It's not about showing off, it's about curating a great collection, says a top closet organizer.
Want more control over your closet? Stop hiding your shoes.
Instead, designers suggest taking a cue from retail stores and displaying your collection — at least, the core six or eight pairs — on shelves, at eye level, where you can easily see them. If clutter bells are ringing, ignore them. The secret to shoe storage is staying on top of your inventory.
“This is not about showing off, this is not about more-more-more, this is about less,” says designer Lisa Adams, who began her career in kitchens and baths before starting LA Closet Design in 2007. Now, as one of Hollywood’s go-to wardrobe gurus, she creates dream closets for celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Tyra Banks and Khloe Kardashian. “Shopping is impulsive. The best way to keep yourself from overspending and stockpiling crap is to make sure you can see what you already have.”
First, determine which of your shoes you actually wear, then how frequently you wear them. Shoes worn daily or weekly should get prominent storage in the center of your closet system or entryway where they’re easy to put on and stow away. Seasonal and activity-specific shoes, such as hiking boots and formal footwear, can be stored in a garage, attic or back-closet shelf. This is where plastic or color-coded shoe bins and boxes come in handy. Although it’s less important for storage solutions to match the closet, retailers are catering to younger customers who want total coordination and control.
Jimmy Seifert, a closet department buyer for the Container Store, says wardrobe systems are becoming less of an afterthought or careless catchall. “Younger customers … in particular, want a polished, edited look,” he says. “Matching hangers, shoes on display, handbags on shelves. It’s sort of extreme minimalism, or extreme decluttering. Everything out in the open so you know exactly what you’re working with.”
To attract material-minded millennials, retailers are expanding their closet offerings to include store-inspired display cases and high-tech storage boxes. The Container Store sells plastic, drop-front containers for collectible sneakers and a box specifically sized to fit upright high heels. In April, Ikea teamed up with Los Angeles streetwear designer Chris Stamp on a line of limited-edition plastic shoe boxes called Spänst. They’re a sneakerhead’s dream; monochromatic and stylishly simple, designed to look like little shipping containers with built-in showcase lights.
“We’re tuned in to what this generation wants,” says Janice Simonsen, a design spokeswoman for Ikea North America, “which is to feel proud of their shoes without going too loud or bulky.”
For her custom closets, Adams draws inspiration from high-end boutiques and dressing rooms where elegant lighting and a tidy aesthetic instantly put shoppers at ease. “It’s relaxing, but more importantly, it makes you want to wear what’s on the rack,” she says. “Why wouldn’t that also work at home?” Some of her favorite closet-design techniques, such as LED-lit shoe walls and jewelry display cases, elevate the homeowner’s collection and make them excited to wear it.
“I know it sounds over-the-top, but it’s rooted in practicality, in using what you already have,” she says. “Buying shoes and then tossing them into a bin to be forgotten, that feels crazy to me.”