We've rounded up the top ten styles everyone should own.
While the thought of a capsule wardrobe sounds straightforward, simple and oh-so enticing, the reality of the matter is not quite so black and white – especially when it comes to footwear.
How you maintain and update your shoe collection will be shaped by your style, geographical location and how much space you have. Nevertheless, there are some styles that should have a spot in every wardrobe. Here, we break down the top ten timeless staples to consider.
Camille Charrière wears black heels in London. Photo: Getty
Basic black heels are practically the basis of any classic wardrobe, but classic doesn’t have to mean boring. Let your style and day-to-day life guide you when it comes to nailing the right heel height, finding a versatile material (leather and patent are always timeless) and choosing a pointy or almond-shaped toe. For the ultimate styles, designers like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik are your best bet.
Pigalle 85mm heels
Lani 100 black mesh pumps
Hangisi velvet pumps
Strappy sandals on Sandra Hagelstam. Photo: Getty
Minimal, mid-heel strappy sandals are a summer essential and will go with nearly everything you own. Opt for a lighter colour like white or tan for versatility and wearability and look to modern designers like By Far, Manu Atelier and Reike Nen for subtly modern shapes.
Odd Pair Low Sandals
Kersti leather sandals
Lace 50mm strappy sandals
Jolie Nguyen and Christine Ai wearing Bottega Veneta mules in Sydney. Photo: Getty
Earning their place in our hearts and our wardrobes for their retro shape and maximum wearability, mules have enjoyed a resurgence in recent seasons. Look for a hue that suits your skin tone for a great leg-lengthening effect or go for contrasting neon if you want to make a statement. Of course, the best of the best are from Bottega Veneta.
Stretch Leather Mules
Lupita leather mules
Sonia Lyson wearing Chanel sandals in Berlin. Photo: Getty
If 2020 brought us anything good, it was a more relaxed take on our footwear choices. Even high-end designers like Chanel and The Row embraced dad sandals and pool slides, reimagining them for life in the city. When it comes to a flat sandal, the more relaxed the better – you could even go for a flatform if the mood takes you.
Woven flatform sandals
Ophie embellished leather sandals
Ginza platform flip flops
Melanie Darmon wearing Amina Muaddi in Paris. Photo: Getty
When choosing party shoes, more is more: think crystals, bright colours and as much embellishment as possible (we’re looking at you, Amina Muaddi and Miu Miu). Perfect for everything from weddings to cocktail parties, pick between sandals, slingbacks and pumps – the only real consideration being what you can dance in all night long (and walk home in come the small hours).
Venus fuschia slingback
Glitter slingback pumps
Begum crystal-embellished slingbacks
Heeled ankle boots
Jeannette Madsen wearing Manu Atelier boots in Paris. Photo: Getty
No shoe collection would really be complete without a trusted pair of heeled ankle boots, preferably in black leather, with a heel sturdy enough to give you a height boost without the pain. Pair these with your most trusted straight-leg trousers, jeans or your favourite summer dress – the ultimate go-to outfit for between seasons. For high-end options, try Roger Vivier and Gianvito Rossi.
Red leather ankle boots
Levy 85 boots
VIV rangers X buckle bootie
Hedvig Opshaug wearing knee-high boots in Copenhagen. Photo: Getty
A pair of knee-high boots will loyally serve you season after season, so they’re worth the investment. Choose between slouchy styles or tight, over-the-knee pull-ons and match them with dresses and skirts for a look that will take you effortlessly from day to night. Jimmy Choo’s classic styles will guide you in the right direction.
Mahesa 85 black knee-high boots
Square-toe patent-leather over-the-knee boots
Horsebit python-effect leather knee-high boots
Jacqueline Zelwis wearing Veja sneaker in Berlin. Photo: Getty
Finding the right pair of versatile sneakers will open up you up to a whole new way of dressing. No longer just reserved for sports, sneakers should be worn with pride, even with your fanciest suits. Look to New Balance, Veja and Axel Arigato for options that will look smart with anything.
990v5 suede and mesh trainers
Clean 90 sneakers
V-12 leather trainers
Pernille Teisbaek wears biker boots in Paris. Photo: Getty
From bikers to Chelsea boots, flat styles might just be the most versatile of footwear. Whether you go for chunky or sleek, pick a pair with minimal details and wear them with everything you own, from tailoring to floral dresses for a timeless Scandi look. The best styles come courtesy of Bottega Veneta, Acne and Ganni.
Calf leather low Chelsea boot
Tire flat boots
Jensen grain boots
Brogues and loafers
Emili Sindlev wears Prada loafers during Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Getty
A pair of quality loafers will last you a lifetime. Choose a pair in sturdy leather and wear them in with socks first, to avoid the inevitable blisters. The classic driving shoe isn't just practical but also stylish; wear with skirts or jeans for a ‘back to school’ feel. Head straight to Tod's and Church's, who specialise in this particular category
Snakeskin slingback loafers
Gommino leather loafers
Shannon Met Polished Binder Derby Black