Reviewing every pair of shoes I own – Part 1

Assessing every shoe, sandal and boot to find out what really matters when it comes to what you put on your feet

Looking back through my wardrobe in the Shopping my Shipping series has really got me thinking about my relationship with clothes. In some ways it has made me a lot more pragmatic; I’ve really found I’m not so easily drawn in by clothing companies, and a piece really has to earns its place in my wardrobe.

But does the same go for my shoes? Since I started shopping my closet I have bought several new pairs of shoes, so have I just swapped my unnecessary consumption from one product to another? In the hopes of preventing this and bringing the same analytical and eco-friendly approach I have to what I wear on my body to what I wear on my feet, I thought I’d take another deep dive. This time I’ll be reviewing every single pair of shoes, sandals, boots and so on that I own. Nothing that goes on my feet will escape scrutiny!

Historically, I haven’t been a huge buyer of shoes – I wouldn’t say they were my ‘thing’. I more tend to ‘fall for’ a particular style of shoe, then spend weeks, months or even years of my life searching for the perfect iteration of it. I’ve tried to build my shoe closet around a collection of ‘basic’ or versatile items, but as you’ll see from this list, that doesn’t always work out. So let’s take a look at the results of my at times random quest for the perfect shoe!

Clarks patent black leather brogues

Close up of Helen's feet against a white background, wearing black shiny patent leather brogues.

Starting off on a high, these are probably, at least statistically, my favourite pair of shoes. I bought them after I graduated from my Master’s and got my first ‘proper’ job. I wanted something smart and work appropriate, but with a little bit of character. I also wanted to avoid the trap of wearing black mid-height court shoes every day of my working life, so these flats were appealing. The fact that they lean into my at times masculine aesthetic was a bonus. This is not actually my original pair, but a second pair, as I wore the others out until they were full of holes. I always take them for re-heeling and re-soling, which can be a little bit expensive, but is still cheaper than buying a whole new pair. It’s also more eco-friendly to repair than replace, so it feels great that I’ve been able to do it for these shoes. As seems to always be the case these gave me horrendous blisters to start off, but they soon softened up, and now I’m as happy wearing them on long days dashing between meetings across London as I am sitting at my desk all day. They’re a really versatile style that go with loads of different outfits, so I’d highly recommend grabbing yourself a pair if you’re on the look out for something comfy but stylish to wear to work.

Would I recommend them? An absolute yes

High-heeled faux-suede lace up boots

Close up of Helen wearing black lace-up suede boots with a high heel.

These are one of my most recent purchases, and I’ve worn them almost non-stop since they arrived. They came about three days before we went back into full lockdown, so they haven’t seen that much of the outside world yet. I’ll admit that they were uncomfortable to start off with, as I’m not used to wearing such high heels, but now I’ve broken them in they’re barely any different to my brogues. Partly inspired by Ashley aka BestDressed, I wanted a black semi-casual boot that I could pair with dresses and long skirts, as well as pop under a pair of jeans or trousers. When they arrived these were zig-zag laces, but I re-laced them to give them a slightly more formal look. Now I wear them with almost everything, but midi-dresses and culottes are some of my favourite combinations. These featured quite heavily in my Week of Working from home outfits (as in, I wore them everyday), and they have quickly established themselves as one of my shoe cupboard go-tos.

Would I recommend them? Yes!

Black block-heeled sandals

Close up of Helen wearing black block heeled sandals with a wood effect heel, against a white background.

Continuing my habit of buying the same or nearly identical shoes time and time again, these are my second pair of black scrappy sandals. They make daily appearances in the hotter months, and they’re certainly looking a little bit worse for wear. Perhaps it’s time to move on to my third pair. They’re such a good basic item: they go with so many things, are comfortable and have a thick enough heel that they’re easy to walk in, and good for stomping around town. No wardrobe would be complete without a pair of these, and I don’t know how I’d manage without them.

Would I recommend them? Yes!

Hotter Concept sandals

Close up of Helen wearing light brown sandals with a cork effect base and a plaited leather front strap.

These shoes are doubly disappointing: they neither look very nice, nor feel very good. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not hideous, but I bought them as a knowing compromise, exchanging aesthetic appeal for physical comfort. Sadly it did not pay off, and these have given me some of my worst blisters. I cant quite bring myself to give them another chance yet, but I’m sure I will one day. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s a case of fool me twice…

Would I recommend them? No.

Chunky Heel croc-style boots

Close up of Helen wearing shiny black crocodile-skin look pull on boots with a chunky heel and pointed toe.

Another recent addition to my wardrobe, these are just shy of too 80s for me. They’re so pointy I feel a little like a medieval knight when I’m wearing them (though I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing), but they also have a sort of easy ‘coolness’ to them that I can’t resist. With long and short skirts or all manner of jeans, they add some instant visual interest without really needing to think about them much. The heel is so thick they’re easy to walk in despite being quite high and I love how tall they make me. Not the most versatile pair I own but definitely a favourite.

Would I recommend them? Yes!

Green Supergas

Close up of Helen wearing greeny low-top Supergas with white bases and green laces.

I’d been eyeing up a pair of Supergas for ages before I finally took the plunge and bought some. There are so many to choose from with almost imperceptible differences. I kind of wish I hadn’t gone for such a statement colour. There is a lot of green in my wardrobe, not much of which matches well with this one. I’d also slightly have preferred a softer soled version – these are sturdy but inflexible. Minor criticisms aside, these are a decent pair of shoes that work well as a casual spring and summer option.

Would I recommend them? In this colour, no.

That’s the first set of my shoes done! One day I think I’d like to live in a world where I only own five pairs of shoes, but I don’t think that’s realistic for my needs, or indeed personality! Check out Part 2 for more.

What do you look for in a good pair of shoes? And how do you manage to get through those first painful blisters? I’d love to hear your hints and tips, so please do leave them in the comments below! Thanks for reading!


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