Friday, November 27, 2009

Four Essential Shoes and How to Wear Them

(C#1 grew out of these shoes last year. I can't bring myself to get rid of them
because they are so very her.)

I am not a fashionista. Not even close. But I do appreciate how clothes can make me feel confident or pretty or just ready to start a new day (I have a hard time functioning well or taking myself seriously if stay in my pajamas too long). And I love how a good pair of shoes can transform an outfit or an attitude. And so, just for you, I did some fashion research and came up with four shoe styles that every woman should have in her closet along with a tip or two on how to wear them.

Mid-heeled Pumps

Heel height: 1 1/2" to 2 1/2"
These are the shoes you pull out when you want to look put-together but not fussy. They'll go almost anywhere with almost anything - from knee-length (or longer) skirts to jeans to tailored slacks. Style-wise, simplicity is in order; these are your "Girl Friday" shoes.

A modern heeled loafer would fit in nicely here. Personally, I love the versatility of a classic mary-jane, which can go from sweet (with a flouncy skirt) to daring (paired with fishnet tights).

High-heeled Evening Shoes
Heel height: 3" and up, and up, and up!
These are your my-oh-my, drop-what-you're-doing-and-look-at-me shoes. It's tempting to go trendy with these shoes, but remember it's all about commanding attention without having to scream. They are confident and powerful and sexy. These shoes are the ones that will go the few places your pumps can't. They are not sensible, and they will hurt your feet, so they're best saved for occasions that don't require hours and hours of standing.

Ankle straps are my favorite for this category. They're classic, yet they always seem unexpected. They're best served by a heel, too, since the strap at your ankle will appear to shorten your leg.

Weekend Flats
Flats will be your every-day shoes for running errands, running after kids, or simply running. In style they can range from ballet flats to tennis shoes. Almost anything goes as long as it's comfortable. (See that word "almost"? Please leave all house slippers at home and all Birkenstocks back in the 90's. For instance.)

Tennis shoes with jeans and a t-shirt have got a bad rap lately, but as long as your jeans are cute and your t-shirt fits nicely I think it's a perfectly acceptable way to show up at the grocery store or the park, and if you need to dress it up in a flash all you really have to change is your shoes.

Ballet flats are cute with skinny pants, capris, sundresses and knee-length skirts (but not longer; flats do nothing to elongate your leg, so keep that skirt right at your knee).

My favorite flats are a cute slip-on made by Merrell; I also love my Dansko clogs and have seen some cute, comfy, casual shoes by Keen.

Classic Boots
You will need some classic boots, oh yes you will. A pair of knee-high boots looks awesome with everything except your swimsuit - and maybe even then you might be the kind of person who could get away with it! A pair of classic riding-style boots, with or without a heel, are timeless and well worth buying the best quality you can afford. They'll be your friends for a long, long time.

Some general guidelines:
If you're wearing a skirt, higher hemlines generally look better with higher heels. This does not mean that lower hemlines necessarily look better with lower heels - in fact, if you're wearing a really long skirt, higher heels will help that skirt make your legs look longer without anybody even seeing your legs!

Black? Brown? Red? Before you choose what color(s) your shoes should be, take a look at your closet. Think about things you're most likely to wear the shoes with and what color you find most of in that group. Mix it up so you don't find yourself stuck only being able to wear black skirts because you don't own a pair of brown shoes.

How to walk in heels:
Firstly and maybe most important, make sure your shoes fit! If your shoes are too small you'll feel like you're going to fall over at any moment and your walk will look unnatural; if they're too big you will increase your chances of actually falling over at any moment. It's so much easier to walk in a shoe that fits your foot like, well, a glove.

Walk heel-to-toe for a more natural, graceful stride. If your whole foot comes down at once you'll only manage to look like you're stomping around. When you walk heel-to-toe, your back and shoulders will tend to straighten, making you look more confident even if you're not feeling it.

Practice, practice, practice. Even if you've been walking in heels since you grew out of your baby booties, practice with each new pair you buy.

Start out sockless. Socks and hose can make your feet feel slippery, which isn't at all what you want if you're feeling unstable in your heels already. Practice walking in them without socks or hose so you can feel how your feet will have to grip and move once you put those socks back on.

Have fun! Especially with your heels, because that's really what they're for.

What's your favorite pair of shoes?

1 comment:

  1. I have a pair of cowboy boots that I wore when I fell in love. When we were dating, my husband taught me how to dance in those old boots... I think they are magic!