Shoeperwoman’s Shoe Challenge 2010: The Wrapup

Shoe Challenge # 50

One year ago today, I set myself a challenge: to wear every pair of shoes I owned within the space of the next year, and to document them all here on this blog.

This weekend, I finally completed the challenge, having dutifully worn and documented all 75 pairs of shoes in my collection (And lost and gained a few pairs along the way!), so I figured that before the next challenge starts (more of which later), I’d take some time to look back over the year just gone and write down what I learned along the way: so here goes!

The Aim

Why did I decide to wear every pair of shoes I owned in a year? Well, having been a shoe obsessive for most of my adult life, a few years ago I’d started to realise that while I owned more than my fair share of shoes, I wasn’t actually wearing all of them: in fact, the vast majority of my shoe collection languished unworn in the back of my closet, while I kept on wearing the same few pairs of shoes over and over again, and replacing them when they wore out. Meanwhile, the fact that I wasn’t actually wearing all of my shoes didn’t stop me buying new pairs, so I’d become the not-so-proud owner of an ever-growing collection of shoes, most of which went from the store straight to my closet, never to be seen again.

Now, this bothered me. You see, while I’d probably describe myself as a shopaholic -and I’d definitely describe myself as a shoeaholic – I’m not comfortable with the idea of waste, or of constantly buying new things that never get used. I like to think I’m getting my money’s worth out of the things I buy, and that definitely wasn’t the case with my shoes. The Shoe Challenge was my way of forcing myself to actually get some use out of my shoe collection (and to give them the love they deserve), and to hopefully re-examine my shoe-buying behaviour and, change it for the better. The “use it or lose it” rule I made for the challenge meant that any shoes I didn’t wear during the year would have to be either binned or given to charity, and my hope was that this simple rule would force me to think long and hard about the shoes I decided to buy.

Shoe Challenge # 38

What helped…

When I started my challenge, I figured it would be pretty easy. I was wrong though. Here are a couple of things that helped:

  • The One-In, One-Out rule
    As the year went on, I realised that some of the shoes in my collection were ones I’d realistically never want to wear again: either they were so old and worn that they should have been binned years ago, or they were just no longer to my taste: some didn’t even fit very well, and had obviously been bought in moments of madness on my part. Forcing myself to wear them purely so they could be “saved” seemed to go against the spirit of the challenge – the idea, after all, wasn’t to make myself wear shoes I didn’t like, or which didn’t fit me, so I started to think about how I would deal with these shoes. Meanwhile, several new pairs of shoes had entered my life – and entered the challenge. Yikes! In June of 2010, I went on holiday to the US … and came home with four more pairs of shoes than I’d left with. Something had to be done, so I took the new shoes out of my suitcase, but before I put them in my closet, I jettisoned four old pairs I knew I’d never wear. From that point on, I implemented a “one in, one out” rule, which meant that for every new pair of shoes I bought, an old pair had to go – either to the charity store, or to the great shoe shop in the sky, as per the terms of the original challenge.  (Obviously I could have just waited until the end of the challenge to get rid of those shoes, but space is a huge issue in our house, so I decided to just get rid of them as I went along instead.) The result of this was that I ended up with a shoe collection I’m much, much happier with: no more old, worn out shoes that don’t suit my style or fit my feet, and instead, a collection of shoes I’ll wear until they fall apart – or so I hope, anyway!
  • The Shoe Shelves
    One of my biggest issues when it came to making use of my shoe collection, was storage. As I often say, my house is roughly the size of a shoe-box, and when the challenge started, my shoe collection was stored anywhere it would fit: there were shoes in various closets and various rooms, and I had a hard time remembering what I had, let alone wearing them all. (This is possibly why I have so many pairs of tan peep toes – I kept buying more, forgetting that I already had some!) Then, in July, I came up with the solution: I would take the under-used shelves in our home office and turn them into shoe storage:

Shoe Challenge # 40, with my storage solution in the background

Once I’d done this, things became much easier: in fact, I think it was the thing that made most difference in helping me complete the challenge, because once I was able to actually see which shoes I had, and which ones I still hadn’t worn, it became much easier to plan outfits around them, and find inspiration: result!

What didn’t help…

  • The weather! When I started, I hadn’t anticipated such long periods of snow: the challenge spanned two of the worst winters we’ve ever had in this part of the world, and there were long periods of time when rubber boots were the only possible option!
  • The fact that I write a daily shoe blog. I know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. It makes it much tougher to resist all those lovely shoes when you have to look at photos of them every day for a living, though!

