To many women reading the above, the knee-jerk answer is of course ‘no’. Shoes, unlike other staples of our wardrobes, don’t generally become too small or too large for us as our bodies change over the years and if we hold on to anything long enough (even the most tasteless-1970’s leg warmers) they eventually become retro or vintage. However there can come a point where we take things too far. Replacing the old boiler for a tankless water heater (Haven) to free up space for a dedicated shoe closet is one thing, but when we start moving the baby out of the box room to service our walk-in wardrobe needs, we’ve perhaps gone a little too far.
Research varies as to how many pairs of shoes the average woman will admit to owning. The US based ShopStart found that the average American woman owned 19 pairs of shoes, with 15% admitting to over 30 pairs. In the UK meanwhile, an article from the Daily Mail concludes that British counterparts have, on average, a collection of a whopping 39 pairs.
Women give a range of explanations for this trend. Many point to the retail high gained from purchasing a particularly cute pair of pumps, while other share the fact that it makes them appreciate a special event knowing that they have bought an item specifically for the day. The fact that a pair of shoes may never be worn again after the wedding or bar mitzvah for which they were bought is rarely considered for long. And as our shoe collection piles up, many of us are guilty of looking at a pair we haven’t worn for a while and thinking ‘I just need to find the right outfit…’
While many women have nearly as many shoes as they do outfits (or at very least handbags), host of HSN’s “Shoe Therapy”, Meghan Cleary, thinks there are better markers to use. “My theory is that you need as many shoes as you do moods,” says Megan, “I believe that shoes reveal more about a woman’s mood than anything else she puts on her body.”
This may be a more prosaic response but how many moods can a woman have? Are we talking a dozen here, or several hundred? Maybe I don’t have enough shoes! If you’re looking for a more precise answer an article on Woman’s Daily fixes the number at six and goes on to list them as: the classic black, a nude or tan wedge, a strappy heel, a ballet flat, a dressy thong and a knee high boot. Judging from the reactions to this article at the bottom of the page, this prescriptivism is not appreciated by the majority of women however of the social feedback at the bottom of the article is anything to go by.
Regardless of how many shoes women have, the vast majority will admit to having pairs which they haven’t worn for a number of years or, in many cases, never worn (still looking for the right outfit obviously). I don’t think it’s possible to say how many pairs of shoes a woman have but, if you’re wardrobe is full of pairs which you haven’t worn for a while, and may in fact never wear, then I think perhaps you have at least one too many.