I don't know why, but I've been thinking a lot about footwear lately. Maybe it's because I feel like summer sandals are so easy to wear--I have this one pair of sandals that I think I could (translation: have done. do still. will continue to.) wear with pretty much anything and get away with it.
It's almost too easy.
Which made me start to wonder... What makes good footwear? Although I'm not a shoe-crazed consumer, I tend to gravitate toward the belief that a shoe really can make or break an outfit. Take, for example, these sad...um...examples (click on the photos to enlarge, to see more clearly what I'm talking about):
Now, don't get me wrong. I love a ballet flat. But these particular pairings (above) are alllllll wrong.
In Case #1 above, the whole outfit is stuffy-solid already. Adding aNOTHer solid piece by way of shoe just gets monotonous. Something open toed or strappy or printed would've been more interesting.
In Case #2 above, the whole ensemble is just a lot of wrongs, and the shoes do nothing to make anything right. Random color, random shape, random random. And ugly here.
In Case #3 above, the plaid shoes are a total clash to the slightly-different-but-only-just-enough-to-be-uncomfortably-mismatched plaid trousers. I've since thrown these particular shoes out. That's right. They've been axed. We ain't joking around here, folks. You shoes, you lose.
[Editor's note: That pun? My sincere apologies.]
That being said, below are a few photos in which I think the shoes complement the outfits just fine:
In Case #1 above, the outfit is pretty simple but with interesting details (pleating on jacket, embroidery on shirt, metallic braid belt, subtle pinstripe in pants). The metallic flats tie in nicely (but don't exactly match, thank goodness) with the metallic belt and are simple enough not to draw too much attention to themselves. But, because of the metallic, they can hold their own. The balance works.
In Case #2 above, the entire ensemble is cashe and alternative. The yellow belt is the main player, and shoes don't need to compete...these Chucks don't compete but add to. Also, the irony of a pair of Converse with a preppy (but downplayed) plaid trouser is delightful--the two play off each other nicely.
In Case #3 above, we've got some blues and greens working well together in the outfit itself; however, they're all about the same hue. A shoe in the same color scheme but a different (in this case, darker) hue complements the ensemble without blending in to Dullsville. Again, balance.
Phew. How're we doing? Hanging in there? Maybe you should go get yourself a bowl of ice cream and come back to finish this off. And maybe a couple slices of pizza. And some carrots. They're good for your teeth and help you see in the dark, you know. Win-win. 'Cept for the carrot.
So. So far we've covered what doesn't work and what works fine. Below are three examples in which I think the shoe makes the entire outfit work:
In Case #1 above, the bootie adds a perfect touch of sophistication with the blazer but creates an interesting, even playful, break in the leg-line. Which, normally I try to steer clear of breaking a leg-line because, really, thanks but no thanks stumpiness. But this shoe perfectly equalizes the visual interest of this ensemble's top and bottom halves. I love the down-to-earth sophistication of this bootie here.
In Case #2 above, the leather toe-wrap sandal could not be better paired. Denim in and of itself is "earthy," and this outfit has double-duty denim. (This sentence brought to you by the letter "D"...) There's also long stretches of solidity here, broken up only by a thin necklace that, being blue, kind of blends in. Exposing the toes and using dark leather sparingly to do so is, to me, an excellent counterbalance.
In Case #3 above, the chocolate lacy-crochet detail of the wedge maintains the femininity yet boldness exemplified in the rest of the ensemble. I'm not a matchy-matchy person by nature, but I think matching the dark brown of the belt to the shoe ties everything together here. These shoes are like the must-read epilogue to this outfit--eyes are drawn to the yellow top and ruffle skirt at first, but you want to know the rest of the story. And the shoes don't disappoint.
So. These are my thoughts and some of my shoe-meanderings of late. I'd really really love to hear your thoughts on this--do you agree or disagree? Do you think I got any of these totally wrong? What kinds of things do you consider when you decide on a shoe? Are shoes really that important, or can you fudge it? Is there a sure-fire shoe color/style/detail that works virtually always? Let's hear it. I'm serious. I wanna know what you're thinking, right here right now.