In the exploration of finding flats for every outfit, I was hoping to find clearcut guidelines emerge- something like "Flared midi skirts always look good with x shoe shape, never look good with y, and may or may not work with a, b, and c." For both better and worse, what I found is that flats are every bit as flexible with style as garments are, and you really need to consider what you're wanting to express in order to choose the right flat.
For authentic style, (style that echoes how others perceive you while also expressing who you feel yourself to be) there is a flat for everybody- you in a shoe. You could find those shoes and build outfits around them. The other option is to find the combination of shoe and outfit that adds up to expressing your authentic style. It's the difference in finding the number five, versus finding 2+3 or 1+4. Either way you get your 5, and there are multiple ways to go about it.
For our flats, there are tendencies that can be found that you can use to find the flat that adds what you need it to toward your authentic style. If you are lush, linear, playful, tall, and busty (likely Dramatic Round and Dragon Princess or Mermaid), and your outfit is plain, finding a shoe that has as much of that personality as possible will really elevate your look (as will adding the right jewelry and accessories). If your outfit is already shouting your style, finding a shoe that is in line with it, but quieter will be supportive of the look.
MORE CASUAL: suede, fringe, all sandals, all sneakers, nudes
MORE DRESSY: patent, sparkle, all closed toe, leather, velvet
MORE ROUND: florals, polka dots, rounded toes, ballet flats, mary-janes
MORE LINEAR: stripes, bars, pointy toes, oxfords, loafers
Base 5 Details
Romantic florals, peep-toes, small-medium bows, lush details, small clusters, sparkles/gems, polka dots. Round is best with rounded toes. Linear can do pointed toes. Both should avoid heavier shoes- loafers, brogues, oxfords, moto boots, tall boots; as well as super casual- flip flops, sneakers, uggs, etc. There needs to be delicacy involved.
Gamine small details, t-straps, mary janes, saddle shoes, prints, cut-outs, cute details, funky details, thin straps. Round needs delicacy and to avoid pushing too funky- small florals could be nice, in colors that increase the energy. All small details will increase the energy. Linear can handle a lot of funky as long as it isn't also too bold/chunky. Sneakers, print loafers, booties. Ballet flats are fine as long as they aren't too plain or sweet.
Classic ballet flats, sling backs, moccasins, penny loafers, metal bars. Start with a plain shoe and then add one thing for interest- a print, a texture, scalloping, a metal bar, a metal cap, etc. Avoid lots of detail, too loud a shoe, a color pop, super funky, etc. Classics walk a line between avoiding gilding the lily and having enough detail that it's interesting. The truth is that Classics have a gift in needing very little for a detail to look wonderfully interesting, but they still need that little oomph. Truly plain shoes are too plain to be stylish for anyone. Classic Rounds can have a great shoe in a soft medium floral. Linears can push into loafers, semi-pointed toes, and oxfords. Both should avoid most peep toes and cutouts. Keds could be a workable sneaker.
Natural textures (velvet, calfhair, fur, suede, fringe), tall boots, all sandals, many sneakers, strappy shoes, foldover, scrunch/slouch, funky details. Natural shoes needs presence. Nothing very dainty and nothing very plain. Their version of funky is important, and it is different from the Gamine need for quirky. Naturals do well with bold colors (whatever is bold for your seasonal coloring), bold straps that are scaled to the size of the individual, bold prints (florals are still good for rounds, but also animal prints, and embroidery). Linear can handle more material while Round being smaller scale need to keep their scale in mind- bold is tailored to the scale and coloring of the individual.
Dramatic sleek, lean toward the dressy end of things always. Linear: menswear details without being rugged, loafers, chelsea boots, pointed toes, oxfords, slingbacks. Round: peeptoes with large scale bling, large florals, dressy sandals with large dressy and sleek details. Smooth leather boots- tall shafts are great for enhancing the sleekness. Avoid anything that looks casual. Even casual sandals and slides need to be dressy, sleek, and have striking details. Blend the value of color with the rest of your outfit, unless the pop or difference is carefully done.