Shoe Challenge # 33

What I Learned

Most of the lessons I learned from the Shoe Challenge were ones that came early on in the process. Here’s what I discovered:

  • I’d much rather have a small collection of shoes that I wear all the time than a large one full of shoes that rarely ever see the light of day.
  • They’re only a bargain if you’re actually going to wear them: if you won’t, put them back on the shelf!
  • Storage is key: actually being able to see your shoes will both inspire you to wear them, and prevent you buying new pairs in styles you already have.
  • I have far too many pairs of nude/tan peep toes.
  • And too many summery styles and not enough winter-appropriate ones: there’s no point buying lots of pairs of peep toes and sandals when it rains or snows for 363 days of the year!
  • Implementing some kind of “use it or lose it” rule is a great way to stop yourself shopping unnecessarily: the fact that I’d have to wear – and document – each new pair of shoes I bought helped me talk myself out of many an “I’ve nowhere to wear them, but I just have to have them!” type of purchase, and I also returned a couple of pairs of shoes I didn’t manage to resist, having realised, in the cold light of day, that I wouldn’t wear them, and would just end up having to give them away.

Shoe Challenge # 30

The Downside

While the Shoe Challenge definitely helped change my shoe collection for the better, and changed the way I approach new purchases, it wasn’t without its downsides:

  • I probably bought more clothes than I otherwise would have. Knowing that I “had” to save a particular pair of shoes made me more likely to think, “Hey, that dress would be perfect with those shoes… and I DO have to save them!” That definitely wasn’t part of the plan, and is something I’ll have to think carefully about for the next challenge!
  • I have a tendency to buy out-of-season shoes, either on eBay, or in sales. That wasn’t a problem at the start of the challenge, because although it was winter when I started, I knew I still had the whole summer, plus a good few months of the NEXT winter in which to wear the shoes. Over the past couple of months, though, when the weather has been freezing and I knew the challenge was going to end before nicer weather set in, I really struggled not to succumb to the temptation of summery sale shoes which I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to “rescue” before the end. This is something else I’ll have to address for the next challenge, I think, because I still think buying out of season can be a good idea if you know you’ll definitely wear the shoes next season.
  • Photographing the shoes/outfits. This was the hardest part of all. As well as being fairly time-consuming, there were a lot of photos which I just really, really didn’t like, and it was hard to post those photos online and listen to everyone’s feedback. I knew going in to the challenge that not all of the comments I’d get would be positive, and I was prepared for that, and willing to accept it, but some of the crueller/more personal comments were hard to read all the same.

Shoe Challenge # 70

The next challenge

As the end of the challenge approached, I started to get a lot of questions about what I was going to do next. Up until early this week, I was absolutely adamant that I wouldn’t be doing ANYTHING next: I was all challenged out, basically, and I was really looking forward to just being able to wear my shoes without having to think about “saving” them. Having thought about it some more, though, I think the Shoe Challenge is something that should be repeated: I want to continue getting use out of my shoe collection, and to avoid slipping back into my old ways, so I’m excited to announce that the next challenge will begin in the next few weeks, with the exact date to be confirmed soon.

The next challenge will have more-or-less the same rules, but it will be slightly different, in that this time around I want to involve all of YOU in it too (and don’t worry, you don’t have to have lots of shoes to join in!). I’ll be putting together a post within the next few days in which I’ll be asking anyone interested in taking on the next Shoe Challenge to sign up and spread the word. Once the challenge starts, I’ll be doing weekly roundups featuring all of your shoes and outfits, as well as my own, and I’ll also be creating a list of participating sites. More details coming soon, so stay tuned, for that!

Finally, I don’t want to end this mammoth post without thanking all of my readers for sticking with me through my challenge. I would almost certainly have given up if it wasn’t for you cheering me on, so thank you for that, and here’s to the next challenge!

And here they are: all 75 pairs of shoes!


  • ^_^ Useful lessons! I’m unable instead to send in Shoe Paradise my old/very used ones…ç_ç But i must do it sooner or later!


  • I would love to do this but I only have about 8 pairs including flats and a pair of shoes I need to get rid of. Then again, I will proberly be buying some sometime soon….

  • I loved your shoe challenge, and at the beginning I decided that I would join you and do it. Unfortunately, about half way through the year I seemed to not be doing it anymore, and I actually think that is because of something you’ve mentioned in your round up post… storage. I don’t have THAT many shoes really, but storage is such an issue that I tend to wear the same ones over and again and forget about all the others. Another issue I relate to is having too many summery styles despite having crap weather all the time. Perhaps I should think about signing up again this year and putting more effort into doing it properly, and into sorting out my shoe storage!

