I have any addiction. Sometimes I think it’s under control, but most of the time I try to hide it. My vice? Shoes and boots. I just can’t get enough of them. unfortunately my closets pay the price.
As anyone in NYC will tell you, closet space can be hard to come by, so we really do have to get creative when it comes to storing our beloved footwear. So I spoke to professional organizer, Laura Dantzler, President of Let Laura, to get the scoop keeping things under control in the shoe and boot department.
Step #1: Edit and purge
It’s the tip you most likely know is coming: Get rid of the shoes and boots you don’t need. Dantzler suggests taking a hard look at your collection. “Ask yourself: Do they fit comfortably? Do I like them? Do I have clothes that match? If you answer no to any of these questions, put the shoes in the donate pile,” she says.
Once you’ve eliminated the pairs you’ll never wear, check the condition of those that remain: “If the shoes are past their prime, can they be repaired? Toss the beyond-repairable ones,” says Dantzler.
“Only keep the pairs you love and wear. If you can’t decide, put them aside for six months and then choose whether to keep them, toss them, or donate them to charity.”
Step #2: Arrange by type
Now that you’ve edited your collection to the keepers, Dantzler recommends sorting what’s left into three groups – fall and winter, spring and summer, and special occasion. Then organize those groups by color, type, and heel height (boots, ballet flats, work heels, stiletto heels, etc). “It’s much easier to style an outfit when the shoes are organized this way,” she says.
Step #3: Make in-season shoes easily accessible
For a larger shoe collection, you’ll probably want to install shelving or a closet system. Space shelves to allow for different heel heights (flats, ankle booties, your 5-inch stilettos, etc.) and, at the bottom, leave enough room for the height of your boots.
And don’t worry if your shelves don’t fit in a closet, Dantzler says. When space is limited, “I have installed shelving behind entryway and bedroom doors in addition to closets, so get creative!” If you can’t install shelves, she says, you can “Repurpose an open bookcase, an armoire, or a glass cabinet. Make sure the shelves are at least a foot deep to accommodate the average shoebox.”
If you’re leaving shoes in their original shoeboxes, Dantzler suggests putting a snapshot of the shoe on the outside. “If you can’t see what you have you won’t wear it,” she says.
What about those shoes that are out of season or for special occasions only? Store them in clear plastic boxes at the top of a closet or in under-the-bed storage. When the seasons change, swap the shoes!
Step# 4: Let boots stand alone
Tall boots can be a nightmare to store in an orderly fashion. They can take up a lot of space if stored in their original boxes, and can fall over and look messy if left to stand unattended in a closet. This is where boot shapers can come in very handy. Opt for those that come with an M-shaped clip that hold both boots together, or shapers that can hang on a low bar and help them stand up straight.
Step #5: Keep footwear in good condition
Even though your shoes and boots might be stored in an orderly fashion after following the tips above, you still need to give them a little TLC now and again. Polish leather shoes so that the leather won’t crack in the off-season, spray them with waterproofing protector to protect them in bad weather, and if things start to smell funky in your shoes closet try cedar insoles or blocks to remove odors and prevent bacteria growth.
Failing that take dryer sheets, ball them up and place them in your shoes – not only will they smell good they’ll absorb any moisture still left in the shoe.
Do you have a trick for storing shoes? Share it in the comments below!