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2014 Fall Shoes Preview

The Top Trends and Styles for Women

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Over the coming months, we'll be carving up all the juicy details of 2014's hottest fall shoe trends, like straps, cuts, and heels and embellishments. But, in the meantime, I wanted to give you a bit of an overall view as to what's in store for our feet. A preview, so to speak.

Below, I've touched on a few of the most basic trends we'll be seeing: what's happening in flats; the most popular heel heights and the current status of platform soles; where boots are headed; and which colors we'll be seeing the most of in footwear this fall. So, kick back, get into an autumn mindset (maybe by thinking about fall foliage, hot chocolate or cozy sweaters), and have a look at what's coming our way in shoes and boots. And, don't forget to watch this space for more details in the coming weeks.

Top Colors, Prints and Details for Fall 2014

Kerry Washington's leopard print pumps are exactly the kind of shoes that will be hot for fall 2014.
Noel Vasquez / Getty Images for Extra / Getty Images

In addition to the usual fall palette of browns and other earth tones, this year we'll be seeing a lot of blacks. Nothing new there, of course, black is always in. But, let me be very clear here, I do mean a LOT of blacks.

Animal prints are also back for another season, with cat prints beating out reptile prints this time around. We'll also be seeing a good number of herringbone patterns.

Footwear that glitters or shimmers is also going to be especially hot, so keep an eye out for everything from actual glitter to sequins, to rhinestone embellishments and sparkly metallic finishes.

For a boost of real color, look for shoes in deep red; dark berry and purple shades; bright to dark blues; and a smattering of dark, muted geens.

A Multitude of Options in Flats

Pointy-toed flats with black and white plaid uppers and dark red capped toes.
Isaac Mizrahi New York 'Gayle' Image: Nordstrom.com

I have a theory that, in fall, we tend to gravitate towards flats and lower-heeled shoes. Especially those of us who live in cooler climates.

Naturally, part of that is because we're anticipating winter, which means icy streets, snow-covered sidewalks, and lots of other conditions that aren't exactly heel-friendly.

But, even before the weather turns really bad, we start reaching for lower heels and flat shoes. I think the cooler temperatures make our "comfort first" mindset kick in. On some level, we're seeking the safety that flats provide. Or, maybe flat shoes remind us of the "back to school" days of our youth.

However it breaks down, this year is no different. There are lots of flats to choose from. What is a bit different than in other years is the vast array of styles that are available. From women's oxfords to loafers, and d'Orsays to sneakers, there are flats to suit everyone for 2014.

A few of the styles we'll be seeing the most of are:

  • Pointy-Toed Flats: A carry-over from spring and summer, the styles we'll be seeing for fall look so sophisticated in warm colors and lush materials.
  • Fashion Sneakers: With more and more women defying years of fashion "rules," and pairing sneakers with dressier skirts and dresses, the designer and high-voltage sneaker craze is showing no signs of slowing down.
  • Chunky, Low-Heeled Shoes: Nearly menswear-inspired, but with a bit more imagination, this year there will be an abundance of women's oxfords and loafers with low, wide heels, and lots of fun details and finishes.
  • Casual Slip-Ons: Not quite sneakers, but worn in pretty much the same way, casual slip-on shoes have come a long way. (Think Toms, Vans slip-ons, and Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers.) This coming season, they'll be available in array of fall prints and colors that are perfect for pairing with your favorite jeans or leggings.

Fall's "State of the Heels" Address

Black ankle boots with mid-height block heels and gold accents.
Rachel Zoe 'Ulani' Image: Zappos.com

Last fall, platform shoes finally gave way to single-soled heels. And now, that comeback is complete. If you judge it only by the numbers, platform shoes are officially "out," and heels with thinner-soled fronts have been re-established as the norm.

Of course, that means that heel heights have finally come back down to earth as well -- although not as dramatically as one might have hoped.

While we're seeing heels in the 3-4" range, and even some kitten heeled shoes, there is still an abundance of pumps, boots and sandals that feature heels over 4-inches. Most of them just won't have platform heels to counter their height.

As far as heel shapes go, squared and block heels are the clear leader -- but that's only because they are the "trend," and not the usual. There are actually more styles with classic dress heels than there are with block heels, they're just not as exciting to talk about. Oh, and there are still a decent number of pumps and boots with wedge heels, although calling them a trend would probably be overdoing it.

Boots and Booties for 2014

Fall bootie with high block heel, red-brown uppers, and open backs.
BCBGeneration 'Jezebelle' Image: Heels.com

It's not breaking news that booties and ankle boots are going to be hot for fall. They always are. But this year, they're hotter than ever. Or at least, it seems like that's the case.

Here's why: shoes with full fronts and open backs are extremely "in" this year. They look a lot like booties. Add those to the normal allotment of booties we usually get, and it looks as if we're going to be overdosing on bootie-type footwear this fall. Which, is fine by me, I quite like short boot styles. They're perfect for wearing with jeans, and can also be dressed up with tights, and skirts and dresses. And I'm happy to say that there will be plenty of flats and heels to choose from this year.

The only controversial bit is the fact that a lot of these shoe-booties have open toes, or, as mentioned above, open backs. Most women are fine with the open back thing, probably because we're all used to fall mules and fashion clogs.

On the other end though, a lot of women truly despise open-toed booties. I know this, because several years ago, when they first came into the spotlight, I received a lot of hate mail. Not directed at me, thankfully, but aimed at the trend. While a few people were really excited to have something new in the way of shoes, but the vast majority of feedback I heard was negative. It was clear, at least at that time, that most women expected their booties to have closed toes.

If you're one of those women, perhaps I can temper the fact that we're going to have another round of open-toed booties with this logic: they're very multi-seasonal -- especially if you purchase them in black, or a nice, mid-tone brown. OK, you wouldn't want to wear them in the snow or anything, but they work great for spring, summer and fall. So, there's that.

There's also this tidbit: there are still plenty of good old, regular booties and boots to choose from. You know, the kind with proper, closed toes, like combat boots, Chelsea boots, and the like.

Another bit of consolation? How about this: we're also going to be seeing a lot of simple tall boots, both the flat and heeled variety. Some of them will even extend over the knee. Surely that has to count for something.

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