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The 10 Essential Shoes

April 13, 2010
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I don’t read fashion magazines. There isn’t enough fashion and too much “other” stuff. But I do like one feature that makes the rounds every couple of months: the Essentials List. The 10 (or 5 or 15 or any other number) items every woman should have in her closet. The basics, the staples, the essentials. Usually the list includes a little black dress, a white tailored shirt, a classic trench coat, etc… Hardly ever do these lists mention shoes, and when they do, it’s a brief and uninspiring description of a “classic black heel” and not much else. So here I come, to the rescue! 🙂

I’ve listed the 10 shoe-essentials with the high-end look as well as the look for less. Sometimes, it is worth it to spend more money on shoes that are classic and will last, but sometimes you are on a very tight budget. The titles are what you should be looking for, and the examples are just that: EXAMPLES. There is a LOT of wiggle room when it comes to shoe basics.

Without further ado, here are my 10 basic shoes to own:

1. Black Pumps

Christian Louboutin (left, $595) shoes are works of art, but they are also shoes you can wear forever. Just as classic, Nine West (right, $62.72) has a black pump that looks classic with the added cute detail of reptile print and a small platform. If you’re uncomfortable with high heels, you can purchase a black pump with a lower heel and still get the same look.

2. Brown Pumps

The shoe king of the late 1990s was undeniably Manolo Blahnik, specifically the classic d’Orsay  (left, $675). In brown, this is the kind of shoe that would be a “forever” shoe. A cheaper alternative is the Luichiny d’Orsay (left, $109.95) in a a suede, as opposed to the leather Manolo.

3. Nudes

Nude shoes are a shoe essential because of how they make legs look a million miles long! (and who doesn’t want that!?) Regardless of the heel height, nude shoes elongate bare legs and also can provide just a hint of sass to an otherwise stone-cold ensemble. Jimmy Choo (left, $950)  shoes are usually amazing, although once in a while they tend to look a bit Eurotrash-y. Aldo has a similar pair (right, $69.98) with an additional buckle and higher platform.

4. Whites

“White should be put away after Labor Day and only brought out after Memorial Day.” I disagree!! Seems kind of silly to buy a shoe and limit yourself to only three months of wearing. White can work all year! An adorable high heel slide in white from Dior (left, $480) is almost as fantastic is the Dior Extreme gladiator I was lusting after when I saw the first SATC movie. A less expensive but just as classic alternative would be from Charles by Charles David, who’s shoes (right, $105) make me want to grow an extra pair of feet to wear them all.

5. Peep Toes

Peep Toes are the kind of open-toe shoes to wear all year long. In the winter, add some colored tights to Valentino (left, $695). In the summer, dare to bare your legs in Forever 21 (right, $22.80)

6. Formal/Strappy

Jimmy Choo shoes (left, $755) are the perfect accessories for the red carpet (just ask Tamara Mellon) but they can also look great on a fancy date (look Ma, I rhymed!) but spend your dimes at Charlotte Russe and you’ll have just as fun a time! (right, $26.99).

7. Boots

Boots are a great investment in any color and fabric. Try a classic knee-high pair with some sort of heel for starters, but then go crazy with leather, mesh, black, brown, blue…the list goes on and on and on!! Expensive Maison Martin Margiela boots (left, $1,320) are a great investment and interpretation of boots (with the black mesh over nude leather) and so are some less expensive black leather Aldo boots (right, $129.98)

8. Mary Janes

If ever there was a classic shoe, the Mary Jane would be it. Appropriate on every woman, from schoolgirl to schoolmaster, Tod’s Mary Janes (left, $420) or Steve Madden’s Mary Janes (right, $54.97) would make the grade. (gosh, I love puns) I’d prefer these in a more fun color, like red or pink.

9. Flats

I hate flats, but they are necessary at the end of a long night or dancing, etc… throw the Tory Burch jelly raffia flat (left, $110) into your bag and go, or go go go get’s studded flower ballerina flats (right, $10)

10. Trainers

Ironic that I added trainers to this list, isn’t it? But I really think they are required in a complete shoe wardrobe. Who wants to wear nice leather flats to a messy concert when you could be bouncing around in sneakers. Shoes from Burberry with a fun pattern are useful for running errands (left, $350) but just as comfortable and perhaps even more fun-colored are these Puma shoes (right, $70).


Obviously a lot of these looks could be combined. White flats, black dressy pumps, peep toe brown pumps, etc etc etc…I tried to stick with plainer colors, but color is a great way to show shoe-personality. One of my most beloved shoes are RED patent leather mary janes. And by no means is this an exhaustive list, you can always buy more (I own 4 pairs of black pumps) but it’s a good start, especially for those who are just starting to build their fashion closet.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 14, 2010 4:46 am

    Oh gosh. That’s it! I’ve been thinking about it, but now I MUST head to Zappos to hunt down a nude shoe. Though I should stick to my vow and purchase next month – but I was going to use Bill Me Later credit, and that’s it for the BML credit and it won’t hurt me! (Oh but I’ll also get turquoise sandals.)

    Sigh. Anyway, I love Mary Janes because they’re easy to walk in, no worries about heel slippage cause they’re tied down, and then I can walk faster. My BF doesn’t really love how I walk slower in heels. However, I dislike how they don’t lengthen my leg like regular heels.

    And we’re back to the nudes! I do so benefit from the look of heels/lengthened leg. I’m curvy and 4’11.

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