeper challenge that you start it in the summer, so that you have as many months as possible with good weather 😉

    • Ah, I’m definitely not going to be doing the challenge again myself – I think two years is enough for me, so the next one will just be for anyone else who wants to do it 🙂

  • Congratulations, Amber! You know by now I’m a big ol fangirl, but I have loved following your challenge and taking part in it, too! I wasn’t as strict with myself as you were in that I didn’t photograph every single pair of shoes, but I have cleared out all the shoes that I don’t wear. Just as well really, given the massive influx of shoes I enjoyed towards the end of last year (and still am!) I always enjoy your outfit shots, too – so I hope that you do keep them up. Yours are some of the very few blogs I look at every day (and reread, too) and it’s because they’re so beautiful and so well written.

    So, in short, well done for being awesome and, er, keep it up, yeah?


    • *Blushing* This means a lot to me, especially coming from you, because, you know, right back atchya 🙂

      I’m really glad you were a part of the challenge – I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear an outfit I wouldn’t happily steal right off your back, so I’ve enjoyed your posts about it – and the rest, of course! I think I’m going to try and have a bit of clear-out this weekend, too: horrifyingly, I’m starting to run out of space on my shoe shelves, and there are a few pairs there that have really seen better days!

  • I started reading your blog in about March last year (I think) and you’ve given me so much inspiration, both shoe and outfit-wise! Plus, your hair is amazing and I completely covet it! Well done on completing your challenge!

  • I`ve been keeping up to date with your shoe challenge for most of last year and loved it. I`m definitely taking part in the next one! Well done.

  • I loved reading about your shoe challenge. But, I don’t blame you for getting sick of it by the end, I only have 35 pairs of shoes and I struggled.

    Sorry that some horrible people left nasty comments. It’s so rude, and you definitely don’t deserve it. Some people really are vile for no reason.

  • I LOVE reading your blog! We have very similar taste…do all red haired girls love nautical, green dresses, bows and Louboutins I wonder? hmmm? Congratulations on the end of the challenge! I didn’t join in (it’s hard to keep on top of right?) but you have inspired me to have a good clear out of anything I haven’t worn and to re-wear some neglected items to ‘save’ them. Thank you and Best wishes xxx

  • Amber, I feel badly for not posting comments more often to off-set the nasties out there. I read your blogs every single day and I even miss you on the weekends! I understand that you can’t blog 24/7 though ;o). I really cannot understand why anyone feels it is necessary to post criticisms. I love your outfits, your shoes, and your hilarious writing. You must be a hoot to hang out with…Keep on blogging and please keep showing us your fabulous shoe collection!!!

    • Oh, don’t feel badly! I read lots of blogs and never seem to have the time to comment on them all as much as I’d like to – life gets in the way! As for the comments, luckily there are many more nice ones than there are nasty ones: I don’t really know what people get out of telling me they hate what I’m wearing (I mean, it’s not like I’m going to go , “Oh, OK, I’ll just throw these shoes away then because someone on the Internet has different taste from me!”) but at least those comments are about shoes and clothes, not about me personally. It’s only the very personal ones that sometimes get to me (like the guy who told me I have ugly feet: I was like, “Well, yeah, I know I have, but what do you expect me to do about it: cut them off?”) or the ones where it’s obvious that the person is deliberately trying to hurt me. I’m not upset by the fact that they don’t like what I’m wearing, because everyone has different taste, but the fact that someone actively wants to make me feel bad is a bit troubling!

  • You are always look so lovely, and I will never understand how complete strangers can be so cruel. Your blogs are great; they are some of the very few I read on a regular basis. Thanks to you, I have evolved from loving only pointy toes to peep toes and the occasional round/almond toe! x

  • Hi Amber,

    I just wanted to say that with every single outfit-post you made I was tempted to comment with a, “You’re so gorgeous!”, but I was afraid that might eventually make me sound like a creepy stalker, so I … didn’t 🙂

    I loved your outfit/shoe posts and I hope you’ll be keeping them up one way or another. I love your outfits, particularly the more glamerous 40s/50s Hollywood-ish ones (like the one you’re wearing on the California picture in front of the pool), and I don’t get tired of looking at them. If I weren’t on the size 18/20 side, I probably would have hunted half of them down and purchased myself 🙂

    (By the way, your style isn’t boring. How could a style that includes such fabulous shoes and dresses ever be boring? Let’s call it sophisticated, okay? 🙂 )

      • Steffi, it doesn’t matter if you’re a size 18/20 you CAN still get some of the dresses Amber wears (I know for definite the Sailor style one has larger sizes as I have 2 full skirt versions and I’m am 18/20 and onwards!) I obviously don’t know how you feel about your size but at the end of the day it’s just a number and we can still be glamourous. I would guess that a lot of the 50s style stuff would probably be great for you.

