How To Organize, Wear, and Shop for Heels – Q&A with Beth Shak of

portraits courtesy of Beth Shak, Christian Louboutin, Pierre Hardy, YSL, Tabitha Simmons

If you’ve never felt closet envy, be prepared to have it for the first time – professional poker player Beth Shak has a collection of over 1,200 gorgeous pairs of shoes! As you can imagine, she’s the ultimate shoe shopping guru and she’s putting her knowledge to good use with the launch of her new website (launches April 25th).

We caught up with her to talk about how to shop for your first pair of Louboutins,  how to cope with shoe pain,  and get a sneak peek of the website.

A look into Beth Shak’s shoe closet from the documentary God Save My Shoes:

SB: Obviously, you have a giant collection of shoes and our users are all about organization. How do you organize your collection? Do you categorize them? 

B: I do that. I love color-blocking everything, I even color-block myself when I get dressed! I try to organize my closet like a boutique, but it does get out-of-control messy. I mean, I walk in my closet and once a week I’m cleaning it because I’m always going somewhere and I’m like, “Should I wear this? Should I wear this?” and then I start throwing things.

I usually keep a section of red, a section of black, a section of navy, a section of pink, a section of blue. I do that with my clothes as well. I don’t do it by designer, with the exception of my 6 inch heels, which don’t fit in the shoe shelves that I built. When I built them, Louboutin was not making 6-inch heels – so now they’re all in the center island of my closet.

SB: Six inches is pretty tall! Now, this is something  every woman wants to know: when you have shoes like that, they hurt! Do you have any tips on how to cope?

B: [laughs] Oh my god! I’ll teach you how to cope – every woman needs these tips on how to cope. I will say I’ve had some shoes that I just had to give away. And I’ve cried doing that, I think of a couple pairs in particular that were beautiful and I loved but I had to say to myself, “There is no coping.” Every woman has those shoes that she just needs to say “I can’t even wear these” because they give you lacerations or blisters on your feet no matter what you do.

There are certain shoes that you can take to your friend the shoemaker and ask them to try and stretch in the right areas and hope that that does it and then you can wear them. The best coping mechanism and the easiest I’ve found is: if it’s not an open-toe shoe and you know that shoe will cut in on you in a certain area, I wrap band-aids around that area. So if I know it will hurt me on my fourth toe in, I’ll wrap band-aids on it and then I’ve saved myself. Ones that absolutely kill me, I don’t wear out any more because I go to so many places where I know I’ll be standing and what am I going to do, sit in a corner?

SB: When you go into the store, how do you know that the shoe is right for you? Do you buy shoes based on an outfit idea or just because you love the shoe and then you find the outfit to go with it? 

B: I never buy my clothing first ever! When I’m talking about clothing, I don’t mean cute little everyday pieces, I’m talking nice dresses that you would wear to a red-carpet or cocktail event. I always know the shoe I’m buying, then comes the dress – and that is the statement of a quintessential shoe lover! The Louboutins I just bought, I was like, “Oh my god, these are so amazing!” Then I went and got a Michael Kors dress that matched perfectly.

My clothing is more of an afterthought, and that’s really just me, everybody in life has their own preferences as to what is the most important thing in a wardrobe and I do love beautiful clothing. But I really think the most important thing is your accessories.

I think you need to have properly fitting clothing and I love simple, beautiful clothing. But I think when you put on amazing pair of shoes and beautiful handbag or a great pair of earrings with it – you’re done! Whereas, if you took a crazy, embellished dress and you didn’t care about your shoes or your handbag, everyone would just look and say, “Look at that girl, she’s tacky.”

shoe: YSL, dresses (starting from top/counter clockwise): pink: Michael Kors, beige: Michael Kors, b&w: Michael Kors, green: Michael Kors, yellow: Victoria Victoria Beckham, sequins: MICHAEL Michael Kors, red: MICHAEL Michael Kors, blue: Alica & Olivia

SB: Do you have any shoe shopping advice?

