If you ask ten men on the street what the most confusing thing about women is, nine of them will most likely answer with “I don’t understand why women need so many shoes.” Let’s be honest, long before Sex and the City glamorized the idea of a large and expensive shoe collection as part of a woman’s identity, women were associating happiness with shoes. Nobody can say when and where this fascination started, but somewhere along the line fashion marketers did a fantastic job of convincing women to identify themselves with their shoes. Ask the average man how many pairs of shoes he has, and he will most likely not have to count into double digits. Ask the average woman, and you may get an answer that actually goes into the hundreds.

While it’s probably impossible to figure out when shoes became similar to biological appendages for women, it is possible to stop the madness! You (like some of the Postconsumers team, even) may be beyond the point of not getting a rush of excitement when it’s time to buy a new pair of shoes. However, there are steps that you can take in your life to make your shoe shopping both satisfying and more environmentally friendly and less likely to end with a closet of shoes that you only wear once a year.

Set a Hard Count on How Many Shoes You Can Own at One Time

One of the best ways to stop being emotionally attached to your shoes is to view them as temporary purchases rather than lifelong partners in your life! Set a hard count on how many pairs of shoes are enough for you at any one time. Depending on where you’re starting from and your personal preferences, that number may be as low as two or as high as fifty. Just be sure that it’s less than you currently own (unless you’re already just right). Then, when you reach your “shoe limit,” get rid of one pair of shoes. If you know that your collection can’t be endless, you’ll think more about the shoes that you do buy. You’ll also be helping out the less fortunate with your shoe donations.

Use the Twenty-Four Hour Rule

We recommend this with all shopping, but shoes in particular for many women can be an emotional impulse purchase. Those shoes that you love today will still be there tomorrow. Give yourself twenty-four hours from the time that you “fall in love” with a pair of shoes to the time that you buy them. In that time, you may think twice about the need to add another pair of shoes to the collection.

Stop Talking About Shoes Like They’re People!

We used quotes above when we talked about “falling in love” with a pair of shoes for a reason. Many will want to stop talking about shoes like they’re people! They’re not going to “fall in love” with you. Shoes aren’t “going on vacation” with you. Words have great power. When you talk about any item, including shoes, as though it has a personality, you allow yourself to form emotional bonds to it. That makes recognizing your shoe habit and curbing it much harder.

Need Versus Want

Similar to not using language about shoes that you’d use about people, be sure that you always say that you “want” a pair of shoes and not that you “need” them. In our privileged culture, there are very few cases in which you really “need” a new pair of shoes. Reserve the more powerful word for those cases. Separating need versus want can help you put down a pair of shoes that would have been a silly purchase.

If it comes down to it, form a support group! For many women, even fiscally and environmentally conscious ones, the lure of a cute shoe can be powerful. But if you know your weakness for a sassy ballet flat or a saucy strappy heel, you can work to overcome it. Shoes, like anything else, are better for your wallet and better for the planet when purchased in moderation.

Do you have an idea for how to beat the shoe obsession? If so, like us on Facebook and tell us about it!

Need more assistance in learning to let go of the consumer media’s impact on your life, take control of your finances and find the satisfaction of enough for today? The Get Satisfied Interactive Handbook is a 30-minute web course that walks you through a series of specific questions and then presents a personalized how-to plan for becoming a postconsumer. Launch your evaluation for free right now.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons: NetDiva