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8 Secrets for Finding the Best Shoes

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Woman seated on bed, holding sexy red shoes while looking on at basic black footwear.
Tim Platt / Collection Mix: Subjects / Getty Images

Did you ever wonder how some people manage to find all the best shoes while your closet is overflowing with black pumps and white cross-trainers?

It doesn't take a lot of money or a stylist to have attention-getting footwear. In fact, armed with these tips, you'll find that you can have shoes you love, no matter how small your budget is.

Add a Little Color

You can have a wardrobe full of killer shoes without ever straying from basic black, but a littler color never hurt anyone.

If you're not comfortable in bright shades, don't wear them. But just because you don't see yourself as a red stiletto type, doesn't mean you're condemned to a life in brown loafers.

Assess your wardrobe, your lifestyle, and your personality, then look for shoes in colors that fit in well with all three.

If you love earth tones, next time, take a chance and try a pair of rust shoes instead of dark brown. Do you have a lot of navy suits? Chartreuse, red, cream and white all look great with that darker blues.

Much like painting a room, adding colorful shoes is one of the simplest ways to make over an outfit.

Look for Prints and Patterns

Print shoes are loads of fun, and can inject tons of personality into an outfit.

Plaids, florals, paisleys and geometric patterns all add color and interest, and they also help make it easier to work out the rest of your outfit. For example, a pair of pumps that feature a blue and purple print will make you that much more confident about pairing a purple belt with your blue dress.

But print shoes can also be a bit of a slippery slope.

Unless you have a larger-than-life personality and the fashion sense to pull them off, you might want to steer clear of shoes that combine several prints; are too "zany;" or look as if they might have been someone's home ec project.

If you're not confident enough to know where that fine line is drawn, then stick with classic or simple patterns, like strips and dots, or floral prints.

Punctuate with Accents

It's amazing what a simple buckle can do for a shoe. Especially if it's a nice big, round, shiny buckle -- you know, the kind that just looks really polished and nice.

Buckles, gems, brooches, buttons, bows... all these little accents can really make a pair of shoes, but again, the key is moderation.

While certain occasions and outfits are perfectly suited to shoes that are glamorously-embellished, it's best to keep your head when it comes to everyday wear.

Think chic and streamlined when looking at a shoe's accents. Then they won't seem too outrageous a year or two down the road.

What About Heels?

It seems that a lot of women think that shoes fall into only two categories: stilettos and flats -- or in more extreme cases, stilettos and sneakers.

But there's a wide, wonderful world of shoes out there that fall somewhere in between the two styles. And, while I'll agree that most stilettos are not comfortable, I've worn more than my fair share of flats that are uncomfortable as hell.

Low heels, chunky heels, wedge heels, and kitten heels are just a few of the other options available to women who don't want to wear sky-high heels, but don't want to spend their lives in cross-trainers either.

And if you can't wear heels, or do want to spend your life in flats? By all means, have at it. Chic loafers and pointy-toed or ballerina flats never go out of style.

If you want to be a bit more daring, you could even go with two-piece or d'Orsay flats. And tall, flat boots can be impossibly cool.

Whichever flat styles you choose, remember to look for nice textures, colors, finishes and accents. These things will take them to a whole new level.

Let Textures and Finishes Add Interest

Another huge factor that's often overlooked when buying shoes is their texture. Yet a texturally interesting shoe is a shoe that grabs attention. Unique materials and finishes also provide a great opportunity for women who prefer neutral shades to stay out of that safe (boring) zone.

A patent finish, for example, is like a magnet for the eyes, especially when it's paired with an otherwise matte outfit, and metallic leathers shimmer with every step you take.

But if shiny isn't your thing, that's OK. There's always suedes, tweeds, velvets, satins, tapestries, brocades, linens, canvas, quilted fabrics, and any number of combinations of those materials.

The list is truly endless. Take advantage of it.

You Don't Have to Follow Trends

It's fun to look at the newest trends, but it's far better on your checkbook if you're not buying shoes that are so trendy they'll be out of style next year.

I'd also argue that it's actually more fun to cultivate your own style, over a lifetime, than it is to just tear out the latest "What's Hot" list, and head off to the nearest department store.

If a trend does happen to fit into your own personal style, then it's you're opportunity to go crazy.

For example, I've always loved suede, patent leather,  and smoking slippers. So, for me, having them so easily accessible over these last couple of years has been like a bit of a fire sale -- and it's kept me from having to shop vintage.

On the other hand, if you're going to wear a certain style because it's "in," and not because you really love it, at least refrain from investing too much time or money into it. Instead, keep looking for those shoes that fit your custom style. You'll be much better off in the long run, both style-wise and financially.

You Don't Have to Spend a Lot to Have Great-Looking Shoes

One of my favorite pair of shoes cost me about $25.

Ironically, they're also one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I own. They also happen to be in one of my favorite colors (red); be one of my favorite finishes (patent); and have chunky heels and shiny silver buckles -- also two of my favorite things.

They're nearly the perfect pair of shoes for me. But I never would have bought them if I wasn't willing to try on a lot of different brands (and off-brands), shop on sale, and look for shoes at any store that sells them.

It's easy to fall in love with one brand or designer, and want to stick with them. If their shoes are comfortable and you love the way they look, why shouldn't you be loyal? But it's important to know -- especially if you can't afford those higher price tags -- that comfortable and attractive shoes can be had for less. You just need to always be looking.

Watch Out for the Logo Trap

Avoid shoes with overdone logos, labels and other trademarks.

I know it's tempting to let the world know which designer or brand you're wearing by having their trademark, logo or initials cover every inch of your feet. But, really, a little of this look goes a long way.

It's okay to favor a particular label, but it's far more impressive and stylish to opt for the styles that aren't so blatant about who made them. In addition to having a longer shelf life, those shoes are usually easier to wear anyway.

Found you perfect shoes, but aren't sure what to wear with them? Here's a whole slew of articles that will help you sort out how to wear your favorite styles.

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