  • Wow! This shoe challenge was great, I know I buy way too many bargain shoes which I never wear.

    I can’t believe there were 75 pairs of shoes. Reading it week by week it didn’t seem like that many.

    Well done!

  • Well, what can I say – you definitely own to many pairs of shoes… 🙂 But who could blame you? It sure was interesting to watch you on this challenge and you have inspired me to buy couple of great, though, not very practical pairs of footwear. I have boots with extra-high heels that I’ve worn exactly once. 🙂 But, hey, love them nevertheless. Good luck on the next one!

  • Great post, and I have to say I’ve loved following your shoe challenge, your blog has been my favourite for the last year, and the one I checked first. Since following you on twitter and Facebook I’ve been a bit less active with commenting, but I still love reading and viewing your shoe challenges and all the other post

    I don’t think I could do a shoe challenge though, I own maybe 20 shoe pairs, and wear about 5 of them. I have a tendency to buy party pumps without having anywhere to use them.. After I got together with my bf my high heels got even less use, as he’s a cm under me without shoes. I also have trouble with pain in my legs, and can’t wear high heels over 6 cm without it hurting almost instantly. (it doesn’t help that the university is paved with uneven bricks)

    On the other hand, it could force me to get rid of my unworn shoes and buy shoes I’m more likely to wear.

    On a completely different note, have you considered a “like” or “thumbs up” button? On one hand it could make people less likely to comment, on the other, you might get more activity as people easily can express fondness with a post..
    I guess I wanted to mention it, as I felt the need to “like” this post after reading it..

    • Hmm, I wonder if perhaps lots of people will not want to join for similar reasons – I may have to re-think this!

      We did have a like button at one point but the problem with adding those kind of plugins is that they tend to slow the site down, which causes us all kinds of problems. I will look into it again, though!

  • Yay! I started missing your shoe challenge the moment it was over, so I’m thrilled you’re doing it again.
    Your collection now is so pretty that I’m not sure you can keep the “one-in, one-out” rule. I honestly don’t know which ones you would get rid of now, and you can’t expect not to buy new pairs occasionally.

    • Thanks! It’ll definitely be much, much harder to get rid of any now, but I will probably have a very small purge before starting the next challenge: there are a couple of pairs that aren’t a great fit, or which are just too old to keep around any longer, so I think I’ll get rid of those before starting again, clear some space for new ones 🙂

  • This is such a great round-up post and it’s fab to see all the shoes together in one place (not to mention all the fabulous outfits).

    I am definitely with you on the next challenge. I reckon I probably have about the same number of pairs as you so it should be fun trying to get some wear out of them over the next 12 months.

    But first, Frugal February – no spending on anything but essentials. Eeek!

    • I’m so glad you’re going to be joing 🙂 Eek to Frugal Friday, though: I’m currently counting down the days until payday, so the thought of not being able to spend anything when it comes would drive me insane!

  • I’m so happy you’re doing a new challenge!! Even though my shoe collection isn’t as big as yours, I will love to join the challenge!!.. Can’t wait.

  • Wow Amber, congrats! This was a really interesting read, and I’m so pleased you managed to stick to it — I know I wouldn’t be able to do something like this, so I’m glad someone else is out there, saving the world etc etc 😉

    It looks like you had a lot of fun doing it. My fave image has got to be the one of you in the brown dress in the snow — so atmospheric!

  • congratulations on finishing your challenge!!! 🙂 it was really fun to be able to follow you through your shoe adventures he he. i looooved how you styled those pradas (i think) with eggplant tights 🙂 and you had amazing outdoors pictures! cheers to shoeperman 🙂
    can’t wait to see your new challenge and i think i’m gonna be joining you as well, but the hardest thing for me is that my out-of-season shoes are stored in the basement so it’s a bit tricky to count them now, and the fact that i live with my whole family and have shoes everywhere!!

    • I feel your pain – I put all of my boots etc in the attic when Spring arrives, so I’m going to have to start the next one before then, so I can actually count them!

      I love those eggplant tights, too – I live in fear of them ripping, and not being able to find another pair that shade: they’re so perfect with those shoes!

  • Great post! I’m really happy that you will do another challenge, it was my favourite part of your blog! You always look great!

