ColorsYou 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, and 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 shade.
Much like painting a room, adding colorful shoes is one of the simplest ways to make over an outfit.
PrintsPrint shoes are loads of fun, and can inject tons of personality into an outfit. Plaids, florals, paisleys and geometric shapes all add color and interest, while also making it easier to work out the rest of your outfit. For example, a pair of pumps that feature blue and purple make you all that 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 in general, look as if they might have been someone's home ec project.
AccentsIt's amazing what a simple buckle can do for a shoe. Especially if it's a really 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 overly embellished, for everyday wear it's best to keep your head.
Think chic and streamlined, and look for styles that won't seem too outrageous a year or two down the road.
HeelsIt seems that a lot of women think that shoes fall into only two categories: stilettos and flats -- or in more extreme cases, stilettos and cross-trainers. 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 my share of flats that aren't either.
Low heels, chunky heels, wedge heels, and kitten heels are just a few of the options available to women who don't want to wear sky-high heels, but don't want to spend their lives in sneakers either.
And if you do want to spend your life in flats? By all means, have at it. Chic loafers and ballerina flats never go out of style. But if you're less than thrilled when you look down at your own feet, try looking for nice textures, colors, finishes and accents that will take those flats to a whole new level.
Textures and FinishesAnother huge factor that's often overlooked when buying shoes is their texture, yet a texturally interesting shoe is a shoe that grabs attention. A patent finish 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 okay, there's always suedes, tweeds, velvets, satins, tapestries, brocades, linens, canvas, quilted fabrics, and combinations of all of those materials -- the list is endless.
You Don't Have to Follow TrendsIt'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 seem 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.
I've always love patent leather and platform shoes, 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.
However, if you're only wearing a certain style because it's "in," and not because you really love it, don't invest too much time or money into the trend. Instead keep looking for those shoes that fit your custom style.
You Don't Have to Spend a Lot to Have Great-Looking ShoesOne 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 my favorite color (red), my favorite finish (patent), have platform soles 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, 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 keep looking.
Watch Out for the Logo TrapAvoid 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 -- and those styles are usually easier to wear anyway.