Building a closet for life | Holy Mackerel shoe collection


2 pairs of knee-high boots

7 pairs of ankle boots (3 leather, 4 suede)

1 pair of trainers

2 pairs of brogues

1 pair of loafers

2 pairs of heels

When I began this blog I had in the first year garnered quite a lot of inexpensive shoes that inevitably fell apart quite quickly (although I have an embarrassingly amount of them still stored up in boxes but that’s later in the post). So two to three years ago I started changing my ways with a pair of blue suede boots with purple elasticated sides. From Clarks in the sale it opened a doorway to taking better care of my feet by wearing leather shoes and boots.

Post-ankle break I have continual ankle and foot issues (because the restricted ankle gives me metatarsal pain on top) so after a second load of physio it quickly became apparent that sticking by cheap, badly fitting shoes just wasn’t going to cut it, and so began the slow creation of 15, yes, 15! Pairs of decent shoes.

If I’m honest the moment I thought about this post and started pulling them from my various stashes across the house I felt a little embarrassed. 15 pairs? That is an awful lot. Such a lot that it made me realize how important it is to go through those cheap shoe boxes and be honest with myself as to what anyone really needs in a shoe cupboard and then donate for those who can’t afford size nine shoes, period. After all, we all have to start somewhere.

Although a couple of pairs were c/o it took me a long time to build this shoe-drobe so really I guess I shouldn’t be too embarrassed after all I did so for a reason. To have a collection of shoes which work for all occasions and which can take me through several years (rather than a season).


When it began

After the first pair, I’ll admit I was a little addicted but only in the sale. The blue suede boots, the red and taupe heels, the pale brogues… in fact the only pair of shoes, which I bought full price? The orange desert boots.

I still tend to buy in the sales, laying in wait for the next deal to make them more affordable I pre game. The moment the new collection launches I do a reckie, which ones do I like and previously what do I need. Then I wait for deals, full on Sales, 15%, 40% you name it and then I go for it.

Do I need that many or realistically what do I or you need…

Need vs. want is a huge part of a capsule wardrobe or anyone’s life when they are trying to be conscientious of what we are consuming. At first I wasn’t so good at the needs vs. the wants in fact I went by what I loved the look of. Reality is heels are rarely needed but a great pair of boots for rain and snow, yes, they should be on my needs list. The problem is knowing actually what do you need and in the last three + years there has been a lot of learning going on.

Now, when I look at this collection I know that the last pair of boots (Black leather lace ups) should have been first on my list. I would never have known that however, if I hadn’t of had a cheap pair of sand boots like that last year. I would not have known that lace up boots? Totally my jam.

Most importantly weather is a big consideration. Rain? Snow or dry winters you have to know what you are preparing for. I have gone through a lot of winters with wet feet. Wet feet help no one but it took me an embarrassingly long time to finally just tough it up and buy leather boots, leather protection spray and just have dry feet.

The problem is always wants vs. needs. I love suede, just like my mum its way more comfortable, way cuter but it hates rain and it certainly doesn’t appreciate snow so really I needed to get myself leather boots.

Another interesting conundrum is what type of shoe I like to wear and where I need to wear them. Ultimately we spend, sadly, most of our lives at work so the main point I’m making here is they need to be smart, or at least smart-ish. Due to this I thought loafers, great, smart shoes the only issue is they take so long to wear in and my feet don’t like being hurt. In all honesty they are still a little bit of a bust but something big came to me this year, you have to wear in good shoes.

Cheap plastic shoes? They don’t take any time to wear in, in fact if they wear in its because they have fallen apart.

What I know is I love boots. Boots are my thing. In fact in posts they might even become my tell. This is Jess, she wears boots. The only thing is we like variety so having one pair it might never work, that’s not saying I’ve not over done it however, so here is my key (specific for me) as to the types of shoes I actually need in my wardrobe.

1 pair of knee high boots

1 pair of leather (waterproof boots)

1 pair of suede boots (hardship guys I want five (I only have four now)

1 pair of brogues

1 pair of trainers

1 pair of heels

Yup, that’s only six pairs of shoes overall. It seems a small amount but really its all we need. Shocking, isn’t it.

Now please make me feel better and tell me you also have a crazy amount of shoes!


6 thoughts on “Building a closet for life | Holy Mackerel shoe collection

  1. shaewc says:

    Oh yes! Quality shoes are my thing! I stalk the sales also. I have had surgery on my left foot twice, so comfort is a must. I love Cobb Hill, Aravon, Clarks… I wear a US size 7 wide or 7.5 wide which is a bummer because there is a serious shortage of cute AND comfy/supportive styles in wide. I probably have 30 or more pairs right now. And I keep buying! I do donate/resell some each year… the pairs that have fallen out of wearing rotation. Whew! I could write a novel on the subject of footwear…better stop now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • therealjlow says:

      I love finding another comfort finder! I don’t know when we decided we could do without support and comfort! I mean walking on a cloud is far superior to a block! 🙂 I think the part I feel most concerned about is not this collection but my backlog of cheap plasticy ones in several boxes above me clothes…. If only these were the only ones I have! I think a good go through is in order soon! Where do you donate to?

      Thanks for the comment! and novels on footwear? I kind of love them! 🙂 x


  2. baublesandknots says:

    I do this thing where I buy 1style in 2colors. I’ve settled down on it in the past few years, but I’m notorious for buying 2pairs of TOMS at a time. And I don’t wait for sales. I used to sell shoes though so I feel like I have a good idea of what the wholesale price would be & what the production price would be & what’s reasonable for a well constructed shoe. Plus charity. See how I just rationalized my shoe purchase? We all do it 😉


    • therealjlow says:

      2 pairs of a good style though is really sensible! The blue suedes for instance, I wish I had thought to buy them in a second colour!

      Now I have a TOMs question I read somewhere that they only last a couple of months and thats what they are meant to last for… do you find that? and if so how do you justify the cost? I’ve been seriously considering a pair of their faux fur lined classics but the price and duration of wear is concerning me…. Charity is always good and I love that aspect again i’d worry if they are being donated to third worlds but only last a couple of months you know…. although I guess whats happening is you’re buying $20 shoes x 2 one for you and one for the donation…..?!?!?

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they are always welcome!!! 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

      • baublesandknots says:

        I’ve had 1negative experience in which a summer pair fell apart very quickly, but they were not the classicly constructed TOMS. The wedges, brogues, & boots I’ve purchased have a higher construction standard & their longevity is going on 4years for the oldest pair. My very first pair of TOMS classics were purchased over 5yrs ago. I still wear them as houseshoes. The toes have worn a hole & the insole is a little patchy, but the sole is intact & firmly attached to the upper. My understanding is this is the style donated & I can’t say how long it would last wearing daily, but I would imagine greater than 2months. I know there are other companies that are charitable & it would probably be better if they created infrastructure for these areas, but this brand is comfortable, stylish, & within my budget. I am going to look into this more cause sometimes I just live in my bubble, however from own experience I would wholeheartedly recommend this brand.


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