Author and style expert Andrea Pflaumer wrote today’s post on what your shoes say about you! Enjoy, darlings!
What we wear on our feet speaks volumes. It conveys who we are! It shows how well we know our style and how much we value ourselves. Plus, it indicates how well we understand what a complete outfit is and how to create it. Any accessories will make or break an outfit, and no accessory does that more than our shoes.
First Things First
No matter how cute or sexy a pair of shoes are, if they are not comfortable they will show in the way you walk and in your expression. There’s nothing attractive about hobbling around in pain!
Equally important is the condition of your shoes. Worn-down heels, scratches, rips, and broken or missing details can ruin your whole look. Someone will notice these imperfections, trust me. Researchers have found that people size us up within the first seven seconds of meeting us.
So keep your shoes in good repair! Keep them polished or treated at the beginning of the season and renew them with a stain guard, especially for finer surfaces like suede or fabric shoes. Replace any worn-down soles or heels, and keep them away from moisture and sunlight. It’s also a great idea to keep the shoe shapers that come with new shoes when you store them.
Different Style Archetypes = Different Style Shoes
To understand what else our shoes say about us, we’ll look at them through the lens of the commonly accepted style archetypes (I write about these in my book.) I prefer to think of them as personal style facets. I like the word, facets. It suggests the facets of a diamond. As multi-faceted creatures, we like to dress for how we feel on a particular day. So we often have many different types and styles of shoes to suit our different moods.
But understanding the elements of each facet helps us to understand what to look for when we want to convey a certain mood. Now, there are many different shoe styles (e.g., boots, loafers, flats, sandals, high heels, etc.) that will work for every style archetype. It’s the specific details of those shoe styles that will vary. So we’ll start with a brief description of the archetypal style facets, and then look at specific shoes and explain what they say.
The “Message” Conveyed By Each Style Archetype
In general, this is what the basic styles express.
- Dramatic: I have a big personality and like to live large.
- Natural: Nothing is more important to me than being comfortable and unpretentious.
- High Spirited: Life is an adventure; don’t take it too seriously.
- Classic: I’m conservative, trustworthy, and careful, and I attend to details.
- Romantic: I am the epitome of sensuality and value personal connection above everything.
- Youthful: I’m unassuming, guileless, playful, and like to have fun.
- Angelic: I was born for another, more idyllic time.
If you apply those ideas to the textiles, embellishments, and details of a shoe you can pretty easily identify what it conveys. Let’s look at a few examples.
Stiletto Over-the-Knee Purple Metallic Boots
I picked this as the first example because it is so obvious. “Ultra-anything” suggests Drama. The highest kind of heel, highest shaft of a boot, and shiniest textile all say, “ultra.” You have to have a lot of Drama in your personality and your wardrobe to carry something off like this.
Suede Birkenstock Sandals
This is another no-brainer. Thicker or rougher hewn leather or suede is Natural. Anything down to earth is farther away from Drama. A thick sole, especially of cork, is Natural. Everything about this shoe says, “I’m a Nature girl.”
Pearl Studded Loafer
OK – So now we get into something that requires a little more thought. Loafers can be Classic or Natural. The currently popular lug sole ones suggest the Natural style facet (although High Spirited types love them as they are kind of “costumey.”) But the basic design is Classic. Now, when you add some kind of embellishment that is fundamentally different (shoe designer Stuart Weitzman often does this) you are sending a mixed message: I may be Classic, but I can also be youthful and a bit playful (pearls, being round, suggest this style), High-Spirited (again, playing with identities) or even a touch Romantic.
Flat Soled Gladiator Sandals in Silver
Let’s look at the elements of this shoe. It has fairly narrow lacing, not wide strapping. It’s flat. It doesn’t have much structure at all. It draws attention up the leg. Ok – so what do each of those elements mean? Well, first of all, thin vs. wide lacing or straps suggest more delicacy. That’s an Angelic quality. It’s completely flat, which makes it Natural. It has very little structure and reveals a lot of the foot, which adds a Romantic element. And it draws attention up the leg, so – yeah, Romantic again. But when we think of this type of shoe, it recalls a previous historical time. And the fact it is shimmery silver both say, “Angelic.” So, if you are a Natural/Romantic crossover and have some ethereal nature to your look, this is your shoe!
Wishing You Stylish Walking
I think you get a general idea. Any shoe style that falls into a particular archetypal category can be changed with the change of a textile, bling, heel height or shape, etc. The possibilities are endless! The key is to simply ask yourself if the shoe you choose for an outfit balances, harmonizes, and reflects what you want the entire outfit to say. If it doesn’t, go back to the closet, or to the shoe store!!!
I’d love to know about your favorite pair of shoes and what Archetype you label yourself as! Do your shoes match your Archetype?
About the author:
Andrea Pflaumer is the author of two books: the Amazon best-seller Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Perfect Wardrobe for Every Woman: Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes, and the Over 50 and She’s Got Good Jeans – a guide for how to shop for and where to find the perfect jeans for your body and budget.
She does in-person and online wardrobe and shopping consultations for women worldwide and blogs at Shopping for the Real You. Her free course, Lazy Person’s Guide to a Perfect Wardrobe is available on GoHighbrow. Andrea hosts two video series: Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50 and Shopping for the Real You: Expert Edition. She interviews women in the areas of fashion, beauty, and wellness on her Shopping for the Real You YouTube channel. She is a regular contributor to several national and international publications for women over 50.
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