You ask a really good question. Like many others here, my shoes are mostly neutrals—in my case, the majority are black, with a couple white pairs, a pair of grey, and a pair of navy blue. I want to add silver footwear, which would bookend my hair.

A couple years ago, I impulsively bought mustard colored sandals because I liked the color. I wore them only once; I always chose something I liked better whenever I tried them with an outfit. So I’m not sure that bright colors in my footwear are a good idea for me these days.

I choose shoe colors in much the same way a bass fish chooses what to bite. They're drawn to the sparkly, wiggly, shiny ones.

I'm that way about shoes. Whatever catches my eye and strikes my fancy... generally, the more color or shine, the better. As evidenced by my current collection, which has neither rhyme nor reason LOL

I'm seriously currently dressed like an Easter egg in a pale pink sweater, mint green jeans, and purple booties. So I choose my shoes based on what my heart tells me, occasionally tempered by what my brain says is sane

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This is an interesting thread!

nemosmom I'm not sure if your question is more about choosing shoes to build a shoe wardrobe, or choosing shoes to build an outfit. Or maybe it is both!

I am a shoe gal, but I don't have a very organized process for any of this! Here is what I have noticed after thinking about your question:

-My winter shoes are mostly neutrals. My summer shoes are mostly colors. This might be more about availability than any kind of preference on my part though?

-My summer shoes tend to contrast with the colors I most often wear, rather than match. For example, I seem to have accumulated several pairs of summer shoes in the pink/fuschia range. That is not a color I wear much of in clothing, but I like how it contrasts with the navy and white that I do have a lot of.

-I think that when adding new styles, I tend to "fall for" a pair of shoes, and then if they prove their worth in my wardrobe I am likely to duplicate the exact model in a different color, or look for a similar style in a different color.

-I am not likely to purchase two pairs of shoes of the same color in the same category. For example, I have a pair of cognac riding boots that are absolute workhorses. I am not interested in buying another pair of cognac tall boots. I'd love a pair of burgundy tall boots, though.

-I might look for the same color in a different category, though. For example, once I realized how useful those cognac riding boots are I started thinking about a pair of cognac ankle boots.

-Re: choosing shoes for an outfit, at least when it comes to my cold-weather style, I think many of my outfits could go with multiple pairs of footwear. So the choice is partly whim and partly rotating for variety. So for example today I'm wearing black leggings, plum tunic and cardi, and gray tall boots (see pic). I think the gray boots lighten the look a bit. I could also wear this outfit with cognac riding boots (they would warm up the outfit), or black tall boots (for a sleek, leg-lengthening look). Or black or cognac ankle boots would work too!

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My style leans towards very casual boho hippie thing, with the occasional outside my box outfit. I wear Docs the majority of the time. When I add color or pattern it is usually with converse.

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Great question. I make sure I always have the following: a nude shoe for every season, and a black shoe for every season. That’s my essentials covered. However, I have quite a few other colours across the seasons, but these are mainly bought for fun as extras- I can already cover any outfit with my nude and black “core” shoe collection.
The others that I wear most frequently are pink, navy, and gold. The pink and navy shoes because they’re two of my favorite colours and easy to blend in with my clothing colours, and the gold because they’re incredibly easy to bookend with jewelry and gold buttons on clothes. Also they add a festive glam to every outfit :).

Cindy, you crack me up! Love your shoe collection!

When I responded earlier I should've just posted this visual file I maintain. I have 38 shoes. Pic 1 is organized by type. Pic 2 is organized by color.... I did that because this thread got me curious!

This was a really helpful exercise so thank you for starting this thread. It helped me see my shoe collection in a different way, and consider how I can cull/refine/update it. I did do a serious culling fairly recently, but I see now there's yet more to cull.

You can see that black really crept back into my shoe-drobe. That's all in the last 5 years, with the job requiring travel. I've been on a temporary hiatus from the travel -- and thoroughly enjoying the white booties. I keep passing up the black footwear. I feel "off" of it.. yet I know the travel will re-start and I'll be back on it soon enough.

The orchid Converses were a present from the hubby. I don't find Con's all that comfortable and the color ... well...the color makes me happy. But, I've only worn them a couple of times.

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I haven't read every reply - yet- but want clarification Choose as in buy? Or choose out of your closet?

Good question, lisa p. I had assumed that she meant which color to buy, but maybe I'll turn out to be wrong...

I've never really sat down and thought about how I choose which color of shoe to buy, but I guess I do have a bit of a thought process.

Sometimes I am just attracted to a particular color of shoe, mainly if the color is a little out of the ordinary. For instance, this past summer I was loving yellow, and I desperately wanted a pair of yellow shoes. I am also currently loving white retro booties and am looking for a pair. So in these two cases, the color is the main attraction.

Other times I will find an unusual color of shoe just when browsing. I ask myself whether I can build outfits with what I already own that will work with the color, and if I can, then I buy that colorway. If I can't make outfits with what I already own, I usually pass.

Another consideration is what I am trying to do with the shoe. Am I trying to have a column of color? If so, do I need a light shoe or a dark shoe to create the low contrast? Since I normally wear a lot of dark footwear, I'm covered for a dark column of color, but on the rare occasion that I want to do a light column of color, I can struggle, because I don't have many light-colored shoes. So if I find a pair of light-colored shoes that I like, I imagine how they would look with lighter-colored outfits, as well as how they would look as a high-contrast addition to a dark-colored outfit. This helps me decide whether the light colorway or the dark one would be the better option.

I am very pale, so in the summer, when I'm wearing shorts, I don't often like to wear dark footwear, because I'd rather the footwear blend in with my pale skin. So that's another consideration. I have found that metallics, especially gold, work well to add a little interest but not create a lot of contrast where I don't want it. The metallics act almost as a nude for me.

Lesley - that makes perfect sense. Your shoe Venn diagram is a great way to look at it.
Windchime - I am familiar with orphaned colored shoes! I had a pair of red ballet flats that I thought would be my magical "go with everything" shoe, but I always ended up wearing one I liked better with any outfit. I think I wore them twice...
cindysmith - I truly envy your approach to buying what tickles your fancy (and makes your feet happy, of course!!) I think your collection is pretty great.
LisaP and SarahD8 - I should have been more clear about whether my question was about buying or wearing shoes. Actually, it's both, but I do feel more anxiety over choosing shoes to buy. SarahD8, thank you for your analysis of your current collection! Your contrasting shoes in the summer fit the colorfulness of the season so it makes complete sense.
shiny - thanks for showing how you sort by type then by season. I will try that when I edit again!
Gigi - your thought process is great. Often I fail to consider what I will do with the shoe (creating a column, etc) and just buy one. That explains my conundrum.

All - this has been really fantastic feedback! I am NOT a shoe gal. Until a couple of years ago I had only four pairs; a navy pair of chucks, a white Olukai flip flop, a brown pump and a brown flat (one pair of running/gym shoes that I consider gear and exclude from my day-to-day collection). I changed jobs, moved from San Francisco to Chicago and needed to overhaul everything. During my overhaul, I panicked a bit and started adding things on a whim and both my budget AND style suffered from it. I'm trying to be more mindful about new purchases and outfit creation going forward and hearing how you make your choices has been more helpful than you know. I really really appreciate all of you for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully! Thank you!