WOMEN’S SHOES GUIDE
You know boots are made for walking, but could you say with certainty which boot style best suits your height or outfit? This shoes guide will help you do just that, and make you an expert shoe shopper and stylist. Discover the different types of women’s shoes available and the pros and cons of each style. Learn fashion advice, buying tips and important product terms – as well as how to buy the correct shoe size, how to care for new shoes and how to pick out women’s shoes so comfortable you’ll want to sleep in them.
Women’s Shoes Styles
Women’s Shoes Tips and FAQs
HSN Offers Specialty Sizes• HSN is the place for hard-to-find women’s shoes, with size 5 ½ to size 13 in wide and narrow styles.
Style Advice• Some styles aren’t for everyone. Pick the trends you like that work with your personal style and lifestyle.
• An easy way to match women's shoes with fashion: pair simple outfits with elaborate shoes and eye-catching fashions with understated shoes. This creates a focal point so the shoes and fashion don't compete for attention and clash.
• Pick women’s shoes based on the occasion and environment. For example, do not wear evening shoes or flip flops to the office or stilettos for a day of shopping.
• Matching your shoes, belt and handbag looks put-together, but it’s not a fashion rule. Another option is to match two accessories and make the third a statement piece.
• Unusual textures and finishes add interest to simple women’s shoes styles.
• Look for zippers, lace, buttons, fringe, cutouts, charms, eyelets, metalwork, inlay work and other embellishment details that stand out. Bold colors, prints, unusual shapes and fabrics also make shoes the focal point of an ensemble.
• Animal print shoes can be understated if they are not matched with any other animal or graphic print.
• Wear women’s shoes with graphic patterns to break up monochromatic or neutral outfits. Solid fashions go with printed shoes and vice versa.
• For a sleek and professional look, wear high-quality women’s shoes with hardware accents.
• Women's shoes with heels add height, elongate legs, and create a posture that makes you appear slimmer.
• Chunky heels and dark fabrics make thick ankles appear thinner.
• Pant leg hems should show toes and a portion of the heel, otherwise the pants are too long to be worn with those women’s shoes.
• Wear shoes the exact color of your outfit or a shade lighter or darker.
• Black shoes go with practically everything. Pastels are the most difficult to match with black shoes, but will work if black exists somewhere else in the outfit.
• For a polished look, pull a color from the shoes to use in jewelry accents or accessories.
• Tan, light brown, nudes and khaki women’s shoes make legs look longer and feet smaller.
How to Pick Super-comfortable Women’s Shoes• Uppers: Leather, suede and fabric breathe and help reduce the chance of forming blisters.
• Soles: Leather and rubber are the best materials to aid with absorbing shock, providing a smoother step.
• Insoles: Leather and suede breathe, contour to feet and help reduce the chance of creating blisters.
• Heels: The most comfortable heels are no more than two inches high and are thick and supportive.
• Size: Women’s shoes sizes vary by designer and style.
Fit and Care Advice• Feet naturally swell, so try on women’s shoes at the end of the day when they are their largest.
• Do not wear the same shoes every day. They last longer when they have time to dry between uses.
• Feet are rarely the same size, so buy the size that fits your largest foot.
• Feet size changes with age, weight fluctuations and pregnancy, so check your size before you buy women’s shoes.
• The best fitting women’s shoes leave a thumbnail’s width between shoe and big toe.
- They are: the women's shoes you wear for The Big Day
- Bridal shoes come in every silhouette, not just the classic pump
- You'll be on your feet from "I do" to the last dance, so comfort is top priority
- Buy them before the dress fitting so the hem will be tailored at the correct length
- Pick a heel height you're accustomed to wearing
- Bridal shoes can be traditional white or ivory, metallic colors, pastels, bridal party colors - even shades of "something blue"
- They should complement your personal style and wedding dress. Choose shoes that match the formality of the wedding, like sandals for the beach or slingbacks with a ball gown
- Silk and satin are the most traditional fabrics, but another option is matching the texture of the bottom of the gown
- Either the gown or women's shoes should be a statement piece. If both are glitzy, they should share the same embellishments to complement each other
- They are: special occasion women's shoes that are dressed to impress
- Über-feminine details like crystals, pearls, rhinestones and ruffles and delicate materials like satin, silk, lace and velvet make these women's shoes formal
- Accents and hardware like buckles, zippers, charms, buttons and eyelets are interesting, but typically too casual for evening shoes
- Black or silver evening shoes complement practically every outfit
- Gold evening shoes dress up earth tones and adds warmth to medium- and dark-colored outfits
- Add pop to grey, black or print dresses with evening shoes in bold colors
- A general rule is to match an elaborate, detailed outfit with understated shoes, or vice versa.
