How to Complement Your Outfit With the Right Shoes
Stilettos, sandals, riding boots, kitten heels, ballet flats—women have an amazing variety of footwear to play with and fawn over. With so many options, however, it can be difficult to figure out which shoes compliment your outfit best. When determining the perfect shoe choice to complete your next ensemble, start by examining the color and style of your outfit. Also consider the setting you will be wearing your new look in, since some shoes can dress an outfit up while others can tone it down.
Think in Color
Stay neutral.Some neutral tone outfits look appropriate when matched with neutral tone shoes. For instance, a little black dress can look stunning with the right pair of black heels. If you plan on wearing the same color from head to toe, however, you should be prepared to accessorize with jewelry that adds a bit of color or sparkle to your outfit to avoid looking too drab.
Make a bland outfit pop with a bright shoe color.Sometimes, too many neutral tones can make an outfit look dull. A bright shoe is a quick way to remedy the situation. Try a bright red pump with a white blouse and black pencil skirt, or a spring green pump with brown slacks and a beige top.
Tone down a bright outfit with a neutral shoe.If your clothes are already loud enough to do the talking, avoid shoes that will compete for attention. The next time you slip on a royal blue sundress, match it with a pair of white sandals instead of going for more blue.
When in doubt, go nude.More accurately, go with a nude colored shoe. A nude shoe is a neutral because it blends into your skin tone. Because it mimics the tone of your skin, it is also relatively easy to pair with other neutrals and colors.
Mix shades.If you like the monochromatic look, you can still pull it off as long as the shades vary from one another. Try wearing a rose-colored pump the next time you wear a light pink t-shirt and jeans, or a chocolate brown boot with a light brown sweater dress.
Match your shoes with an understated color already found in your outfit.If you have a top, bottom, or dress with a pattern on it, pick one color from the pattern and find shoes that match. For instance, if you have a skirt with a geometric pattern that includes navy, sky blue, and teal, try wearing it with a teal flat or a navy wedge heel.
Do a Style Check
Wear sleek shoes with light outfits.Stick with sandals, pumps, and thin heels the next time you wear a breezy sundress or venture out in a sleeveless blouse and capri pants. Heavy shoes, like boots and platform heels, often look clunky and out of proportion when paired with lighter fabrics and airy styles.
Stick with heavier shoes for heavy materials.Slip on a pair of boots or a thick heel with your warm winter sweaters and tweed jackets. If both the material and structure of a garment look heavy, a thick, solid shoe will compliment that garment better than a notably thin, tiny shoe would.
Slip on a decorative shoe to spice up a simple outfit.Shoes come with a variety of textures, patterns, and embellishments. A quick way to add a little visual interest to a plain outfit is by finding a shoe with a little extra pizzazz to act as a focal point. A leopard print flat can add a wild twist to a plain jeans and tank top combination, and a wedge heel with a ruffled front can give an air of playfulness to a simple sundress.
Tone down a wild outfit by sticking with a simple shoe.If your outfit already includes a busy pattern, like polka dots or paisley print, do not wear shoes that will compete with it. Instead, opt for a shoe in a solid color and gravitate toward styles without extra embellishments.
Resist the temptation to over-match your accessories.A little matching looks coordinated and well put together, but too much can quickly become overkill. For example, a blue pump coordinates nicely with a blue purse, but you should resist the urge to add on a blue belt, heavy blue jewelry, and a blue hat. Similarly, you can wear rose post earrings if your shoes have a rose embellishment on them, but you may want to think twice about adding a purse, hat, and large ring with the same rose decoration.
Know where to draw the line between sexy and trashy.If your outfit already shows a considerable amount of skin, you may want to tone the shoe down and opt for something moderately sultry instead of something overtly so. You might be pushing it if you wear three-inch strappy stilettos with a strapless mini-dress, but the same mini-dress can look appropriately sexy with a half-inch peep-toe.
Know Your Setting
Keep an eye on your calendar.Most footwear can be worn throughout the year, but some shoes are tied down to specific seasons.
- Boots are worn best in fall and winter, with some crossover into spring. They do not work well for summer, however.
- Sandals look best during the spring and summer. You may be able to get away with wearing them during a warm early autumn, but you should put them into storage once winter weather makes an appearance.
Wear conservative footwear in the office.Tall, thin heels and strappy styles are usually considered sexy and do not work for professional settings. Closed toes, low heels, flats, and boots are better options.
Avoid under-dressing.If you have a versatile outfit, like a little black dress, and you decide to wear it to a reception or other formal event, make sure your shoes can dress it up. Avoid casual shoes, like flats with cutesy embellishments, and opt for more mature shoes, like a black or silver pump.
Avoid over-dressing.You must also avoid wearing an overly fancy shoe with a versatile outfit if you plan on wearing it in a casual setting. For instance, if you want to dress down a brown pencil skirt, look for a simple sandal or flat instead of a fancy stiletto.
- Know your own limitations. If you stumble around in any heel higher than one inch, don’t wear heels higher than one inch, even if they will compliment your outfit. There are always other alternatives. Even if you cannot create the exact look you want, it is still better than spending the day or evening tripping around over your own two feet.
- Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are already a little swollen. If a pair of shoes feels comfortable even when your feet are at their sorest, you know that those shoes will remain comfortable even if you wear them for an entire day.
- Color choice is the most basic factor in choosing the right shoe. Avoid color combinations that swamp your look with too much of one color. Instead, keep things balanced by mixing neutral hues and brighter colors.
- In order to compliment your outfit with the right shoes, you need to have a solid understanding of your outfit’s overall style. Bold shoes can make a busy ensemble look cluttered and messy, but they can liven up a plain outfit. A heavy shoe looks clunky and out of place with a tiny spaghetti strap dress, but it may work well if you plan on wearing a thick sweater.
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