I will soon be attending my niece’s “formal” wedding, my first since the pandemic. I have a nice dress to wear, but I don’t know what to do about the shoes. I’ve given up on heels – I don’t need them for work and I’m just sick of the pain – but sneakers won’t do. What is the best apartment option that will look stylish and appropriate for the event, without making me look like a kid? — Ruth Ann, Bloomfield, Conn.
Yoko Ono married John Lennon in apartments. Keira Knightley married her husband, musician James Righton, in apartments. Jerry Hall married Rupert Murdoch in apartments. OK, maybe that last example wasn’t the best, considering they’re going their separate ways now, but the thing is, if these very well-known ladies can wear flats at what’s one of the most important dressing moments of their lives, the rest of us can wear them too.
There is such a thing as formal flats – and, like Christian Louboutin, of red-sole fame and a man who arguably spends more time than most of us thinking about the Tao of shoes, said when I asked, they “don’t have an age limit.” (Then he added, “51 is the new 15!”)
But what do they look like?
There are so many possible options that it may be best to start with what not to wear. Ballet flats, the comfortable and acceptable flats that haven’t been sneakers since Audrey Hepburn wore them in “Funny Face,” can seem childish and clichéd. Same as Mary Janes. (There’s nothing wrong with a bit of fashion irony, but maybe not a wedding.)
Strappy sandals and mules are airy in the heat, but they require a lot of foot care. If you’re going to put your toes and heels on display at a formal occasion, you want to make sure those toes and heels don’t look like Disney-worthy evil stepmother’s digits. (Bad juju.) Depending on your tolerance for loofahs and pedicures, this may mean that the best fit is a simple closed-toe and heeled style, perhaps with a pointed rather than a rounded toe and a contoured profile.
Next, focus on color and embellishment. In the absence of eye-catching heels, this is what will – no pun intended – up your flat shoe game.
Mr. Louboutin suggests that rather than trying to match your shoes to your dress, the best strategy is to either match your shoes to your skin (in 2013 he started offering a line called “nudes”, which s is developed to include eight different skin tones) or opt for metals like gold and silver. Either choice has the advantage of working with a variety of outfits, which means they are an economical option.
(Generally, the better the materials and structure, the longer a shoe will last and the more comfortable it will be – but also more expensive. You have to weigh the cost-benefit analysis, but it’s something that can be worth a little splurge , which will pay off over time.)
You can play around with embroideries and sparkly additions that turn a basic apartment into something special. For inspiration, look at the Dior couture shoe presented in January; designer Maria Grazia Chiuri treated her apartments and quasi-apartments like jewels, encrusting them with jet pearls and practically transforming them into objects of art in their own right. Then check out slip-ons or glittering ankle straps from Badgley Mischka and rhinestone numbers from Nine West.
They are dancing shoes.
Answers to your style questions
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion question, which you can send her anytime via E-mail Where Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.