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Using Shoes to Kick Off a Great Outfit

Building a Wardrobe
August 24, 2020

Happy Monday! And welcome to Dressed for My Day. As we are definitely moving toward all things fall (I actually had pumpkin and apple cider donuts this weekend!), I thought it would be a good day to continue our Oh So Pulled Together style mini-series. Let’s talk about how to use just your shoes to kick off a great outfit.

Series Notes

In this little mini-series I’m going to try to keep the posts short and easily digestible. I don’t want to throw too much at us at once. Plus, I want us to be able to take action on these tips immediately. So rather than feeling overwhelmed, I want you to feel equipped to make a few simple changes immediately and get results.

If you enjoy today’s post, be sure to share it with friends. Girlfriends help girlfriends look more pulled together! You can find all of the Oh So Pulled Together posts here.

How to Use Shoes to Kick Off a Great Outfit

We certainly need shoes to get us from point A to point B. But they do so much more than keep our feet comfortable and protected. Shoes can make or break an outfit.

Your shoes can kick your outfit to the curb or they help you kick off a great outfit. You just need to know a few keys to choosing the right shoes to get the right job done.

The Right Shoes Can Elongate Your Legs

You’ll never go wrong if you choose shoes that elongate your legs. This creates such a visually appealing silhouette.

There are basically two ways to use shoes to elongate your legs. You can wear shoes that are flesh colored or you can choose shoes in the same color as your pants or stockings.

Nude Shoes Elongate the Legs

Wear Now Leopard Print Shirt
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Above the nude slide sandals contribute positively to my outfit by elongating my leg. Of course, what we mean by that is that they don’t interrupt the leg line.

Black Jersey Romper Two Ways (5)
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In the photo above, I wore my taupe 40 Hour Flats from Everlane to elongate the leg.

Spring & Summer Wedding Guest Dresses
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Every gal needs either flesh toned pumps or other dress shoes in her closet. They’ll go with everything and make you look oh so pulled together. Above I’m wearing my Sam Edelman Hazel Pumps. But they make a similar shoe in a lower kitten heel.

Sweater Dress for Christmas
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I think they had a soft tortilla knee high boot in the NSale this season, but it’s already gone if they did. This one is similar and available in limited sizes. But I think it’s a good idea to keep your eye out for a similar boot. How to keep them clean? I just treated mine with this suede protector. In fact, I spray all of my suede shoes with this before wearing them.

Leopard Print Blouse Now and Later
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But even when you’re wearing full length pants or a skirt you can use flesh colored shoes to elongate your legs. So in the photo above you can see that the suede mules also create a long leg. They trick the eye a little differently than in the first outfit. But the effect is similar.

I think adding flesh colored shoes to your wardrobe is always a safe bet. You’ll be able to wear those shoes in so many different ways. They are definitely among the most versatile shoes you’ll have in your closet, regardless of the style. I also purchased these beautiful but simple nude colored Karl Lagerfeld pumps in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

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Shoes in the Same Color as Your Pants Elongate the Leg

Of course, another way to elongate the leg with shoes is to wear the same color as your pants. Or at least wear shoes in the same intensity of color as your pants.

Classic Fall Plaid Pants and Soft Cashmere
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You could completely match your shoes to your pants as I did above and below.

Easy Black and Gold Holiday Style
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Or you can wear shoes in the same intensity as your pants. In other words, wear dark brown shoes or boots with your dark wash jeans and lighter toned boots or shoes with your lighter wash denim.

The Right Shoes Can Tie Together Your Outfit

So flesh colored shoes and footwear in the same color as your pants can elongate the leg. But you can also use your shoes to tie together your outfit. We touched on these briefly in last Monday’s post, Using Color to Create Cohesive Outfits.

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In the post in which I shared the outfit above outfit, we talked about how the black statement flip flops pulled together that simple outfit to make it party ready because the black bookends the outfit. The same concept is illustrated below.

Sage Green Slim Utility Pants 4 Ways
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The black Comfi Flats above (which are amazingly comfortable, by the way) bookend this look and tie together the outfit. (Dressed for My Day readers only: Use code MYDAY for a 10% discount the already reduced price shoes.)

Mauve Pullover Sweater with Jeans and Coatigan
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We’ll talk more about animal print shoes in a minute, but in the outfit above it’s really the color of these boots that ties the look together. I chose the leopard print booties because they echoed the caramel color in the coatigan, pulling the look together nicely.

