It’s not easy to pull off mismatched shoes without looking like you either got dressed in the dark and have made a faintly embarrassing mistake, or that you’re trying very hard to start a new fashion trend (something that can be a little like trying to give yourself a nickname). See? Tricky.
But as evidenced by the entirely adorable mismatched velvet slippers at the Magraw show at Fashion Week on Tuesday, mismatched shoes might finally be happening (as opposed to that thing Carrie Bradshaw once tried on Sex and the City).
In fact, it’s been building for a while.
At Phoebe Philo’s spring summer 17 show the Celine designer sent down models wearing one red shoe and one white. The look popped up, albeit in a more subtle way, at Calvin Klein’s fall show earlier this year (and Naomi Harris wore a custom version to this year’s Oscars). It was also spied in John Galliano’s asymmetric boots for Margiela this season.
And with such convincing evidence for trying the trend, we have to ask the question: what made us so zealous about matching our shoes in the first place?
Well, it’s partly to do with human nature. As Christine Whitney noted on The Cut when unpacking the mismatched shoe trend:
“After all, the desire to match is, in a sense, part of our DNA. In nature, there’s a phenomenon called fluctuating asymmetry, defined, appropriately enough, as ‘small deviations from perfect symmetry’ that occur in animals and structures. It affects the way we perceive beauty, and alas, sexual and natural selection favours the balanced. In short: The more asymmetrical you are, the less attractive others will find you. (That said, some studies have found that just slight imperfections are actually the most desirable.) Is it too much of a stretch to apply this school of thought to shoes? Asymmetry has long been perfectly acceptable in clothing, a fact fall 2017 cast into sharp relief. Disproportionate coats; larger on, or listing to, one side at Balenciaga (again); uneven lapels at Stella McCartney; and one-shouldered bandage dresses at Proenza Schouler were just a few examples of the latest takes on attractively lopsided dressing. But when it comes to shoes, balance —literally and visually — has always been the norm.”
So, really, mismatched shoes isn’t just a fun new trend to try, it’s also a flagrant stand-up to ideals of beauty and getting dressed.
But first, how to wear them.
Look to the styling at fashion week and the street style types. Keep the colours of the shoes either total contrasts for a striking effect, or in the same family when it comes to hue, texture or style. A more subtle way to do it is as per Raf Simons at Calvin Klein with slight differences around the ankle strap of a heel. We could suggest keeping the rest of your outfit fairly minimal to keep the focus on your shoes, but sometimes it’s better to just go full maximalist. Actually, it’s encouraged.
It must be mentioned, however, that there is a catch. And that is … you’re going to need to buy two pairs of shoes of same height (and so forth) to get away with it. Unless you tend to buy the same shoe in a range of colours and can already mix and match to your heart’s content. So there’s the outlay involved. But also the excuse to buy two pairs.
Mull that one over.
The most important thing is to do it purposefully. Timidity will look like you didn’t mean to do it, and you really don’t want to spend the entire day telling helpful people that yes, you know you’re wearing different shoes and yes, you meant to do so.
So would we wear that?
Yes. Preferably of the velvet slipper variety as spotted at Magraw.
Who would wear it?
A bona fide actress at the Oscars, enough said?
Confidence is essential, anything less and you run a high risk of people thinking you did it accidentally.