    I would really want to participate, but I only have 10 pairs of shoes or something… So it will be very easy to wear them all, I think 🙂
    Maybe that’s an excuse for buying some more? 🙂

    My favourite outfits are n° 5, 10, 20, 33, 40, 50, 51, 53, 61, 62, 66, 68, 70, 75,… oh, actually I like them all 🙂

  • Id really like to take part in the next shoe challenge too, but ive only got 20 pairs of shoes (i’m just 19, i’m only starting!) so I make sure I wear most of them regularly, too bad, i’d love this challenge !
    I love your style too, altough Im not a stripey person i adore the lady like look, and i try to overdress all te time 🙂 at first my dad thought I was nuts overdressing all the time, but you know, everyone gets used to it after a while and then they see it as a part of your personality !
    sorry for the crappy englisch, I’m flemish:)

  • I completely agree with you on the storage issue. I have a teeny closet and lots of long dresses I have to push past while I crawl in the badly lit thing scrounging for my shoes. It’s always been an “out of sight, out of mind” thing. When I stumbled across your blog the idea of the shoe challenge really stuck with me and I started my own a couple weeks ago. So today my classes were cancelled due to the foot of snow that dropped last night and I took the opportunity to organize my room. I cleared out my bookcases of books I haven’t read in years and don’t plan to and figured out a system of where the rest will go. I don’t have enough shelves to house all my 87 pairs of shoes but I was able to get about two dozen pairs of heels in. I picked them as they tend to be the ones that languish in my closet unused except for my basic black or brown pumps.

    In order to start my challenge I first made a sort of catalogue of my shoes and realized I have shoes that are really cute but I haven’t worn in 5+ years. Must rectify that as I’ll be sad to lose those sage green kitten heel sandals with the rhinestone dragonflies on the toe.

  • I have to go home and count all of my shoes tonight so the great purge can begin. I want to start the challenge with shoes that I’m pretty confident I will actually get to wear and trash all of my old ones. I can’t wait for the new challange to start so I can participate! Also, you always looked great in your pictures, so nevermind any naysayers. 🙂

  • “And too many summery styles and not enough winter-appropriate ones: there’s no point buying lots of pairs of peep toes and sandals when it rains or snows for 363 days of the year!”
    I wholeheartedly agree with this! Most of the shoes I own are made of fabric or suede or a combination thereof, and I really, really need to stock up on waterproof ones…

    Again many thanks for running the challenge in the first place and writing about it in such an entertaining way.
    Although I did not really take part in the last challenge, it has definitely changed my way of looking at shoes, buying shoes and wearing shoes in more interesting ways. (Before that it was mostly black sneakers every day. Now I try to vary and come up with new combinations.) Thank you for that!

    As for the next challenge: Count me in! 🙂

  • I would love to join! Only problem is I cannot commit to everyday posts, as I work 9 to 5 and sometimes I just don’t have the stamina or err.. time to photograph myself.. May I still join?

    I loved your post, it’s very interesting how we sometimes don’t expect particular things when starting a project (like you didn’t think that you will buy more dresses..) and how we miss it when it ends!


    • Oh, you wouldn’t have to post every day (unless you have 365 pairs of shoes, of course!), just any time you “save” a pair of shoes! I’m going to be doing weekly round-ups with everyone’s photos, so obviously you would need a photo to be included in that, but of course you’re free to play along on your own blog without having to be part of the roundups etc 🙂 I’m still working out the details, though…

      • Oh, great! The idea that I will have to own 365 pairs of shoes didn’t occur to me of course)) Indeed, it’s about 10 times more than what I have)

        • You’ll be fine, in that case – for most of the last challenge, I just took photos once per week, with more towards the beginning when I was all enthusiastic about it, and at the end, when I knew I had to get a move on and get through the rest of the shoes!

  • I think I might just have to join in this time round, there are just too many pairs of unloved shoes in my wardrobe! (Do I get extra credit for your influence in the purchase of a few of those shoes? 😛 )

  • Okay, I’ll do it. You know I have nearly 100 pairs of shoes so this is going to be tough. Only you’re not going to get a photo of all of me – I refuse to post my photo on the interwebs 🙂 – but I’ll be sure to document the shoe wearing.

  • Congrats on finishing the challenge! I must say, I very much envy a lot of your shoe collection– you’ve got some gorgeous stuff. =]
    One thing I’ve especially noticed over the course of the challenge is how much you’ve improved in your photography skills. Your photos were never bad or close to it, but as the challenge went on you began to get some really beautiful portraits in there. Props to you!

  • I definitely am in. I have so many shoes that I never wear. A lot of them are sky-high heels that I am realistically never going to wear again (bad back), so I should really stop hanging on to them!

