Updated: Nov 13
I adore a good gimmick like the last guy. I love catchy Facebook ads and the "but wait, there's more!" sales pitches. Sometimes I even buy into them (I'm still regretting that buy 2 deal on the bug zapper). So when I saw something travel related that could really boost my packing skills, my first thought was, "I've got to have it!". As a shoe monger and habitual over-packer when it comes to my soles, I was instantly intrigued by the Facebook campaign for SolelyJane.
If you haven't seen it, SolelyJane is a small business providing interchangeable shoes to improve your packing skills when you travel. You buy a base shoe (sole), and then as many lock-in tops to your shoe that you desire. They had me reeled in and on the hook. So I had to know - was this another suave marketing pitch or was this nouveau idea worth trying out? Always Pack Tissues investigates.
Note: Always Pack Tissues represents many tried and tested travel sites as what is called an 'affiliate' partner. That means if you click on my ads I may get a commission from a resulting sale.
What Is SolelyJane?
In short, it's a classic shoe sole made in black or brown with nearly 25 varieties of shoe toppers. Mix and match tops and soles in whatever way you choose. The more you bundle, the more you save.
Choose from leopard print, tans, blacks, blues, browns and even pink options. A classic comfort sole and two solemates (the tops) will run you about a hundred dollars. Tops by themselves are $33 at the time of writing, which seems pretty reasonable for a new pair of kicks if you already have the base shoe.
Use SolelyJane discount code JANE10 at checkout for a great deal!
The motivation from the SolelyJane team, as I've read, is to create and offer a heel (soles are 2.5" tall) that provides comfort, while also providing variety at a low cost.
What It Isn't
SolelyJane only makes sandals. There are currently no closed toed shoe options.
The Interchangeable Shoe Unboxing
The black Phoenix Onyx top is your standard strappy black sandal, but paired with the brown base I think makes a new statement for itself without losing the versatility of black.
The sass of the leopard print is just my style, perfect for pairing with other wild accessories, or for spicing up a basic black outfit.
When I opened the package, my immediate thought was, "oh no." The soles are really heavy.
If you're considering luggage weight as part of your light-packing strategy, then this definitely needs to be factored in. They are not bendable at the arch, but rather a firm solid block of synthetic wood material. There is a nice tread on the bottom, which I tried out on a rainy day after a storm - no slipping!
I was excited to see the flat packed shoe tops were indeed extremely compact, and they are both of great quality. The black sandal top looked and felt like a man-made leather (in a classy way) and the leopard print ones had a suede-like feel, very lightweight.
Pulling the shoe tops on and off the sole were very simple, and the rubber button to snap them in was an interesting manufacturing detail that I rather like. So far, the unboxing was looking really exciting.
Are SolelyJane's True to Size?
For my experience, the soles were a great fit, but the two shoe tops (solemates) were wildly different in fit. In fact, the fit was so astronomically different style to style that I contacted SolelyJane's customer service to try out the next size down as well.
For reference, I'm a 7.5-8 depending on the shoe, and got both size 8 soles and solemates to start. You can actually mix and match the sole size and solemate size, so keep that in mind and use the website shoe sizing guide if you are unsure.
A note on the website shoe sizing guide - unless you are a masterful ruler reader down to an eighth of an inch, it's a little tricky trying to determine which size to buy. Here's my take:
Always Pack Tissues' SolelyJane Shoe Size Buying Guide
My typical shoe
SolelyJane Size to Buy
I'm a half size
I am a whole size
Buy that size ;-)
I have narrow/petite feet
I have wider/larger feet
Solemate/shoe topper that has a high ankle (like the Savannah)
I have small ankles
I have bigger/wider ankles
I determined that the size 8 tops were way too loose on my feet. I poked holes to tighten the straps and even then, the fit was too loose, almost dangerously so.
Don't Make the Same Mistake I Did
Unfortunately my walking test with the size 8 solemate tops was not great. I was pretty disappointed, but determined to make it work. As I said, I poked holes, I tried wrapping the Savannah strap around my ankle differently (a bit of a challenge to get used to in itself), and ultimately ended up reaching out to SolelyJane to get a size down.
I am SO glad that I did.
I went ahead and got the black onyx tops again, this time in a size 7 and because the Savannahs gave me so much grief with my extremely narrow ankles, I opted for a new top - the Jamaica red size 7.
What a load of difference the top size makes. Don't make the same mistake I did and give up on the first go round. I made the assumption that because I'm a 7.5 that a size 7 top would never work for me. I don't ever buy size 7 shoes, after all.
Work with the SolelyJane folks until you have found a sole and a solemate that work together for your foot.
Go for the right size based on my chart and you'll find the shoes to be a great match and very comfortable.
Give the shoes a few days to acclimate to your foot.
The Verdict Is In
Final verdict on the soles: they are comfortable and true to size, but heavy and clunky with no arch bend. The tread on the bottom is great.
Final verdict on the solemate tops: the fit (once I found the right size pairings) is great. I'm sitting here in my pajamas and my SolelyJane heels right now, like a proper mid-century house wife. That's to say, they're comfortable enough for hanging around the house!
You'll feel fabulous, stylish and very clever for having found such a unique shoe.
Packability score: For spring and summer vacations or even for cruises with formal nights and mix and match dress styles, this is a great pick. I got these shoe bags from Amazon for my husband earlier this year and with just one bag I can fit my soles plus at least three solemate tops. It's amazing because in the one bag I've successfully packed at least three pairs of shoes. If that's not revolutionizing shoe packing, then I don't know what is.
With one base and multiple options for interchangeable shoe styles, I can go from daytime casual to evening smolder with little effort and virtually a zero-footprint on my packing space.
I call that a win.
Would I Recommend SolelyJane Interchangeable Shoes?
Yes! They get top marks from me for the style, versatility and seriously cool interchangeable options.
Just be sure to consider what type of shoe works for you. If slingbacks are generally a challenge, consider a wrap around ankle like the Savannah. If you have ankles that are too small, maybe one of their slip-on options would be a better take. Know your foot and order accordingly.
I have to say, I think with this one purchase I've just revolutionized how I pack for travel, and I've still got about 22 more options to purchase. Imagine an entire shoe closet in the space of a file folder or small shoe organizer specially made for travel. The possibilities with SolelyJane are endless. Good job, SolelyJane team. You have my vote.