Refreshed for 2023: I actually wrote this post on a shoe capsule wardrobe for an online publication which ended up folding before it was published. They gave me the option to invoice for it or take it and pitch it elsewhere…and I thought what better place than here, on my own blog? So, let’s get into it.
A full capsule wardrobe overhaul may seem intimidating but not if you start with just one corner of your closet. So, we’re starting from the ground up: our shoes. Why do we start there? Well, for one, a good shoe is the foundation of any outfit. But, also, in complete honesty, it’s one of the easiest areas in your wardrobe to pare down.
Which Pairs of Shoes Do You Wear the Most?
Think about it — how many pairs of shoes do you really wear? You probably reach for the same classic (and comfortable!) pairs again and again. Which means you’ve created a shoe capsule wardrobe without even thinking about it. Now it’s time to put some intention behind it. With just 8 shoes (plus one bonus!), our capsule shoe wardrobe should take you through four seasons and every occasion that might come up.
2023 Shoe Capsule Wardrobe
A pair of leather ankle booties with an almond toe and a not-too-high block heel is the little black dress of fall through spring shoes. You can pair them with a flowy dress, a pair of jeans and a cozy sweater, comfy leggings and a white button down, the options are endless. We love this Madewell cognac leather bootie for a shade that’s at home with black, brown, and navy.
Okay, I’ll admit, a black knee-high boot is totally in my capsule shoe wardrobe because of Kate Middleton. She’s always so sophisticated in a winter dress, tights, and a pair of knee-high boots — and Aquatalia are her favorite. A heel and a sleek silhouette are timeless with dresses, skirts, leggings, and even leather pants. You can’t go wrong with this style — and, bonus, you’ll always stay warm.
Welcome to your everyday work pump that doubles as a brunch heel (when you’re feeling fabulously put together) and that shoe you always pack in your suitcase *just in case*. Sure, you can go with a skinnier heel, but we like the versatility of a medium-height block heel.
Even if you don’t pull them out as often as you do your booties or sneakers, a chic pair of strappy sandals will accompany you through every dressy occasion from bridal showers to galas to weddings. And sometimes it just feels right to wear a stiletto heel for a night out on the town (in post-pandemic times).
When you think of a sophisticated woman, basking in the sun of the Italian countryside, what shoes is she wearing? Probably these slides. And that’s why they’re in our capsule wardrobe. They’re your go-with-everything spring and summer shoe. Jeans, shorts, dresses, jumpsuits. You name an outfit, slides complete it. We’re willing to bet you could get through 95% of your summer obligations wearing these shoes.
Of course, if you’re a runner, you’ll need activewear-specific sneakers. But, if you’re looking to complete your capsule shoe wardrobe, a white sneaker is what you’ll want. It’s the weekend shoe you’ll need for farmers market runs and brunch plans but you can also pair them with a swingy summer dress for an afternoon brewery trip. You’ll wear these crisp white kicks year round and, seriously, there’s nothing more effortless chic than high waisted jeans, a simple tee, an oversized blazer, scarf, and white sneakers.
A ballet-inspired flat has been on trend for over a century…that must be a testament to its worthiness in a capsule wardrobe, right?! We love this time-honored, Audrey Hepburn-inspired style with a minimal heel and restrained detailing. A pair in nude, black, or the palest pink is a perfect pick.
A real shoe that doubles as a house shoe is a must, particularly when we’re working from home. Whether you’re pairing it with jeans or leggings, you’ll look polished with minimal, slip-on effort. We love Birdies for their ultra-cushiony insole that feels like a cloud and their outsole and support that allows you to walk around in the real world. Use code HMBIEN10 to save 10% on your Birdies!
One Fun Pair
It’s not all neutral and serious around here, you have to have fun, too! So consider what shoe you’ll wear again and again. Maybe it’s a vibrant espradrille (does this pair give anyone else major 1995 cool girl vibes?!) or a cowboy boot. If you love it, it’s earned a place in your capsule wardrobe.
How to Take Care of Your Shoe Capsule Wardrobe
Now that you’re well on your way to the capsule wardrobe life, we’ll leave you with just one pro tip: Find a good cobbler! You can buy well-designed, quality styles of each of the shoes within our capsule shoe wardrobe and you’ll want them to last far longer than a season or two. If you have a good cobbler on call, you can extend your shoes’ life when you resole as necessary, replace heel caps, and take care of other mendable wear and tear. Remember, one of the benefits of creating a shoe capsule wardrobe is waving goodbye to fast fashion and embracing the sustainability of well-made items.