As the holiday season rolls around, many of us will find ourselves with extremely full schedules. Shopping and family events aside, the sheer number of social events that we’re planning to attend can be dizzying (but who’s complaining?). To elegantly navigate the season, us chic gals must prepare our ensembles well in advance and for me, this begins with footwear. Yes girls, this is a shoe post!!
My twin island home of Trinidad & Tobago has been long renowned for being the Caribbean’s party center, but this isn’t your regular “Caribbean” social scene- especially during the Holiday season. With social events ranging from glamorous white and black tie events, semi-formal dinners, house parties, club parties, Down-the-Island parties, regattas, Tobago New Year beach parties to pre-Carnival fêtes, your outfits- especially your shoes, have got to be on point for you to make it through all of these in fine style.
By following a few simple rules when choosing your footwear, it’s quite easy to always have the appropriate shoe choice for each event- even if you have a relatively small shoe collection or you’re packing a few pairs into a travel bag (like I’ll be doing). Although a few of the events I listed are exclusively Caribbean, with a little tweaking of the following guidelines, you’ll be able to easily manage all of your holiday footwear needs.
The golden rule is to pay attention to the anatomy of the shoe and the event’s dress code. For the most part, all types of ladies’ footwear have the same features (there’s a diagram below). The most important ones to pay attention to are the vamp (or toe strap) and the heel, particularly the heel’s thickness. Make sure that the shoe fits and is comfortable for walking, standing and dancing. If the soles are relatively smooth or leather, you might also want to score them a bit so that they’re less prone to slipping on wet or icy grounds.
As for which style to choose for which event, generally the more formal the get together, the thinner your heel should be- that’s why stilettos are the shoe of choice for galas and red carpets like those at Cannes or the Oscars. This is my general guide- if you’re attending something formal, choose footwear with thin, elegant straps or a covered front and with a reasonable slender heel. For parties, go all out. Bring out those sexy pumps or aerodynamic sky high wedges. Remember that this is the most glamorous time of the year, so now’s the time to wear your embellished shoes! Gorgeous sandals and ballet flats are great for the large cooler parties and fêtes that we Trinis love, but if you’re going to be anywhere warm, these are great for informal events.
Colour wise, it’s always a smart choice to stick to jewel tones, metallics and black or white for formal night events. If you’re attending something semi-formal or during the day, it’s perfectly fine to gravitate towards brighter shades. Patterns and prints are also good for less stuffy affairs and don’t be afraid to experiment with daring shapes and embellishments like beading, bright appliqués and graphic motifs.
Most importantly, make sure that you can properly walk in your heels- even if you have to practice at home for a few days before the event- trust me, no one wants to be remembered for this:
I shouldn’t even have to mention this, but I’ve seen this major faux pas committed too many times to let it slide: if you are attending an event on a yacht, a boat or any type of sea-faring vessel, do not wear heels! Apart from the fact that it’s extremely hard to keep your balance in heels on unstable ground, these shoes horribly damage the wooden decks of the vessel you’re traveling on! Also consider the added challenge of walking on the dock in heels (bad if it’s concrete, worse if it’s wood) added to the procedure of boarding the yacht and… it’s really not worth it. Stick to flats. Espadrilles or wedges can also be worn, but only if the platforms are soft- cork and wood covered with fabric or leather are your best bets here.
Follow these suggestions and you’ll be able to navigate your season fabulously! I’ve listed some dress code categories for holiday events below, along with some FAB shoe suggestions for all you stylish ladies. Hopefully they’ll help you put your best foot forward this holiday season!
This can be anything from a daytime party at a friend’s house, a low key family gathering, a beach dance… heck even holiday shopping (style bloggers are everywhere). Casual means comfort, so you can wear anything from slingbacks, strappy sandals, slides, mules and cute flats (definitely the flats for the beach). Be bold and experiment with cool shapes and embellishments- bright beading, embroidery or appliqués, neon colours, 3-D florals and crystals are all fun styles to try.
You can basically wear any type of shoe to these- sandals, peep-toe platforms, pumps, wedges and even dressy flats. Keep it playful and experiment with pretty patterns, cool embellishments and bright colours.
Anything formal requires ladylike footwear, but you can get away with more daring designs at daytime events. Stick to heels regardless of style and you’ll be fine. During the day is the time to wear brighter colours and patterns- florals are especially pretty- you can also get away with bright metallics and punchy embellishments.
This category is twofold: formal events like regattas, luncheons and location weddings, and casual gatherings like a cruise party or a jaunt up the islands.
You can get away with wearing wedges or elevated sandals if the soles of the shoe are soft, but for the most part stick to flats. Ballerina flats, mules, luxe sandals and embellished slides are all good for these events, the ‘rules’ of formal dressing are somewhat relaxed on the high seas, so you can get away with wearing shoes with peep- toes and pretty straps.
Anything casual works, but aim for footwear with non- slip soles.
Anything goes here- play with wild colours, interesting shapes, cool embellishments and bright (or neon) motifs to your discretion. In the Caribbean, especially Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica, and warmer seaside spots in Europe, heels are the de rigueur shoes. Wear a pair that’s beautiful and comfortable!
We naturally try to dress a little more elaborately at night, so it’s fine to pull out the glitter after dark. Clubbing aside, heels are a must for night and there are so many fabulous options out there. Peep- toed pumps, platforms, elegant sandals and killer stilettos are just a few choices, and you can get away with glitzy adornments, metallics, rich colours and opulent fabrics.
Formal White and Black Tie
Black tie calls for all-out glamour, so when attending these events you can break out all the gorgeous, jewel-encrusted numbers you want. Stick to ladylike closed front shoes and stilettos, sling-backs and kitten- heeled pumps are all ideal. If you absolutely must wear flats (and the only excuse for this is if you actually have a broken leg or a twisted ankle) look for something embellished. Exotic skins and detailed leather are great for a simpler shoe and if you’re wearing something fabric- covered, stick to luxurious materials like silk, velvet, net and lace. Experiment with luxe accents like metallic and iridescent finishes, lush embroidery and adornments like crystals, metal spikes and glimmering beads.