The Empress Of Dress

How Many Pairs of Shoes Do You Really Need?

Writing this post required a bit of research into the different types of shoes available in these modern times. Needless to say, to someone who only owns a total of three pairs, learning exactly what’s on the market was stunning. There are, quite literally, hundreds of different types of shoes for nearly every occasion. How many of them does one really need?

Before the fashion industry got hooked up with Madison Avenue, it wasn’t unusual for the average adult to own just two pairs of shoes. One pair would be for everyday use, including work. The other would be for Sunday church and formal events. Only the elite had closets filled with more shoes than they could wear in a week.

So what happened? Marketing happened. Savvy marketers figured out how manufacturers could take an existing pair of shoes, make one or two changes, call them something else, and then sell them as brand-new models.

Men’s Dress Shoes

There is a temptation to immediately point to women’s shoes when talking about excess. But the men aren’t any better. Just take a look at the different styles of men’s dress shoes if you’re not convinced. An honest assessment will reveal that many of the differences between styles are merely ornamental.

Compare a typical pair of oxfords against a competing pair of brogues. Both types of shoes have pointed toes, fairly thin soles, and shallow heels. Both have laces to keep them snugly in place. The differences between the two types of shoes are merely aesthetic.

The leather pieces that make up a pair of oxfords are cut into different shapes compared to brogues. Furthermore, the brogues have additional embellishments that make them look a bit flashier. But functionally and structurally speaking, there is little to no difference between the two styles.

One Pair of Shoe Covers

The point of this post is further made by discussing the shoe covers a professional man might wear to protect his brogues or oxfords. A business executive might have five different pairs of dress shoes, for example. It is a safe bet he would not have five different pairs of shoe covers. He would buy a single pair of GC Tech galoshes or slip-on shoe covers and be done with it.

One pair of shoe covers capable of protecting every pair of shoes only serves to demonstrates how little difference there is from one dress shoe style to the other. So what is the point in having five different styles in your closet? Whatever the reason, it has nothing to do with function.

Way Beyond Dress Shoes

Excess in the shoe department goes way beyond dress shoes. It touches every shoe category out there. Even sneakers are not free from Madison Avenue’s marketing techniques. Need evidence? Look at one of the most recently introduced categories of sneakers: skating shoes.

What are skating shoes? They are sneakers that have allegedly been redesigned to make them optimal for skateboarding. ‘Allegedly’ is the key operating word here. Their function is alleged because a general perusal of skating shoes reveals very little difference between them and any other pair of low-top canvas sneakers.

From a functional standpoint, nearly all of us can get away with just one or two pairs of shoes. Most of us have more not because we need them, but because we want them. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. The point of bringing all of this up is to simply remind readers of the obvious: we probably don’t need most of the shoes we own.

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