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April 21, 2009

Get fresh this spring with functional, fashionable footwear

Like a nervous kid excited for the first day of school, I often lay my outfits out a day in advance. I coordinate pants, tops, and jackets, experimenting with different combinations of patterns, textures, and colors. When I do this, I put together a creative look I wouldn’t be able to throw together in the 10 minutes I have to get ready in the morning before I dash to class. I try to pair each outfit with an unexpected accessory: a delicate pair of earrings with a tough denim jacket or a chunky silver bracelet with a flirty cotton dress. I plan my whole outfit from head to ankle. But when it comes to fashionable footwear, I have trouble putting my best foot forward.

I never seem to remember my shoe collection when I’m getting dressed. The result is that sometimes my carefully considered outfits look haphazard and downright ridiculous. I love my knee-high moccasin boots, but they looked pretty garish when I tucked them into skinny jeans. Had I thought about it, I would have paired them with a full tiered-skirt and long cardigan for a more free-spirited look. I hope that I’ve learned from these considerable fashion missteps now that spring has arrived and there are new styles of shoes for me to consider when dressing to impress. Learn how you can put some spring in your step with the freshest spring footwear.

Flirty skirts call for delicate flats with intricate details. I recently grabbed a pair of tan leather flats by Ciao Bella ($70, Macy’s). The shoes have pretty floral cutouts, and I plan to wear them with everything from jeans to crisp white dresses. The brand’s “Fantasia” flat ($85, Macy’s) has a woven upper and an elegant, tapered shape. The shoe comes in pewter, copper, and black, and would look effortlessly beautiful with both casual and more formal ensembles. With padded, cushioned soles, the shoe is as comfortable as it is chic. If you’re an intern and expect to be dashing all over the city running errands, do your feet a favor and skip the glamorous heels—they’ll be gruesome. Instead, choose comfortable flats that will be fashionable without terrorizing your toes.

Thankfully, last year’s craze over the gladiator sandal has died down. These leather sandals, sometimes embellished with fringe or grommets, are constrictive and visually shorten the line of the leg, making calves look short and stubby. These shoes are better left in the Colosseum. For a flattering look that is more this century, choose uncomplicated leather sandals in neutral colors like tan or black.

Not ready to pack away your favorite pair of boots? Warmer weather doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to strip down to sandals. Boots look sleek and stylish when paired with warm-weather wear like shorts. To keep the look from appearing more rodeo than Rodeo Drive, make sure the shorts are a sophisticated cotton or linen, not denim Daisy Dukes. I have a pair of knee-high tan boots from Aldo that I plan to wear this summer with olive green shorts, a slinky black tank top from the Gap, and a blue three-quarter-sleeve cardigan.

This spring, forgo the sky-high heels and warrior-inspired footwear and choose comfortable and classic shoes like flats, sandals, and boots that allow you to step out in style.