The Right Shoes Can Add Interest to An Outfit

So shoes can elongate the legs and tie an outfit together. But they can also add interest. While the first two concepts are pretty tried and true, this one takes a bit more practice. However, we can train our eyes as we keep a few principles in mind.

cool colorful separates from chico's
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  • Metallics will generally add light to your outfit. They can also elevate a look.
Summertime Style Uniform
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  • Fashion sneakers can add some interesting juxtaposition to a dress, blazer or other elevated garmet.
Do You Suffer from Impostor Syndrome
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By the way, I love my wedge sneakers above. They have similar sneakers by the same brand in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at a great price. I originally purchased them, but returned them only because I couldn’t justify having another pair. These shoes are extremely comfortable and fun to wear.

python print loafers
  • You can treat animal print as a solid neutral. So they are versatile and can add interest to most any look.

No one had to twist my arm to get me to decide to keep these Paul Green python print loafers. They’re pricey, but they’re also the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever put on my feet.

How to Feel Warm and Look Stylish this Winter
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You absolutely can wear more than one animal print element in an outfit. Just be thoughtful about it. I think it’s best not to try to match the animal print, but instead just have fun by layering on the animal elements.

Movie and a Matinee
  • Shoes in contrasting color will add a pop of interest. So make sure the shoes are worthy of the attention they’ll be grabbing.
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White Jeans and Camel Sweater
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I’m thinking about ordering a pair of colored suede pumps in maybe red or a pretty blue or green for winter. I think they’d be lovely with just a pair of great jeans and a white shirt or blouse.

The Right Shoes Can Tie Together Your Accessories

Choosing the right shoes can also help all of your other accessories pull together so that the outfit looks more cohesive. You can’t have to exactly match your accessories. But if you wear leather or suede, for instance, try to choose a handbag, shoes and belt in the same tone – either cool or warm.

What to Wear Out to Eat this Winter
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In the outfit above I simply grouped shoes, bag and belt that are in the same warm cognac shade of leather. They’re not all the same brand, so they’re definitely not a perfect match. But the “work” together.

But if you can’t match your shoes and handbag because you just don’t have them in your closet, no sweat. Just tie those accessories together with a third accessory that combines the two. In the outfit below I tied together my brown boots and black bag with a leopard print belt that contains both shades.

Wear Now Wear Later Crop Chinos
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The Right Shoes Can Create the Best Silhouette with Your Pants

With the new silhouettes in jeans, it’s gotten a little tricky to know what shoes to wear with what jeans. I’d say, when it doubt, wear flats. They’ll work easily with most any jean length and silhouette, whether they’re boyfriend jeans, cropped straight jeans, ankle jeans, straight full length jeans, skinny jeans or even cropped flare jeans.

As Simple as a Popover & Jeans - 2 Styles
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The red loafers above not only add interest to this outfit, but they keep the silhouette of the jeans on point, too.

Casual Jeans Outfit Without a Tee
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The Most Modern Way to Wear Your Blazer
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But as it gets cooler and you want to reach for your booties, you can do that, too. Just make sure that either your jeans end about 1/2 – 1″ above your booties shaft or that you’re wearing a bootie with a narrow, sock-like shaft that fits inside your jeans. Or, of course, you can wear skinny jeans that fit inside of your booties. Clear as mud? Hahaha! We’ll work on this more in future posts!

White Jeans and Camel Sweater
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In the photo above I’m wearing sock booties. I’ve found these to be very versatile for the newer styles of jeans. They work with straight jeans, ankle jeans, cropped jeans and wide leg jeans. As the name implies, they have a narrow sock-like shaft. Here’s a shopping widget with some that are currently available.

Another good option for some of the newer silhouettes in jeans and pants is the narrow shaft lace-up boot. I love mine from Thursday Boots and can’t wait to wear them again this fall. I got a little criticism for them last year from readers who thought they looked too masculine. But, like wearing sneakers with dresses, I like the juxtaposition these boots create when worn with other more feminine pieces. I may not have succeeded so much last year when I first got them, but I plan to wear them with distinctly feminine blouses and sweaters this fall and winter.

Fun Casual Pants from Chcio's
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I’ve also ordered the Downtown boot in Sedona. I’ll think they’ll work well with skinny jeans and other silhouettes because they have a lower shaft.

Shoes Can Make or Break an Outfit

It really does take some trial and error and a little courage to work out which shoes to pair with an outfit sometimes. But the most important thing to remember about using shoes to kick off a great outfit is simply to choose something current and stylish. Frumpy shoes will kill an outfit every time.