- They are: women's shoes without a heel or have an extremely low heel
- Flats look feminine and chic without adding height. They don't sacrifice style for comfort
- Flats can be casual and sophisticated (like ballet flats), trendy and attention-getting (like gladiators) or refined evening shoes
- Flats with slight heels help relieve foot pain for people with high arches
- These women's shoes look sublime with narrow or cropped pants and skirts
- Mid-length skirts look best with flats that have a slight heel. Avoid pleated pants
- Pants that are the right length for heels are too long for flats
- They are: a closed toe, slip-on shoe with a menswear vibe
- These tailored flats are known for comfort. They typically support the foot arch with cushioning and are made with breathable material
- They are a versatile style and are an elegant alternative to sneakers
- Loafers made of soft leather with polished accents and rubber soles are ideal for the office.
- Casual loafers are also called moccasins or boat shoes
- Match these women's shoes with pants and long skirts. Loafers with heels look great with skirts, form-skimming blazers and skinny jeans
- They are: traditionally flat shoes with rounded toes and a single buckle strap
- This youthful style was first popularized by schoolchildren, but has evolved into on-trend women's shoe style with a retro feel
- Modern styles can feature tall heels, open toes, multiple straps or multicolor material that may stray from the shiny patent leather standard
- These women's shoes come in a range of looks, from sneakers, sky-heels, or mules with an open back and squared toes.
- They are: women's shoes that expose a portion of your toes
- 30s and 40s style retro-vibe that is subtly sexy
- Peep toes are available in all heights, heel widths and styles, from pumps to flats, wedges to stilettos, trendy kitten heels to peep toe boots
- They can be open- or closed back, but always show a peek of your pedicure
- These women's shoes can add a playful touch to conservative office attire, dress up casual clothing or look fabulous with formal attire
- Wear them with tights, skinny jeans, pencil skirts, mini skirts, tunics, sweaters, dresses - practically everything
- They are: classic from the 70s with thick soles that add instant height
- Wedge shoes are platforms with a connected heel and sole. The sole and heel are separated on true platform shoes
- These women's shoes achieve stiletto-heights but are most stable, thanks to additional heel surface area
- Petite women love platform shoes because they add height, elongate the body and shape calf muscles
- Platforms with ankle straps make legs look longer matched with short skirts, shorts and dresses
- They are: sexy women's shoes in a range of heights and styles
- The difference between heels and pumps is that heels can have open or closed toes and backs, while pumps are usually closed-back and low-cut without straps or ties
- Pumps change a person's posture by forcing the chest forward, waistline back, and contracting the calves to give them a back-from-the-gym look. The change in posture and height make women wearing heels appear slimmer, which is probably why this feminine footwear makes its wearer feel supremely sexy and glamorous
- Try a kitten heel for an easy stride, moderate height and a cute retro-inspired look
- Women wearing pumps with T-straps or ankle straps will appear shorter, but these straps also make thick ankles look narrower
- Pumps with thicker heels absorb impact so walking is more comfortable. Thicker heels also tend to look more conservative and professional than thin heels
- Women's shoes with pointed toes can make bodies look slimmer
- Oval- or square-shaped toes can make large feet look smaller
- They are: warm-weather, open-toed women's shoes
- Their straps branch from the sole and wrap around the heel and toes
- Sandals reveal the majority of your feet, making legs look longer
- However, sandals with ankle straps will make your legs look shorter
- To downplay larger feet, choose styles that cover the widest part of your foot and do not wear strappy sandals
- Flip flop sandals are revered as the most casual style of women's shoes and are a fashion faux pas in almost every workplace
- Choose a sandal style appropriate for the occasion. Avoid being too casual by choosing a pair with either an open back or open toes (not both!)
