How to Choose Evening Shoes

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How to Choose Evening Shoes

Ladies feet, with shoes and handbags on floor
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With such a wide variety of evening shoes to choose from, it can be a little daunting to select the best pair for your outfit. Here is a bit of advice on how to choose the right evening shoes.

Elaborate Evening Shoes / Simple Dress

My first rule when it comes to shopping for evening shoes is a very simple one: only the shoes or the dress should be overly embellished.

If you're wearing a dress that's covered in sequins, fringe, or other eye-grabbing details, then nothing will set it off more than a pair of ​simply dynamic shoes. But a pair of shimmery, glistening, over the top evening shoes will really add punch to basic evening dress.

Of course, every rule has its exceptions, and I've even been known to break this one myself. But evening shoes that complement your outfit are always going to be an easier choice than shoes that compete with it.

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The Difference Between Dress and Evening Shoes

One of the reasons a lot of women aren't happy with their dressiest outfits is because of the shoes they choose. In short, they're trying to pair regular dress shoes with an evening dress—sometimes this works, but it often falls short.

What Makes Them Evening Shoes

It's not the style of the shoe that's wrong. In fact, evening shoes can be had in nearly every style that dress and casual shoes come in, including mules, pumps, sling-backs, sandals, kitten heels, t-straps, ankle straps, and even flats.

Instead, it's the materials and details that make a shoe more appropriate for evening wear.

Here are a few things to look for in evening shoes:

  • Embellishments: Most heels that feature brooches, rhinestones, crystals, pearls or sequins fall into the "evening shoe" category, while studs, zippers, and heavy hardware are more associated with casual or dress shoes.
  • Luxurious Fabrics: Though some of the most dynamic evening shoes I've ever seen have featured leather uppers, the easiest way to choose footwear that will work for eveningwear is to look for shoes with satin uppers. Velvet and suede are also good choices, provided that the shoes are very dressy, and not necessarily something you'd wear to the office.

And speaking of shoes you'd wear to the office, they're usually not the best look for evening wear. Just as you probably wouldn't wear a pair of crystal-studded sandals to work, those chunky heeled pumps that are ideal with a suit typically aren't dressy enough to pair with that little black dress.

The differences are often subtle. One way to get a good idea of what to look for in an evening shoe is to observe what celebrities are wearing to evening events, but remember, you don't have to spend as much as they do to have a pair of smashing evening shoes.

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Choosing the Right Color for Evening Shoes

As with any shoes, the color of your evening shoes should be based on the color of the outfit your wearing. But since you might own only one or two pairs of evening shoes, it's especially important that they're versatile enough to work with several of your favorite colors. Here are a few basic color suggestions for evening shoes.

Black Evening Shoes

Black is one of the best choices for evening shoes, partially because we're so fond of our little black dresses, but also because black works well with so many other colors. In fact, except for pastels and some earth tones, black will work with nearly anything—and even dresses in those problematic shades are fine as long as they have black accents, or are otherwise accessorized with black.

Silver Evening Shoes

My second favorite color for evening shoes is silver. It looks fantastic with whites and pastels but is also dynamic with black and darker colors.

Gold and Bright Evening Shoes

Most medium to dark shades and earth tones look great with gold evening shoes, and a pair of brightly-colored evening shoes serve as a bold accessory for print, gray or black evening dresses.

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Finding Comfortable Evening Shoes

If comfortable evening shoes have eluded you, you're not alone.

Due to the fact that they typically have heels and sometimes have skimpy straps and uppers, evening shoes aren't usually the most comfortable shoes in the world to wear.

Happily, some newer innovations have succeeded at making evening shoes much more bearable than they used to be.

Foot Petals and Dr. Scholl's for Her are a couple of lines that offer a wide variety of inserts and products aimed at making women's shoes more comfortable, and some shoe lines have special comfort features built right into them. For more information on these products, check out the resources below:

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The Best Evening Shoes for the Season

If you're lucky enough to live in a warm climate, you may be able to wear strappy evening sandals all year, but for those of us who actually have seasons to deal with, we need to think a little more about when we'll be wearing the evening shoes we buy.

Let's face it, snow, salt, freezing rain and ice just don't mix with high heels and satin uppers, and I haven't met an evening shoe yet that is ideal for very bad weather. But still, some choices are better than others.

If you need just one pair of evening shoes that will work for any season, consider a pair of pumps with a low to medium heel that's not too skinny.

If you're looking to expand your evening shoe collection, add an evening sandal for nicer weather, taking into account which colors you're most likely to wear for each season.