Shoe Styles

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What Style of Shoe
HEELS

This is perhaps the most prolific shoe sector, including court shoes, stilettos, slingbacks and wedges, not to mention the adorably named kitten heels. But they're all completely different and not everyone can wear them. What's more, heels can throw you completely by being a different size to your normal shoes. The rule with high heels is to try on the size smaller than your normal size, as the slanting shape will cause your foot to slide forward and compact slightly. With lower heels, stick with your normal size - but always try a few different sizes and styles before buying, as each shop is different.

The most generic style is the court shoe - the mid-sized heel with sides and either a pointed, squared or rounded toe that most women wear to work. It looks smart, is usually pretty comfortable, and evry versatile. The mid-heel means it isn't a nightmare to walk in (handy if you're on your feet a lot!) and can be worn with either skirts or trousers. It's worth investing in a few pairs in different colours - black or brown for winter and then perhaps some brighter colours for the warmer months. Statement shoes like a pair of bright red heels can look fantastic when teamed with a simple black skirt and white shirt - there's no need to make your oufit stand out when your shoes do all the talking.

It's also worth at this point mentioning the peep-toe style. It does what it says, with the tip of the shoe having been cut away to reveal the tops of your toes. A really dainty way to jazz up normal court shoes, but be wary, as they can be uncomfortable (especially in winter) and they're an absolute no-no if you're wearing reinforced-toe stockings.

Stilettos, along with all the glamour associated with their name, have the reputation as more of an evening wear shoe. We suspect this is mainly down to their often ridiculously high and narrow heel, which is neither stable nor comfortable for extended periods of time. Unless you're a practised stiletto-wearer, don't even consider these babies for anything other than the occasional evening do. Preferably a dinner. In these shoes, chairs are undoubtedly your best ally. That said, if you can pull them off, you'll earn a grudging respect from most other women. And they do show off your legs nicely.

Slingbacks are again, made in the general mold of the court shoe. Slingback simply means that the back of the shoe has been styled so that the solid fabric is replaced with a strap that wraps around the back of your ankle, holding the shoe on your foot. As with any variant of the shoe world, styles can be mixed, so you can have a pair of slingback stilettos or slingback wedges. They're available in a wide range of heel heights, so check below to see what height suits you before buying anything.

Mules are again a variation of the slingback, taking the transformation one step further. Mules don't have anything at the back, with the front toe section usually extending to midway up the foot, holding the shoe on. Many evening styles are mules, but they're becoming a fast favourite in casual styles as well, with many sandal designs adopting the mule shape for increased comfort. Heel heights can range from flat to mid-heels, but you have to work harder to stop the flatter shapes falling off your feet without the backing strap to keep them secure.

Wedges are one of those do-what-they-say-on-the-tin styles. Instead of a normal heel, wedge heels are entirely solid, with every inch of the shoe's sole touching the ground. Wedges are more limited in heel heights, and often will only range from mid-heels upwards. But again, it's possible to get wedge court shoes or wedge sandals, which are immensely popular as they hurt far less than conventional shoes and also don't sink into the sand/grass as easily. Perfect for seaside holidays or barbeques. And most other occasions, really!

Kitten heels are possibly the most adorably named shoe style around. A kitten heel is simply a very small heel, a baby heel as it were, of less than 1 inch high. Most taller women will have tried kitten heels at one time or another, as they're a good way to get the classy look and shape of a real heel without adding too much height.

That said, kitten heels aren't suitable for everyone, which brings us onto the topic of heel heights in general.

It's an accepted rule that mid-heels suit most people. Tall people might not like them because they add too much height, but heels have the effect of making legs look slimmer and more toned, as well as slimming down figures, so they shouldn't be discarded out of hand.
Very high heels (usually >5 inch) can look extremely classy, but be careful if you have very narrow ankles as they can make you look like you're walking on stilts. Similarly, chunkier legs won't benefit from very narrow heels as they'll make you look top-heavy.
Wedges are perfect for most people. Bigger calves will be balanced by the thicker heel (in the same way flared jeans balance out big hips) and smaller feet will look less breakable with the more solid shoe. But as we said before, they don't come with low heels, so be prepared for some added height.
Kitten heels are the most tricky. Low heels mean there's less pain if you're wearing them for a long time, which is great, but kitten heels really only suit people with relatively slender legs. Chunkier legs will simply look even bigger when matched with a tiny heel, so if your legs aren't your pride and joy it's best to steer clear.


FLATS

Ah, flats. Versatile daywear that can look classy or casual as needed. And they're usually super-comfy, too.

When people talk about flats, they're most likley referring to the ballerina pumps that are all the rage nowadays, as well as various styles of sandals. Flats invariably don't have a heel (or much of one, maybe a few millimetres at most) and they're perfect for popping out to the shops, doing lots of walking, or simply casual wear. They're a favourite of younger women who wear them for work to dress down smart outfits, and as long as you keep them in good condition (sadly, they do scuff easily) then they can make any outfit look cool.
What's more, they're often classed as a fashion shoe, which means they're generally quite cheap - and that means you can get them in as many colours as you like. Given that they're more versatile than heels, especially if heels make your feet hurt, then it's worth investing in 4 or 5 pairs. Faith is a well-known high street store that stocks good quality pumps at reasonable prices (around £30), along with fashion stores such as Topshop and New Look.


Moving onto sandals, things get trickier. You automatically think of beachwear sandals, with the toe posts and summery designs, but there are so many variations out there! Gladiator sandals hit the catwalks this year and have proved amazingly popular, although they're really only suitable for skirts or skinny jeans, so if you favour wide-leg trousers then you won't really get your wear out of a pair.
Sandals can also refer to the eveningwear shoes that are often classed as slingbacks. Generally speaking, as sandals tend not to have a high heel, they're often not considered as suitable for eveningwear, but there are loads of designs out now that incorporate metallic colours, glitter sequins and gemstones to make even flat sandals look a million dollars. They're great for taller people or for if you're spending a long time on your feet, so investing in at least one pair is a good idea.


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