How to Choose and Style Shoes: A Simple Styling Guide Tutorial

Silvana Patrick
by Silvana Patrick
10 Minutes

Pumps, espadrilles, Mary Janes, loafers… there are so many styles of shoes for women.

This can make it difficult to choose the right kind for every occasion. Follow along to learn how to style shoes.

1. How I choose my shoes

Quality is key and your aim should always be shoes that you feel comfortable in. Pumps are a classic but they can make you look dated.

To look current with pumps, choose a pair with a touch of modernity.

How to choose shoes

As an older woman, I keep my heel collection to a minimum and I usually prefer shorter heels.

There’s no point in hanging on to the entire range of heels if your lifestyle no longer accommodates all of them. 

When choosing shoes, I focus on the vibe I want to create with my outfit.

The shoe choice should balance out with the rest of the style choices.

They can add refinement, take a look down a notch, add femininity, etc. 

How to choose shoes

2. How to choose my shoes

Mules and strappy sandals are my favorites lately. They are current enough to cover most occasions.

Once I have the outfit sorted, I consider which shoes will reinforce the mood.

Here, I’m wearing a classic outfit. By choosing a pair of classic shoes to match, this will enhance the vibe. 

How to choose shoes

If my look is more casual, I would choose a less classic pair of shoes.

How to choose shoes

I’ve chosen a shoe that’s less formal, but not as casual as sneakers.

How to choose shoes

Sometimes I choose to counterbalance by adding the opposite vibe with footwear. 

Here, I’m staying classing but adding a more feminine touch.

How to choose shoes

Sandals with socks adds edginess to an elevated look: 

How to choose shoes

For a summer vibe, I’d match this dress with a pair of chunky sandals instead of a delicate pair to break the ultra-feminine style.

How to choose shoes

Everything I own I wear on repeat. This is the core of sustainability! 

3. How to choose the right color

A pair of white shoes is a staple every woman should have in her closet. 

When styling an all-black outfit, going with a neutral, tan shoe is too predictable. Black shoes can be too monotonous.

Adding an additional color can be too jarring. Here is where white shoes really work:

How to choose shoes

White doesn’t need to be reserved for summer, nor does black for winter. Think of colors as having attributes that you can apply to your outfits. 

With a neutral outfit, a black shoe can feel too safe. Swap them for orange sandals to add warmth.

The look is polished and sexy without being predictable, and it’s still work-appropriate. 

How to choose shoes

To relax the look or take it to the weekend, I’d pair it with kitten heels. The contrasting color changes the vibe of the look.

How to choose shoes

Sandals can be year-round shoes if you pair them with socks or stockings in colder weather.

See how this adds a touch of interest in this fall/winter outfit.

How to choose shoes

4. How to choose the right shoe

Shoes can be divided into the categories “slim” and “chunky”.

Slim shoes are dainty, they have a thinner sole and have mostly thinner heels.

How to choose shoes

Chunky shoes have thick soles with heavy heels and they are more rounded. They add more volume to an outfit.

How to choose shoes

Here, I’m wearing an outfit that’s loose and a bit shapeless, so I chose to counterbalance this with slim shoes.

It’s all about creating this balance. 

How to choose shoes

On the other hand, if wearing something more fitted, the shoes should be chunkier for an overall balance. 

How to choose shoes

You can go a bit more subtle, for example, with these brown mules.

How to choose shoes

5. How to style your shoes

A few rules to consider:

1. Strappy sandals are made to show your ankle

As such, they are best paired with midi skirts, cropped pants etc.

Bear in mind that straps visually cut your legs, which can have a shortening effect. Avoid strappy shoes if this is your concern. 

2. In general, rounded toe shoes are outdated

Go for square or pointed toe shoes if your aim is to be in line with current trends. 

3. The higher the heels, the shorter the skirt or pants

If you wear cropped pants or midi skirts, go for a lower heel. Maxi skirts/dresses are best paired with flats. 

How to choose and style shoes

I hope this style guide has outfitted you with a few new tips and tricks about how to style your shoes.

Save these ideas and use them to help you the next time you buy shoes online or at your favorite shop.

Next, learn how to shop and fall back in love with your closet.

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation
  • Susan Lee Susan Lee on Oct 10, 2023

    I don't see how you can say rounded toe shoes are out when every stylists article are showing ballet flats!😎

  • Silvana Patrick Silvana Patrick on Oct 11, 2023

    You don't see many top influencers wearing round toes. That's a great thermometer of what's in and out :)