A casual peruse of the past two years of blog posts will quickly reveal I love a heel (the poetry of the end of that rhyming sentence, I am a wordsmith). However, I’m here for you Dear Readers, and so when you send me feedback or requests or questions I am poised for action and ready to roll – thus, this Reader Request.
Elli writes: “my day to day relationship with clothes remains... practical. I love walking throughout the day and try as I might, I am not an everyday high heels girl. I like my clothes to make a statement but I need to be a) warm and b) comfortable. I was wondering if you could do a post or two on styling flats for work/ play?”
Elli, you know I can. Consider this the first and introductory post into wearing and styling flats, and then look forward to more flat-related content. Good feedback is actionable feedback, and this was a timely reminder that not all women are sacrificing the long term health of their wee feets in order to achieve a short term height boost. I’ve also created a Pinterest Board with various pictures of fashion ladies wearing flats – feel free to take a look here!
Here are my top tips for styling flats for work OR play – consider these Flat Fundamentals.
Without the elongating effect of heels, you need to look more carefully at where your trousers/skirt/dress hit your body. In these outfit pics I’ve cropped the trousers slightly by rolling the hem – way more flattering. I prefer midi-skirts with flats because I like a slightly Japanese inspired vibe, but take a pair of favourite flats out for a shopping spree and see what kind of skirt length floats yo boat. If you are struggling with the trouser game, culottes are a simple fashion trend right now that are comfy and give you a quick win on the outfit front.
Flat shoes in a colour that matches your trousers is a quick cheat for a “complete” outfit effect. Better still, do a full monochrome look from top to toe for major fashion points! For those of us back here in “I don’t have time to find a bunch of clothes in an identical shade of green” land, be lazy like me and do black and white with a dash of whimsy via a bunny print shirt and plaid pants.
I think there are two awesome options for casual flats at the moment: mules and fancy sneakers. By mules I mean anything that slides onto your foot and is backless, my favourites are plain black closed toe options that make a rando pair of jeans you pulled off the back of a chair and your cleanest white tshirt look “chic” and “intentional”. Fancy sneakers is basically any pair of sneakers that you wouldn’t wear to the gym. I have two pairs: a paint by colours situation from Rita Ora for Adidas, and a pair of the Campus sneakers (also from Adidas) which I will go on record and say are the more attractive version of the otherwise excellent Gazelle. Wear with a sundress or a pair of culottes for immediate A++ effect.
I understand the urge to be comfy, but flats will always do better if there’s something else in your outfit concept that brings some Fashun to the overall effect. You can see from the Pinterest board that each outfit has either a great cut item, something a bit sparkly, or some kind of ruffle, pattern or other statement.
Flats don’t have to be boring or terribly, terribly sensible. There are heaps of options in the world for comfy shoes that are still colourful, made of satin, a fun print, have a flatform…get amongst it. I think all too often we can equate sensible or comfortable things with boringness, but you can be sensible and comfy and still have a bit of razzle dazzle. This spring/summer I’d keep my eyes out for some lilac or bright marigold flats, or a pair of rad crossover slides, or the aforementioned mules or fancy sneakers.
Flats for work are relatively simple, in my opinion. Here I’ve worn a basic-ish black lace up shoe, which is appropriate for any corporate environment. You’re basically just looking for an amped up version of the flats that men would wear with suits. Loafers and brogues are great options. Personally, I’d steer clear of anything too much like a sandal you might wear on holiday (this goes for slides too), but it will depend on your workplace. A very slight elevation in the heel (less than an inch, even) will provide a surprising amount of polish and a slingback style is an easy shorthand for “I understand I am at my workplace today”.
I know it seems like heels are the high maintenance version of shoes, what with reheeling etc, but it’s important that if you’re wearing flats to the office that they are in top notch condition. A slightly scuffed stiletto is not ideal, but it’s probably less scrappy looking than a scuffed lace up. Make sure you keep your shoes polished and your laces neat so that your flats give the best possible first impression.
Socks are a KEY partner player to flats, in one of two ways. Either (a) you need a great invisible sockette or (b) you need a great pair of patterned socks to have on show. Or both. I like the invisible sockettes from Cotton On, and patterned socks from Gorman. I have far more of the former than the latter, but that’s down to the amount of gym socks I wear on a weekly basis, so you figure out your own needs.
Final point before I sign off on flats for this post: if, like me, you’re a Wellington who loves a pair of heels – please buy a pair of cheapo flats and chuck them under your desk. If there’s ever an emergency you will be super jealous of your flat-flaunting co workers as they merrily stroll over any rubble, while you limp along like an idiot. Ultimately, flats are entirely more practical.