Finding the right shoe to suit your outfit.

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How to Select Shoes to Wear with an Outfit

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Women often get a bad rap for having a shoe obsession, but with all the styles and choices out there, it is little wonder that so many women have closets stacked with shoes from top to bottom. When selecting the right shoes to wear with an outfit, you should look for a pair the works with the color and style of the outfit. You should also bear in mind the season and setting you plan on wearing your ensemble in, and how much walking you’ll actually have to do in them.

Steps

Selecting Heels:  Know your heel types and how to wear them. Also note that some heels are more appropriate for certain settings than others.

  1. Pair stiletto heels with clothing that already helps elongate your leg, such as pencil skirts and slim pants. The stiletto creates the illusion of further length, making your legs look even more slender and attractive.
  2. Choose low heels, like kitten heels, for a more versatile heel option. Kitten heels look appropriate enough for the office, but also look feminine enough for a night out.
  3. Avoid heels with ankle straps or T-straps if you have short legs. Straps also have a tendency to cut off the leg, making it look short.
  4. Avoid heels that are more than four inches tall if you have short legs. Ultra high heels make the calf muscle flex more, which leaves your leg looking less slender.
  5. Wear oval-shaped toes or square toes if you have large feet, but avoid tapered or pointy heels that may end up making your feet look even larger.
  6. Avoid wearing extremely high heels or sexy, strappy designs in professional settings. A low to moderately high heel is fine, but keep things conservative. A closed-toe, low-heeled pump works best.
  7. Stick with heels for formal and semi-formal events. Go with closed-toe or open-toe pumps for banquets and other formal events, and opt for closed-toe, open-toe, or strappy heels for semi-formal occasions like cocktail parties.
  8. Consider a pair of strappy high-heels for a night out with friends or a romantic date. Go for height, as long as you feel comfortable in high heels. High heels elongate the leg and look notably attractive.
  9. Try wearing your heels with casual clothes to add a touch of style to your everyday wear. Throw on a pair of stilettos with your jeans and fitted t-shirt to give the outfit an automatic style boost.

Selecting Sandals:  Flatter your legs with sandals. The extra skin exposure provided by a heeled sandal elongates your leg even more than a closed heel does. This exposure also helps keep your feet cool during warmer weather.

  1. Select a pair of low-heeled sandals for a versatile, feminine look. Wear low-heeled sandals with virtually any skirt length or pant length.
  2. Consider a pair of strappy high-heeled sandals the next time you wear your little black dress or similar evening wear. Higher heeled sandals make your legs look especially long, due to both the heel height and the extra skin showing on the top of your foot. Wear them when you want to show off your legs, and when you feel comfortable showing off skin.
  3. Save flip-flops for short-term casual settings. Limit them to the beach or, if necessary, for running errands, but avoid spending the day in them.
  4. Wear walking sandals with casual outfits. Shorts, capri pants, and some dress-down sundresses work with walking sandals, but avoid wearing them with dressier clothes.
  5. Use heeled-sandals to make casual clothes look a little nicer. For instance, try matching a pair of kitten-heel sandals with a casual denim skirt and fitted blouse to make the outfit a little dressier.
  6. Save your sandals for the spring and summer, and avoid wearing them in the autumn and winter. Many of the fabrics used for clothing during these seasons are heavy, and may not look right with a summery shoe like a sandal. Moreover, the extra exposed skin on your foot may make you feel even colder in already cold weather.

Selecting Flats:  Wear decorative ballet flats for a trendy alternative that puts less strain on your foot.

  1. Wear flats with knee-length or above-the-knee skirts, capri pants, or Bermuda shorts.
  2. Select a pair of decorative flats to dress an outfit up and boost your femininity.
  3. Select a pair of less decorative flats for casual occasions.
  4. Avoid flats with long skirts. In many cases, though not all, flats worn with maxi-skirts can make a woman look dowdy.
  5. If you do wear ballet flats with mid- to maxi-skirts, consider a less-than-flat ballet flat with a slightly elevated heel.
  6. Also avoid flats with skinny pants, unless you have narrow hips. Otherwise, you risk making your legs look disproportionate.
  7. Avoid casual flats at the office or in other professional settings. A formal style, such as a simple flat made of black or brown leather, may work in some offices, however.
  8. Consider flats for some semi-formal occasions. For example, try matching a decorative pair of flats with a nice sundress for a garden party or other outdoor dress-up occasion.

