How to organize your shoes like a professional

Organizing for multitudes of clients has taught me that most people have a lot of shoes and a little bit of storage for footwear. In an attempt to combat the messy piles of shoes strewn all over the floor, here is my condensed advice for refining your shoe collection and fitting them into your home.

To keep or not to keep:
First gather all of your shoes into one space and put each pair together. Set aside the single shoes and trash them if their match does not turn up by the end of the project. Look the shoes over the make sure that you want them all and remove whatever you can.A good rule of thumb is to say goodbye to any shoes that are damaged or worn out.Also consider donating or selling those that are not your style, uncomfortable, or are rarely worn for whatever reason.

When dealing with a larger volume of shoes, categorize the pairs by color and type.The act of grouping similar pairs of shoes together will show you how many shoes you own, as well as which styles and colors are repeated. Examining your shoe collection as a whole helps you make decisions about what can go,what can stay, and what may need to be purchased next time you go shopping.Some ideas are to separate the fancy from the casual shoes, or work from weekend shoes, or regular from specialty shoes (such as winter boots or sneakers). Choose the worst pair or pairs in each category and remove them so that you are only left with the best of the best.

If you do an initial purge and there is still too many to store, consider a technique from Peter Walsh, who suggests discarding one pair for every five pairs you keep in his book It’s All Too Much. You can also re-locate a certain category, such as seasonal footwear, to another closet to be swapped in or out as the seasons change.

Storage ideas:
The next step is to choose a way to store your shoes which varies depending on the space you are working with as well as each person’s individual preferences. The basic way is to line up rows of shoes on the closet floor. I like to lay them out in a sort of rainbow grouped by color to increase visual appeal and make it easy to select what to wear. Make an effort to place the shoes that you wear often in the most convenient places, such as the front in the case of rows, or at eye level in the case of vertical storage.

You may want to leave shoes in their original boxes or buy plastic shoe boxes to protect your items. If boxes are your preference make sure you can easily identify which shoes are inside by using clear boxes or adding labels or photos on the front.Shoes can also be organized onto shoe racks, on shelves, in cubbies, in shoe bags,or on shoe trees.Free standing racks, like the ones from The Container Store, can hold up to forty pairs and make great use of vertical space. Rolling racks are especially great when you need a mobile option or if you are a renter who does not want to invest in permanent storage.Another smart use of space is an under bed bag or box that offers hidden storage underneath your furniture. I suggest that you reserve hidden storage for seasonal shoes or items that are rarely worn. Finally, you can go the custom route and hire a closet company to come outfit the space with a professional closet system.NAPOAssociate Member, Nissim Menasof, is the owner of The Closet Center, Inc. Menasof’s advice when selecting a shoe storage system is to integrate adjustable shelves because “cubbies are old fashioned and slanted shelves take up more space”. I personally love using the hanging shoe bags that connect to the doors because they are installed in seconds and store several pairs out of the way and off of the floor.

Regardless of which organizational systems you choose, after you have pared down your collection and put the remainders away, always remember that being organized is a constant process that requires upkeep and tidy habits.

Tatiana Knight is the owner of Neat with Knight, a Miami based Professional organizing business. Visit for more information.

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