For those who’ve been safely remaining at home for the last several weeks, it’s possible you’ve already taken up a few domestic tasks once typically reserved for rainy, uneventful weekends. This might mean sorting through stacks of old snail mail, experimenting with trendy recipes that finally utilize all those pantry staples you've collected, embarking on small home design projects, or finally getting around to sorting out your closet. Finally figuring out how to organize your shoes is one of those tasks that while intimidating to take on can have a big payoff.
Organizing your collection — be it in the practically non-existent closet of a studio apartment or a spacious walk-in — can challenge even the most organized fashion lovers, footwear takes up a lot of space after all. But for those you might consider shoe experts — designers, stylists, and even fashion personalities — maintaining a sense of organization is second nature. Ahead, a few of these fashion insiders provide their own tried-and-true methods for storing footwear, making the most of your space, and creating a collection that will last for decades. But, a little spring cleaning wouldn't be complete without the advice of a professional organizer, too — so read on and you'll find shoe storage tips that will not only bring you calm, but may actually save you money.
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Shoe Organizing Tip: Prioritize Colors
Making sense of your collection of shoes starts with establishing a method to your organization. “I like to order by style and by color,” advises Anita Patrickson, celebrity stylist and founder of sustainable sandal line Amanu, who’s been using this method since early in her career working in magazine fashion closets. “When I started as an assistant at Conde Nast I got everything drilled into me. You have to go from light to dark and by style. So that’s how I do it in my styling closet and fitting room. It does actually make life easier and it looks so pretty that I enjoy picking out my options and get more inspired to style fun looks.”
However, for an potential added boost of inspiration, Patrickson says that you can forgo the two-pronged organization approach and opt for simply sorting by hues. “In my personal closet I have all the shoes mixed, but ordered by color.” The stylist, who’s notably worked with Anna Paquin and Tika Sumpter, says that keeping your assortment of heels, boots, etc. together can actually inspire more unexpected styling choices. “I find that by not separating it by style I actually get more creative. I will add a sneaker instead of a heel, etc.”
Shoe Organization Tip: Think Outside Your Limitations
Professional organizer and founder of Simply Spaced, Monica Leed, says that one of the most common mistakes when it comes to organizing shoes is trying to remain within the limitations of the closet space. “Think outside the box and add shoe towers, shoe racks, and shoe stackers to optimize space and potentially double your storage without redesigning the closet,” Leed says. For this expert, this means relying on organizing tools such as shelving units and linen drop front storage units that can hang in your closet.
“You can see how these solutions can be stacked and reconfigured to add simple, structured storage to even the most awkward spaces. Think under hanging clothes or utilizing any low, open space. Another favorite is these premium stacking shoe bins. I've used these to extend space on upper shelves, build shoe towers in narrow gaps within closets and to maximize floor space. They're also great for making use of shared hanging space where a closet rod prevents shelving.”
Shoe Organizing Tip: Keep Them In Plain Sight
“I need to see them to not forget them,” says Paule Tenaillon. As co-founder of sustainable, Paris-based footwear brand Nomasei, along with partner Marine Braquet, Tenaillon explains that merchandising your shoes can actually help make the most of your footwear purchases. “The same way we buy what we see, we wear what we see, so the best is to have not too many and to have the room to see them all at a glance,” she says. “For a few years now I stopped keeping too many shoes that I wasn’t wearing. I keep what I really wear and I put them on white shelves to see them well quickly when I have to decide what to wear with an outfit, without having to open tons of boxes.
Patrickson echoes a similar sentiment and suggests using shelves to keep your collection visible. “I find that way easier and more versatile. Keeping your shoes off the floor is really key to keeping them looking good. I also believe clothes are meant to be worn and used, it's more sustainable and most of us own way too much that we don't use nearly enough. So having everything out, curated, and in a place that you can access it easily means you will filter them into your wardrobe more often and get more creative with your styling. Win win!”
Shoe Organizing Tip: Spotlight The Details
Any shoe lover will tell you that details matter: the sharp ‘90s-style square toe, the tiny embellishment on a strap, the bright red sole of a Christian Louboutin design. Experts say these details should not be overlooked when organizing, either. For Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director at Mytheresa — also the owner of a coveted shoe collection featuring Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and Amina Muaddi — says she uses built-in shelving for storage. “I display them in the opposite direction so you can fit more shoes into the shelf and you can still easily see what you have,” she explains.
Patrickson also encourages this method as it allows you to easily spot the stand-out design details of your shoes at a mere glance. “You save space and you can see clearly the heel, as well, in case it has some detailing on it or you want a specific height,” she says.
Shoe Organizing Tip: The Grab-And-Go Section
For added storage, as well as easy access to your favorite throw-on-and-go shoes, Patrickson lends a tip: “I have a little basket I keep by the front door for beach sandals (mostly older Amanus) that aren't too precious and are good just to throw on in a hurry.” Also consider small benches or racks by the entrance of your home to store some of your most-worn and less-delicate pairs, such as your go-to sneakers or favorite broken-in Birkenstocks.
Shoe Organizing Tip: The Seasonal Swap
Regardless the amount of time you’ve spent at home for the better part of spring this year, most of us inevitably face the chore of swapping cold-weather footwear for lighter and more open-toed options. It’s a task that deserves extra TLC, especially if you want to make your prized purchases last. “I normally put them away at the bottom of my wardrobe or under my bed where there is storage with dust bags,” says Hsu of her preferred method. “I used to keep boxes but they take up a lot of space, which is not very practical.”
As far as storage options go, Leed has trusted favorites. “I use these weather-tight storage bins to store out-of-season shoes,” she says, suggesting, “Use all those shoe bags and shoe stuffers you get for free. They come in very handy for this.” She also recommends sliding any shoe straps through the first loop before storing. "Fully buckling shoes for storage will ruin your straps and damage shoes over time."
Patrickson also adds that “making sure things are clean before you pack anything away is KEY. This goes for clothes and accessories as well as shoes." Cuyana's leather cleaning products are a favorite of hers. "I pack everything into shoes bags and then into boxes which I stack and make sure I am super clear on what's inside so I don't have a total mission trying to locate something.”
Once you’ve mastered a method of organization and regular maintenance, your shoe collection will not only be better protected and taken care of, but it’s possible each purchase will last longer. “I still have shoes that I bought 10 years ago and they’re in perfect condition,” Hsu says of her well-maintained collection. She says that she only parts with shoes and sandals when they’re too worn to fix, not simply because seasonal trends shift. “I think what goes around comes around, so if you love them, keep them.
Now, shop a few warm-weather styles you might considering adding to your current collection.