“Nothing livens up an old outfit like a stylish, new pair of shoes”. Wise words spoken from the incomparable Betty Halbreich. I think in style we place a lot of emphasis on clothes, accessories and jackets, but I think shoes are too easily forgotten. Sure, you can wear the same pair over and over again. And you definitely want to invest in shoes that are versatile enough to go the distance. But let’s talk today about the pain of not having the right shoes in your closet when needed, and dressing from the bottom up.
I can’t tell you how many times I got frustrated by not having the right pair of shoes in my closet as I was rebuilding my wardrobe. I remember getting dressed, putting the perfect outfit together, and then having to change because I didn’t have shoes to polish off the look. It’s the most frustrating thing. For the longest time, I needed a white leather pair of casual sneakers. When I finally found the perfect pair from Kate Spade New York, it solved a lot of my wardrobe problems. I was able to wear more of my clothes and mix and match more outfits because of one pair of shoes! Think about that for a moment. Shoes are so important! It’s like standing on a solid foundation. I added a pair of Toms platform sneakers to my wardrobe so I could wear more blazers with my casual looks. Sometimes, two pairs of shoes can equal 24 more outfit combinations.
Shoes Are The Foundation For Every Outfit.
As I was reading Betty Halbreich’s book Secrets Of A Fashion Therapist she listed 5 pairs of shoes that you really need for a beginner’s basic wardrobe. This information was invaluable since I was starting from scratch rebuilding my wardrobe all over again. And I think sometimes when you take style for granted like I do at times, it’s easy to overlook the basics.
The real fun of buying shoes comes most often from finding a pair that doesn’t seem very practical at all. I love to buy a pair of divine shoes– even if I have nothing to wear them with–and then dress myself from the feet up. After all, what’s more wonderful than buying an exciting pair of shoes, something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy but maybe found on the sale rack, and then building an outfit to showcase them? — Betty Halbreich
Without realizing it, I’ve been doing this my whole life. Check the photo below of me in my fuzzy, faux fur 4 inch Kenneth Cole heels. Very gas station chic of me. I didn’t have anywhere to wear them, so I would build outfits around these shoes. It was so much fun. And it worked. I don’t remember where I was going, but I felt like a million bucks in my outfit. And that’s the whole point.
Another time I bought shoes just because I loved them was the moment I laid eyes on these Ted Baker navy blue satin, floral patterned high heels. The first time I wore them I literally had an Anastasia Steele moment where I fell flat on the ground like she did the first time she walked into Mr. Grey’s office. Except, I was in a New York City street trying to hail a cab. Good thing my jeans didn’t rip and the damage was just a few scrapes on my palms. No big deal. I still managed to take this bathroom selfie good as new.
I think that’s enough shoe stories for the day. Let’s break down the 5 pairs of shoes needed in every basic wardrobe to make sure you’ve got what you need regardless of the look you’re going for, or the activity you’re doing.
Top 5 Shoes Needed In Every Basic Wardrobe.
Whether you’re someone who has tons of shoes in your closet, or you wear the same three pairs over and over again, these 5 pairs of shoes will help you be outfit ready for any event or occasion in your life. When Betty Halbreich speaks the style bible, you listen. Here are the five pairs she suggests necessary for a beginner’s basic wardrobe.
- A simple black shoe. Probably a mid-heeled leather pump of some sort to wear with basically everything. These shoes can be worn to the office, to date night, brunch, a funeral and add chic with jeans and a t-shirt.
- Sneakers. Plain and simple. Everyone needs a pair of sneakers in their closet. I recommend a pair of running shoes for exercise and also something casual that are cute enough to be dressed up for brunch, but also can be worn to the grocery store or to run errands.
- A pair of casual shoes. Preferably in black, brown, or navy (depending on the colors in your wardrobe). Something like a loafer, or a chunky lace-up shoe that can be worn on weekends with jeans as well as pant suits to work on more casual days.
- A pair of dressy evening shoes. These can be worn to cocktail parties, weddings, and other fancy occasions. They can be expensive, but Betty notes they’re a part of your investment dressing and you can plan to hold on to evening shoes for years to come.
- One or two pairs of the newest, most stylish shoes of the season. It’s an easy way to pick up on a trend and feel “in”. It’s also a great way like Betty says, to liven up an old outfit. I’ve already put on something I’ve worn a million times and it felt like new because I paired it with new jewelry and a new pair of trendy shoes.
Shoes can change your perspective on the day. When you walk around in a solid pair of shoes, no matter if they’re stylish in season, or a staple black pair of pumps, you feel good when you know your foundation is solid. It’s like you’re walking on solid ground. When you try to put a pair of shoes with an outfit that just doesn’t work, you just feel off. Maybe you don’t notice it, but I definitely do. It’s like that Instagram quote; I’m happier when I like my outfit. I highly recommend experimenting and stepping out of your comfort zone with buying shoes. It’s much easier to do this with shoes than it is with clothes and jackets, or a new shade of lipstick.
What To Do Next.
I have three action steps for you to take next. Step 1- go to your closet and make a list of shoes you have that fall into the 5 categories above, and notice what you don’t have. Step 2- make a list of shoes you may need to purchase next once you’ve identified the gaps in your shoe closet. Step 3- start shoe shopping on Pinterest for inspiration and shop places like Nordstrom Rack for deals to complete your shoe closet and make sure you have a pair of shoes for everything life may throw at you.