Tip: How to Keep Your Shoe Closet Organized & Efficient

25 01 2013
You're shoe closet may not look like Christina's, but it can be just as organized (well, excluding the ones the kid took off the shelves). Photo: theshoegirl.blogspot.com

Your shoe closet may not look like Christina’s, but it can be just as organized (well, excluding the ones the kid took off the shelves).
Photo: theshoegirl.blogspot.com

When I moved into my apartment 2 years ago, one of the first projects I tackled was creating an efficient space for my shoes. I didn’t know at the time this would essentially become a shoe closet (with a few other items, like purses and some clothing), but that’s exactly what happened. I’m not fancy (well sometimes I think I am), and I’m not rich, but I have a closet that’s 3/4 devoted to my shoes.

And I’m all the better because of it.

Before I did this, I was like most people – acquiring shoes and largely forgetting about many of the ones I didn’t wear on a daily basis. Why? Because I couldn’t easily see them. However, if you were to walk into my closet now, you would notice 3 important things about the way I’ve organized my shoes, and I think these are the 3 basic tenets you need to follow to ensure your shoes are just as organized.

You can see every single one of them.

Sounds difficult, right? Not really. With a variation of shelving, shoe racks, and/or shoe boxes with pictures of each shoe facing the outside, anyone can achieve the act of knowing what they have. My closet has a combination of portable shelves and hanging shoe boxes, but if you don’t have as much space (say you don’t have a walk-in closet), you may only be able to use one method. Either way, whichever way you choose to do it – the 1st key is to make sure you can see EVERY shoe at any time.

Note: If you have a LOT of shoes and a small amount of space, you can also opt to switch out your shoes seasonally to make it easier to see all of the seasonal ones at one time.

They’re organized by style of shoe.

This means all my stilettos are in one section, my flats in another, my wedges in another, and so on. Now, you may not choose to organize your shoes in this way. Other ideas would be to organize them by color or by season or by most and least used. If you’re really OC, you can even organize them alphabetically by designer.

The point is though, there should be some method to the madness. It’s not enough to just be able to see your shoes. You also want to be able to walk into the closet and know exactly which area to look towards when you’re trying to decide which shoes will work best for your outfit.

There are NO shoes in there that I haven’t worn in three years.

Okay, admittedly, this should probably be a year, but I just haven’t been able to make that commitment yet. It’s not as easy as you think, trust me. However, listen – if you have shoes that you haven’t worn since high school, it’s so time to give those up. And now. Like right now.

Anyway, those three basics pretty much keep my closet organized and efficient. And it looks nice too!  What do y’all think, though? And do you have any other great tips for keeping an efficient and organized closet? I’d love to hear them!


The Power of the Pump: On How a Well Paired Pump can Dress Up Any Outfit you Own

9 07 2012

Photo: Aldo Arnoldoa Pumps

Take a look at those nude pumps (pictured above) for a second. They’re simple. No embellishments. Nothing that screams “pay attention to me!” They’re just a plain, nude, tapered-toe, leather pump with a 4.25 in heel. And yet, if you were to add those heels to any casual outfit, they would instantly turn up the volume of that outfit at least 3 notches.

Don’t believe me? Okay, let’s go through this then.

I’m lucky. I happen to work in an environment where the clothing can be pretty casual. So unless I have a meeting with some “special” external partners, my wardrobe tends to vacillate between very business casual and casual cute. What does this mean? It means that you may find me wearing a pair of red skinny jeans to work with layered tank tops, a navy blue cardigan and pearls or a cute yellow and white plaid summer dress or even a pair of black wide legged pants, tank top and a blazer.

And with every single one of those options, I can choose to either wear some flats or a pair of heels. If I choose to wear the flats (for whatever reason it may be that day), I know that my look (yes, even the black pants and blazer look) is 20 X more casual than if I wear the heels. When I wear the heels, I notice the different reactions I garner from my co-workers. Instantly, I’m more refined and more put together. I could have my signature summer bun in, but they want to pull me into a meeting to discuss or describe some kind of best practices in creating a particular manual or document.

I notice the difference and so should you. Now, I understand that not every woman is comfortable wearing high heels. I’ve had a lot of practice because I’ve been 5’1 for at least the past 15 years. But I do think that you should have at least a few options in your closet for the times when you need to instantly dress up an outfit.

