The “wrong shoe theory” fashion hack you need to know

12th July, 2023


There’s a styling trick doing the rounds right now, coined “the wrong shoe theory” by stylist Allison Bornstein and it has gained quite some traction. The theory goes something like this: when it comes to choosing footwear for an outfit, pick the most unexpected shoe option you can. As Allison told Vogue, it’s about wearing a shoe that’s slightly mismatched or ‘off’. This gives an outfit a little extra personality and makes it feel a little more unique to a person’s style.

So, how does this theory work in practice? Well, if you’ve seen some of the outfits that have been trending of late, it’s about taking a look and disrupting it with your choice of footwear. Think a suit worn with a pair of thongs (the dressy kind a la The Row Ginza sandal not the rubber Havaianas variety!) or a pair of shorts worn with slingback heels. Or something like the look below with a tailored trouser and shirt, but worked back with Converse sneakers. Generally you’ll know you’re on the right track when you go against the shoe that is your first instinctual choice – that’s the “right” shoe. The wrong shoe is one that will feel not quite spot on, but that’s the vibe you’re going for. This will force you to go against your outfit instincts but be honest with the result? Does it work? Do you have an outfit that suddenly looks and feels a little more interesting? We so often end up dressing on autopilot a lot of the time, this shoe goes with that dress, that this is a great way to force you out of your comfort zone.

I’ve tried this theory out myself! I wore the above pants which are dressier and tailored and wore them with a chunky sandal rather than say a refined flat or slide, and liked the direction it took the outfit in. It felt a little more fashion foward and not quite so prescriptive. I also do this with my chunky dad sandals a lot — I’ll pair them with a dress or a skirt or even a suit and I find it freshens the outfit up a lot.

So, if you’re feeling a little flat about your wardrobe why not try throwing on the “wrong” shoe? You could just find yourself with just the right outfit.



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