Shoes are a key part of nearly any outfit, whether you realize it or not. While most people can overlook poorly-coordinated accessories, undershirts, and socks, shoes are often one of the things they will pick up on first, and there are very few situations where you can salvage your appearance if you turn up in a combination that looks ridiculous to other people.

Even the most conventionally attractive people would struggle to look formal in exercise shoes or sandals, and the wrong shoes for the job can really put the brakes on an otherwise perfect outfit. Thankfully, we at ShoeAdviser have spent quite a while around a huge range of shoe brands, so we can hopefully shed some light on why this happens.

They Make a Difference

You’d be surprised how much your shoes can affect the way your entire outfit looks, especially if you’re somebody who doesn’t pay much attention to their personal fashion, to begin with. While some people end up with more pairs of shoes than they have outfits, others will stick with a handful of shoes (if not just a single pair) and use them for everything: even if you don’t notice an issue, other people will, and trying on a few extra pairs of shoes near a mirror might give you a better idea of why.

For starters, there are some kinds of shoes that are only meant for specific situations: exercise shoes and trainers are always casual footwear (unless you work in a sport-related job, of course), so they almost never look right when combined with suits or other formal clothing, as well as most ‘smart-casual’ outfits that you might want to wear in an office or get-together.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is formal shoes: they generally only work in formal situations and combining them with casual (or sometimes even smart-casual) outfits can look completely ridiculous.

Shoes Aren’t Interchangeable

There is also the issue of how appropriate the shoes actually are for a situation. A hard leather shoe that you’d normally wear with a suit will never be as flexible as an exercise shoe, no matter what brand it is – it’s simply part of the design, and you can’t change it without completely recreating the entire shoe from the ground up into a different style or shape. In a similar vein, ventilated running shoes will be practically useless if you need waterproof boots. No shoe can deal with every situation perfectly, which is why having a single pair often leaves you stuck without suitable footwear in bad weather conditions.

Shoes are often the first line of defense against other things that could ruin your outfit, like patches of mud or painful slips, so you should always have at least one pair that’s perfect for the situation at hand. Having to clean your shoes after they get particularly filthy is a small price to pay for keeping the rest of your outfit looking clean and sharp.

Time of Day Matters

While it might seem strange if you’re not that keen on fashion trends, a lot of people prefer to have separate shoes for daytime and night-time events, even if they’re essentially the same as another pair with a slightly different design or visual style.  There can be various reasons for this, but it usually comes down to the presentation: a party in the morning is likely to be very different to one taking place near midnight, so an outfit that blends in at one might look really out-of-place at another, even if they involve the same group of friends.

Some shoes are also simply better-suited to certain times in the day. Sandals, for example, are often seen as something you’d wear when it’s sunny and warm, so it might look a little strange if you’re wearing them after the sun goes down. That’s not to say that you can’t wear them, but they might not fit in with the current situation and can make you look slightly lazy if they’re clearly taken from another outfit that you wore earlier in the day.

Mismatched Shoes Attract Attention

First impressions are always important, and clothes make a huge difference in how happy, and approachable you might look, even if you don’t know it. You might find yourself gravitating towards clothes that suit your current mood, but shoes are often overlooked, which can result in you getting the wrong kind of attention from people you’re trying to talk to or avoid. Even the most considerate person will be a little bit confused if you dressed in all black except for your lime-green trainers, or you are wearing casual clothes with bulky hiking boots underneath.

Even if you’re not looking to get people to talk with you, it can still result in stares or people pointing it out to you, which could ruin your mood if you’re already not feeling up to having long conversations with people. If you’re unlucky, it might even result in new friends getting certain misconceptions about how you dress – presentation has a significant impact on the way people interpret you as a person.

Shoes Let You Express Yourself

While logos and branded clothes aren’t always a bad thing, it’s easy to forget how much visual space they take up on your body. Sometimes it’s hard to present yourself as-is due to the abundance of branded clothing, especially if you’ve got logos slapped in the middle of your chest – even certain high-end suit brands run into problems like this, and it detracts from your ability to stand out from everybody who wears the exact same thing.

Shoes, however, are one of the few areas where the majority of major brands hide their logos in relatively inconspicuous places or incorporate it into the design so that it’s not immediately obvious to a casual observer. While this isn’t always true, and there are certain offenders that paste their logos on wherever they can, shoes give you a lot more room to express yourself with different colors, styles, and patterns.

This is especially true for events that require very specific clothing: this doesn’t just mean formal parties and gatherings, but things like hiking or sporting events, which all but require you to wear certain types of clothes if you want to be effective and safe. For example, there are only so many brands that offer certain types of warm coat that you might want, but there are dozens of companies producing the same kind of hiking boot in an array of colors and styles.

You Aren’t Just Limited To One Type

If you’re the sort of person who only ever has one or two pairs of shoes at a time, you might be missing out on some of the more extreme designs you can have. You might only “need” a pair of trainers and a pair of work shoes, but there are hundreds of different designs on the market that can provide you with new and interesting ways to vary up your outfits, as well as giving you a greater chance of putting together a signature style that looks good on you.

For example, if you’ve only walked around your hometown in trainers, it might be worth it to give things like pumps or canvas shoes a try – you might find them more comfortable, and they could be the missing piece of an outfit that you like even more than your existing ones. Experimentation is a great way to figure out what does and doesn’t work on you at a personal level, as well as opening up new avenues for you to try and feel more comfortable when you’re doing certain things.

Vanity Sometimes Pays Off

We’re all taught that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sometimes buys things that you can be proud of, and footwear is no different. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of some stylish shoes that complete your look, especially if they’re from a really prestigious brand or a style that’s fashionable at the moment: some people are simply more receptive to branding and status than others, and you might find that wearing high-quality and desirable brands or styles might give you a boost to your self-confidence, especially if you wear them to parties or other social gatherings.

It can also help you earn the respect and attention of people who are into similar brands, especially if they’re the kind of people who are very into current fashions and popular clothing. Not everybody’s looking for these kinds of people as friends, but it can still be a useful conversation starter or a way to introduce yourself to groups of people that you normally wouldn’t.

Fashions Change Every Day

New fashions and trends can seemingly spring up out of nowhere the moment they start to get popular among a large group of people, which usually results in those items getting more attention for retailers – and, in some cases, more expensive. Being ahead of the curve can save you a surprising amount of money with very little effort. In fact, as long as your clothes aren’t too worn, you might even be able to re-sell them once they fall out of fashion to recoup some of the cost, and certain brands could become valuable collector’s items if they get discontinued in the future.

Sometimes breaking away from established fashions can be a fashion in and of itself, so you should also keep an eye out for shoes that break with the norm without being too extreme or out-of-place with your clothing. Just because something doesn’t fit in with popular styles doesn’t mean that it won’t look great on you, and you don’t need to follow a popular trend to look your best. If you find an outfit that works, shoes included, you can always stick to it as your personal style.

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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