I love shopping with my clients, particularly shopping for shoes. This is usually one of the last steps of revamping my clients’ styles and puts some great finishing touches on their wardrobes. As you can see in the photo below, I pull a lot of shoes to prepare. After all the styles are tried on, we whittle down the selection until we get to a well balanced mix.
What was most interesting about my client appointment last week was my client walked away not buying one pair of black shoes. Despite the fact that I don’t wear black and don’t own one pair of black shoes, I never try to sway clients towards my way of thinking. For some clients, black shoes work and are necessary. I do think that black shoes have their place. My client’s decision to not buy black shoes was totally on her own volition. When she looked at all the other alternatives that she could wear, black shoes just seemed unnecessary. With this in mind, I wanted to offer all of you some black shoes alternatives that are just as easy to wear, and will get you the same amount of use, while also making your outfits more interesting.
It’s about balance, not getting rid of your black shoes entirely
When you shop for shoes there is a likely chance that the shoes you are considering will come in black. Most shoes do. Sadly, with the belief that they will be the most versatile and universal, most women won’t even consider the other colors the shoes come in. This is a bummer because they are missing out. As a result, most closets become overrun with piles and piles of black shoes. I’m not suggesting you ditch your black shoes, I’m suggesting balance and variety. Below are five black shoes alternatives to consider to bring balance into your wardrobe.
Black Shoes Alternatives That Are Just As Easy to Wear
Black shoes alternative #1- Color
Instead of purchasing, yet another, pair of black pumps add some colorful pairs. Don’t wear pumps? No worries, you can add colorful shoes anywhere, from flats to sandals, boots, and more. Once you do add these colors, you might just find that these colorful shoes are more versatile than your black pairs. Unlike black, you can wear your colorful shoes with whatever color you are wearing. If you have a hard time wearing black with brown or navy, your colorful shoes can step in as more universal solutions. In addition to this, your colorful shoes will also make all your black clothes look a lot more interesting.
Here, for example, I styled this black stretch BOSS Hugo Boss dress with the same shoes from Adrienne Vittadini, with the black pair on the left and the burgundy pair on the right. The burgundy pair adds some subtle pop to the look without going overboard. The outfit is finished with a layered necklace from Ann Taylor and black Brahmin bag.
Now imagine how gorgeous those burgundy shoes would look with grey, camel, olive and navy.
Black shoes alternative #2- Novelty styles
Boot season will be here before you know it. If your modus operandi is to stock up on black boots every fall I want you to take a step back. If you need a new pair of black boots, that’s fine, but if you already have one pair doing the job then think outside the box…the shoe box, that is. Choose a pair of boots or booties in a color or pattern that work just as universally as black but offer something more. Of course, this way of thinking stretches beyond your classic black boots and booties. Think this way about all your shoes. If you already own one pair of classic black pumps or flats, why buy another pair that look exactly the same? Try something a bit more novel. This is a smart solution if your wardrobe is very classic based. A pair of novelty shoes will make even the simplest of outfits look bolder. You don’t even have to go that novel with your shoes. Even a metallic pair of shoes can make a huge difference.
This classic outfit, consisting of black pants from Reiss, a draped top from Topshop and cropped jacket from Alice + Olivia, get a punch with these grey novelty booties from Vince Camuto that also come in black. As you can see, even though the shoes are novel, you can still add a fun colored handbag, like I did here with this purple bag from Elliott Lucca. The outfit is finished with this statement necklace from Bauble Bar.
Black shoe alternative #3- Cognac
Cognac is the fall version of tan, nude or beige shoes in the summer. I consider my wardrobe incomplete if I don’t have a pair of boots in this color. You may need black boots, but consider cognac, as well. You may find you get more wear from them than a pair of boots in brown because, unlike brown, cognac can be worn with black to give the color a warmer appearance.
In the outfit above, these boots from UGG come in both black and brown and you can really go either way with the outfit. However, I quite like how the cognac boots pick up the flecks of the color found in this Theory sweater. Yet, even if the sweater didn’t have cognac flecks, grey and cognac is a beautiful color combination. The cognac boots also warm up this Boden pencil skirt. In fact, imagine an all black outfit and how rich a pair of cognac boots or shoes added to it would look. To finish the look above, I used this handbag from Tory Burch, bracelet from Banana Republic and Melinda Maria drop earrings.
You don’t just have to stick with cognac boots. Try the color in flats, sandals, booties, and more.
Black shoes alternative #4- Nude or Beige
My client bought these oxfords from Anne Klein and, when given the choice between the nude pair and the black pair, she chose the nude. As we talked it through, the nude pair made more sense for her. Not only would they look great with skinny ankle pants but they would also work with skirts and dresses when worn with bare legs. Nude and beige shoes in general are outrageously versatile. Even though you may pack some of your nude sandals away for fall, don’t discount the color in pumps and oxfords as the weather starts to cool.
It’s not only the fact that nude and beige shoes will work with anything that you are wearing, but they will also lengthen the look of legs and make them look slimmer, and considering my client planned on wearing her oxfords above with skinny ankle pants, where a little bit of her ankles would show, nude was the smarter choice. They just make the legs look less heavy and stumpy.
In the outfit above, the Anne Klein oxfords are styled with a pair of cropped tailored pants from Theory and a basic v-neck sweater from J. Crew. Both shoe colors work, but I particularly like the softness the beige pair offers. To finish the outfit, I added this yellow and grey scarf from Nordstrom, yellow earrings from Kenneth Cole and grey Vince Camuto handbag.
Black shoes alternative #5- Print and patterned shoes Print and pattern shoes definitely fall in the “novelty style” category and are definitely something to consider when adding some alternatives to black shoes to your wardrobe. If your wardrobe is chock full of simple, classic pieces, going for one fun style in a print or pattern is a solution to those times where your outfit just needs a little something extra. Be smart about the prints and patterns you choose to make sure you are choosing styles that can be worn just as much as your black pairs. If your wardrobe is heavy in neutral colors, you really can have a lot of fun with different patterns.
Take, for example, the outfit above that is a basic weekend look consisting of a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans and black turtleneck sweater. On the left, the outfit is styled with a pair of black ballerina flats from J. Crew I used the same style but in a print. This simple swap makes a huge difference. The outfit is finished with a charm bracelet from Marc Jacobs, a pair of black earrings from House of Harlow and a yellow bag from Nordstrom.
Variety is the spice of life
Don’t ditch your black shoes and don’t stop buying them if you need them. However, keep in mind that the more variety you add to your wardrobe the less you will find you need all that black. Just remember, variety is the spice of life.