How to Build a Men’s Minimalist Shoe Collection
December 18, 2017


Build an all-weather shoe collection with the fewest amount of shoes possible

Minimalism is becoming more and more popular these days, and for good reason. As a society, people are valuing de-cluttering, not overspending, and getting back to the basics. One of the great things about minimalism, is that you can apply the philosophy to almost any aspect of your life. In this instance, we are going to describe how to declutter and build an all-weather shoe collection that requires a minimal amount of shoes without sacrificing function, utility, or style.

First Step: Declutter and Donate your Old Shoes!

Before starting the process of picking out shoes for your new collection, it’s important to go through your current shoe collection and get rid of any old shoes you don’t wear, or any shoes that will need to be replaced soon.

The best part of this, is you can help out people in need by donating your old or under-used shoes to charities, which give lightly used footwear to those in need.

Building a Minimalist 5 Shoe Wardrobe

The Guidelines

  • Your individual shoe collection will depend on your lifestyle and the climate you live in. If you live in Key West, you won’t be in need of any heavy duty winter boots for example, so we suggest tailoring your collection to fit your needs.
  • Focus on versatility. Shoes that can be effectively worn with multiple styles or in multiple environments are crucial for building a minimalist wardrobe.
  • Focus on quality. Part of the core of minimalism is that you shouldn’t need to replace your items all that frequently, so it’s better to focus on quality than quantity. Make smart purchases that will last for years.
  • Focus on classic styles that don’t go in and out of fashion. Fashion and style still matter, so considering this is a long-term plan, you don’t want to buy a fashion that will be out of style in 1 year.
  • As a general rule of thumb, leather material will last longer than most cloth or synthetic material will, especially if cared for well.


Shoe 1 – Casual Athletic

You don’t need to be an athlete or even particularly casual to have a big use for a pair of casual athletic shoes. For the minimalist, these types of shoes are a staple for walking, running, and can even look great with a casual outfit.

Our suggestion for the casual athletic option is to pick a running-style shoe that functions effectively as a fashionable choice for streetwear as well. If you’re not much of a runner, you can explore a more durable casual shoe. Ideally, your casual shoe pick should look good with any type of casual outfit. Some examples include:

  • With shorts and a t-shirt
  • With jeans
  • With gym clothes (gym shorts or warmups)

Alternatively, if you do not run much, you may chooose more of an athleisure style shoe that is ideal for walking around a city. 





Shoe 2 – Dress and Work

For our second shoe, we need something that can pair with formalwear, business casual, or even a nicer casual outfit. The easy choice here is to pick a high quality oxford style shoe. Oxford shoes are incredibly versatile, and can pair with anything ranging from a suit and tie to a pair of chinos and a button-down shirt.

Best of all, oxford shoes have been in style since….forever. One suggestion we have for upping the versatility of your oxford shoes is to pick a dark brown color, since this will provide a lot of versatility in terms of pairing it with your outfits. While lighter colors can offer a great splash, they may not always pair as well with a dark suit. Dark brown shoes can typically fill the role a black oxford shoe would, or a brown oxford shoe would. As with anything however, mix and match based on your personal wardrobe and style.





Shoe # 3 – Versatile Boots for Harsh Weather

Boots are always going to be in fashion, and if you pick the right pair, they can fill many functions across your wardrobe. Our suggestion for boots is to pick up a pair that is functional in harsh weather, but is wearable with a wide variety of styles, ranging from casual to office-wear.

If your work environment is on the dressier side, we suggest siding with lace-up boots that can be dressed up. On the other hand, if you work in a more casual environment, more casual or weather-appropriate boots such as Duck Boots can be an optimal pick. If you work in a demanding environment that requires heavy duty work boots, getting a high quality pair that will hold up through any type of abuse will be critical.

One of the most important items with boots is caring for them properly to ensure longevity (link to boot care guide post).

  • Durable leather will last through the elements if it’s regularly treated, making a good pair of boots a great investment.
  • Consider inspecting the leather quality, which is often higher in more expensive boots.
  • Make sure to figure out which type of sole you need. If you will be regularly trudging through snow and water, you will want to make sure your boots don’t have a leather sole, which won’t hold up well in harsh weather.

Lace-up Workwear Boot

Classic workwear boots are likely the most versatile boot selection. A good pair will pair with business wear, casual outfits, and can even protect your feet from cold and wet weather.


Duck Boots

Being more on the casual side, duck boots are a little bit more limited in terms of the styles they’ll pair with, but they are optimal for dealing with harsh weather conditions. Duck boots in many ways are crossovers of rain or snow boots with workwear boots, making them functional for everyday wear while still protecting your feet from harsh conditions.


Heavy Duty Work Boots / Snow Boots

Heavy duty or work boots offer the most protection, but the least amount of versatility in terms of fashion. While heavy duty boots are perfect for braving most types of weather and will hold up through a lot of abuse, they aren’t going to pair well with a weekend outfit or business wear. With that said, if you work or live in an environment that requires heavy duty footwear, these aren’t an option.



Shoe # 4 – Sandals

Unless you live in the arctic, you’ll experience warm weather at some point during the year. While our casual athletic shoes will function well in most warm-weather environments, you’re not going to wear tennis shoes to the pool or on the beach. As a result, picking up a quality pair of sandals is important.

While sandals are important for taking to the beach or pool, they can be far more useful than just for those purposes. A quality pair of leather sandals pair well with shorts and most casual outfits. Sandals are great for wearing to barbecues, while camping, and are even functional for wearing around the house. We suggest a nice pair of leather sandals as they can be dressed up more than other sandals without sacrificing functionality.




Shoe #5 – Personal Wildcard

With sandals, athletic, boots, and oxfords covering most basic needs, we suggest having one final pair of shoes that fits your lifestyle and needs. These shoes will likely be a little bit more of a niche pick, but depending on your style and your local climate, you may find yourself wearing these more than any of your other shoes.

Boat Shoes

Boat shoes are ideal for the summer, and are particularly practical the further south you go. They crossover with casual athletic shoes as well as sandals in that they can be worn to beaches or for casual strolls around the city in the summer.



Chukkas can fill functionality that casual shoes and oxfords normally do. Chukkas are traditionally a little more casual than oxfords are, but are dressier than your average sneaker is. Chukkas also act similar to boots, except they’re more optimized for warmer weather climates.


Chelsea Boots

Chelsea boots fill many of the practical functions traditional lace-up boots or chukkas would, except they fit more of a niche style than standard work boots would. Chelsea boots are commonly paired with skinny jeans and outfits that are more casual than you would pair lace-up boots with, and are often seen as a slightly trendier boot selection.