Myth: Shoes don’t need to flatter.
Truth: Shoes do need to flatter most of the time.
As if my readers don’t know by now, I’m a girlie girl. One of my girlie girl traits is that I love shoes. I do tend to be strictly practical about it and I don’t own a closet full of shoes (not even close) but I love what a great pair of shoes can do for me. Great shoes not only make my feet and legs look good; they also make me feel good. But you don’t have to be a girlie girl to appreciate what great shoes can do for you. Show me a woman who doesn’t know how great the right shoes can make her feel, and I’ll show you a woman who has never worn a great pair of shoes.
From me, you get the truth.
How do you find a great pair of shoes? You just need to know what to find. I’ll take you from back to front.
The heel: It can range from one-half inch to 3 inches. Anything higher than 3 inches is too painful for walking, and anything lower than one-half inch will not give you proper support. In general, 1 ½ to 2 inches is best. That will give you a little extra height without being uncomfortable. The heel must be centered on the back of the shoe to keep your balance. It must not be needle-thin. A narrow heel always works, but so does a wedge heel, which is thicker but contoured. A wide stack heel is stable and easy, but rarely flattering.
The back: A shoe is always safest if there is a back, because that secures the shoe onto the foot. Whether it’s a full back (as with a pump) or a strap (as with a slingback), it should just cover the back of the foot and only come to the base of the ankle. There are backless shoes out there, and many of them are flattering and even comfortable. You just need to be careful with them so that your feet don’t slip out of them. They’re not good for any heavy activity like dancing.
The straps: The best straps go only around the back for security, as with a slingback. Any straps in the front can be tricky. If they go straight across your foot, they’ll cut into the length and make your feet appear bigger and your legs appear shorter. If they fall in a more diagonal way, that can work. And if they fall across the instep, that can work too.
The sides: The best sides are no sides or very low sides. Pumps with a back and no sides are known as D’Orsay pumps, and they can be gorgeous and very flattering. High sides are a bit tricky.
The color: The best colors to start with are black and nude. Black is easy and goes with everything and it looks especially good with dark tights in the winter. Nude (meaning that it matches your skin as closely as possible) elongates your feet and legs and also works with everything. However, once you have these basics, it’s okay to have shoes in fun colors or prints. I had a great pair of leopard-print pumps that I loved for a long time until they wore out.
The vamp: This is the part of the shoe that falls over the top of the foot. A low vamp is best. If it shows a little “toe cleavage,” so much the better (this is one case in which cleavage is actually tasteful and not vulgar). A high vamp cuts into the length and that makes the feet appear bigger and the legs shorter.
The toe: Open-toe shoes are great if you like showing your toes, but they don’t look good with hose. Dark open-toe shoes can look good with dark tights, but that’s the one and only exception. Most open-toe shoes, like sandals, look best with bare feet. These are great for the summertime and they do look good, but they’re not a good idea for special events in which you might be dancing - you need some protection for your toes. Peep-toes are also great and they’re a good compromise. They allow for just a little bit of toe, but they look just fine with hose or tights as needed. But again, they won’t protect your toes during dancing.
Closed-toe shoes always work if the toe box fits and is shaped nicely. A pointed toe box is universally flattering because it visually elongates the foot. But it’s also the least comfortable if you’re not careful. Make sure the shoe fits everywhere properly and that you have plenty of wiggle room for your toes. A tapered toe gives a similar effect, but it’s slightly easier to wear. Round toe boxes are trickier, but still doable, because they’re still longest in front, so they can elongate the foot a little bit. Square toes are not good.
Those are the things to look for when shopping for shoes. Again, a great pair of shoes will make you look and feel amazing, so take full advantage of it.