Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Shoes for Holiday Parties

Dear Belle,

The Christmas Party invites are rolling in, and while I have several lovely dresses to wear, I always have trouble picking a pair of shoes.  Can you give me some suggestions for party shoes?


Choosing stylish evening shoes seems to be a challenge for many women.  Every holiday season, I spot a trove of women in inappropriate evening shoes.  So before we discuss what kind of shoes I recommend, let’s discuss the faux pas that need to be eliminated.

Old Shoes: Evening shoes don’t get much wear, as a rule, so women tend to keep the same pair for several years.  This can be problematic.  Too many times, I’ve seen shoes with missing sequins, worn out heel caps, stains and stretched out straps.  Long story short, beat up shoes ruin outfits.

Day Shoes: The shoes you wore to the office are not evening appropriate.  Your basic leather boots and sensible pumps are not party shoes.  It’s the holidays, start the celebration with spunky footwear.

Uncomfortable Shoes: Fancy parties and casual parties all have one thing in common: there are never enough chairs.  Unfortunately, most women don’t wear shoes that are good for hours of standing.  

Before you go to the party, spend some talking standing and walking in your shoes.  Break them in, and add padding where necessary.  And remember to pack a pair of CitySlips for your walk home in case your feet get tired.

Sequined Flats (Similar Vera Wang Silver Flats, $165): Sequined or glitter flats are a great choice for women who don’t want to wear heels.  Pair them with a full-skirted party dress for an Audrey Hepburn-eque look.  

D’Orsay Kitten Heels (Vigotti Metis pumps, $109): One step up from the flats are kitten heels.  For party shoes, I prefer d’orsay pumps.  They’re prettier and more delicate than basic pumps.

Cage Sandals (Michael Kors Jenna Sandal, $150 (also comes in all black)): The cage sandal is the modern evening shoe.  It’s sexy and chic and perfect for drawing attention. 

Sky-High Spike Heels (Aldo Rhinestone Heel, $135): Five-and-a-half inch platforms aren’t for the faint of heart.  But if you’re a trained stilt-walker, these are the shoes for you.  Just make sure you have health insurance before you tackle D.C.’s cobblestone sidewalks.

Strappy Slingbacks (Ivanka Trump Doublet Heel, $140): Some women like their evening shoes barely there, if you’re one of them these sparkly slingbacks are perfect.  They will match any outfit you can come up with and show off your legs while doing it.

Oh, also, you’ll notice that all of these shoes have one things in common: they look best with bare legs.  I like to show of my gams at parties.  But if you want to wear tights, choose something with a closed toe and a bit of a heel.



  1. L says:

    No tights for a winter holiday party? How do you not freeze? And what do you do when it's that typical DC rainy cold weather the evening of your party — boots and change at the door? I think I'm definitely guilty of letting my practical side get ahead of my fashionable side in these situations.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  2. Shoe Gal says:

    Great shoe picks here. I like the look of black (opaque) tights, black patent shoes, and an LBD or a white wintry lace dress. What do you think of patent for evening?

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  3. Rachel says:

    L – Essentially, you either look good or you're warm. Honestly, if you live in a colder climate, there is no way to have both. Cocktail dresses leave me freezing. Tights are a must. And forget about open-toed shoes. Looking through ads promoting holiday outfits is fun, but I know I'm never going to wear it because I like to be warm.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  4. AD says:

    I'm so guilty of wearing my sensible work pumps in the evening. ­čÖü

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    In response to the questions about tights, I didn't say you couldn't wear them just that it's not my preference.

    As for what I do about the cold, I suck it up and suffer for fashion.

    When it's raining, I wear closed toe patent leather or booties and take a cab.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  6. Claire says:

    Hi Belle, I'm curious how you deal with wearing bare legs during cold weather.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  7. Beth says:

    Shoe Gal – I did the black tights and patent pumps for a holiday party last year, the shoes were 5 inch with a slight platform and the dress was lace overlay shift dress. I like to think that I pulled it off well, hopefully Belle won't tell me I made a mistake!

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  8. Belle says:

    Claire- I shave. I exfoliate. I apply St. Tropez self tanner (just a small amount, no need to go Snooki). And I lotion.

    I'm from the West, I usually don't get cold unless it's below zero. But if I do get chilly, I take a cab.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  9. Belle says:

    You can wear patent to parties, that's not a problem. Just clean the shoes and make sure they're in good shape.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  10. Lizzy says:

    Belle, what are your thoughts on nude stockings with a seam up the back for a holiday party? I get mild eczema on my legs so self tanner only tends to magnify the scaly-ness. I don't think I can go bare legged but I don't think the dress I have in mind will lend itself to tights either and plain hose seem so … um, well … plain, for a holiday soiree.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  11. DCM says:

    Lizzy, I can't go bare legged either — too many scars and I am the pastiest white EVER. A colleague recommended Donna Karan second skin hose. She promised that no one will even know I am wearing hosiery! Can anyone speak to this brand?

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  12. Belle says:

    Lizzy-I think stockings with the line up the back are hot. As are nude fishnets. I recommend both.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  13. C says:

    For all these questions about tights, with the right shoes, I think open toe and tights are fine. The cage pair might look awesome with opaque black tights. It will bring attention though, so make sure your tights and shoes are in good shape, and keep them in the same color scheme to avoid the cut off look mentioned in the colored tights post.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  14. L says:

    DCM — I have worn the Donna Karan hose in a past life and they're definitely my favorite. Agree that for nude hose, that's about the best you're going to find. Buy several pairs and wear gloves (or socks over your hands) as you put them on so that you don't get a run, and if you do, so you'll have backups. Once they're on, they wear great.

    November 10, 2011/Reply
  15. Sarah says:

    I just had to comment that I recently spend time frantically searching a mall for decent hoilday party shoes. I went to Macys, Nine West, all the other stores the mall had–and I'm not exaggerating when I say all the shoes they are showing right now look like STRIPPER shoes! They are clunky with huge platforms–totally cartoonish. I was so disgusted/disappointed. I didn't see ANY like the strappy shoes Belle posted here!

    November 10, 2011/Reply