How to simplify & declutter your shoes

If you are looking to simplify your life, why not start with your shoes? Not only will you clear out some closet space, you’ll save money too.

I had a massive shoe collection before I started my minimalist journey almost three years ago. I had shoes in bins, shoes stuffed in an organiser hung over my bedroom door, and new shoes I hadn’t yet worn still in boxes. My shoes were mostly cheap shoes from Target and thrift shops. I had shoes in every colour and for every occasion: flats, heels, boots, everything!

Did I actually wear all of these shoes? Nope. I collected them just in case. For most shoes, I’d wear them once and set them aside.

I left the States in 2016 with one pair of shoes but now I’ve upgraded to just three pairs: sandals, all-purpose shoes for hiking and walking, and sturdy boots for winter.

Xero ShoesZ-Trek
For more details about these minimalist shoes (except for these Merrell shoes in particular since they’re new), check out my minimalist shoes video.

Not everyone will be able to downsize their shoe collection to three pairs, and that’s perfectly fine. Everyone is different. Perhaps you need five pairs of shoes, or even ten. What’s most important is that you start somewhere. Start trimming the unnecessary shoes from your collection: shoes you hardly wear, shoes that are too uncomfortable, shoes that serve no real purpose in your wardrobe.

So how do you start?

First, you need to evaluate what you have currently. How many pairs of shoes do you own? (Go count them.) How many pairs do you wear on a regular basis? (Make a list.)

To create your own simplified shoe collection, only draw from the shoes you currently own. Don’t run out and buy new Xero Shoes simply because they’re minimalist sandals. This defeats the point of downsizing.

Commit to not buying shoes until you sort your collection, no matter what. Otherwise, you’ll never downsize your collection and you’ll be right back where you started.

How many pairs do you actually need?

The number of pairs you need depends on several factors. I find it easiest to categorise shoes into situations. Depending on your work situation, you will need a pair or two of special shoes just for work. You probably want a good all-purpose shoe for walking and running errands. If you go out and dress up regularly, you’d want to keep a pair for that. Maybe you need another pair of shoes just for lounging around the house.

It’s important to consider the climate you live in as well. Are you lucky enough to live in a climate where you can easily wear sandals year-round? If not, you’ll need shoes that will protect your feet through the seasons.

The colour scheme of your shoes is another thing to consider when narrowing down your collection. In my opinion, neutral colours are best since they match with everything.

The shoes you keep should be:

  • Comfortable. Can you wear them for an extended period of time without your feet hurting?
  • Practical or functional. Are these shoes you can use on a day-to-day basis?
  • Versatile. Can you wear these shoes in a variety of situations?
  • Timeless. Will they still be in style in a few years?

And most importantly, you need to like them!

Make a decision and stick with it.

When I was downsizing my shoes, I dumped all of them into a pile and took out the few pairs I hoped to keep. Having a mountain of shoes in front of me not only forced me to face how out of control my shoe habit had become, it motivated me to stay focused on the task at hand.

When you do decide to get rid of a pair, absolutely get rid of it right then. Take the shoes to a charity shop or post a listing on Ebay. (I unloaded most of my unwanted shoes on Ebay.) That way, you’re less likely to reconsider and have them creep back into your life.

Think twice about buying new shoes.

I recommend using your shoes until they wear out completely, but at some point, you’ll need to bring a new pair of shoes into your home. When you do need a new pair, check second-hand shops first. If you can’t find shoes second-hand, research for shoes online and read reviews carefully. Remember that quality shoes will last longer than cheap ones, so it’s worth it to pay more upfront.

Shopping for new shoes should be a slow process, especially since you put so much time and effort into minimising your shoe collection. Don’t undo all that hard work by impulse buying shoes because these rarely work out in the long run. Shop with intention and make sure your new shoes are perfect.

In the following video, in addition to explaining these tips and strategies in more detail, I explain why I only buy vegan shoes (and why you should too).

Why not start today?

Downsizing your shoes (or your wardrobe) doesn’t need to happen overnight. You can take your time getting there, but you’ll never get anywhere unless you take the first step. Something inspired you to look into decluttering so take the initiative and start today by taking a pair of shoes to the charity shop. Your journey into minimalist living will be a life-long learning experience. Don’t feel pressured to do it perfectly straight away.

When you push yourself to minimise your shoes, you discover the shoes that are true to you. You figure out which shoes match your style and personality, and which shoes serve a genuine purpose in your everyday life. Clearing out extra shoes from your closet not only gives you more space, it gives you peace of mind.

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How to downsize your wardrobe

Do you have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear?

I struggled with this before I started my journey into minimalism. I had closets packed full of clothes and dozens of pairs of shoes, some of them never worn. I bought these clothes just in case I needed them (perhaps for a night out) or because they were simply on sale and I felt compelled to spend money. Part of me hoped this would cure my boredom or make me feel better about myself.

Shopping was just a hobby of mine, something I did because a) everyone else does it and b) spending money is fun and arguably addictive. I didn’t realise this at the time but the satisfaction from buying new stuff is fleeting. It never lasts. You’re just left with too many clothes, too much stuff, and too little money.

Minimalism helped me snap out of this shopping-to-fill-a-void mentality.

I had to adjust my spending habits and start appreciating not buying things if I wanted real change in my life. I started to downsize my wardrobe because I had to, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to start travelling nomadically.

I didn’t expect downsizing my wardrobe to have such an impact on the rest of my life, but it did! What once started out of a need to make nomadic travelling easier quickly turned into a life philosophy. I learned that less is, in fact, more and that my life is richer without all the unnecessary stuff cluttering my home and my mind.

While it isn’t necessary that everyone minimise their wardrobe so they can live out of a bag, I do believe most of us can benefit from simplifying the clothes we own and wear. A smaller wardrobe is better for us as it makes choosing outfits, shopping, and laundry easier, and it’s better for the environment (and our wallets) because we only buy clothes when we actually need them.

In my latest video, I share with you some tips to help you simplify your clothing. I explain how I downsized my massive wardrobe to just 30 items and why I basically wear the same thing every day.

I also address some concerns you might have, like: Will people notice I wear the same thing? Will I need to do laundry more often? What if I get rid of an item but I end up needing it later? And of course, I share with you the many benefits of living simply with fewer clothes.

I hope you find my video useful. Feel free to check out my previous videos as well. 🙂

In this video, I go through every item in my minimalist wardrobe.

Here I offer you some tips to reduce laundry as well as explain how we wash our clothes. We use soap nuts which are natural shells of berries. Soap nuts are eco-friendly, vegan, and cost effective as they are very cheap.

I hope these videos inspire you to downsize your wardrobe. Fewer clothes mean less stress as well as time and money saved. Why not start cleaning out your closet today? Who knows where you’ll end up! 😉

10 things I don’t buy as a minimalist

My shopping habits changed significantly after I started my journey into minimalism a few years ago. These are some of the things I no longer buy because I now view them as unnecessary. For some of these items, it took me some time to realise I no longer needed them. For others, I stopped purchasing them immediately once I had my goal in mind: to travel the world nomadically living out of my backpack. I prefer this simpler life! 🙂

Have you adjusted your shopping or spending habits?

What are some of the things you no longer buy?

Do you want to cut back on your purchases? If so, in what areas?