It has become obvious to me that we need to have a little heart-to-heart about what we put on our feet. Because if there's anything The Cat's Pajamas learned from reading Seventeen as kitten, it's never neglect your shoes. An outfit without the proper footwear is a fate worse than death, or sex without orgasm or oysters without lemon. You get the gravity of the situation.
Lesson One: Shoes come in colors other than black and hiking boot. While the Danskos and Hi-Tecs may be comfortable and completely appropriate for grabbing a quick beer in the neighborhood, Cat would like to see you stretch a little when you're at, say, a fashion show on a Friday night (as Cat was). Or having dinner at Frasca. Or even just out with the girls. Don't get Cat wrong, she has no qualm with comfort, but if left to its own devices, comfort becomes Uggs, which becomes Uggs with summer skirts in July. (Think Cat's crazy? Go visit the fabulously snarky girls over at www.gofugyourself.com and click on Paris Hilton.) So what to do? Try a red shoe, like these beauties that were worn by a rather drunk but still charming woman at the Lower Highlands Fashion Show.
Look for a heel that is interesting in color or architecture. If you really like conversation starters, try the U.K. line Irregular Choice -- Cat bought her first pair of them in San Francisco several years ago and wishes she'd bought multiples. The shoes at Anthropologie are usually creative, too, though they can get pricey.
Lesson Two: Comfort does not have to mean dowdy. Just check out these beauties. They're hip, they're fun and, apparently, they're like wearing bedroom slippers. Even though they're black, they have pizzazz that makes them stand out, makes them worth every Euro their proud owner spent on them in France. If you absolutely must have comfort, try Born shoes. They're not the most fashion forward in color — and can get a little Jesus-y — but they're a good compromise between form and function. Flats are also a good option that look tres modern this fall when worn with patterned tights. Just remember: No basics here. If you wear flats, they should be crazy fun. Anthropologie is great for that, and they tend to be cheaper than the heels.
Cat won't tell you to never wear open-toed shoes with tights, because thick cable-knit tights with cute peep-toed shoes are actually hot, hot, hot right now, but there's a huge disconnect between that and this. Seriously, ladies: I know we all read the fashion magazines and then try to figure out how to make the $20,000 look fit our budgets, but translating kicky '40s peep toes as your summer kick-around slides with basic opaque tights is not a good interpretation of the trend.
Beyond being unglamorous, this look is unflattering. It makes you look stumpy and chopped up. Even being thin isn't enough to trump that fashion faux pas. No, long skirts should hang well over the tops of your boots, which, ideally, are high heeled. Long straight skirts can be worn with flat, futuristic-looking boots as a great alternative, but if the skirt is full, always go tall. Short skirts of any volume can be worn with either flat or heeled boots, but remember: The shorter the skirt and the taller the heel, the closer you look to belonging on Colfax.
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Lesson Five: Always invest in good shoes. Buy the most well-crafted pair you can afford when you are looking at basics. Chaussure are no different than the rest of your wardrobe — except that you stand in them all day. For trendy pieces, buy a pair of $20 shoes at Payless or Target. But if it's a pair you think you'll want around for years, don't skimp. You'll thank yourself for the years of comfort and consistency. For example, with a Tod's driving shoe. they're hella pricey (still $276 on Bluefly.com, no doubt about it, but for classic longevity, it's the gold standard, the little black dress or casual flats.