Solving the Imelda Marcos problem

I, like many women, have a fair number of shoes. Most of my shoes are what I consider to be the basic shoes for a woman who works in an office — brown boots, black boots, brown heels, brown flats, black heels, black flats, brown sandals, black sandals, house slippers, and athletic shoes. My collection contains two pairs of inexpensive, trendy shoes and one or two pairs that only match a specific outfit, but, on the whole, the basic shoes outnumber these. In total, I have 25 pairs of shoes.

Twenty-five pairs of shoes, when not properly contained, can make quite a bit of a mess and can cause a husband to mumble repeatedly about the sanity of his wife. Messes and mumbling husbands are not good for anyone, so having an organizational system for shoes is a must.

The floor of a closet can be the perfect place for storing shoes because often it isn’t a used space. (I love reclaiming under-utilized nooks and crannies in my house for efficient storage.) My shoe collection is contained in 19 small, 4 large, and 2 boot-size clear, plastic shoe boxes:

They’re stacked in a way that allows me to see into each box, so that I don’t waste time hunting for a pair. The boxes also keep the shoes from getting scuffed or my pets from gnawing on them.

If you typically get dressed in the dark while a partner sleeps, I would recommend adding a description to the outside of the box with masking tape or a printed label to keep hunting time to a minimum:

Another solution for those of you who are good at saving shoe boxes or who don’t want to shell out the money for clear boxes would be to fire up your digital camera. Photograph each of your pairs of shoes, print the photos on your ink jet color printer, and then tape the photo to the outside of the appropriate shoe box. Your life will be uncluttered, and you’ll save time getting dressed, too!

Some additional organizational tips concerning your shoes:

  • To keep your numbers in check, make a policy that for every new pair of shoes that you buy that you get rid of an older pair that you no longer wear.
  • With the start of each season, rearrange your shoe boxes so that your sandals are easily accessible during the summer and your boots are at the top during the winter.
  • If seasonal arrangement isn’t your style, try organizing your shoes by color or heel height or date of purchase — the categorized system that makes sense to you is the system you should use.

And, as a parting thought, be sure to let your shoes air out for an hour before storing them so that your shoes don’t build up an odor during storage.

6 Comments for “Solving the Imelda Marcos problem”

  1. posted by Elle Kasey on

    All posts including use of a label maker = good.

  2. posted by Audrey on

    It seems to me these shoes are taking up a lot of space in those big stacked boxes. Why not just get a shoe rack where they can be condensed? Then they would be easier (and more likely) to be put away after wearing them. This would still prevent scuffing and they would be easy to identify. To each their own, but I don’t feel this is very practical, it seems to be more cluttered than an old fashion pile o’ shoes. But I do enjoy the content of the blog. Clutter and storage is a constant battle for many, and it can really change your life to get a handle on it.

  3. posted by Erin on

    Audrey … shoe racks are great for casual shoes, and I thank you for mentioning them! Unfortunately, leather shoes should be stored with shoe trees inside of them to keep them in their best shape for the longest amount of time, so shoe racks aren’t good ideas for dress shoes. Also, shoe racks don’t work for boots, so then alternate systems have to be in place for boot storage. And, as much as I try to keep my pets out of my closet, they do sometimes sneak in and my shoes are one of their favorite play things. I prefer the clear plastic boxes because they’re a complete solution for all of my shoes. The plastic boxes do take up a good amount of space, but the floor of my closet isn’t used for anything else so it is a good use for that space. Also remember, keeping clutter at bay isn’t always about space saving solutions, to me it’s about organization and properly storing what you do choose to put in your home. If a shoe rack works for you and keeps your shoes from being cluttered then it is a good decluttering system for you and you should stick with it! A good organizational system is one that is used :)

  4. posted by Doug on

    I’ve recently switched to plastic shoe boxes, as well. They have the added bonus of keeping all of my shoes dust-free — something I really found out I needed during a recent move.

  5. posted by Mary Anne on

    I do this with a slight twist – each box performs double duty and the shoes get rotated by season. For example, one end is labeled “Black suede boots” and those shoes are stored during the hot months. Once fall/winter rolls around, the boots come out, and the “Pink sequinned flip-flops” go in to the same box, which is the label on the opposite end and back into storage.

  6. posted by Shoe Clutter « Socks and Gardening on

    […] 8 05 2009 Inspired by reading this post I threw out 12 pairs of shoes today.  Now I only have 26 pairs.  My husband, who only has 10 […]

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