How to Have the Perfect Wardrobe of Shoes


What are the different kinds of shoes you need to have in your shoe wardrobe?

There is no one right answer to this questions, but here are some important considerations when deciding what to include in your shoe wardrobe.

Weather and Season

Depending where you live in the world and how you spend your time,  the weather (wet, dry) and season (hot, cold) will determine which kinds of shoes work where you live.

What's In Your Shoe Wardrobe?
In summer espadrilles and sandals are my go to footwear.

Tropical climates require quite different shoe choices to those that get snow (obviously) and a temperate climate has it’s own list of shoes that you might need as well.

It’s worth thinking about how much  time of the year you require open shoes versus closed ones.  Whether you need more boots that totally cover feet or ballet flats, pumps or loafers that are more open for your cooler seasons.

What's in your shoe wardrobe? Understand all the aspects of choosing shoesFor instance, in Melbourne, temperate climate that it is, cold months where boots and closed top shoes span from mid-late Autumn in May through to early Spring in late September, which is about 5 months of the year and means that although there is no need for snow boots, a decent wardrobe of boots is required.

What's In Your Shoe Wardrobe?
In winter I like to wear knee-high boots with jeans for added warmth


Then we get Spring and Autumn which have warmer and cooler days.  An open top shoes is fine for much of this, sometimes sandals also work, sometimes totally closed shoes work.  That’s around 3-4 months of the year.

Summer is around 4 months and is often very hot which means that more open shoes and sandals are the way to go.

Think about where you live and what your climate demands as far as footwear goes.


City or country?  Farm or office?  Relaxed seaside town or big metropolitan city?

Each of these locations needs different types of shoes and what everyone else around you is wearing may also influence your shoe choices.

Lifestyle Needs

The next thing to consider is your lifestyle.

How do you spend your time?  What is appropriate footwear for the things you do?

Consider your:

  • Work
  • Leisure
  • Hobbies
  • Exercise
  • Commuting
  • Socialising

What do you do and what kinds of shoes fit your needs?

What's in your shoe wardrobe? Understand all the aspects of choosing shoesLevels of Refinement

Based on your lifestyle needs, you’ll want to think about the different levels of refinement.

What are they?  An easy way to group clothes and accessories into categories of “likeness”

Level 1Formal evening wear and corporate business clothes (things that need dry cleaning)

Level 2 – Everyday from the relaxed business to the smart casual style of clothing  (smart jeans to day dresses, skirts, softer jackets, blouses, tees)

Level 3 – Outdoor leisure appropriate clothing and accessories (sports, exercise, watching sport, hiking, gardening etc.)

I spend most of my life in Level 2 of Refinement and so wear comfortable shoes that aren’t overly chunky or clunky (or sporty) to match

So what kinds of shoes fit into each level of refinement?

What's in your shoe wardrobe? Understand all the aspects of choosing shoesLevel 1 – Pumps, high heeled sandals with bling

Level 2 – Ballet flats, oxfords, knee high boots, ankle boots

Level 3 – Sneakers, sports shoes, Crocs, Birkenstocks, work boots, wellington boots, hiking boots

Check out this post on interpreting the level of refinement of shoes here.

As most of us need to be able to dress for all three levels from time to time, it’s worth having shoes that fit into each level.  The level you spend most of your time in will have more shoe options, the levels you spend your least time in will require less shoe possibilities.

You may need:

Level 1 – shoes that work with a cocktail or evening dress,  shoes that work with a suit

Level 2 – most of your shoes are more likely to fit in this level as many of us spend lots of time here.  A variety of ballet flats, loafers, oxfords, kneehigh boots, ankle boots, summer sandals etc.

Level 3 – exercise shoes, hiking boots or walking shoes

What Colour is Your Hair?

Having shoes in a colour similar or the same as your hair gives you an easy shoe option when you’re not sure what colour works with your outfit.

Why is this?  It’s called visual grouping, where the eye travels down the body from head to toe and then when the shoe repeats your hair colour brings the eye back up to your face.

how to have the perfect shoe wardrobe for your life
I like to wear shoes in a colour similar to my hair – this bookends my outfit and creates a visual loop (or visual grouping) between top and bottom of my person.

What Colour Shoes to Choose?

Personal Preferences/Personality

And last, but by no means least, you ‘ll need to consider your personality and personal preferences in choosing shoes.

Answer these questions to help you narrow down what you need:

  • What do you find comfortable?
  • What works with your dressing style?
  • Do you wear lots of skirts and dresses?
  • Do you wear trousers,  jeans or leggings?
  • What kinds of clothes do you wear to work?  Which shoes work best with those outfits?
  • Do you need to walk a long way in your shoes each day?
  • Do you want to make your legs look longer or not?
  • Do you feel the cold or not?
  • Do you need orothotics or particular types of shoes to keep your feet happy?
What's In Your Shoe Wardrobe?
Ankle boots work well with these kinds of faux leather leggings and help create a longer leg line by blending colour from toe through the leg.

Then to your personality

  • Do you like shoes in colours or neutrals?
  • What kinds of materials do you like your shoes made from?
  • What kinds of details do you like to have on your shoes?
  • Do you prefer having more shoe options or limited shoe choices?
  • Do you want your shoes to be a hero of your outfit or a supporting act?

By looking at all these aspects of life, style, personality and location, you’ll start to be able to build a shoe wardrobe that reflects both your needs, desires and that work for the different activities and occasions in your life.  No matter the occasion, if you strategically build up your shoe wardrobe with these tips you’ll be able to have the perfect shoe for every occasion.

Tell me, what’s in your shoe wardrobe?

Download free style ebooks and printablesFurther Reading on Creating a Shoe Wardrobe

How to Choose Accessories to Match Your Personality and Occasion

How to Interpret The Formality of Your Shoes

How to Find the Most Comfortable Shoe

Top 6 Ways to Choose Shoes to Go With Your Outfit

7 Easy Ways to Use Visual Grouping to Coordinate Colours

How to Wear Flat Shoes


How to Choose Shoes to Make Your Legs Look Longer

Essential Shoe Wardrobe

7 Easy Ways to Use Visual Grouping to Coordinate Colours

How to have the perfect shoe wardrobe -what you need to consider


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  • Hi Imogen,

    Thanks for the post; it’s so important to think of what is comfortable and practical when I shop for shoes, otherwise what I buy just doesn’t get worn!

    I love those taupe knee-high boots that you’re wearing; are they new? I’ve been looking for high taupe boots for ages so if you could share a link I’d really appreciate it.

  • I just answered all these answers for myself:

    Weather and season: It can snow in winter, so I definitely need something sturdy, thick and water repellent. Not a lot though, so I don’t need a huge variety. As my feet get cold quickly and don’t get warm quickly most of my shoes would be in the middle range.

    Lifestyle: student, so ‘presentable’. Casual but flipflops may be too far. Leather ankle boots, sneakers, those kinda things.

    Refinement: level 2 and 3. No level 1 whatsoever generally. If there is a party, it’s quite casual.

    Needs: I have orthopedic soles. My shoes need to fit these, or need to be very comfortable and sturdy (my soles are for weak ankles) naturally. Closed shoes are a must because of this, they’re sturdier than most sandals and pumps (which have to be GOOD pumps and sandals) also because I have an high instep and narrow foot and anythign with straps etc. on my insteps is pure horror. Hello blisters!

    Oh, and my haircolour is coppery light golden brown. A basic cognac shade is good for me as shoes. For colour I like to go for oxblood, olive or teal. Still quite neutral but not boring.

    I also prefer my shoes to be quite sleek. Not too many buckles, zips, wrinkles etc.

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