        So give glam a go I say!!

        • Oh God, yes! Actually, most of the vintage reproduction stuff I wear is really cut for fuller figures, and the sizing seems to go up to much larger sizes than you typically find on the high street, so these brands are actually really popular with women who wear 18/20 and up! I actually have to have quite a few of them altered because they’re cut for women with curves, and I wasn’t blessed with many of those, so if you like them you should definitely give them a try: I honestly think a lot of the 50s style stuff can be flattering on pretty much any figure!

          • Really? That’s odd because everytime I go looking for vintage reproductions they seem to be on the petite side of sizing. But your comment has given me hope–I shall try to hunt some down. Thank you! 🙂

        • Thank you for your lovely comment. My google-fu is notoriously bad when it comes to finding plus-size vintage-ish clothing, but I shall go now and investigate.

          Thank you!

  • Thank you for all of the wonderful comments on this post, everyone: I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that this project has been worthwhile, and that you’ve enjoyed reading about it – there were lots of moments throughout the year when I seriously considered just giving it up, but I’m really glad I didn’t now, so thank you all for taking the time to comment 🙂

    • Dear Amber,
      there are so many thing I’d like to say: from the fact that your personal style has always been very inspiraring to me and that that was and is one of the parts of the blog that I enjoy the most. I have enjoyed the shoe challenges so so much! Both the ones that you did and the one I was so happy and lucky to be a part of. I am excited about the next challenge and also which ever way your blogs go next. Oh and I also loved this post, it was so nice to see the year in one post:)
      You really are my shoe(per) hero 🙂
      Miss V & her pig

  • Never give up Amber! You’re the fabbity fabbest! (OK…so I must be watching too much 70s TOTP because now I’m singing David Souls “don’t give up on us”…HOW many weeks was he number one?? It never ends! Ahem…sorry, I digressed!)

    I must admit that you’re probably one of my favourite bloggers (I shall attempt to not sound stalkerish,) I do like reading all your blogs as you write brilliantly and your pics are vair cool.
    Plus, as long as my shoe wardrobe numbers stay less than yours, I feel I’m winning!!! 😀

    Huzzahs all round for Amber, Terry and Rubin/Wolf!

    • Lol, I was watching 60s TOTP last night: so great!

      And I laughed at your last comment – I loved the fact that there were quite a few people in the Challenge with more shoes than me: as long as that continues to be the case, I won’t worry too much!

  • Congratulations for the challenge! I also found this summary nice to read 🙂 I agree with you when you said that it’ s nice to have photos of ourselves not only of the ‘occasions’ but of normal days too ^^

  • I really love your style definitely classic not boring- and there’s a reason why classic styles are still around, they’ve looked great for the last 60 years and they’ll probably look great for the next 60 years as well!

    But then I’m really not a fan of the current fashion thing that an outfit has to be shocking or exciting- where did the concept of well dressed in clothes that fit properly go? I apparently don’t get fashion- I often have trouble telling the difference between someone who rolled out of bed and grabbed random stuff from someone else’s wardrobe (so none of it quite fits but luckily they grabbed a belt to keep the huge trousers up) and a totally ‘on trend’ and ‘chic’ outfit.

    You’re outfit posts are great and thank you for posting some outfits on the internet which don’t involve Litas, flatforms or anything sheer!!


  • You know I’ve been around since day ONE of this blog, and I love more than all the other blogs I read. Also: I love your style and I hope you get that impression from my comments.

    That is all.

    p.s. well done to everyone who did the challenge.

  • I LOVE your style, it is such an inspiration to me (although I rarely can be bothered to get dressed up even WITH the inspiration lol) PLEASE post more outfit pictures, I like them so much!! I think you are really pretty, and definitely don’t have ugly feet! And seriously, I have a huge aversion to people with ugly feet, nothing turns me off more than those second toes sticking out over someones strappy sandals blech! 😉 Anyhoodles, I liked your year in review, and if I had more balls I would do the shoe challenge too (I passed because I am afraid I would have to give up too many shoes!!!) Maybe this year I will though…

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