Flats can be functional without being frumpy

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 6:26 p.m.

Heels are not a requirement for shoes. Flat footwear is a viable option, providing comfort and style.

“We are seeing a ton of flats out there,” says Amber Herring, accessories editor for Self magazine. “From an oxford style to a smoking slipper to ballet flats, the choices are endless. They are also comfy.

“I think a skirt with oxfords looks really cute,” she says. “It's a play off the masculinity of the shoe and the femininity of the skirt. It's a great look. Flats also look good with skinny jeans or pants.”

What is new with this footwear trend is a pointed front on flat shoes, which takes the classic style associated with Audrey Hepburn and adds polish, Herring says. The pointed toe elongates the leg.

Flats are the perfect choice to wear when you are running errands, because they are comfortable and can be stylish, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch.

The newer versions replace what was known as the ballet flat, Rubin says. They come in all fabrics and include bold, snakeskin prints and fun floral patterns. You also can find them at all prices, Rubin says, and in materials from leather to canvas.

The toe, which is sometimes raised, creates a sexier look, Rubin says. “Women like to have a shoe that is both functional and fashionable,” she says.

The best flat for the moment is the smoking slipper, says Kimberly Hugonnet, Macy's vice president and fashion director. The design allows for lots of boldness and variety with great novelty prints, fabrics and styles, Hugonnet says.

Flats no longer equal frumpy, says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. Flats are now embellished with buckles and bows, studs or sparkles or a combination of fabrics, he says.

“The great thing about the pointed toe is it slims your foot and elongates your leg,” Andrews says. “And, women have to remember that shoes are designed for the person who is looking at them and not for you looking down at your own feet. So, look in the mirror and see how the person looking at your feet will see the shoes.”

The best black flat to own would be the classic black-leather ballet flat, says Gwendolyn Covington, a style editor for zappos.com. This style is in every season, works with almost every outfit and is chic fashion you never have to think about, she says.

“Flats are very much in right now,” Covington says. “Although they never actually go out of style, when they get new updates they become more popular.

“Currently, flats are taking new turns for spring,” she says. “You can get your classic animal-print flats in new colors like neon combinations, or you can get the fancy T-strap flat which is 1920s-inspired. For spring-summer 2014, it's all about the pointy-toe flat, which was made popular by the first lady, Michelle Obama.”

There is no wrong way to wear flat shoes, Covington says. Pair a flat with cropped pants or skinny jeans for a cute casual look, but skip the socks, Covington says.

The must-have flat shoe of the moment is the oxford, says Suzanne Mauro, a stylist accredited by the Association of Image Consultants International and producer of “Style Everyday with Suz” on PCTV Pittsburgh. In a recent trip to New York City, Mauro says that is all she saw. She says to wear flats with pencil skirts, leggings or skinnies and a tunic or dress on top. You also can add a peek of funky sock flashing at the ankle.

“Flats are all the rage,” Mauro says. “From rock to preppy, there's something for everyone this season. It's your job to find an absolutely killer pair that fulfills your every need.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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