- These women's shoes expose your feet to the breeze, keeping feet cool
- Do not wear socks or sheer pantyhose with sandals
- They are: women's shoes that are easy to slip on and off
- Slides can have open on closed toes but do not have any toe or ankle straps
- Several women's shoes styles can be slides - like mules or sandals
- Slide can range in formality, from sporty sneakers to sparkly evening shoes
- They are: women's shoes that have a strap behind the heel or ankle
- They usually have heels, but also available in flats
- With the proper fit, the strap keeps the shoe in place better than open-back women's shoes
- Straps can be elastic or adjustable with belt-buckle closures. Pick adjustable straps if your feet swell during the day
- Open-toed styles are flirty or formal, while closed-toes are more professional
- Pair sandal slingbacks with cropped pants, shorts and dresses
- Pump slingbacks look smart with trousers, pants and tailored suits
- Never hang these women's shoes by their straps or they will stretch out
- They are: open- or closed-toed women's shoes to keep feet warm, clean and relaxed
- Most slippers are for indoor use only, but some have hard soles and leather slippers can be worn for quick trips outside
- These comfy women's shoes come in a range of styles: mules, clogs, moccasins, flip flops, slipper socks, and novelty styles like bunny slippers
- Slippers are made of soft material. Fleece, wool, sheepskin, suede and velour are the warmest, slippers with fleece or wool lining provide extra warmth
- Cotton and terry cloth slippers are better for warmer temperatures and popular women's shoes for spa treatments and after baths and swimming
- Slippers make great gifts
- They are: women's shoes with two straps that make a Y shape, passing both sides of the foot to meet in between the first and second toes
- They come in all shape and size heels
- Most are backless, but some styles - like gladiators - have backs
- These women's shoes are perennial spring and summer footwear
- The most casual shoe style is a flat thong shoe, a flip-flop
- Thong sandals are casual, but embellishments and fine fabrics can make them chic
- They are: women's shoes that possess the sexiness and height of pumps with the stability of flats
- A larger heel surface distributes weight more evenly, making them easier to walk in
- These women's shoes are sophisticated, but typically more casual than other high heel styles
- Their chunky silhouette make ankles look thinner
- Pair these women's shoes with flowing and flared fabrics, like billowy skirts, flared jeans or gauchos
Women's Athletic Shoes
- They are: women's shoes designed for sports and exercise, but commonly worn for daily errands where comfort is top priority
- Activities and movements strain feet and joints in different ways, which is why there are women's shoes structured for walking, running, basketball, etc.
- Avoid injury and maximize comfort by buying women's athletic shoes based on foot type (flat, high-arch or neutral) and activity
- Motion-control women's athletic shoes are stiff and stable, ideal for flat feet
- Stability shoes offer excellent cushion and a little support
- Trail shoes are tough, with thicker soles and greater stability for hiking
- Cushioned women's shoes are great for high arches, at the expense of less support
- Lightweight training shoes, built for racing, are super light with little support
- Athletic-inspired shoes combine the comfort of women's athletic shoes with styles suited for casual street wear
- They are: durable women's shoes worn when the weather's cool
- Boots can range in height from thigh-high styles to ankle booties
- These women's shoes can be slouchy or structured, girlie with soft and fuzzy fabric or tough as nails with leather, belts and buckles
- Wear boots with heels when you'd wear pumps or flat boots as a chic alternative to sneakers
- For a romantic look, pair knee-high styles with skirts and dresses (add tights for extra color and warmth)
- Pointed-toe boots look polished and professional with business suits
- Tuck leggings and skinny jeans into tall boots, but all other jean styles should not be tucked
- To look long and lean, avoid boots that stop at the thickest part of your leg (which is why knee-highs are universally flattering)
- Choose stretch boots with thick heels to make thick legs look thinner
Women's Mules and Clogs
- They are: women's shoes with open backs and closed toes
- These women's shoes evolved from Scandinavian factory footwear into today's playful, colorful and fashionable styles
- Clogs have firm soles that are traditionally made of wood, but can be cork, plastic, rubber or other inflexible material
- Mules are like clogs, only they have more of a heel and are usually dressier
- Both mules and clogs are slides
- The uppers can be made from leather, cloth or any firm fabric attached to the sides of the sole
- These women's shoes go with pants, long skirts, dresses or shorts