Like many professional women who have been at this work-thing for a while, I have the basic shoes covered. I have my black pointed-toe, my black round-toe, my flesh-toned, my grey, my navy and my brown. These are essentials to have for when you can’t wear a fun shoe (court appearance, meeting with serious Air Force officer who will mention that your shoes could “snap an ankle like a twig,” etc.). But once you have as many basics as you think you need to make your wardrobe functional, the fun begins.
In fact, the older I get, the more I branch out from my basic footwear. Life is too short to wear basic shoes all the time. So what do I look for when I’m searching for a trendy/cool shoe that is still professional?
Heel Height. With a cool shoe it is even more important that the heel fall into the professional height of sub-4″. You’re drawing at least some attention to your feet by wearing a stylish shoe. Do not let those glances fall on heels whose height would be more appropriate for after hours cocktails or a night out.
Texture. This is where leopard, calf-hair, snakeskin and tortoise make their appearance. Textured shoes are where you can go if you want to be a little funky while staying safely in bounds. These Michael Kors Flex pumps in black and white pony hair live in this category. They, like many textured shoes, also fall into the next category.
Print. Printed pumps are a great option, but to keep them safe for professional offices, make sure the print comes in neutral colors. These black-and-white Ivanka Trump pumps are a good example. If you work in a creative environment, you might be able to go a little crazy and choose something bold like these Sophia Webster pumps.
Shape/Style. Occasionally, I find a shoe that is basic in every way (heel height, color, material) except for their shape. This pair from Sole Society, with a strong angular vamp is such shoe. Want to mix categories? These Sole Society pumps have a cool banded style and come in a snakeskin print. Both pack a lot of style for the price.
Color. Color is the easiest of the categories to understand, it’s also the hardest for women in very professional offices to pull off. Personally, I would wear red shoes almost anywhere (not to court, not on the floor). Beyond that, I like coral as a red alternative, green as a safe choice for summer. In the fall, I want oxblood and peacock teal.
Regardless of how bold you decide to go, I would offer one piece of advice: If you walk into your closet and your shoe wardrobe reeks of sameness, shake it up. New shoes breathe new life into basics and can bring added style to even the most pared down wardrobe.