And with so many brands creating both comfortable and stylish shoes these days, there really is no excuse. We only need about four pairs of versatile shoes in our closet each season. So even if we need to spend a little more money to get that combination of current and comfortable, we can create winning outfits from those few pairs of shoes.

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Blessed for My Day

Do you have to do hard things today? Ugh. I know that can feel foreboding. But you were made to do hard things. No, you may not have within you everything you need to stand up to the task. But you have a God who stands with you. And He will see you through.

Whether you have a dreaded doctor’s appointment today, must initiate a difficult conversation later this week or simply have to trod through some unglamorous and unfulfilling work, I want you to know that I’m rooting for you. I believe in you. And I know that you will feel better when you’ve done what you need to do and faced the tasks at hand. But also know that you do not go into the storm alone. May you feel God’s presence and experience His peace every moment, every step.

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. ~ Psalm 94:18-19

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xoxo, Kay
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14 thoughts on “Using Shoes to Kick Off a Great Outfit

  1. Wow! Another great post Kay! I know all of us women Love Shoes!

    Can’t wait until we can go out and dress up to wear our shoe collection.

    Love the one where you are wearing white slacks with ankle boots….I wouldn’t have thought of that but looks great.


  2. Just an awesome post today Kay!! I wish I could make it into a poster and pin it on the wall of my closet! Haha!! You’ve made it SO much easier now for me to pick which shoe to wear with my outfits now. Thanks for all of this important information on selecting which shoes to wear with each outfit!! I learn from you in nearly every one of your posts or videos!! Happy Birthday James!!!

    1. Great post, Kay! So many shoes, so little time! Ha.Ha. Seriously, what woman doesn’t love shoes. Happy Birthday to your husband, James!
      Have a wonderful day!
      Thanks for BFMD,

  3. Great post Kay. The one I struggle with the most is jeans and booties. Which ones to wear with different lengths. This really helps. Oh, and my husband teases me about being a year older than him. I’m 2 months older. But I tease him about his mother having to sign permission for us to get married. He turned 20 four days after we wed. We’ll be celebrating our 53rd anniversary this year! Happy birthday to your hubby. We appreciate the great work he does. ???

  4. Thanks for a great set of ideas using shoes to make an outfit shine. Can’t wait to see and read about your day at Talbots. And enjoy a special day with your Birthday guy.

  5. Hi Kay, I almost didn’t read this post because I love cute shoes, but ever since I was diagnosed with RA finding comfy and stylish shoes has been extremely difficult. Glad I did, because much of it was about color, which definitely helps me. But I do want to offer a gentle word about this sentence: “And with so many brands creating both comfortable and stylish shoes these days, there really is no excuse [for frumpy shoes].” Please be careful about a blanket statement like this. It stung the first time I read it in a previous post. Today I decided to respond. If you had walked a mile in my shoes, you would know that is only partly true. From all my time in the podiatrists office I know there are many women like me that have such painful, tender feet, bottom and top, that only the frumpy shoes work sometimes. I buy some more stylish shoes, but I can only wear them if my plans don’t include much walking. When I have to walk a lot, not even cute tennies will suffice. I need very soft soles and uppers because of the pressure on the top of my foot joints. Nuff said. You know how much I appreciate your expertise and your ministry here. And I love all your cute shoes! (except your Thursday boots. 🙂 )

    1. Oh my. Thanks so much for sharing and for your gentle reproof. I will definitely take your perspective into consideration from here on out. You’re right. I definitely have not walked in your shoes.

  6. Happy Birthday James! Thank you for all that you do to help your lovely bride with her job! Another good post Kay! I am rather challenged when it comes to buying shoes because I have to have arch support in every pair; my heels are extremely narrow so loafers/flats don’t fit; and my feet are narrow and paper thin, so I need a comfortable foot bed. I really want to add a pair of versatile flat mules to my closet but finding them in narrow is close to impossible. Women that have easy to fit feet don’t know how easy they have it. Enjoy celebrating James tonight!

  7. Hey Kay. I read your comment and other readers comments regarding your Thursday boots. Funny, those were my favorite shoes of the ones you shared! Glad God makes us all interesting with different likes and styles! Happy Birthday to James.

  8. Thank you for today’s Blessed for my Day. I have a very hard thing to do tomorrow. My sweet young neighbors lost their year old son this past weekend due to a tragic accident. Please pray for me as I visit with them.

  9. I love all the shoes you have shown. I particularly am interested in the more menswear shoes to use with jeans. I just think it might be a fun look. I do have foot problems, but just to the extent that I need a really good arch and some cushioning. Great ideas!!!