Ask any girl if she can trim down her shoe collection to just a few pairs, and she will freak out. However, one can own as much as a thousand pairs of shoes in her closet but still remain unsatisfied if she doesn’t have the essentials. No, this entry isn’t about how many shoes you should own; it’s about what shoe styles you should always have on your shoe rack at any given moment — no matter how young, old, extravagant, or frugal you are.
We’ve narrowed down the essentials to a realistic number that won’t get violent reactions from shoe lovers. We know you can’t settle with just 5 pairs or be content with 10. So, after careful thought and consideration, we’re recommending 15 shoe styles to collect. This is a relatively small number, but we guarantee that these basics will get you through all four seasons and help you look fashionable. Keep this list in mind, and compare it with what you have.
1. Classic Black Pumps
Classic black pumps are a must for any girl, no matter the age. You can wear them with dresses, jeans, shorts, and practically anything in your closet. You’ll need them for your graduation, for work, for a party, or for a red carpet appearance. And if you’re fond of wearing black like Angelina Jolie, you’ll need those black pumps even more. Seriously, not having at least one pair of that is considered a sin in our books.
Suzanne of Fashion Is a Party in all-black separates styled with black platform pumps and a statement necklace
2. Nude Heels
Nude heels are a girl’s best friend. They elongate your legs, and they go with just about anything in your closet. You don’t have to have the most expensive pair; just grab the ones that are tall but comfortable enough to walk around in. Trust us, you’ll be putting those nude heels in heavy rotation all year round. Best to go with peep-toes or classic pumps with this particular shoe-have.
Fashion blogger Masha Sedgwick scoring a perfect hit with an all-white outfit detailed with a studded jacket, a gorgeous necklace, and some classic nude pumps
Jerome Rousseau “Love” Open-Toe Pumps, $417 (before: $695)
3. Bold Animal-Print or Exotic-Skin Heels
Face it, animal prints, whether snake print or cheetah print, have become a perennial classic in fashion. It’s not a fad anymore. In fact, you can sport animal print anytime of the year. When it comes to shoes, a pair of bold animal-print heels is a must in your closet. It will give even the simplest of outfits a mega dose of drama.
Elif Filyos of The Fashion Medley styling a very simple and almost-colorless outfit with bold animal-print heels for a pop of flavor
4. Sexy Ankle-Strap Sandals
You’ll need a pair of these shoes for your jeans, shorts, and red carpet frocks. They’re timeless and they’re infinitely sexy. Consider the ankle-strap sandals your go-to for almost any occasion. Just check out how Rihanna styled her Manolo Blahnik “Chaos” sandals if you need tips on how to wear them.
Fashion blogger Tina Stefanovic of Style Sinners capping off her white-hot summer look with black-and-white sandals and a matching clutch
5. Fancy Metallic Heels
Fancy statement heels that turn heads and take the spotlight are necessary for special occasions that require you to dress to the nines. We’re talking black-tie soirees and the Oscars here. The great thing about these shoes is that you can also use them to dress up casual pieces like jeans. Go with classic gold or silver hues that are versatile. Pick a pair that will complement the cocktail dresses in your closet.
6. Ankle Boots
We can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have good ol’ ankle boots in her closet. They’re very reliable, especially when you want to look edgy and cool. Always pick a pair that flatters your legs and feels comfortable on your feet. We recommend that you grab boots in classic or neutral hues like black or brown. Ankle boots go with just about any outfit, whether it’s a dress or jeans, and this is precisely the reason why you must own at least a pair.
Fashion blogger Casey David of Caseys Collection complementing her bold, edgy, and sexy getup with ankle boots
7. Flat Leather Sandals
Flat strappy sandals are a must-have during spring and summer. If you like taking trips to tropical destinations or you enjoy basking in the French Riviera sun, then all the more that you will need a pair. You can wear them with jeans, summer dresses, or short shorts. Go with strappy sandals in tan, taupe, or brown.
8. Go-To Sneakers
Yes, even if you’re a 60-year-old nana, trust us when we say you’re bound to need a pair of sneakers, whether for completing a certain look, for traveling, or for running errands. While Converse Chuck Taylor kicks are the popular choice for most people, we fancy and recommend the Superga “Cotu” Classic sneakers. The silhouette of these shoes is more feminine and flattering.
Fashion blogger Sirma Markova dressing down her outfit with summer’s hottest shoes — the slip-on sneakers
9. Ballerina Flats
We’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t own a pair of ballet flats. When it comes to go-to shoes, ballet flats are the most popular choice. They’re comfortable and feminine, and they give you that too-cool-to-dress-up vibe. Ballet flats are always on heavy rotation in any girl’s closet, not just because they’re easy-to-wear but also because they go well with your everyday wear.
Daria H. of Lozhka Moda dressing down her polka-dotted frock with simple black flats
10. Pointy Flats
Pointy flats are just as comfortable as ballet flats. But on top of that, they’re more feminine and a lot dressier, and they give your look a more polished and sophisticated feel. Because of the silhouette, pointy flats are also more flattering to wear. If you’re petite, these shoes are a must. And if you want to take it a little further, pick a pair that comes in a neutral color close to your skin tone. Doing so will make your legs look even longer.
Onyinye of Modavracha’s Spot capping off her yellow maxi frock with cute pointy flats to polish up her look
11. Wedge Sandals
Need we say why you need a pair? Wedge sandals are great with day dresses, shorts, skirts, and maxi frocks. They’re also necessary for beach parties (heels dig into the sand; wedges don’t). Pick wedge sandals in neutral colors so you can pair them with various outfits.
12. Tall Boots
Whether heeled or flat, tall boots are necessary for your wardrobe, especially once the cold seasons set in. While they’re not as versatile as ankle boots, you will need a pair to keep your legs warm. Besides, tall boots are sexy, whether you wear them with jeans or short skirts. To make sure you get a lot of mileage out of them, get them in classic black or brown.
Loeffler Randall Matilde Classic Boots, $486.50 (before: $695)
There’s something about these men-inspired shoes that make them essential. Oxfords or brogues give your outfit a laid-back vibe that is unique and irreplaceable. Worn with feminine pieces, they make you look infinitely chic. All the more reason to own a pair, would you agree?
Fashion blogger Anastasiia of Eat Dress Travel channeling masculine-feminine by pairing her printed dress with lace-up oxfords
14. Open-Toe Booties
Like the oxfords, open-toe booties give your look a certain oomph that’s both sexy and edgy. Truth be told, we never thought these shoes would turn into a classic. Nowadays, however, they’re the perfect alternative to heeled ankle boots. And just like the predecessor, you can wear them with almost anything — for as long as they come in a wearable and versatile color.
Marina Hidalgo of Fashion Makeup Lifestyle giving her classic colorblock dress an edgy twist by slipping into a pair of mesh-detailed booties
15. All-Weather Boots
Need we explain why you need a pair of all-weather boots? They’re necessary for wet days. But just because the weather isn’t cooperating doesn’t mean you can’t look fashionable in your rain gear. If you want waterproof boots, grab ones that are just as sleek and sophisticated as your are — like the Sloosh Italy Original rain boots below. They seem perfect. What do you think?