Selecting Boots: Know your boot types and wear them well. Also note that boots are another seasonal shoe that may not work well year-round.

  1. Save your boots for autumn and winter and unless you want to create an edgy look, avoid wearing them in the spring and summer. Boots evoke images of colder weather and prevent airflow from reaching your foot, making them warmer.
  2. Wear a pair of short, skinny-heel boots with a flattering trouser or dark-wash jean, such as boot-cut or straight-legged. The heel of this boot makes it sexy and helps it to elongate your leg, while the boot style makes it appropriate for heavy fabrics.
  3. Consider a pair of wide-heel fashion boots when you want to look stylish but are afraid of slipping on icy sidewalks. While they do not elongate your leg quite as well skinny-heel boots, they do dress up an outfit.
  4. Select a pair of fashion boots that does not cut off your leg at its thickest point. Knee-high boots work well because many women's legs are narrowest directly below the knee. Knee-high fashion boots also make an excellent choice for skirts and dresses.
  5. Wear snow boots for snow and rain boots for rain. These are not fashion boots, of course, but if you plan on trudging around in deep banks of snow or splashing through endless puddles of rain, don't risk a heeled boot. Instead, wear the footwear you need.

Selecting Oxfords and Loafers: Keep things conservative with oxfords and loafers.

  1. Consider a pair of oxfords or loafers for the office. As a conservative, old fashioned style of shoe, loafers are appropriate for nearly any professional setting. They can go brilliantly with trousers as well as with dresses and skirts.
  2. Select a pair of low-heeled loafers to wear with knee-length pencil or A-line skirt.
  3. Wear either flat or low-heeled oxfords with trousers.

Selecting Sneakers and Athletic Shoes: Save sneakers and other athletic style shoes for exercise and casual wear.

  1. Wear athletic shoes designed for your sport. If you are a runner, for instance, wear running shoes with supportive insoles.
  2. Match athletic shoes with athletic clothes. If you have work-out clothes on, wear work-out shoes.
  3. Stick with low-key sneakers for non-work-out clothes. Avoid running shoes or other obviously athletic shoes for everyday wear. If you prefer a casual shoe with your jeans and t-shirts, however, a simple sneaker may still work.
  4. Wear pseudo-athletic shoes that slip on with an open back for daily errands or for work in the garden.

Consider the Color:  Coordinate the color of your shoes with your outfit. Choose shoe colors that match your clothes instead of colors that compete with your clothes.

  1. Stick with standard colors for professional settings.
    • Wear brown and black leather shoes at a conservative office.
    • Incorporate color only if you have a less strict office with a corporate casual dress code.
  2. Choose plain shoes for an extravagant outfit.
    • Wear simple black heels sans embellishment when wearing a dress with a bright, bold pattern.
    • Consider neutral heels or flats if you have on a sparkly evening top.
  3. Add zest to a plain outfit with brighter shoes.
    • Add a pop of color by pairing a red heel with a black or brown dress.
    • Try a dressy shoe with a funky pattern, like alligator skin, if you have on a simple blouse and neutral trousers or jeans.
  4. Coordinate the color with the colors in your outfit. Stick with black for cool-tone outfits and brown for warm-tone outfits.
  5. Hone in on a color found in your clothing if you’re wearing a multi-colored outfit. For instance, if you have on a blouse with a geometric pattern including the colors purple and pink, consider a deep purple shoe.
  6. Avoid colors that clash with those in your outfit.
  7. Avoid strict color matching. Do not wear one solid color from head to toe. If you have on a blue blouse and a blue skirt, avoid wearing blue shoes.
  8. Consider different shades. If you have a light pink blouse on, try wearing a rose-colored flat or heel instead of a shoe in the same shade of pink.

Tips

  • Measure your shoe size and shop for shoes late in the day. Your feet swell as the day goes on. If you select a pair of comfortable shoes when your feet are already at their largest and most swollen, you don't have to worry about whether the shoes will be uncomfortable when you wear them at a later time.
  • Only wear shoes with a heel height you feel comfortable in. Three inch heels may look impressive, but if you are unable to walk around in them, that good impression is gone. Stick with shoes you feel comfortable and confident in to make the most out of any look.

Warnings

  • Extremely high-heeled shoes and flip-flops have both been known to cause foot damage when worn excessively. Limit these shoes to their proper settings—formal and evening for high heels, and short-term casual for flip-flops—to avoid causing permanent damage to your foot.

Things You’ll Need

  • Shoes
  • Outfit

Sources and Citations

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