How many pairs of shoes do you really need? 10? 5? 1? Before you buy another pair, read this guide to learn about the minimalist shoe collection.
In theory, it should easy to be a “minimalist” with shoes, compared to other parts of your wardrobe.
Almost any man could get away with owning 2-3 pairs of shoes, technically. On the other hand, most men would struggle with only having 2-3 shirts to choose from.
Then again, a wise catcher once said:
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
Personally, I struggle with maintaining a minimal shoe collection. I just love shoes and don't mind having three pairs of white sneakers to choose from.
What if army trainers will look better with my chinos today than plain white sneakers, ya know? For this reason, I have way too many shoes in my closet.
But if I had to pair it down to the bare minimum, I could. Here's what it would look like:
- Dark brown Oxford
- Brown chukka (or Chelsea boot)
- Plain white sneaker
That's it. These three shoes have you covered for pretty much any occasion, from casual weekend errands to formal suit-and-tie business meetings.
Each of these shoes covers a vast swath of formality. The sneakers are casual but can be dressed up. You can even wear them with a suit if you're so inclined.
The boots are casual and smart casual; perfect for anything from jeans and a t-shirt to layered smart casual outfits.
You May Also Like…
Are you enjoying this article? You might want to read this one next:
Don't worry, it opens in a new window 😉
The dark brown Oxfords can be worn with dressy jeans, chinos, odd trousers and, of course, full suits. They work with shades of blue and grey, and almost any other suit you'd like to wear.
If they're dark enough, they can even be worn with a charcoal or – in a pinch – black suit.
Granted, if you prefer a more monochromatic aesthetic, you could change up the color scheme:
- Plain white sneaker
- Grey suede chukka (or Chelsea boot)
- Black Oxford
You still have the white sneakers, the grey suede boot works better with black jeans, and the black Oxfords can be worn with navy, grey, charcoal or black suits.
Of course, you might be thinking:
I never wear [insert shoe type].
That's fine. You don't need to own sneakers if you never wear them. You could swap them out for a loafer or double up on the boots.
If you live somewhere hot and don't need boots, you can swam them for an extra pair sneakers in a darker color.
But for most guys, regardless of age, location or occupation, the sneaker/boot/dress shoe combo will suffice.
Types of Shoes
Our sense of personal style varies so widely from one guy to the next, which makes it hard to come up with one minimal shoe collection that works for everyone.
Instead, let's approach this in a “choose your own adventure” way. We'll look at each category (i.e., formality level) of shoes and pick 1-2 from each.
First we have sneakers:
- High tops
Then we have a bunch of miscellaneous casual shoes that aren't sneakers.
- Boat shoes
- Blucher mocs
- Driving mocs
Of course, we can't forget about boots.
- Work boots
- Chelsea boots
- Moc toes
Last but not least, we have our dressier shoes (which do not have to be reserved for dressy outfits, and will probably be worn mostly with business casual).
If you were to pick one shoe from each category, you'd have a minimal shoe collection that's ready for any occasion.
If you picked two from each category, you'd have plenty of options. Of course, you can skip any category and/or double down as needed.
3 Example Minimalist Shoe Collections
Let's look at three example collections using this method.
#1: Basic Bastard
For men who want a little bit of everything – not your sneaker heads or dandies – this collection is for you.
With this basic men's shoe collection, you'll never not have the perfect pair of shoes to wear, no matter the season or occasion.
#2: The Prep
If your mom dropped you and your friend, Hunter, off at lacrosse practice in a Volvo wagon, this collection is for you:
We've replaced sneakers with boat shoes and mocs, along with some classic preppy staples like duck boots and suede bucks.
This collection will have you covered for those Connecticut winters and Cape Cod summer vacations.
#3: Urban Warrior
Here's a slightly edgier, more contemporary take on the minimalist shoe collection – perfect for anyone who lives in a big city and takes the train to work.
This collection is heavy on sneakers, as it prioritizes comfort and more casual outfits.
Since many young urban dwellers work in more casual offices and walk or take public transit to work, this collection makes a lot of sense.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Yes, you need one pair of dress shoes, even just for the occasional wedding, interview or funeral.
Other than that, the choice is yours. I don't think you need more than 3-4 pairs of shoes, although there's nothing wrong with having extras (as long as you actually wear them).
Think about your style aesthetic and day-to-day life, then try to create a minimal shoe collection that works for you. Most importantly, don't worry too much about what anyone else thinks!