  • Well, I want you to know how much I’ve enjoyed your shoe challenge. Looking back, I only picked up around #46, but it was great to go through and see the whole story unfold. I really appreciate your sharing with us, your pictures are phenomenal. I think some of the more recent ones are art. I have been thinking all along what enormous guts it would take to post weekly pictures of myself, can’t do it. I will, however try to participate with pictures of my feet. I had 65 proper pairs of shoes in November, it can’t be much more now? I was really going to miss the shoe challenge, so I’m so relived/excited that you have decided to continue.

  • You have so many cool shoes…I am jealous.

    My problem is I have sensitive skin. I love shoes but it’s hard to find a pair that doesn’t leave me with a rash or little cuts, or both. I don’t know why. 🙁 But it doesn’t stop me from buying them anyways. 🙂 And like you, I also buy way too many “summery” shoes even though I live somewhere with a lot of rain/ snow (Canada, in my case). I can’t help it….Summery shoes are just so pretty!

    I totally need to do this challenge this year, because I have so many shoes sitting around rotting and I want to show them off!

  • The Shoe Challenge has been my favorite part of this blog, and honestly, I am a bit sad that it is over, but look forward to seeing this new incarnation.
    Since I had a baby none of my shoes fit anymore, and don’t have the funds to amass a new collection, but looking at beautiful shoes help a little bit so this blog is definitely one of my favorites.

  • I hear what you saying Bjarney, imagine how I felt when I already have problems finding fashionable shoes as I was UK Size 11, only for my feet to grow one size upo to UK Size following the birth of my second child. I am now UK Size 12.

    Keeping my fingers cross, I hope to join you Amber for the 2011 shoe challenge. Well done for all your efforts and hardwork.


  • You have definitely inspired me and forced me to look at my shoes in a whole new light. (I also found out that I need a pair of nude peeptoe heels, so anything you’re not keeping can be shipped my way.) Mostly I’m intrigued by Frocking Friday and will be spending much of my spare time in February sewing up those dresses I’ve meant to do for years. Love wearing dresses and with warmer weather on the way (soon, please!!!) I’ll have a chance to ditch the long underwear and snow boots in favor of swingy skirts and frocks!

  • I loved the shoe challenge and loved all of the pics and posts you had throughout the year. You have inspired me to change, or rather, update my style as far as shoes go. I am somewhat challenged when it comes to finding shoes, I am a size 5 US and have the hardest time finding anything that I like so I tend to stick to Doc’s. (I have quite a collection from my high school days). I think I have finally come to the conclusion that it may be time to start transitioning into ‘grown up’ shoes! And so my hunt begins…Thank you! I love the blogs! A loyal reader, Erika

  • I really like your style, and you obviously love shoes, especially wearing them. (My wife has over 300 pair of shoes, but wears only about 10% of them–I think she’s just a collector.)
    Anyway, I wanted to comment on your reaction to some negative comments about some of the photos of you and your shoes. Be brave, and try to ignore those who would make negative personal comments–you should feel proud of your web-presence, and walk (on fine shoes) boldly into this new year and new challenge!

    • Hi Phil, thanks for your comment! I do ignore those comments, I really just mentioned it because I was trying to give an honest account of my experience with the challenge – as I said, I went into it expecting some negativity and I was prepared for it (I wouldn’t have done it at all if I wasn’t able to deal with the criticism): you can’t expect everyone to like everything all the time, and I haven’t let it stop me 🙂

  • Even though I only found the site mid-way through the challenge I loved it!
    It’s inspired me to purge my closet. I have too many shoes I’ve never worn, bought that I have nothing to match/Haven’t been able to find anything to match them,etc.
    I’ve been polaroiding them, and yesterday morning about thirty pairs (Still in their boxes) went to a charity. They were so excited by the donation.

  • Ha! I had to double take – I had the stripey primark mac on yesterday (love the flare of the skirt!) and my hair in a bun! I wore mine with red patent courts and a red scarf!

  • Hi Amber,
    Like Jessica, I discovered your site mid-way into the challenge and I have followed you ever since. I love your beautiful clothes and shoes, and I love your style. All of the effort you put into these posts is much appreciated. I have always been a skirt girl but you have inspired me to take a new look at dresses. Thank you for being a Muse and for sharing your insites.

  • Congratulations on finishing the challenge! (And Lord knows I’m late with this comment, sorry!) Like pretty much everyone else has said, it’s been really fun reading and fawning over your shoe collection, and seeing the outfits you build around them. I’m so glad you’ve decided to continue it with a new twist!

  • I love your shoe challenge and you have totally inspired me to start my own! Good luck for the next one 🙂

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