I was on Spring Break with the kids last week and we traveled to South Carolina to visit my mom.  While I was there, she wondered, would I be willing to clean out her shoe stash, as per the guidelines in Katy Bowman’s [amazon_link id=”1936661071″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief[/amazon_link].

Absolutely!  So long as I can do a blog post of it.

We agreed on terms (photos only of her shoes, not the rest of her closet), I grabbed my four-year old and we went to work.

I’ll lay out what I was looking for in a moment, but first I think we should do a BEFORE shot.



That’s a lot of shoes, no?

But, wait, because she also had a hanging shoe thingy where she kept her flip-flops:


So, that’s where we started.

Now, on to the terms.  If you haven’t read the [amazon_link id=”1936661071″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]book[/amazon_link] (and really, you should read the book, because it’s about women’s lower body health and not just about feet), then you can go to this blog post over at Katy’s blog to see the terms I used to evaluate whether a shoe was going to stay or go.

I’ve also learned a lot about the art of the closet clean out from the wise Liles Thompson of Styles by Liles, namely that:

1) women don’t need nearly as many shoes as they think they do;

2) if you’re not wearing it then it’s just taking up space that something you would wear might be occupying;


3) keep a running list of your what you truly need to round out your wardrobe so that when you go shopping you won’t buy more things you don’t need.

So, channeling my inner-Liles, with the voice of Katy ringing in my head and accompanied by a four-year old who told her grandmother, “Heels are bad for your hips,” I began.


First, we took all of the shoes off the shelves and wiped them down.  Part of the closet clean out is getting rid of the things you don’t need, but another part is organizing the things you do need in a way that makes sense.  So, we started with a bare canvas.

Some of the shoes were easy to reject, like these wedges which are not only super high but also have the most inflexible sole of any shoes I have ever touched.



And then there were these:


More big heels, and inflexible soles.

We pretty much ditched every single shoe that had any heel at all with two exceptions.  Mom kept a pair of low-heeled wedges for dressy occasions and also a pair of gorgeous Stuart Weitzman’s that she and I bought together for my sister’s wedding.  She may never wear them again, but we both had a sentimental attachment to them so we saved them on a high shelf.

OMG, seeing a pair of “Fit Flops” made me want to curl up in the fetal position or cry “surrender,” but luckily I turned them over and got a good chuckle when I saw this:



Right.  Because *only* if you wear Fit Flops is it possible to get a “workout” while “walking.”

(If you own a pair of these shoes or some other “body toning” footwear, no need to confess.  Just throw them out.  Right now.)

Speaking of flip flops, most all of them got tossed.  They didn’t meet the “well-attached” criteria.  But I kept three pairs of them and I want to talk a little about why.

She had two pairs of Clarks that feature straps lower down the foot than the average flip flop.  See one pair on my feet, and no, I haven’t had a pedicure since maybe October –



That wide leather band made all the difference in the world in my ability to walk with a healthy heel / toe push off (read this post to see more) versus the shuffle-sort-of-walk that most flip flops demand.  I walked across Mom’s bathroom floor in the shoes above and then in another pair of flip flops so she could see the difference.  She did, instantly.  (Incidentally, none of her Born shoes made the cut.  The soles were super-inflexible.  This may not be the case with all Born shoes, just the ones she had, but I couldn’t let her keep them.)

Shockingly, this “bejeweled” pair of flips met many of Katy’s criteria –


Again, that strap close to my ankle kept them well-attached and the sole is remarkably flexible.  I bent it easily with one hand, kind of like these fun shoes from Bensimon that I bought for myself, never “grew into” and ended up giving to Mom:


We kept all of her many (many!) Toms:


And this great pair of boots she fetched recently:


The heel is a tinge high, but the soles have really good flex and finding that in a low boot is pretty tough.

Now, you may be thinking, “These are all great for someone who is retired and lives at the beach, but I have to go to work.”

Enter, fun flats!

Mom snagged a few flats at a local boutique by a designer that was new to me – [amazon_link id=”B005J5TKO8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lindsay Phillips[/amazon_link] – and they are flexy with wide toe boxes. I loved them!

DSC03336 DSC03335


So, when all was said and done, this is what her closet looked like:

DSC03349 DSC03350

The shoes are organized according to when and how often she is likely to wear them.

She wouldn’t let me ditch her pile of Nike flip flops:


They have an elevated heel and you have to shuffle to keep them on, so I have asked her to identify when she wears them and see if we can’t find some better shoes that would fit that scenario.  (That’s why you need to keep a list in your closet.)  But for now, the Nikes remain.

Who wants to go next?  I’d love for some of you guys to audit your shoe stash and send pics of the yays and nays for a future blog post.

Overwhelmed?  Don’t be.

All you need to remember is that if you are wearing a pair of shoes and you cannot walk healthfully (heel rocking through to toe push off with hip extension and glute recruitment) then you don’t need to be wearing those shoes.

Send pics of your shoe closet cleanout to krexploringwellness at gmail dot com.  And let the foot health begin!

(Many thanks to my mom for baring her “sole” on the internet!)

This post is featured at Thank Goodness It’s Monday #15 here!


9 Responses to “The Great Shoe Audit of 2013”

  1. on 09 Apr 2013 at 7:43 amTracy S

    Tendonitis forced me to do this years ago. My mom is a show hound (two over the door racks plus the closet shelf, mostly heels though they hurt), but I am very, very minimal. I’m pretty selective on brands too. Just wearing a pair of flexible flats for church can send me over the edge. Merrels are my fav brand. I’m a former flip flopper, but those days are gone.

  2. on 09 Apr 2013 at 7:53 amKristine Rudolph

    We’ve got a lot of Merrells in our house now. Both my guys wear the barefoot sneakers.

  3. on 09 Apr 2013 at 8:20 amhot Nai Nai

    The best part was when Miss M said(hand on hip) “Nains …..those shoes are bad for your hips!”

  4. on 09 Apr 2013 at 8:28 amJennifer Williams

    So interesting and I learned a lot!! Having recently purchased my first pair of Tom’s ( which I love!) I am a little surprised they made the “cut” since they seem to have very little support. Thanks for the insight!

  5. on 09 Apr 2013 at 9:22 amKristine Rudolph

    See, that’s the fallacy that shoemakers have perpetrated … that your feet need “support.” We’ve engineered these cages for our feet and in the process caused atrophy of the tiny muscles that were designed to hold us up. Not to mention the losses in proprioreception. If you have a second, read through Katy’s posts on foot health. Better yet, buy the book. It’s really fantastic. I’d loan you mine but my mom has it!

  6. on 11 Apr 2013 at 8:25 amSusan

    Go Sally GO! I was impressed that you let Kristine get rid of so many of your shoes! Just think how many women are happy at Goodwill who need some 🙂 I too was THRILLED that Tom’s made the cut…….they are my new favorite shoe and happen to be a favorite of my favorite designer, Carol Anderson. I think if she wears them we can all feel good about taking care of ourselves and being fashionable at the same time! Thank you, Kristine, for sharing all of your knowledge with us.

    P.S. My men have been wearing Merrells for years…….leave it to the men to know what is comfortable! There is always at least 2 pair of them under the Christmas tree every year. I actually had Toms under the tree for my girls last year so that will definitely continue!

  7. on 11 Apr 2013 at 8:29 amKristine Rudolph

    Wasn’t she brave? 😉

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