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Tip of the month: Things to consider when getting rid of shoes

Tip of the month: Things to consider when getting rid of shoes

Every season or so my spouse asks me to go through the closet, hoping I’ll get rid of a few pairs of shoes. I put a bag next to me, knowing I will find some to donate. The low-hanging fruit is my daughter’s shoes. Her feet are still growing and any pairs she’s outgrown that are in decent shape go into the donation bag. Going through my own shoes strains my brain a bit more. I keep shoes far beyond their prime and it’s difficult for me to let shoes go that served as a staple part of my wardrobe for a season or two. I’m getting better at parsing my collection a few times a year. Here are the questions I ask myself to make the process easier. I hope they help you, too!

❓Is this pair currently comfortable for my feet? If the answer is no, let them go.

Our feet continue to change throughout our adult lives and what feels good one season, may not feel good the next. Wear the shoes in question on a walk or around the house for an hour or so and if they’re not comfortable, let them go. For me, this is sometimes tricky because the shoes may still be in good shape and I remember them being comfortable last year. However, every time I keep shoes like this, they end up sitting in my closet unworn, until my next cleanout. Or worse, I forget they aren’t totally comfortable, put them on and then have to come back inside and change, because it’s only after wearing them for a few minutes I remember they don’t feel good. I’ve gotten better at letting these go, motivated by the irritation of these instances. I try to give myself fewer choices for ease in getting out the door. Weeding out the currently uncomfortable pairs is key. Another thing to note is that it’s very rare for a pair of shoes to become comfortable for your feet again after becoming uncomfortable. I’ve held out hope many times for this and it has never happened.

❓When was the last time I wore this pair? And when I have occasion to wear them again, will they be my first choice?

This one’s pretty straightforward. Sometimes we hold onto shoes because we think we may need them in the future but they continue to never be our first choice and just sit in the closet taking up physical and mental space until we pull them out again in the next closet cleanout. Let them go.

I admit to making one exception here! The shoes I wore at my wedding 14 years ago are still in my possession even though I don't plan to wear them again. I like being reminded of that fun, love-filled day when I see them in my closet. And I'm OK with them taking up the space for that reason.

❓Is this pair worn out? If there are cracks in the outsole, significant compression in the midsole (this shows up as creases), and/or tearing on the insole or interior, let them go. They are likely past the point of serving your feet well.

I've noticed that often the shoes we hold onto past the point of being comfortable and good for our feet are the shoes that served us really well in their prime. The pairs that were once the comfiest, "ahhh"-inducing pairs that we never wanted to take off. Even when they're broken down and don't feel so great anymore, we remember them being our favorites and keep them even when they’re not our first or second choice to wear currently. These are usually the pairs that are most unsightly because they’ve been worn and loved so much. Let them go! And if you loved them so much, maybe you want to replace them with a new version. I do this with many of my staple shoes when they become broken down from frequent wear.

I hope these considerations make it easier to clean your closet (I use the same considerations for my clothes). I've found that periodically doing the work of clearing my closet of shoes that aren't serving me well anymore pays me back in time, ease, and daily comfort. I'm able to get out the door faster because I've set up my choices so that I'm ensured of a comfortable day in shoes that match my current style and feel fantastic.

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