B: I would say with good shoes, as you’re starting out, the most important thing initially is to start out with your basic colors. I’m going to talk shoes but I would say the same thing with handbags. You have to start out with black, sandal brown, chocolate brown, red, navy blue. You know the basics – and then start going for the bold shoes.

I don’t buy the “it shoe”; I don’t buy the trendy shoe from Yves Saint Laurent or Prada because that is going to date you to that year. Yves Saint Laurent a few years ago made a shoe with a mohawk, it was the hottest shoe, and the most coveted shoe! But I knew that next year, it would be the shoe that you would sit in the closet and wonder, “Why did I buy that?” My point being: you buy a funky crazy shoe that has character that isn’t the hottest press shoe of the year. When you buy the hot press shoe that is tagged for 2009, 2010, or 2012 everyone is going to remember it and you’ll never want to put it back on.

SB: What is the last pair of shoes that you bought or that you wanted to buy? What did they look like? 

B: I just went to Christian Louboutin and bought the most amazing pair of shoes that you’re  going to see me on Good Morning America in. They are not the typical Louboutin style, like the very prive or the slingback. They are like color-blocked. The heels are red and the strap is like a nude and the strappy part around the ankle is black leather and they are beautiful! What I really really love about them is that they were so not a pair of typical Louboutins and that’s what I loved about them.

SB: What is your secret for keeping your shoes in perfect condition? When you wear shoes, sometimes things happen to them, so do you take them to the cobbler often? What do you do about that?

B: No, you know, I take care of my own things. Occasionally, I dust things off but I’m really not too hard on my shoes. If I see that I’ve nicked the heel, then I take it to the shoemaker to get fixed but I would say that generally I take really good care of my things.

SB: You’re launching a new site called – can you tell us more about it?

B: I’m synonymous with having this amazing shoe collection and I really love and enjoy when people are able to tap into my knowledge. That’s not what I originally intended when I started to collect, but I’ve collected shoes for so many years, so I said I need to have a dedicated website for shoes.

I’m going to have a blog on there about all of the great shoe events that I go to, a tips and tricks section, shoe games, recommendations, links for shoe sales, an interactive Q&A with me and eventually a shoe swap.

My end goal is to have kind of a Craigslist platform where people can buy, sell, and swap their shoes. I’m building the site and this isn’t the easiest thing to get off the ground. But my end goal is to have a way for women to say, “I have a pair of 37.5 Christian Louboutins I haven’t worn and I either want to buy, sell, or swap them for X.”

I’m also going to have a section where, if I see celebrities on the red carpet, I’ll add pictures of them in their shoes. That really hasn’t been done yet – I go to all of these red carpet events and everyone asks, “What are you wearing?” but they never ask what shoes you’re wearing.

SB: I love the red carpet idea and the shoe swap idea! Would the swap be for brand-new shoes, gently worn shoes? How do you know you’ll get something of high quality?

B: It’s going to be for everything. It won’t be any different than buying something on eBay. This is why the shoe swap will take some time because it’s a lot of work. We’re still setting it up and it will take time to implement it the right way.

SB: When will the site officially launch?

B: I’m having a launch party for it in Philadelphia on April 25th!

SB: In addition to the swap and your photos, will you be sharing your personal picks? 

B: Absolutely! Believe me, there is always a shoe I want. As I was watching the documentary [“God Save My Shoes”] last night and I’m watching other women speak in the documentary, I thought, “I have to have those!” It’s so bad, when someone has a lot of anything, to say, “I have to have this” because it’s more like, “I would like to have” or “I want to have” – but you don’t need it and you don’t have to have it.

But yes, of course I’m going to share the latest shoe that I would like to acquire or “Look what I just found in the back of my closet that I forgot I had!”

I want to make it a really great, fun and interactive site. I love interacting with people. I don’t have anybody doing my Facebook and Twitter, which a lot of people do. I sign on multiple times a day no matter how busy I am and I always interact with people who talk to me because I love doing that. So I want to interact with people and I want them to say, “Do you think this is a great new shoe designer?” or “What do you think of these shoes?” – I love that!


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