Put Your Best Foot Forward
Keeping up with fashion trends can add up quickly, especially if you want to stay on top of each season’s styles. Fortunately, there’s a way to update your look without paying to update your whole wardrobe: Swap in new footwear.
Wearing a minimal sheath dress looks ladylike with heels, but with a cool new “flatform”? Now you’ve created an edgier, more modern look. Here are 10 spring shoe styles — from the flatform to ankle straps, prints, even jellies — that can update any outfit. And each costs less than $100.
Taking inspiration from artists like Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko, designers like Dior, Balenciaga and Christian Louboutin introduced creative, unexpected color combinations and details for spring footwear. Several colors on one shoe gives you the freedom to deliberately mis-match your shoe to your outfit: A shoe with bold, bright tones looks fabulous with all white or all black — it becomes the centerpiece of your look. And a pastel-toned, color-blocked shoe looks great with pale neutrals like camels, ivory or light grey.
Our pick: Asos’s Prism High Heels, $84.69
The fashion world has gone gaga for prints: colorful flowers, abstracts, stripes, dots, kittys, just about anything you could think of. A printed shoe is a great way to join in the fun without committing to a printed pant or an entire dress, which might look overwhelming or feel silly (even if it’s not). Prints take some getting used to, but in small doses like a shoe, they can be just the right amount.
Our pick: Express’ Polka Dot Pointed Toe Flat, $34.90
When you marry a platform with a sneaker, you get a “flatform.” (Think the modern version of the wedge.) One of the most comfortable styles of the season, this is the shoe that can shake up just about any look. Trousers, skirts, dresses — long or short — this little shoe can be paired with it all.
I’m a big fan of platforms because they give great height, but they can also tend to look a bit costumey and can be hard to walk and balance in. Fortunately, the flatform doesn’t pose the same issues: Because your foot is sitting flat in the shoe and you’re not pitched forward, you’re able to move about freely. You’ll feel more relaxed than in heels, but more confident than in flats. Plus, they give any outfit a funkier, more creative spin.
Our pick: Wallis’ Flatform Sandals, $65
The Flat D’orsay
The flat d’orsay, a shoe with a low-cut sides, is an easy and elegant slide-on style. This vaguely retro looking shoe is a welcome option to a clunkier flat. An extended, pointer toe makes this style more flattering and leg lengthening (rounded toe shoes visually cut off legs, while narrow toes make legs look longer). This style is ideal for a cropped, narrow trouser and neat, simple knee-length skirts.
Our pick: Steve Madden’s Elusion Leopard Print D’Orsay, $79.95
Big in the ’90s, the mule looks good again. Set on a chunkier heel and cut with a bit of an edge, the mule is a great alternative to a high-heel pump or sandal. The open back gives your foot a little breathing space, which is much appreciated on a warm day when feet can swell and become uncomfortable.
Whether you choose an open- or closed-toe mule, the extra bit of bare skin gives it hint of sexy that makes it a good transition style from work to a night out. But one word of caution: This is a style you can only wear barefoot; hose will make you slide right out of them.
Our pick: Zara’s Leather Wide Heel Mule, $99.90
Metallic is the new neutral — and not just when you’re dressing up. This season, all shades of light and dark silver, gold, gunmetal, bronze and rose gold are perfectly appropriate for daytime. Pair the cool metallics like silver and gunmetal with charcoal and white for a sophisticated professional look. The warmer metallics will look beautiful with colors from pink to nude to black. Pick a shade that flatters your skin tone, and wear these with bare legs or with nude hose.
Our pick: Faith Abel Mirror Flat Shoes, $84.69
It’s high time we found a middle ground to walk on. High heels look great, but if you’re not Sarah Jessica Parker, you’re probably not out dancing until dawn in them. Let’s be real: Flats are comfy and give us great mobility, but they can be extremely unflattering and most offer no support. The little mid-heel is the best of both worlds — feminine but not too girly, sexy but not overly, comfortable but not frumpy. The mid-heel is the perfect response to all the ridiculously high heel shoes that designers have been churning out, and a great alternative to a flat mannish brogue. They might just be your next BFF (best-foot-friend).
Our pick: Nine West’s Kinsley Slingbacks, $89
A cross between an ankle-bootie and a masculine shoe, the shootie has been with us for a few seasons and shows no signs of going anywhere. Open toes, varying heel styles and zipper or lace-up closures, the shootie is a sexy shoe that adds an urban edge to any look. Try the shootie with a dress and your look instantly changes from feminine to a bit more rock n’ roll; the tough-girl details gives your look a new dimension.
Our pick: Aldo’s Kediliwien, $80
I say this with love: The ankle strap is not for everyone. If you’re blessed with long, lithe calves and slim ankles, then an ankle strap shoe is a must. But for the rest of us, take a pass on this one — and know that there are plenty of other worthy styles out there. An ankle strap can visually “cut” your leg, and styles like slingbacks, pumps and mules are more universally flattering because they don’t create a line on the leg.
However, an ankle strap can look very chic: When they’re good, they’re really good. Wider straps create a wider visual line, so narrower straps are slightly more forgiving. Try them with a pencil skirt or dress.
Our pick: H&M’s Sandalettes, $49.95
Remember jellies? Well, they’re back in a whole new, very sophisticated incarnation. Jellies are a fun and inexpensive way to add color and detail to your shoe closet. No longer just the flat fisherman sandals we used to wear (although those are still around), jellies come in high heel silhouettes and chic flat styles that are appropriate and comfortable enough for work wear. The best jellies (like Melissa’s) are made with high-tech recycled plastics that are incredibly comfortable and allow your foot to breathe.
Our pick: Melissa’s Fresh Bloom II Studded Flat, $78