For the Love of Shoes

Meet these women who can’t live without their collections 

When someone mentions having a love of shoes, I can’t help but think of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, and her astounding collection of 1,000 pairs of shoes. Or was it 3,000? While many say she owned 3,000 pairs, she once clarified, “I did not have 3,000 pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty. They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.”

The typical woman owns 20 pairs of shoes. Apparently, I am a typical woman. I’m sure you have that one pair of shoes that you’ve only worn once because you just don’t have the outfit to go with it. You might have shoes you’ve repeatedly worn to the point they required repair or a pair you’ve flaunted despite the blisters they deliver. Or, you might have those pairs that have never seen light of day but you had to have simply because they were irresistibly beautiful.

Recently, I approached my girlfriends and solicited their thoughts regarding their own love for shoes. The results were not disappointing.

Khuanmanny Foley

Khuanmanny is the wife of Jason Foley and a successful partner in one of the busiest ramen restaurants in Billings, Lucky’s Ramen Noodles and Rolled Ice Cream. She is also the owner of Taste of Asia.

Give me just one reason why you love shoes.

“I love and obsess with shoes because it makes me feel sexy and it gives me that extra boost of confidence.”

When did you decide to start collecting shoes?

“I think 15 years ago, when I started wearing heels. After that, I started collecting.”

What is your most expensive shoe purchase?

“Christian Louboutin!”

What is your favorite brand?

“Jimmy Choo.”

Do you wear your shoes or do you just collect them?

“I probably wear half of the shoes I have. The rest are collection pieces.”

You have a particular style you love the best?

“My favorite style is an ankle strapped heel.”

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

“I probably have more than 300 pairs.”

How do you organize your shoe collection?

“I usually organize my shoes by color and style. I have a walk-in closet built specifically to house my shoes.”

What do you do with the shoes you don't want anymore?

“Shoes that I don’t want or wear anymore? I give away or donate them.


Kristi Farver Oaks 

Kristi serves as the Executive vice president of development at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation, where she supervises a team of six and is responsible for Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Grants, Direct Mail and Marketing & Communications.

Give me just one reason why you love shoes.

“Shoes are fun. They are a way to express yourself. I love the challenge of buying shoes of all colors and finding outfits to match. I also tend to buy heels because I always wanted to be taller and, with heels on, I can pretend I am. At 5’1” I know I only have a limited amount of time to continue wearing the high heels that I do, but I’m making the most of the time I have. And when I can’t wear heels anymore, I’ll start collecting flats.”

When did you decide you wanted to start collecting shoes?

“Not until my early 30s.”

What is your most expensive shoe purchase?

“I’m a bargain shopper so my most expensive pair of shoes is actually a pair of tennis shoes for $120.”

What is your most favorite brand?

“Gianni Bini.”

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes that you find yourself wearing more often that the others?

“With so many pairs, I wear a different pair just about every day of the year. Of course, I have my workout shoes that I wear when exercising at night.”

Do you have a particular style you love the best?

“I really have all different styles. If I had to pick a style I had the most pairs of, it would probably be a pump with a very high heel.”

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

“About 350 to 400.”

How do you organize your shoe collection?

“I organize by style and then color and pattern. At any given time, half my shoes are in totes in our garage. I either have the winter/fall collection in the closets or the spring/summer. I just don’t have enough room to have them all out at one time.”

Nicole Schutter

Regional territory manager for Ariat footwear

Give me just one reason why you love shoes.

“I love most footwear in general. But boots (Western boots specifically) are just fun. They come in such a variety of brands, colors and styles. From a classic vintage to a modern twist, I seriously love them all.”

When did you decide you wanted to start collecting shoes?

“I don’t know if there was ever a specific point in time that I made a decision. It just started happening. I have the hardest time saying no to a new pair of boots!”

What is your most expensive shoe purchase?

“That would be a pair of custom Pirarucu fish boots from Tony Lama that I designed a few years ago. They would retail for about $700.”

What is your favorite brand?

“I’m biased, but my favorite is Ariat. I’ve worked for Ariat since 2019 and I recently became the Ariat territory manager for footwear, handling Montana, Wyoming and Idaho independent accounts. Ariat is all about quality, innovation and technology, while still being a leader on trends and fashion.”

Do you actually wear your shoes or do you just collect them?

“I definitely wear them! They all have a purpose. A good boot is meant to be worn.”

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes that you find yourself wearing more often than others?

“I definitely wear my Ariat Dixons the most. I have them in multiple colors, of course!”

Do you have a particular style you love the best?

My go-to is definitely a snip toe. I always think they look super dressy.”

How do you organize your shoe collection?

“I think for boots, having a good shelving/cubby system is the best. I have multiple different heights of boots, so having shelves that can accommodate that is perfect!”

What do you do with the shoes you don’t want anymore?

“Depending on the condition of the boots, I might try sell them on Poshmark (an online secondhand store) or something like that. A lot of times if I don’t feel like going through the hassle of posting them, I’ll just find one of my friends who wears the same size as I do and pass them along.”

What is your everyday shoe or do you rotate them during the day?

“I chuckled at this question because I sometimes feel like I’ve worn three different pairs of shoes in one day depending on what I’m doing. If I’m on the road for work, I’m always in Ariat, Dixons typically, or an exotic (ostrich or Pirarucu) square-toe boot. But if I’m running errands in town, I like to choose something more casual. The Ariat Hilo is the comfiest shoe for running around in. Cushy with tons of support, I love them. Then, if I’m going to an event or dinner, I’ll be in a dressy boot for sure.”

What is your go-to store for shoes?

“I have gotten my boots all over the place, locally and in my travels as well.”

Regarding a Tony Lama boot that she designed, Nicole says, “This was such a fun process for me. I worked closely with the rep from Tony Lama. I had an idea of what kind of boot I wanted. We built this boot from scratch. I picked the toe shape, heel height, what type of sole I wanted, leathers, piping color, stitch color and pattern … everything. I wanted a boot that nobody else would have. Also, I’m totally a sucker for exotic leathers. Pirarucu (from the sea bass family) is among some of the largest known freshwater fish. Their scales are quite large and are tough but flexible. I love the look of the skin and I had to have a pair. I can’t remember how long I waited for them to be built. It was probably a few months but it seemed to me like it was forever. But when they showed up, I seriously was blown away with how beautiful they were and how every detail was exactly as I’d wanted. Knowing this boot is a one-of-a-kind original is something that is truly special to me.

What the shoe lovers say

Try these tips & tricks

  • Once you are home, walk in your new shoes for a several minutes both on carpet and hard surfaces to see how well they fit. If they’re not comfortable, return them.
  • When trying on shoes, wear the kind of hosiery or socks that you would normally with that type of shoe.
  • Rule of thumb: while standing, allow about an inch between the end of the shoe and the tip of your longest toe. If the shoe rubs your toe, that means it’s too small.
  • To avoid blisters, if your heel slips in and out while walking, don’t buy them.
  • Your feet are 8 percent larger at the end of day, so that’s the best time to measure them.
  • Alternate your shoes. Not only is it best for your feet, but your shoes will last a little longer.


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