Styling out formal flats

For wedding season and beyond…

One of the questions I get asked the most when I tell people that I don’t own any heels, is what do I wear to weddings? I’ve written about this a lot in the past (most recently about how much I love to wear white shoes to weddings), but I thought it would be nice to round up my top tips on HOW to wear flats to a formal occasion. Because as well as finding the right pair, it’s all about the shape of the shoes and what you wear with them.

I think one of the hardest things to get my head around when I first gave up heels, was figuring out what to wear with posh dresses and skirts. I had one pair of black block heeled sandals that used to be my default for evening events and nuptials; they seemed to work with all sorts of outfits and it took me a while to find their flat equivalent. But the shape of shoe I think works best for this is the almond-toe pump, and here’s why.

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Firstly, an almond toe is a little less harsh, both aesthetically and comfort-wise, than a full-on pointed toe, which I know a lot of you find impossible to wear. But having that slight soft point is really helpful, because it sort of makes your legs look longer. Try it out if you don’t believe me – pop a round ballet pump on one foot and an almond shape on the other, and you’ll soon see which is the most flattering.

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Secondly, opting for a shoe like this that exposes a lot of your foot is another top trick for elongating your legs, much in the same way that heels do. Essentially, the more of your foot that can be seen, the longer your legs will appear. Obviously long legs aren’t the be all and end all of looking good in a skirt – at 5ft3, I should know – but they certainly give everything a helping hand!

Finally, you might want to consider a completely different shape of dress or skirt to go with your flats. Heels are probably the best partner for a fitted shift dress unless you’re wearing a Sixties-style mini with a short hem, which always looks great with this style of flat. Instead though, I’d suggest looking at a different style of dress that works better without heels; something less fitted with an ankle-skimming hem – like the slip dress I’m wearing here – which will have a more laid back vibe that will match your flat shoes much better. This combination is now my go-to for weddings, parties and any events where I want to look a little more swish.

NB: it turns out that unlike with sneakers, sustainable formal flat shoes are not a well catered for area. I have listed a couple of options here if you’re looking to buy some but I would suggest using the Good On You app if you find a pair you like on the high street to check whether that particular brand has good practices or not. I was surprised that some of my usuals did not score well at all. Of course, buying a good quality pair that you will keep and wear for years is always a great option!