Women's Shoes Style Guide: The Lowdown On Types of Ladies Footwear

A Guide To Women’s Shoe Styles

In this guide:

When it comes to fashion choices, few things make more of a statement than your shoes. But finding the right pair can be a challenge. There’s a wide variety of shoe styles for women to explore, each with its own identity and history. All are known for being desirable, beautiful and functional in equal measure. But the sheer amount of ladies’ shoe styles can make it hard to choose the best option for certain situations.

Making the decision about what shoes to wear is a common conundrum many of us face daily. Some styles are more suitable to specific occasions than others, whether that’s the workplace or a night on the town.

In this guide to ladies’ shoes, we look at the wide selection of ladies’ casual shoes and dress shoes available to help you decide which styles of women's shoes you simply must have as part of your wardrobe.

Women's Casual Shoes

Types Of Women’s Casual Shoes

Whether it’s a walk in the park or a trip to the local coffee shop, ladies’ casual shoes are very versatile – ideal for many occasions. These are usually teamed with casual wear for a relaxed look.

Comfier heels that are not too high, or wedges, can also fall into the casual category as they’re easier and more comfortable shoes to wear (try adding shoe insoles for added comfort). Check out the most popular casual women’s shoe types below:

Wedges

Wedges

A wedge heel can give an outfit a more polished look, without having to sacrifice comfort. They are far more comfortable than traditional heels, especially a lower wedge, and can help complete a variety of outfits.

For example, for a hippy-boho vibe that looks amazing in summer, choose a pair of printed wedge sandals to add a mix of comfort and sophistication. If you’re going to a party, wedges can help add that final flourish to your outfit.

Ballerinas

Ballet pumps

A pretty and practical solution to casual, everyday footwear. Ballet pumps are a flat slipper type shoe ideal for women who want something they can wear anywhere. These versatile shoes come in every print, colour and pattern imaginable, from classic nude to wild animal prints.

When choosing a look for the office, team your coloured chinos with a pair of classic ballerina pumps. By picking out different colours, textures and detailing, you can mix up your look daily.

Lace Ups

Lace ups

Lace ups is a catch all term for any shoes that fasten with laces. They can be brogues, loafers, heels, ballerina pumps or a range of other ladies' shoe styles.

Lace up shoes tend to be slightly sturdier and can provide additional support for your feet.

For those busy weekends with the kids, choose lace-up canvas shoes to go with your boyfriend jeans. Not only are they comfortable, but by choosing different prints and patterns, you can add a bold, fun look to your outfit.

Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes

Lightweight women’s canvas shoes are slightly sportier looking than ballerina shoes, but they’re an equally great shoe style for women looking for a casual style. They’re comfy, practical and come in a wide range of colours and patterns.

They look great with jeans and a T-shirt for an easy and simple weekend outfit. Printed canvas shoes can also be styled with shorts for those sunny weekends in the park.

Wellington Boots

Wellington boots

Traditionally known as Wellington Boots, a trusty pair of women’s wellies are both practical and stylish. Perfect for keeping dry in the winter, or for keeping mud at bay when at a summer music festival.

Wellies typically feature a thick, rubber boot and chunky sole to enable you to walk through muddy fields, and jump in puddles without getting your feet wet.

They're stylish too. Gone are the days when wellies were all dull and green, you can now keep your feet protected from the infamous British weather with boots that come in a vibrant range of patterns and colours. Wellies are best bought in a size up from your normal shoes, so you can wear thick socks underneath without your wellies becoming too tight.

We’ve answered your top questions about wellies over on the blog.

Flip Flops

Flip flops

The ultimate summer shoe, if you’re heading to the beach or pool, flip flops are the perfect shoes to put in your beach bag.

Women’s flip flops are generally made from a foam sole, with a plastic toe support in the middle. For a longer lasting style, opt for a pair made from leather. Very basic styles will have simple plastic straps, but you can also find some with pretty, woven leather straps, finished with gems to add extra sparkle to your outfit.

Flip flops are super versatile and come in a range of patterns and colours, so you can match them to any swimwear or outfit.

Mules

Mules

Mules are open-backed shoes with a closed front. Ladies mules are suitable for slipping on and off and generally far more casual than closed shoes. They also give a little more support than flip flops.

Perfect for summer weather and easy to fit into your suitcase for holiday getaways, mule sandals offer a welcome alternative for your wardrobe when you fancy something a little more substantial than flip flops.

Loafers

Loafers

A casual shoe that slips on, loafers feature elasticated panels on either side, negating the need for laces or fastenings.

Ladies loafers offer a classic style that adds vintage glamour to a daytime outfit or office wear. They’re also extremely versatile and can be matched with different outfits. It’s no wonder they’re a staple in many people’s wardrobes.

Find out more about loafers in our complete guide to loafers.

Gladiator sandals

Gladiator sandals

For optimum Grecian glamour, wear a pair of gladiator sandals with a maxi dress. There’s something about gladiator sandals that work so well on holiday.

A strappy sandal with a heel works well with tailored trousers or with office wear.Alternatively, add them to either leggings or jeans to complete that perfect summer vibe.

Trainers

Trainers

Women’s trainers are perfect for use at the gym or yoga studio, or simply just as a fashion statement. These are more supportive for your feet and comfier than any other shoe for exercising.

