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!
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!)
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…
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…
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!
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…
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!)
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!
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 Shoeperwoman.com 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!
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!
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…
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…
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!
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?