6 Essential Shoes for a Complete Wardrobe

#1 The Classic Court

This is the shoe that means business. For meetings, interviews, after dark or to add an edge to your jeans. Search for an elegant shape with a pointed toe —although avoid exaggerated and elongated toe shapes, as they make your feet look extra-long. The softer the angle, the more flattering they will look. Pointed toes are more timeless than round toes, which do cycle back into fashion every few years. With a flattering toe shape that flashes a little toe cleavage and a slim stiletto heel, this shoe will really work with every skirt shape or trouser in your wardrobe.

#2 The Mannish Flat

When you want to look smart but need to be fast, an elegant menswear-inspired flat is the perfect solution. Based on an Oxford or Brogue style, lace-up or with monk straps (those that buckle across the instep of your shoe) this shoe is strong and stable. Like the classic court, it will be versatile enough to go with almost everything in your wardrobe. Perhaps only a narrow pencil skirt that ends mid-calf will look wrong with this shoe shape, dependent on your height. I particularly love the look of them with a slim-leg trouser suit.

#3 The Sneaker

Down-time dressing calls for something more relaxed. The canvas Converse All Star or Adidas Stan Smith in white leather will have the ease of a trainer but are pleasingly minimalist, so will work as a shoe substitute, too. Try your sneakers with sharp tailoring or an ultra-feminine party dress. The only caveat is that these are not shoes you would actually play sport in, so any style you would consider wearing to do more than run for the bus in can’t be considered as one of your essential six shoes for style.

#4 The Mid-Heel Ankle Boot

For sheer versatility, the ankle boot wins its place in our top six shoe styles. The knee-high boot and thigh-high versions are brilliant styles and if you’re venturing out into the cold nothing beats an over-the-knee for keeping you warm but I promise you will get the most wear from a boot that hits no more than 5 cm (2 inches) above your ankle bone. Any higher and it will start to get into that unflattering mid-calf zone, any lower and it will become a shoe-boot, which are really awkward to wear any type of trousers with. Choose a boot that has a 5-7- cm (2-3-inch) heel because they will go with most outfits. If you’re not keen on wearing high heels, don’t panic. As it’s a boot, your foot will be held in place and will feel more secure than it would in the same height heel in a mule or open sandal. Keep an eye on how the boot sits around your ankle and choose a style that fits closely.

#5 The Party Heel

This is the shoe you can have fun with. For evenings when you’re going all out, you want to have a shoe that looks like it’s going to have as much of a good time as you are — although the party heel will look as good with your smart tailored work trousers and jeans as it will with a posh frock. Look at what you’re most likely to wear with them. Do you like your jewels to make the statement? Search for one-tone, block-colour styles. I am also a huge fan of the embellished evening flat, which will add an insouciant glamour to any outfit.

#6 The Summer Sandal

With the addition of a flat, easy-to-wear, warm-weather sandal, your essential shoe wardrobe will be complete. This style should be simple. Search for something that looks like it’s been made by generations of artisans overlooking the Mediterranean. In fact, two of the best sandal brands — Ancient Greek Sandals and K Jacques — have. Tan leather gets better with age, but if you’re wearing your sandals in the city, and perhaps need to wear them in the office, a darker tone will be smarter. Gladiator styles are a summer perma-trend but have been overtaken by the simple slide in fashionability terms. Straps snaking up the leg might work on Greek goddesses, but in real life you will look ridiculous and spend all day trying to keep them in place!

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