When exercising, it’s vital you protect your feet with the right support and cushioning. Your legs, hips and knees will benefit from wearing decent sporting trainers.

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Women's Dress Shoes

Women's dress shoe types

Dress shoes for women are typically a more formal option, designed to add sophistication and elegance to an outfit.

Generally, these more formal looks are among the more glamorous shoe styles for women, with more embellishment and higher heels. The different types of dress shoes are explained below.

Court Shoes

Court shoes

Court shoes are a classic style that work well for a more formal event, such as a wedding or work. Court shoes generally have a low line upper, which means that the top line of the shoe sits quite low down on the foot, they have medium height heel and a pointed toe.

Court shoes usually come in classic colours such as beige, black and brown, but more fashionable styles are widely available.

Find out more about court shoes in our detailed blog post.

Brogues

Brogues

Brogues aren’t just for the men. In recent years, have become a major fashion staple for women too. Women’s brogues are as versatile as any flat shoe but have the advantage of looking more formal than ballerina flats.

Brogues can add quirkiness to a summer dress by adding a masculine element to something feminine, or make a tailored office outfit look polished and traditional. Traditionally in brown or black leather, brogues can now be picked in various colours, patterns and heel heights.

Read all about brogues over on the blog.

Brogues

Heels

Heels are an obvious choice for evening or dress wear, but can also work in a casual setting just as well.

Give your skinny jeans a new lease of life by dressing them up with a pair of pointed toe high heels. This not only elongates your legs, it also gives you a high fashion look straight off the runway.

If you’re looking for a casual evening vibe, why not choose a jumpsuit as a quirky alternative to a dress? Caged high heels are a dream match for such a bold outfit and can add the finishing touch to your desired head-turning look.

There are a wide variety of different styles of heel, take a look at our guide to heels for more information.

Womens Boots

Types of women's boots

Womens boots are a practical choice for every season – from functional wellies to stylish ankle boots in a vibrant colour, there are boots to match any occasion, outfit or weather. Choose the perfect pair with our guide to the most common types of women’s boots below.

Ankle Boots

Ankle boots

Ankle boots are exactly what it says on the tin– boots that reach your ankle. Investing in a good pair of ankle boots is always a good idea. They are a classic shape that transfer well from the office to out and about. They look great with a pair of tailored trousers or a summer dress, and are as versatile as they are stylish.

They come in different looks, such as the Chelsea boot and Pixie boot, both staple ladies' shoe styles for any wardrobe.

Calf Boots

Calf boots

Calf boots offer more coverage and are better for winter and colder spells. Calf-length boots are best bought in a material that will last, especially if they’re going to be worn mostly during winter. You need something that will survive the wet, cold and mud.

Store these boots with supports in them to help them keep their shape and make sure they are well cleaned before they are put away for summer.

Chelsea Boots

Chelsea boots

Chelsea boots are close fitting, flat boots with an elasticated side panel. The design first appeared in the 1850s, and were Queen Victoria’s walking shoe of choice. Since then, they've been popularised by groups like the mods in the 1960’s.

If you’re a fan of skinny jeans, Chelsea boots are the ideal shoes to wear with them, suitable for daytime and evening occasions, offering comfort and style at the same time.

Military Boots

Military boots

As the name suggests, these are inspired by boots worn in the military. Chunky, sturdy boots, usually with laces at the front that reach all the way up. Military boots create a definitive look that adds toughness to an outfit.

These boots never go out of style and can offer an alternative take on many outfits, giving you an edge to help you stand out from the crowd.

Women's Dress Shoes

Choosing the right colour shoes

Almost as important as deciding what shoes to wear is figuring out which colour goes best with your outfit. While black goes with just about every other colour, it can be nice to embrace a splash of something else.

Court Shoes

Navy outfits

Navy is a classy colour that can provide a timeless and sophisticated look. Nude ballerinas and court shoes can help make the navy pop. For summer looks, tan and gladiator sandals can stand out against navy palettes.

Brogues

Red outfits

A red dress is as perfect for cheering up your work wardrobe as it is for evenings out with the girls. Pair your red dress with black pointed heels for a match made in heaven. If black is not your colour, try adding some nude or gold into the mix.

Court Shoes

Grey outfits

A grey suit is a must for all you stylish working ladies out there. But grey doesn’t have to mean boring. Black and nude shoes work great with a grey suit. To be more daring, add a splash of colour to your wardrobe with some red shoes. This is one colour combination you’ll want to wear again and again.

Brogues

Black outfits

Every woman has a trusty little black dress in her wardrobe, whether it is for work or a night on the town. A black dress can be dressed up or down, and it goes with all shoe colours.

Brogues

White outfits

Just as the little black dress is a wardrobe staple, a white dress is just as important, whether it be a formal dress for work or for a special occasion. A monotone theme is always in fashion and can give you a chic look and it’s best paired with black or white shoes. Or for something a bit different, add a pop of colour with red, blue, pink or green shoes. These colours work just as well when you put them with some classic white jeans.

Women's Dress Shoes

Conclusion

Matching your shoes to your outfit can make you feel like the very best version of yourself. Once you’ve got a better idea of the style you’re looking for, you can start experimenting with different women’s shoe types to find the perfect option.

Take a look at the Shoe Zone guides for more information and inspiration.

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