How to dress up without wearing high heels…This blog was wholly influenced by the outfit I wore to a wedding last weekend. At this point we will gloss over the fact that I dipped the sleeve of my cream dress into the butter chicken the minute lunch was served and focus instead on the shoes. We shall hereby acknowledge that it’s ok to wear flats to a fancy event. When many of my ladies were complaining about their feet, I was a tiny bit smug in the knowledge that this would not happen to me as I was wearing my super-comfortable velvet flats from MOI London (I love them so much that I bought them in two colours). Maybe I should add at this point that I know this isn’t as easy for readers of a smaller stature who sometimes do like to add height with a heel, but this is for everyone out there who, like me, favours comfort over everything else.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of a heel. It’s true they make your legs look longer, slimmer, more toned, which is all well and good for the first 15 minutes of any event, but what happens after that? What happens when the dancing starts? Or you need to walk to the tube because there are no Ubers? Unless you’re a seasoned heel-wearer, you will either be going barefoot or pulling out your emergency flats before the night is over.
So here are six outfit ideas that work as well with a flat shoe as they do with a stiletto. Also, all of these shoes would look just as good with jeans and a T‑shirt for less fancy occasions. That, in my book, is a win-win situation…
FLORALS & FLATS
These beautiful floral midi and maxi dresses are just made for wearing with a flat Mary Jane pump. Channel your inner Jane Austen as you take a turn about the room in your finery. I wore this Seraphina dress to the Chelsea Flower Show (with trainers of course, as that is indeed the unofficial uniform of ladies who like to look at flowers and Monty Don at this time of year), but it would be equally at home at a wedding or a garden party and it makes me feel like a grown-up, but also a little bit like my eight-year-old self being all pleased with my Holly Hobbie dress. A heady combination of feels.
1. Seraphina spring Nehru sunshine florals dress
2. Justine Tabak Belgravia floral square neck dress
3. Charles & Keith pointed toe Mary Jane flats
4. Jones Bootmaker Elisabetta Mary Jane flats
SUMMER BLACKS & FLATS
With summer blacks you can go for a more full-on flat. For me, that would be a leopard-print pair. These are the ones I bought from MOI. They came up a little bit small so I had to go up a size and now they are just perfect. By adding some gold jewellery and an upmarket evening bag, this would be an excellent evening party look. You could do your best ‘Oops Upside Your Head ’ in this without fear of breaking an ankle when you fall off your stilettos trying to get back off the floor.
2. YSL small Jamie shoulder bag
3. Batsheva pearl button Ella Dress
4. Moi London Leopard print Mary Jane flats
CO ORDS & FLATS
There was a super-stylish lady at the wedding I went to who was wearing basically evening silk pyjamas. I love these co-ord looks. They are comfortable, stylish, a bit different AND you can wear them separately so you get at least three or four outfits for the price of one. These would look great with a more embellished flat shoe, because if you’re going with a big pattern, why not go the whole hog?
1. Oasis floral jacquard peplum top
2. Oasis floral jacquard trousers
3. Tory Burch Clara bow pointed flats
4. Phoebe Grace Esme scarf detailed blouse
5. Phoebe Grace Scooby Heart print trousers
6. John Lewis & Partners diamante flat pumps
BLOCK COLOURS & FLATS
If you literally want to stand out from the crowd, wear a block bright colour. This is exactly why the Queen wears all-one-colour outfits, so people can see her from the crowd. She also wears very sensible shoes because she’s spent a lifetime on her feet. We can learn a lot from Lizzy. I bet those shoes are made to measure though and I once heard she has a lady-in-waiting wear them for a week so there’s no chance of a blister for her Maj. I think I’d happily employ someone to break in my shoes for me if money were no object. Wear your brights with gold flats to add to the royal mood
1. Whistles Amelia cape sleeve maxi dress
2. Leah Ward gold leather envelope clutch bag
3. MAJE Riannette V‑neck recycled-polyester midi dress
4. Monsoon tie leather woven shoes
5. Ancient Greek leather tie strap sandals
SORT-OF SUIT & FLATS
If you’re off to a more formal event but you’re not a dress person, then a sort-of suit – in any colour other than black – and some smart loafers is an excellent option. The blazer and trousers don’t even really need to match, hence sort-of suit. In this case they do, as that’s one of the things ME + EM do so well: all their clothes are made to be worn together or apart. Loafers other than Gucci obviously are available and they will never really go out of fashion.
1. Ganni polka dot sheer blouse
2. Gucci Marmont mini leather bag
3. ME + EM summer tweed blazer
4. ME + EM summer tweed tapered trousers
5. Gucci leather horsebit loafers
SPOTS & FLATS
Finally, a couple of polka-dot and ballet-flat options, because you can’t go wrong with either of these. My dress (in the main photo) is a super old one from Zara that I had kept in the wardrobe unworn for seven years just knowing I would wear it one day. I realise I haven’t really added any jackets to wear over these looks. I’d say, unless it’s the bleak midwinter, you don’t need to overthink that part as, in most cases, a classic blazer should suffice and you’ll be discarding it as soon as you arrive anyway
1. Joanna Hope spot print tiered dress
2. River Island black polka dot smock midi dress
3. Hobbs Hattie black leather ballet flats
4. Boden almond toe woven gold leather flats
I hope this has given you some flat-shoe event-dressing inspiration. Remember, life is too short for sore feet.