Style and Styling

How to Wear: Statement Shoes

Or Colored Shoes!

3 Style Hacks

Happy day, reader dear!

I’ve heard it said: There are two kinds of women. Those who love shoes and those… Oh, never mind! Most of those I’ve met who don’t love shoes have foot issues and would love to love shoes, but shoes don’t love them back. What is it about shoes? (And other accessories for that matter?) Well, shoes fit when you fit in your skinny jeans, and they fit in your not-so-skinny jeans. Shoes don’t judge you after a weekend of too many nachos and chocolate chip cookies. Your jeans don’t either, BTW. You’re the one doing the judging. No one else is…

Statement shoes are not for everyone. They are certainly a style personality preference. Personality aside, there are other reasons women may not like statement shoes. Women with large feet are often told to avoid colored or statement shoes to avoid drawing attention to their feet. I would say that if you feel self-conscious about the size of your feet, large or small, you’re probably happy to give colored or statement shoes a miss. If you don’t mind your feet being noticed, then go for it!

Petites are also often told to skip statement shoes, because wearing shoes the same color as our trousers, or if in shorts–nude shoes, creates the most lengthening effect. Yes, those options will create the longest visual line, but sometimes you just don’t care about length! Most of the time looking taller is not one of the things I am dressing to do. Remember: You do your personality, and it will all work out! That’s what style is about. (Look, I rhymed!)

Today let’s talk about styling colored shoes, or statement shoes. Here are three tips to make a statement in those shoes without them walking all over you!

1. Keep It Simple

The rest of your outfit, that is. Unless your style personality scores high on Creative or Dramatic, you’re not likely to feel comfortable in a LOT going on. Colored shoes are one of my Style Staples, and are also an awesome way to up your Color Contrast levels if you need more color! Are you worried about wearing too much color? For some basics on choosing a colored shoe, read this.

2. Repeat the Color (or theme)

How do you repeat theme or color without getting matchy or kitchy? Try a scarf (You knew that was coming, right?) or jewelry in the same color as the shoe. Repeating the color back up by your face is the best way to balance the color on your feet! If you are comfortable dotting the color a third time at the wrist or waist, that steps the eye easily back up to the face. (I expect this feature might be part of my love for pairing bags and shoes of the same color!) This tip is especially important for petites. The easiest way to finesse a red shoe? Pop on a bright red lip.

One simple way to repeat color and/or theme is to think in Beauty Bundles. I’ve written about Beauty Bundles before, but for the Reader’s Digest version: a Beauty Bundle (BB) is a grouping of accessories that share a color or theme. I know some people who store their bundles together. I don’t go that far, but if I am looking for inspiration, I will pull together all the items that would make a bundle and take a picture of them to remind me what I have that coordinates or “goes together.” You can also pull together a theme bundle by feeling, say Capri, or Rock Chick, or Flower Child.

Note: Be careful repeating a bow, lace, or glitter theme… It can easily trip into little girl territory!

3a. Watch the Style AND Fit

Flattery and Fit are Fabulous! Statement shoes are awesome, but if the shoe doesn’t flatter your foot or body shape it’s going to be a distraction rather than a positive statement. And don’t even get me started about fit…

Actually, let’s start with fit and then I’ll get off my soapbox and onto flattery. Badly fitting shoes make me crazy! Your foot should sit comfortably on the footbed of the shoe. A shoe should snugly surround (not pinch) and support your foot. When you walk naturally, your shoes shouldn’t slip or flop, nor should you step out of them. Leather shoes will stretch with wear; make sure they fit properly at the start! I see women daily (In warm weather, pre-Covid.) wearing sandals that don’t fit!

When wearing sandals, there should be NO overhang, front or back. Yes, I’m talking about those toes hanging over the front of your platforms. Just say no. When your toes slide over, that’s a sign that the front of the shoe is too wide for your foot. And those little toes poking out of the side? That means the straps aren’t placed properly for your foot. Yes, it’s frustrating. As vanity sizing has taken over in clothing, shoe width has also shifted. The typical B (or Medium) width shoe you find in your big box store is wider than it was 15 years ago. The foot measuring tool you used to find in every shoe store and department are now rare. Shoe manufacturers making whole sizes only to save money compound the problem!

Note: Foot size changes during a woman’s lifetime. Pregnancy and weight loss or gain, and working conditions can change the size of our feet. I have a client who lost 100 pounds, and was wearing shoes two full sizes too large. Her feet were not only less wide, but smaller than they were before her weight loss!

3b. As for Flattery…

Personality will drive most of our shoe preferences. But what do I look for aesthetically for a client? The main markers are: Heels, Straps, and Sole Thickness. These three should be in proportion with your body scale for maximum flattery. A very thin body and leg will look scrawny in a chunky platform sandal with wide straps. That same sandal will look more harmonious on a woman of more substance. A spike heeled sandal will lengthen the leg, but one with a very narrow heel and dainty straps will accentuate a wider foot or calf, but a block heel of the same height will look more in sync. Horizontal straps (wide or narrow) across the ankles widen the ankle.

