My friends are tired of hearing this, but I firmly, emphatically believe that every woman deserves to wear the very best shoes she can afford. That’s why I tell anyone who will listen that you should own one flawless, classic-but-not-frumpy, totally luxurious pair of black* pumps. Plan to spend $200, or more, if your budget will allow. Don’t think you have $200 to spend on shoes? Replace the 4 or so pairs you would have otherwise bought with just one, glorious pair that you will own forever. (Just start a shoe fund somewhere. I won’t tell!) Mine are from Jimmy Choo, and they are still gorgeous, nearly 10 years after I first spotted them in Chicago. Ready to take the leap and make a serious investment in your style? Here, some advice to help you choose wisely.
Here, you’ll find 5 beautiful, classic, mid-priced pairs, followed by luxurious, iconic high-end pairs.
*Note: If black is not in your color palette, or doesn’t flatter, then navy, charcoal and chocolate are equally stylish and versatile.
5 Steps to Picking the Perfect Pumps
1. Save trendy styles for the budget buys. Your investment shoes should be timeless. Skip exaggerated platforms, unusual textures (except for an exotic animal skin), peep toes, flatforms, extreme wedges, etc.
2. Avoid embellishments. This may be the only time you hear me say this, as I am typically a frou frou fan, but this time, keep it simple for maximum versatility. A simple bow is fine, but avoid glitter, studs, spikes, or sparkles.
3. Look for a moderate toe, not too pointy, not too round. Something with a slight curve is perfect.
4. Look for a moderate heel, 2 inches or higher, that is slim but not stiletto-like.
5. A beautiful matte leather is the most versatile option, though in a warmer climate a patent is almost as versatile and suede is so, so chic and seasonless.
Top 5 Mid-Priced Classic Black Pumps
Here, a roundup of classic black pumps that are perennial favorites. They all feature timeless style, great quality, and even comfort.
(Note: As always, all images are linked to the store where the item can be purchased).
1. Kate Spade “Karolina” Pump
This perennial favorite from Kate Spade is versatile, comfortable, and endlessly wearable. That’s why the company makes them, in different colors and materials, year after year.
2. Diane Von Furstenberg “Ines” Pump
This classic leather pump features a moderately pointy toe and mid-height heel for maximum comfort and versatility.
3. Sam Edelman “Hazel” Pump
This perennial favorite from Sam Edelman consistently gets rave reviews for its comfort and style. Every year, the brand reissues these in every finish and color imaginable, from the classics to the trends.
4. Nine West “Tatiana”
Sleek and stylish, this affordable pair is well-made and comfortable.
5. Calvin Klein “Gayle”
This reasonably-priced classic is comfortable and versatile enough for both work and dress.
5 Classic High-End Pumps
1. Manolo Blahnik “BB”
A chic, timeless style that stands the test of time.
2. Jimmy Choo “Romy”
A longtime favorite, this sleek and stylish pair will last for years.
3. Prada “Pointy Toe”
A moderate heel and simple styling make this pair a stylish splurge.
4. Christian Louboutin “Pigalle”
Possibly the most coveted shoes on the market today, these are timeless and fabulous, all at once.
5. Valentino “Rockstud”
These are a departure from the solid-color pairs on this page, but they have been around for years, and are so comfortable and versatile that they’ve earned a place as a classic.
A classic pair of black pumps is a wardrobe essential you will wear for years. Which is your favorite? To shop all of these styles, and many more, check out my Shoes catalog.