Building a wardrobe takes time - especially if it's very different from what you already have. My client, Ellen, wanted to dress in a more refined manner - she's 28, but at first glance appears much younger, and she wanted an image at the office that conveys more authority and sophistication than her wardrobe allowed.
Over several months, we updated her look with smart dresses, versatile separates, classic jackets and blazers, all balanced with healthy doses of pattern, texture, color and shine. And as part of this, we needed to address her shoe collection - at just under 5'2" tall, Ellen prefers to wear heels to work the majority of the time. She did have a few pairs of pumps for work - but they were quite worn. She also had some fun heels for going out at night - but none were appropriate at the office. So as part of our work together, I showed her what makes a basic heel wardrobe. The secret is picking styles with ultimate versatility, that do what they need to do for your proportions, but still infuse some fun into your outfits.
What are the four heels that Ellen (or anyone) needs in a modern wardrobe? Nude, black, color and print!
Nude heels are absolutely amazing! Their magic lies in the color. When you wear a shoe that's similar in tone to your skin, and you pair it with a dress or skirt, your legs look longer and leaner, which results in your looking taller - and isn't that what we all want??? It's all about the lack of contrast - there's less of a visual 'break' with skin-toned shoes than if you wore much lighter or much darker colored heels. And since your skin is a consistent color no matter what shade of skirt you have on, nude heels/pumps go with (almost) everything! So the next time you put on a dress and can’t figure out which shoes to wear, try going nude.
So now you may be wondering, "why would I wear a black heel that's so different from the color of my skin?" The answer is simple - what can elongate your legs when you're wearing black or dark pants? Black heels! It's the same principle as with nude heels and a skirt - black heels and dark pants create a longer and leaner line since they're similarly toned. And if you didn’t already know - pointy-toed pumps also do wonders for making your legs look longer...
Another stellar use for black heels is that they help ground an outfit - they look incredible when paired with a dress that has a hint of black in the print, and they also balance your look when you're wearing other black accessories.
Now that we've got the basics covered, where do we go? To color, of course! Color is the simplest way to add spark to your look, if you're already wearing a noticeable color or not. Pick whatever shade suits your fancy.
I love pairing one bold color with another (like Ellen's fuchsia top and cobalt heels) - but you can also use color as the 'star' of an otherwise neutral look.
Prints are the unsung heroes of the shoe world, which is what makes them so special. Yes, a print shoe is bit less versatile than the aforementioned solids - but if you pick one that works with the majority of your closet, it's a unique way to express your personal style and amp up your existing wardrobe.
How do you pick a print? See what colors are prominent in your wardrobe and go from there...
- If your clothes are black/white/tan based - show your animal side! Cheetah, leopard, zebra and giraffe prints are all based in neutrals, so they'll add pizazz to your most basic looks – and they also look super stylish with brights.
- If you go ga-ga over greys - be subtle with snake prints. Most snake prints are in shades of grey or brown, so they'll lend a hit of pattern (and texture!) to outfits based in everything from the palest grey to the darkest charcoal. I also love snake prints with jewel tones for a dose of sophistication.
- If you love color as much as I do - frolic in florals! Floral prints are everywhere this season, so grab them while they're hot. Pick ones that mimic the main colors in your wardrobe too add an obvious dose of femininity to even the simplest of styles.
Once you have the four heels that work with most anything in your closet, you'll never have those 'what shoes do I wear?' mornings again. If you're looking to expand your shoe wardrobe even more - grab a metallic pair. You can shine during the day, and also have a shoe that works with most cocktail dresses, too!
And if you want to see more of Ellen’s wardrobe, check out how I helped her create layered looks for cool mornings and warm afternoons here...