I recently read a fluffy novel where the heroine started every day by picking her shoes. She planned her outfits from the bottom up.
She’s pretty much my soul sister.
Shoes can make or break an outfit, so it makes sense to start there. Plus, shoes are my favorite. 🙂
And while there are some shoes that are pretty much universally unflattering (Crocs and clunky sandals come to mind), in most cases, it’s simply a matter of picking a pair of shoes that works with your outfit.
And now, ideas for how to pick the right shoes for your outfit.
Check All The Boxes
Ideally, a shoe wardrobe should contain the following pairs.
- Shoes the color of your skin tone (nude)
- Shoes the color of your hair (black, brown, reddish brown, taupe, cream, gray)
- Shoes in a neutral pattern
- Shoes in a metallic of your choice
- Shoes in a pop of color
Make Them Flattering
If we want to create flattering outfits, then we need to start with flattering pieces. The general rule is this.
Here’s another way to put this:
Unflattering Outfit + Unflattering Shoes = Frumpy Overall Look
Flattering Outfit + Unflattering Shoes = Potentially Flattering Look
Unflattering Outfit + Flattering Shoes = Potentially Flattering Look
Basically, this means that a flattering outfit gives you more flexibility, more leeway, in terms of the shoes you can pair with it. A more challenging outfit, however, requires extra-flattering shoes to create an overall stylish and contemporary look.
Use Color Stategically
Shoes are a simple and effective way to add color to an outfit, but the way this is done depends on what is current and contemporary in style.
In other words, it’s based on trends.
Sure, you can do all-neutral outfits and all-colorful outfits (both of which are very much “in” at the moment), but one fun way to look at your shoes is to use them to add what’s missing to an outfit. Here’s a good rule of thumb to remember.
This strategy creates a balanced look and is easy to pull off. Here’s an example of what this can look like.
Consider the Setting
I was that mom who nearly ruined a perfectly good pair of Jimmy Choo pumps at the park with my toddlers. I know.
I don’t feel sorry for myself either.
I was determined to maintain my sense of style even as a mom with young kids, but I didn’t take the setting into account.
I could still be fashionable in park-friendly shoes. I switched to espadrilles and have never looked back.
There are a few ways to look at the appropriateness of a pair of shoes. Does it work for…
- The event
- The season
- The geographic location
Running shoes work better in a casual setting than stilettos Pumps look out of place in a park
Certain materials work better in certain seasons. Suede is now considered seasonless, but woven and straw-like fabrics, as well as linen, are summery while fur and shearling are wintery.
Suede is now considered seasonless Woven shoes have a summery feel Shearling lined shoes are best saved for the winter
Play With Proportions
When looking at the overall effect of an outfit, keep in mind that shoes can highlight or downplay your body’s unique features. For example, very high heels on short legs can look off-balance, as can very strappy stilettos on muscular legs. Long feet (like mine) look even longer with very pointy shoes, but can pull off the new square-toed styles, as well as strappy shoes, well, while square and round-toed shoes will make short legs look shorter.
Shoes can also add balance to an outfit’s proportions. Outfits with wider hemlines, like flowy or wide-leg pants, benefit from a chunkier or block heel, while outfits with a narrower hemline look great paired with sleek shoes.