Ankle-strap heels are one of the most popular styles of shoes – but they’re not for everyone. These shoes naturally flatter those with a longer and slimmer silhouette, giving you extra height and an elevated look.
Figuring out how to style your ankle-strap heels can be difficult, especially when they can be notoriously uncomfortable.
Mastering the art of ankle-strap heels can make them an asset for your closet. We’re sharing tips on wearing ankle-strap heels and which styles you need in your closet.
Understanding the Optical Illusion: How Ankle-Strap Heels Affect Leg Length Perception
When you wear a traditional heel, the silhouette gives the illusion of elongating your legs to make them appear slimmer. We’ve all tried wearing a nude-colored heel for a more flattering silhouette.
The difficulty with ankle strap heels is that the strap cuts off the illusion. Instead of making your leg appear longer, it can do the opposite.
Celebrity Style Showcase: Nicole Kidman, Karen Gillan, Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner, and Taylor Swift demonstrate chic ways to wear ankle strap sandals, skillfully avoiding the shorter-leg illusion often associated with this style (Credit: Avalon / WENN)
The strap sits just above your ankle, creating a harsh line between your calf and foot. This can sometimes be a less-than-flattering combination if you’re petite in height and have a fuller figure.
It all depends on how you style your shoes. Dresses are naturally harder to style as they show off more of your legs, while trousers and jeans are an easier choice.
Comfort Hacks: Tips for Enhancing the Wearability of Ankle-Strap Heels
You might think that wearing ankle strap heels would guarantee comfort and keep your feet firmly in your shoe. Most people find ankle straps less than ideal for walking in. When you wear an ankle strap heel, you might feel like your foot is sliding forward in the shoe. It’s usually caused by the arch of the heel and the thinner ankle strap.
You need a balance between keeping the strap tight enough to stop your foot from slipping but without being too tight.
As your foot starts to slide forward in your shoes, it can shift your weight to the ball of your feet and make the heel shake. This uneven weight distribution can make it harder to walk in your heels.
Most ankle-strap heels have an open-toe silhouette, which means you can end up with your toes overhanging the front of your shoe as they slip forward.
Smart Fit Tip: Ensure a perfect fit and avoid overhanging toes by choosing ankle-strap heels in the right size, with a preference for designs featuring wider or square toes for added comfort and style
When shopping around for ankle-strap heels, trying every style in at least two sizes is a good idea. You never know which size suits your foot type; a half-size might be your best choice.
You also want to consider the material of the ankle strap. Most ankle-strap heels have a leather or PVC strap and limited pre-punched holes.
Depending on the width of your ankle, you might find that none of these is a perfect match. If you have a wider or slimmer ankle, choose a strap with a leather fabric that you can punch extra holes into.
Customizable Comfort: Opt for ankle-strap sandals with adjustable leather straps, allowing you to add extra holes for a tailor-made fit that ensures maximum comfort and stability
If you can stop your foot from slipping forward in your shoes, you can keep the pain off the balls of your feet, avoid the wobbliness of the stiletto, and stop your toes from coming out of the shoes.
Don’t overlook the lining of your shoes. You want to try and keep as much grip in your soles as possible to prevent your feet from slipping forward as you walk.
Otherwise, you’ll be shifting extra weight to your foot with every step. If you find a style you like but need a little extra grip, you can add an insole to your shoes to make them more comfortable.
Timeless Elegance: Exploring the Versatility of Classic Ankle-Strap Shoes
The appeal of ankle-strap shoes is their versatility. You can style them with everything from pantsuits to cocktail dresses and jeans. They’re a classic silhouette that will never go out of style. You want at least one pair in your closet that you can reach for on any occasion.
The secret to finding a comfortable pair of ankle-strap heels is to choose ones that are well-designed.
The shoe should fit snugly around your heel while cushioning the arch to prevent it from slipping and to keep your foot firmly in place. You might need to hunt high and low for the perfect combination, but it’s worth the hunt!
Here are three examples of classic ankle-strap heels that are worth adding to your wishlist:
1. The Minimalist’s Choice: Saint Laurent Amber Sandals – A Sleek Investment at Net-a-Porter
Ankle-strap heels are one of the most minimalistic silhouettes that you’ll find in any shoe department. They’re usually made of a small amount of material with a slender stiletto heel.
Elegance Meets Practicality: The Amber sandal, with its delicate ankle strap and trendy square toe, not only offers an elegant look but also ensures your toes stay comfortably within the shoe
The slender strap means that you don’t have as harsh of a line between your calf and ankle, with a delicate gold buckle. The front strap just above your toes is a classic shape for ankle-strap heels.
What makes this Saint Laurent style different is the slight square toe, making it easier to keep your toes inside the shoe. It’s looking for minor changes that can make the shoes more comfortable. If you want a more budget-friendly version, check out the ‘Stecy Natural’ by Steve Madden.
2. Contemporary Chic: Gucci Leather Mid-Heel Sandals – A Fusion of Comfort and Style at Matches Fashion
Not every ankle-strap heel has a slim stiletto. These block heels by Gucci are a classic example of a signature silhouette updated with an ankle strap.
Balancing Style and Comfort: Gucci’s Marmont sandals combine a secure slingback ankle-strap with a sturdy block heel, creating a fashionable yet comfortable choice for all-day wear
While you get the look of an open-toe ankle-strap heel, you get the added comfort of a slingback. As the slingback sits slightly higher than the ankle strap, it keeps your foot in place, making you less likely to slip out of your shoes. Gucci also offers a higher block heel in the same style.
3. Bold Elegance: Valentino Rockstud Ankle Strap Pumps – The Epitome of Luxury at Farfetch
Not every ankle-strap heel has an open-toe. The classic Valentino Rockstud shoes give you a pointed-toe shoe with a slingback and ankle strap.
These shoes are one of the most popular styles of designer shoes, available in every color of the rainbow.
Iconic Fashion Statement: Valentino’s Rockstud Slingback ankle-strap pumps feature a closed pointed-toe design, making them a popular choice for those seeking a blend of classic elegance and modern edginess
These glamorous shoes have a feminine silhouette with a contemporary twist of stud embellishments. If you don’t want to pay the Valentino price tag, you can buy a similar style from Steve Madden and other high-street brands.
Finding the perfect pair of ankle strap heels is all about choosing a comfortable style for walking in that flatters your body shape. It might take a little trial and error, but you’re guaranteed to find the style for you.