You may be wondering why the pump dresses up your outfit. I think it’s for various reasons, but these first three come to mind:

A) You walk differently when you have on  a pair of heels. Your walk is straighter, which usually positions your head higher and most importantly, your stride conveys that you are one confident woman. (If your stride does not convey that, read the tips here and practice, practice, practice around your home first.) And finally, your legs look amazing in them!

B) A pump is sleeker than many of the styles out right now, such as the gladiator and platform heels. You may find a pump that has other elements in it, such as one of my favs – my reptilian pointed toe heels from Aldo, but the idea behind a pump is to convey femininity and strength at the same time. Those elements rub off onto your outfit, and now anything you have on is also conveying femininity and strength.

C) I have a mentor that calls her pumps the “pearls on her feet.” And she’s right. Just like pearls, a great pair of pumps makes an outfit look dressier because it is a dressy accessory.

For those who still doubt me, go home, try on any outfit in your closet with a pair of sandals and then a pair of heels, and look in the mirror. You’ll instantly see the power of the pump when you do.

Cleaning Out Your Shoe Closet

18 04 2012

Well, it’s officially spring and if you’re like some of my friends, you’ve taken it upon yourself to get into a massive Spring Cleaning session. You’re dusting. Getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn since the last time you spring cleaned. You may even be getting rid of old TVs and buying new ones or buying new curtains and painting your walls. Whatever it is – you’re doing a lot more than me. As I admitted the other day, when my life is in shambles and I have too much going on, my apartment tends to reflect it – in every place except for in my shoe closet.

And that’s because despite everything else, I find a way to regularly keep it organized. Don’t get me wrong – I may slip up and have too many black shoes at one time (is there really such a thing?), but I definitely have a distinct method of cleaning out my shoe closet and keeping it organized. You may decide to tweak some of these, but at the very least – it may be a starting off point.

Take (a realistic) Inventory

So despite the fact that I may have at times in my life owned over 200 pairs of shoes (not really now – although my bio still reflects that lol), I like to try and keep them out in the open as much as possible. I know a lot of people put them in bins for storage reasons and I totally get that – but I prefer a walk in and see approach. It helps me to take a realistic look at what I have so I can determine what can be donated, what can be thrown away, and what do I still need. If you’re not able to do that, a friend of mine takes pictures of her shoes and places them on the outside of the shoe boxes or outside of the bins. Either way, it helps to be able to see what you have.

The last time I took a major inventory of my shoe closet was right before I moved into my current apartment. I noticed that I had my shoes from prom still and like 10 pairs of black heels. I mean, really black is great – but that’s just not necessary, especially considering the rest of my wardrobe didn’t reflect this awesome love for black. So I made some hard decisions. My prom shoes may have still been in perfect condition, but I hadn’t worn them since high school and it made no sense for me to still have them. I had pictures with them – it was time to give up the ghost.

And with the black heels, some of those shoes were so beat up, it was a wonder I still had them. I ended up throwing out at least 4 of those heels, donated 3 others and still had 3 that had enough diversity in them to suit me just fine. It was onto the second part of the project.

Make sure there’s Diversity

Just like in the workplace, it’s always best to have different varieties of shoes in your closet. This can be determined by whatever you like to have in your closet, however. I like to have an array of colors, so every 2 months or so – I go into my closet and look to see what colors I don’t have and which ones I have too much of. Sometimes having too many of a color happens by accident, you see a pair of really cute burnt orange flats and you’re like, I have to have those. And then you see a pair of cute burnt orange heels, and you get those as well. And the next thing you know, you have 5 pairs of burnt orange shoes in your closet. FIVE! And yet, you have no nudes.

That’s what happened to me last year. Since then, however, I’ve gotten rid of 2 of those burnt orange shoes and purchased two pairs of nudes and I’ve started checking out my shoes, not just for colors, but styles. Most people have a particular style they prefer (I tend to like closed toe stilettos, doesn’t matter if it’s a round, square, or pointed toe – it’s more about the heel for me… but for other people, it’s more about the toe or they like a bigger or chunkier heel than I do.), but even with your preferences, it’s best to have a few items that go away from the norm. Just recently, I bought two pairs of wedges because I noticed that out of all the shoes I had, I only had 2 wedges in my closet and one of them needed to go to the shoe doctor on U Street. Que horible!

Give yourself guidelines, but don’t over-think it.

