A Basic Shoe Collection

“I’m currently in the process of trying to expand my shoe collection (on a budget) – but since I can’t afford my every whim (just-graduating-ex-university-student) I’m looking for a a well-rounded shoe collection. Sneakers, heels, flats, boots, sandals, etc… & I was curious to know what you think the ‘basic’ shoes are to have in your closet, before you start fleshing each type out? I know trends change but I mean those timeless basic shoes a girl can fall back on when her partner’s grandma drops by unexpectedly to take them out to dinner… (happened last night, I swear!)”

I guess that really depends on your lifestyle & wardrobe. For years, I subsisted on a few pairs of boots & a couple of pairs of wedges. I would be inclined to say that a good pair of flats are an essential basic, except I loathe them & have decided I just can’t wear them. On the other hand, lots of girls can’t live without their flats, so you know. It’s all up to the individual!

Here are my picks for basic shoes to own: one pair of each.

Just because, quite frankly, in summer you’ll die without them. Of course, you can take your pick as to style — some people like a dressy, elegant, evening sandal while others will be perfectly happy with a pair of Haviana flip-flops. I am somewhere in the middle: flip-flops drive me crazy (they’re just not comfortable & I always feel like a slob in them) & I don’t feel like I’m ready for an elegant sandal… but I’ll deal with that next summer!

For winter, though mine get worn throughout the year. I would recommend going for a classic black or brown boot to at least mid-shin (primarily because if it rains, you’ll want some coverage on your leg). You pick the details — laces, buckles, buttons, high heels, flat soles, platforms, wedges — but I would advise that you go for something simple but good-lookin’. This is your basic shoe collection, right? You can buy fancy fashionable boots some other time. Just buy something that you think you’ll be happy wearing in five years time.

High heels
While you may hardly ever wear them, I think a good pair of black high heels should be mandatory in every woman’s wardrobe. They are the perfect shoe for almost any occasion, & if you don’t have them, you’ll probably find that some outfits just don’t work properly. I recently acquired a gorgeous pair of black heels (more about that later) & have discovered that a lot of my clothing is now MUCH more wearable. Again, you might think heels are an awful torture device, but good ones can actually (gasp!) be comfortable. Buy some of those gel inserts by Scholl’s called “Party Feet“, stick ’em inside, wear them around the house for days to break them in, & you’re well on your way to owning a pair of perfectly functional shoes. Plus, heels are sexy, but you knew that right? You will be glad you own them, since they’ll take you from a work function to a funeral to a gallery opening with ease.

I’m not convinced that everyone needs sneakers, but they’re certainly a good thing to have. You don’t have to buy ugly ones, no no no. I own two pairs of sneakers. One is a pair of Adidas with blue fun fur & pink velvet detailing (yay!) & the other are a pair of Reebok Ice Creams in blue, pink & yellow. Both pairs are very cute. I don’t wear them often. My Ice Creams are what I wear to the gym & my Adidas are what I used to wear running around Auckland city. However, for some people, ‘sneakers’ will mean Converse or Vans. Think of it as a good, comfortable shoe for days when you don’t feel like dressing up.

So essentially, one pair from each of these categories would, I think, be a good starting point. From there, you can build it up. What do you wear most? If it’s the boots, maybe you can buy a couple more pairs in different styles (or, if you’re silly like me, buy the same pair again except with a big platform affixed to the bottom). If you wear the heels most often, buy some in different colours. You get the idea.

My primary recommendation with shoes, & heels especially, is to spend as much as you possibly can. You only have one pair of feet baby, & if you cram your feet into bad shoes for years, eventually you won’t be able to wear anything but ugly orthopedic flats… & nobody wants that. So take your time when you buy shoes. If you’re not sure whether they fit or not, ask to take them home on appro. Then walk around your house all night to see whether they’re going to kill you or not. A bad pair of heels will really make you miserable, & it’s hard to be happy when your feet hurt — just ask anyone in retail!