Flat BootsIf I could only recommend one option for women who can't or don't wear heels, it would be a classic pair of flat boots. By "classic" I mean relatively free of trendy embellishments and busy detailing -- and that's not just because they'll look dated more quickly. It's also because, even though trendy boots are fun, the number and type of outfits you can wear with them is limited. For those reasons, it's best to start with a pair of really simple boots and go from there. Unless you're the type of person who dresses head to toe in vivid hues, and knows how to confidently choose complementary colors, you'll want to stick with black or brown boots. I prefer black because they tend to look a little more dressy than most shades of brown, but if you rarely dress up or tend to wear a lot of earth tones or creamy neutrals, then brown may be a better choice for you.
As far as shaft height goes, I usually recommend flat boots that fall just below the knee. For added versatility, you can also consider over-the-knee boots with soft shafts that can be folded down, giving you two looks for the price of one. Mid-calf and ankle boots are also good options, but most women will find them less flattering that taller boots, and they're not nearly as versatile. Whereas a pair of knee high boots can work well with dresses, skirts, jeans and leggings, flat ankle boots and mid-calf boots tend to work best only with pants and jeans -- unless you add a heel and, obviously, that's exactly what we're trying to avoid.
Here are a few of my top picks in flat boots for women.
Flat SandalsWhen it's too hot for boots, or when you need a change of pace, you'll want to turn to flat sandals. Personally, I'm partial to thong sandals because they're so foot-flattering and there are so many options, but if you don't like, or can't wear, thong sandals, then you can look for slides, gladiator sandals, or sandals with ankle straps.
Over time you'll probably want to build a small collection of sandals to suit your different needs. For example, if you walk a lot, you'll want a comfortable pair of sandals with arch support; if you spend a lot of time near the water, then you'll want a pair of sandals that can stand up to the elements; and if you love wearing sundresses in summer, then you might want a delicate pair of sandals with some sort of eye-catching embellishments. But to start, you'll probably want a pair of flat sandals that can be worn as easily with a long, flowing skirt as they can with a pair of shorts, jeans or capris.
One of the most versatile styles you can buy is a simple thong or slide sandal that features thinner straps, and comes in a neutral color like gray, black, white, or tan. As long as you avoid styles that look too bulky, sporty, or masculine, you'll be able to pair them with shorts, capris, jeans, and an assortment of casual to slightly dressy skirts and dresses. This is one place where embellishments are fine. Look for accents that will go with a variety of colors and outfits, like clear rhinestones, metallic studs, or even floral embellishments. You don't want to go crazy, but a bit of decoration can go a long way towards making your flat sandals seem a little more dressy.
For a few ideas, be sure to have a look at these stylish flat sandals for women.
Ballerina FlatsAny woman who hates, or can't wear, heels probably already has a closet full of ballerina flats -- but just in case you don't, let me tell you why they're such a great choice: they go with nearly everything. Yes, ballet flats are especially suited to capri pants, jeans, and other pants, but they can work wonderfully with skirts and dresses as well. While some other styles of flat shoes are difficult to successfully pair with longer skirts, ballerina flats often work because they expose quite a bit of skin on the top of the foot. Having said that, mid-length and shorter skirts will make it even easier to achieve a look you're happy with.
Here are a few tips on what to wear with ballerina flats.
LoafersFlat loafers are typically too staid for dresses and skirts, but they're a fantastic option for adding a bit of polish to jeans, pants, and suits. Look for classic styles in versatile colors, and don't shy away from sleek embellishments like buckles or simple brooches. If you really want to make an impression, look for loafers in a non-neutral color with uppers made from luxurious materials like suede or velvet. Trust me on this one, the right pair of red suede loafers can hold their own against nearly any pair of high heels.
Flat Dress ShoesThe styles listed above are some of the most versatile flats you can own, but there are going to be times when you want something different, and that's where dress flats come into play. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll find that there is an array of open-toed flats, ankle strap flats, and peep-toe flats that actually look like high heeled pumps from above, but have little or no heel to them at all. These styles are fantastic for work, or to wear with skirts and dresses in the evening.
If you can handle a very low heel, your options increase dramatically. Look for styles with low wedge heels, kitten heels, or low chunky heels, and when you find something comfortable and to your liking, be sure to grab it up.
Check out these tips on what to look for in peep toe flats.