Fantastical Beauty Details
Valkyrie texture, cutouts, embossed, embroidered, fringe, over the knee boots, all boots and booties, large details, strappy, slouchy, velvet, suede, leather. Texture is the name of the game, from rough to plush. Knits, corset detailing, and anything that has both textural interest and a bit of bite to it. Valkyrie's version of sweet is rounded detailing cutouts or embossed into their leather. Possibly also tapestry fabric as a softer side of Valkyrie.
Fae a lightness to every shoe- nothing chunky (unless also ethereal such as a clear heel/sole that is otherwise slightly chunky). Even nixie's need lightness, even if that is conveyed with a sharp toe and patent to their black flat. Cutouts, sheer panels, and anything that adds air is a good idea. Details that shimmer or add lightness. Ballet flats round or pointed (depending on the individual's shapes) are an easy choice.
Magic Queen classy, powerful, bold florals, higher contrast (within your coloring), usually rounded toes, satin, twist bows/pleats, peep toes. Satin is especially good in her version of red. She needs to keep her textures smooth. Patent is good, possibly a velvet slip on. We need detail here, but minimal in execution to maintain a regal appearance. Avoid anything very casual. Be careful with sandals- the Queen must be careful with the skin she exposes- it is best when it has a feeling of mystery, which the openness of sandals can't really maintain. Off shoulder is better that open shoes for her.
Maenad open, eye-catching, a bit earthy, moccasin slip ons and fringed booties and boots, fairly large details, some textures. Suede is good, especially in a color. Gladiator sandals. No ballet flats here, no mary janes, and unlikely peep-toes. Slingbacks are good. All varieties of boots and shooties are good. Oxfords yes, probably not loafers. She has that effortless boho party and festival flair that is equally at home on a red carpet.
Nymph all manner of sandals, be careful with most closed toes except boots which are good. Pointy toes are likely to be best. If doing a closed toe, ask whether it pairs with a pencil skirt- if it does, it passes. Sandals with criss-crossing straps (not gladiator). Suede, leather, velvet. Nothing very shiny or sparkly. Neutrals more often than colors. She maintains the balance of earthy sensuality and corporate powerhouse in her shoes, with nothing being too loud or too plain. Alligator texture, with a semi-gloss finish.
Angel classy and light/delicate. Over the knee boots for dark angels. Ballet flats, slingbacks, simple sandals, jelly sandals for fun, possibly gogo boots, metallic detals. There's a bit of youthfulness or at least never-aging to Angels that is nice to see in their shoes. Even androgynous Angels should veer away from menswear inspired details. Light colors/pastels (for your coloring) except for dark/avenging/fallen angels. A bit of innocence and an undercurrent of timeless power.
Dragon Princess metals, metals, metals. Gold, bronze, silver, pewter, copper, sparkle, and bling. Peep-toes, boots (unlikely to be booties or shooties), and sandals. Shiny and sparkly is good. Sometimes dull works if it is also lush- high quality suede, for instance. Cupcake princesses can play with ballet flats as long as they have large, lush details (bows, prints, scalloping). Bold and rich are important words here. If her outfit already says this, she can try a lesser shoe, but it needs to stand up to the outfit- nothing too classy. Gild this lily.
Mermaid unexpected and playful is best here. Sequins, pearls, holographic, colors, and anything pearlescent is an obvious yes. Funky if not also chunky. Menswear inspired if sleek and with something fun to it- tassels and color, maybe. A shimmery peeptoe with some twist in the detailing. Sandals are more difficult for her than you might think, because they are often too plain. A two-tone sandal with an ankle strap might work. Shield sandals with color or print. Ombre would be especially beautiful.
Seer metals, glitter, sandals, peep-toes, leopard print, and satin. The metals here aren't as shiny as for DP. Glitter, not sequins. The scale for Seers is bold, but smaller in details- a cluster of gems instead of a few large ones. Diamond trim in a row instead of allover would be especially effective- on a sandal or closed toe. Ankle straps are good. Ruffles. Anything that has a smoky, mysterious, and bit expensive feel to it. Nothing menswear inspired, and nothing that could be called sweet or cute or understated.
The post series on How To Get Away With Never Wearing Heels Again has concluded and you can find it all here: