After pillaging my local Nine West last summer, I came across what seemed to be a fantastic evening shoe. Bronze, 3in sturdy heel, strappy upper with knot details and ankle strap. Great subtle metallic shoe for dresses or jeans, and at $17, seemed initially totally worth it.
The following weekend, I took the shoes out in Manhattan for a night at the W hotel. We had barely gotten off the train when I realized my mistake. The metallic faux-leather sole became super-slippery in the humid summer night, and I spent my walking steps trying to keep my foot from sliding down and through the straps, and feeling the formerly-adored knots dig into my skin. Five blocks later I was in so much pain and so very annoyed at this deceit, that I stopped in the nearest boutique, grabbed a pair of metallic flats, and prompty threw the disappointing heels in the trash.
I spent the remainder of the night a few inches shorter, but so relieved to be out of the bronze heels that I didn't care my black pants pooled a bit at the ankle. The Gray Goose martinis helped my attitude as well.
But you know.... I just didn't feel cute.
Clothes and shoes and accessories don't just look a certain way - they (hopefully) make you feel a certain way. Hopefully that certain way is confident, pretty and tall. True, with the flats, I was spared more blisters and was able to dance all night and walk back to Grand Central without any sort of real pain. But without those couple of inches of extra height, the improvement in my posture, the natural action of leading with the hips and the feeling of being "out," I just didn't feel as evening-gussied-up as I had when I walked out the door.
The lesson from this failed footwear fable?
The right pair of shoes can't just make a look complete; they can make the event or place to which they're worn a different experience. So I have learned over time just how important it is to have the right shoe for any experience or opportunity that comes your way. How sad would it be to run around Rome mistakenly wearing wedges, only to get blisters and have to return to the hotel early? What will you remember of that day? The Coliseum or the pain?
Besides, I love shoes, so why not put a bunch of pretty pictures of them?
The shoes listed below are all included in my closet, in some form. They go from the most functional and casual to the most elegant and chic. I won't go into color unless necessary, because color is the best excuse to indulge in multiple pairs from each category. These shoes are listed for their function and the feelings they are meant to inspire. Keep in mind, this is a Connecticut girl speaking - the climate in which you live will change some of these. Color and material are subjective and varied, but the shoes every girl needs come in shapes and sizes that have purpose - both aesthetic and functional.
1. Workout Sneakers
Obvious function. Tie them on to go for a run, do a cardio class, etc. They should be supportive and durable, and never worn outside exercise mode.
2. Boat ShoesFunctional on the boat, sure. The trademark white sole grips the deck and doesn't scuff it. But these great Sperrys are very comfortable and look casually cute with jeans, denim skirts and khakis. No socks, naturally.
3. Wellington Boots
If these aren't in your closet, they should be. Unless you live in Arizona or you have a personal umbrella-holder (even so), these boots protect your pants and nice shoes from water. When it's pouring out in the morning, stuff the heels in your day bag and throw on some bright, patterned Wellies over your pants, to ensure comfort and (dry) style when you're inside.
4. Quality Flip Flops
The summer comfort classic, flip flops stand the test of time, and are available in so many places at such great prices that it's impossible to only have one pair. They can be pulled off with anything during the day, and as long as they are made of quality materials (grosgain, leather, etc.) and not falling apart, buy 'em by the dozen.
5. Wedge Sandals
They won't sink into the sand or grass, are easier to walk in than stilettos, and work with skirts or pants. Patterns, ribbons, cork, peep-toes.... a spring and summer staple.
6. Chic Flats
Wearable just about all year, and currently very stylish, flats work during the day for casual outings or when your feet are tired at work. They can be used at night for casual situations, but beware of not-feeling-cute factor (see above).
7. Low-to-Medium-Heel Pumps
For work and nightlife, if your tolerance for high heels is low. Look polished and come in 1,000 colors and patterns, but enable you to run around the office or the city while still getting the improved posture and delightful clicking sound on the floor.
8. Knee-High Leather Boots
This is what you wear when it's cold and you refuse to live in pants for 4 months. I recommend a heel of at least 3in so you don't look like a pirate or equestrienne, and a neutral color that will match multiple dresses and skirts.
9. Sky-High Vamp Pumps
Strictly for evening, and in the highest heel you can tolerate. They are rarely comfortable in any way, but you feel so sexy, it doesn't matter. The added muscle definition and model gait are just more fabulous bonuses.
10. Sky-High Strappy Sandals
Sexy-feeling shoes for warmer times, but make sure you're pedicured and moisturized. And obviously, no hose. Ever.
The path of life is a long journey to walk. Why not walk it in shoes that look awesome and make you feel fabulous? Anything less isn't good enough for you.