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Storing your shoe collection

One of the most common stereotypes about women is that they’re all shoe-mad and will use any excuse to go shoe shopping to expand their already vast collections. As a rule I don’t subscribe to this type of thinking, but I have had the odd occasion where only a new pair of shoes would suffice to make me feel better, and I do have a friend who owns more shoes than she knows what to do with. She has dozens of brand new shoes, unworn, still in their boxes and every now and then she’ll “discover” a pair that she never knew she had, only for it to go back on top of the unworn pile.

A question that plagues many people who don’t understand shoe obsessions is what exactly do these people do with all their shoes? Where on Earth do they keep them? Lack of space is a common problem, even among women (and men) who don’t have large shoe collections. I generally just toss shoes negligently into my cupboard. This has several disadvantages, not least of which is the fact that I have to devote at least 5 minutes of every morning in search of a matching pair. Occasionally I try to solve this problem by leaving my shoes lying next to my bed. But this is no more effective, as I inevitably trip over them or kick them to the various corners of the room and have to spend even more time hunting a pair down.

Amanda Viciana, who runs the Atlanta (USA) chapter of the Hello Stiletto Shoe club (so immediately you know she has a lot of shoes), solved her shoe storage dilemma by converting her unfinished basement into a “shoe room”. Here, her multitude of shoes (she has over 100 pairs) is displayed on various shelves around the room, or some pairs hang from a few well-placed hooks on the walls.

But not everyone has a handy basement going spare, and fortunately there a number of storage systems available that don’t involve taking over an entire room. One of the most popular methods is to store shoes in clear plastic boxes. These boxes have numerous advantages: they keep pairs of shoes together, they enable you to see at a glance what the box contains, and they protect your shoes from damage, dust and mould.

Another box system entails keeping shoes in the boxes they came in. To overcome the obvious difficulty of know which shoes are in which boxes, you simply attach a photograph of the shoes to the side of the box. An even simpler solution would be to write a descriptive label on the box, but seeing a picture of your shoes is so much easier (and more convenient) than reading a description and trying to remember exactly what the shoes look like.

Then there are the old standbys: the door hanger and the shoe rack. Both of these options are ideal for shoes that you wear often and that aren’t that expensive or delicate.

Experts recommend that you take a careful look at your lifestyle and habits before deciding on a storage system. This will help you to establish a system that works for you and that you will be likely to stick to. For instance, none of the box systems would work for me. I don’t have the patience for a system like that, and I’m just too damn lazy. It would only be a matter of time before my shoes were in a heap at the bottom of the cupboard again, and then I would have the additional problem of what to do with a bunch of superfluous boxes. I might be able to keep a door hanger going though, or perhaps an easily accessible shoe rack.

Another tip is to organise shoes by frequency of use, size of heel, colour and occasion, and while that is no doubt immensely helpful to some, for me it would be an exercise in futility. Some people, however really get into their shoe arrangement and further divide shoes by season, and even add notes about which outfits the shoes compliment.

When it comes to shoe storage, your only limit is your imagination. Some people display their shoes in cabinets, as functional works of art. One woman has made creative use of a ladder and hangs her shoes on the rungs. Until someone invents an automatic shoe organiser, however, I’m afraid that my footwear is going to remain in a tangled clump at the bottom of my cupboard.

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