They’re my babies, but really – they’re still just shoes. One of the things I’ve tried to do (and there have been years where I’ve been more successful at it than others) recently is to be mindful of the space I have for my shoes. Like I said before, I prefer the walk in and see approach, so I can’t do what I’ve done in the past and come home with seven new pairs of shoes and not get rid of some of the ones still in my closet. I have to be mindful. I don’t want you walking into my place and shoes are falling from the ceiling.

I bought 3 pairs of shoes recently (on sale – so don’t judge me) and guess what that meant for me – I needed to at least get rid of one pair already in my closet. It’s probably going to be the wedges that need to go to the shoe doctor honestly, but either way – something’s gotta go. And yet, at the same time, if I see a pair of shoes that I HAVE to have, like what happened in Paris, I can’t think about what shoes I’m going to have to give up to have those in my closet while I’m buying them. They’re supposed to make you feel good. You’re supposed to be happy while you’re spending your hard earned money on them. So yes, keep it organized, but don’t ever make it feel like a chore. That’s just so so wrong on every level.

Tips on Breaking in New Stilettos

6 01 2012

You may have to break these in before wearing them out on the town.

I think it’s pretty evident by now that I might be considered a shoe addict. And while I appropriately purge my closet at least every 2 years by donating and throwing away a significant amount of shoes I no longer wear, I find myself buying more to replace the ones I just gave away. For example, in 2011 alone (off the top of my head), I either purchased or received at least 13 pairs of shoes – the last of which you see in the above picture. Santa got them for me 🙂

I mean, c’mon – I have a shoe closet.

(although, I would like to point out that as much as I love my shoes, I have friends who both have more pairs and bought/received more pairs in 2011… so it’s not just me AND I’m not the worst culprit.)

Anyway it would stand to reason that I know how to “break in” a pair of stilettos. For those who don’t know what I mean – let me explain. There are a few things that you must know when it comes to buying stilettos, especially ones of the pump (in closed toe) variety. Of those, two are probably most important: a) if possible, buy at least a 1/2 size bigger than your shoe size, depending on the way the toe is cut and b) try to give yourself at least a week to “break” them in before wearing them to an event or occasion. If not a week, at least a very focused day.

Now what do I mean by “break in” a pair of shoes? Simply put, breaking in a pair of heels is the act of stretching out the shoe to make it more comfortable to wear. Or if we were attempting to add the phrase into a dictionary, it would read:

Breaking in (a pair of heels): v. (kinda) 1) the act of increasing the comfort level of a pair of shoes. 2) the way to make a pair of heels easier to wear throughout the day or night. 3) the act of increasing the potential uses of said shoes from just bedside posts to actual walking agents.

Because this process is so essential to shoe-wearing (and if you don’t think so, take a look at the girls in the club whose feet you can tell hurt – they didn’t follow these tips), I’m going to give you guys a few quick tips to make sure you get it right.

1. Walk it Out

The best and most efficient way to break in your heels is to put them on and walk. Walk in them while you’re vacuuming. Walk in them while you’re dusting. Have them on while you’re dancing to songs in your living room. Whatever you choose to do – just do it. The more you walk, the more you’ll not only get a feel for the shoe, the shoe will get a feel for your foot and begin to take on the contours and curves of you. You want this. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman in a beautiful shoe that’s ill-fit.

2. Make Stretch Armstrong Proud

Okay, let’s not go crazy. If your foot doesn’t fit in the shoe before stretching it out, that means your foot is too big. That’s not what we’re talking about here. But unfortunately, even if the shoe fits perfectly, after some time – you will find that parts of the shoe will begin to constrict you. Your best bet to alleviate this problem is to put on a thin pair of socks and repeat #1. You don’t need to do this for a long period of time, but the socks will stretch the shoes out enough that they shouldn’t constrict you later on and yet, they won’t make them look like you have on your mom’s shoes. Note – if you have extra skinny feet, you may not need this tip.

3. Practice Makes Perfect

As much as you don’t want to hear this, the best way to break in a pair of shoes is to just keep wearing them. I bought a pair of nude shoes for my birthday last year and since I was absolutely in love with them, I found myself wearing them more often than most of my heels. The result? I can wear them for any length of time now. In fact, I recently had two occasions where I wore them (drunkenly) out all night, for at least 8 hours… and had no problems. My feet weren’t sore at the end of the night and I wasn’t cursing my crazed shoe addiction the next morning. So if you’ve worn a pair once and they hurt you, don’t be discouraged… sometimes it just takes time.

Hope these tips helped! Did I miss any essential ones?