Look also at the shapes of the heels and toes. Some shoe heels are very square, others more sculpted or curvy. What do you look like from behind? More curved? Or more straight? Choose the heel that mimics your shape! Toes are very much a personality piece, rounded curved toes are often preferred by more Feminine or Relaxed personality styles, while sharp points fall more into the Dramatic or Rebellious territory. The almond toe, somewhere between the round and pointed? Often found on Ms. Classic or Elegant Chic. As a flattering neckline mimics the shape of the chin, a flattering toe reflects the shape of the nose. This is why almond toed shoes so often look “right” and don’t really call attention to themselves. And why almond toes are generally not found on statement shoes!

Other Tips

Make Sure They’re Walkable Often a statement shoe will make its point by being outrageous in height. That could mean heel height, the length of a boot shaft (Boots that end up OTK, but weren’t meant to be.), or a platform. Please make sure you can walk comfortably in whatever shoes you buy! I have seen more than one woman doing (What Mr. CP calls) the flamingo walk. You know, the one that happens when the shoes are so high or awkwardly shaped that the wearer cannot straighten her legs to take a stride, and she picks up her feet with bent knees and moves the bent knee and dangling foot forward… Surreal. Platform shoes that make you walk like Frankenstein aren’t any better. If you cannot take a natural stride in a shoe, please leave them in the store!

Smile! While you’re at it, throw your shoulders back and hold your head high. That’s good style advice for any day, but especially for when you are wearing statement shoes, because people will see them and look up at you and smile.

How About YOU?

Are you a statement shoe wearer? Colored shoes? What color of shoes make you smile? Is finding shoes that fit well a challenge for you? Is your foot narrow? Wide? Arch or toe issues? What is your favorite brand of shoe? Most comfortable brand for your feet? What is your favorite pair of shoes? I am always looking for new resources for my clients and to share with you, so please let me know your faves…

Stylishly yours,

PS: I’m tickled at Naturalizer this season. They’ve introduced a line of nude sandals… LOTS of nudes for a variety of skin tones! Woo hoo!

8 Comments

  • NATALIE K

    Liz, I pray your having a blessed day!! You have really made me think I need a red sandle!! I knew I would need something red up top but haven’t been able to find even a summer tee in red!! I only wear SAS shoes other than my New Balance running shoes (1080 v10 or 11) and sooo comfortable!! I’ve never worn a rainbow colored shoe and I’m in my mid-fiftie!!!. I was taught to only wear nude or what matches your pants or skirt ie. navy, grey, chocalate brown. oxblood and black for an evening affair. Of course almond toes!!! So, all my life I have always follwed these rules!! For the summer a red sandle feels appropriate!! My favorite and most cpmfortable shoes are the ones I was able to get for my birthday this year and are the MOST comfortable ever…flat booties in black water resistant suade, of course, from SAS Shoes!!! I’m not sure I will wear them when my mother visits but other wiise this feels like a fantastic idea!!

    • Liz K

      Love a red sandal! It sounds like it is definitely time for you to examine those “rules” and decide which ones you want to keep, and which no longer work for you. I was browsing the SAS website just the other day… If you can’t find red sandals that suit, you can always take an old pair and give them an Angelus (leather paint) update!

  • NATALIE K

    Liz, I just recieved another post from you today but none of the words made since!! It’s entitled ‘You must be fashionable!’. I thought you needed to kno about this!!!

    • Liz K

      Thank you! Something went odd with an update, and the system published a sample template post. My apologies for cluttering your inbox for naught!

  • Sally in St Paul

    I love a color and/or print shoe, though I stick to classic styles (and don’t wear heels). In your top collage, the aqua and orange flats are variants on ballet flats I have, and if the upper right sneaker is the navy Rifle Paper Co x Keds, I have the identical pair. I wear quite a bit of color, and print mix very often, so within the context of my outfits, I don’t think these shoes look like “statement shoes” exactly. I have enough going on in my outfits that something like a pair of bright pink ballet flats tends to fit in with the overall look rather than stand out. I think I’d have to go for a very unusual architectural pair, or perhaps something like big colored/patterned cowboy boots, to get to the “statement” level…and that doesn’t sound like my kind of thing!

    I like the “repeat color or theme” advice. I know some people like wearing a colored shoe as a pop (and it can look great), but it does seem easier in some way to repeat the color…and it makes sense that this will bring the eye back up to the face.

    • Liz K

      Color repetition is one of those simple elements of design that we often forget. We think of it in interior design and in art, but don’t apply those same principles to dress! Dressing is application of those art principles: line, design, color & composition to the personality and body… That color pop is fun, but without repetition, creates a singular focus that distracts from the person as a whole! Your face/portrait area is your center of communication. My goal is to keep the focus there!

  • Leslie Susan Clingan

    Need to check out the Naturalizer nudes. I have been visiting a line of nude (in many shades) bodysuits at Banana Republic. Can’t decide which nude is my nude. But would like to try a bodysuit again.

    Great tips on shoes. I tend to wear shoes that pick up color in other parts of my outfit. I am curvy so will remember your tips about curvy heels for curvy gals.

    • Liz K

      Glad to help. Leslie! Thank you so much for popping by. The easiest way is to ask someone to take a pic of you as you walk away! It makes the harmony of heel to body shape really obvious! PS: Finding your nude is a trick. Since my coloring is so cool, my nude is what many people would call a blush or blush pink.

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