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The perfect shoe for every outfit

As the owner of Bloom Creatives, Caroline Gutierrez Goddard tells stories with words and photos -- and as such, is a regular contributor here at SheKnows.

Your best foot forward

The shoes may not make the woman, but they sure do make the outfit. You've spent hours piecing together the perfect wardrobe combination. Don't ruin it with the wrong pair of shoes!

What you wear on your feet can totally transform the rest of your look. The right shoe can elongate and slim your legs, dress your gown up or down, make you flirty, business-like or vampy, and basically make or break your entire look. (But hey, no pressure.)

Use this guide to figure out what shoe to wear with what outfit, and you'll be sure to always step out in style.

Stilettos

Stilettos -- the ultimate in sexy -- make your legs look amazing. Wear these shoes with pencil skirts or slim pants. Avoid wearing stilettos with mini skirts. There is a fine line between sexy and trashy, and that pairing crosses it.

Boots

No shoe closet is complete without a great pair of knee-high boots. Equestrian boots look great over skinny jeans. Boots with a heel make a run-of-the-mill knee-length skirt into a fashion statement, and you can tuck them under your bootleg jeans for a completely different look. Even cowboy boots get new life when paired with a cute sun dress.

Ballet flats

A classic that never goes out of style, ballet flats lend a trendy yet ladylike touch to an outfit. Wear with a pretty, above-the-knee skirt or dress, capris or Bermuda shorts for a feminine look. Avoid wearing ballet flats with long skirts (too dowdy) or skinny pants (too unproportional, unless you have narrow hips).

Kitten heels

The kitten heel is your can't-go-wrong choice, as long as you're not dressing for the gym. This practical alternative to the pump works with both office attire and eveningwear, and the shorter heel makes them super-comfortable. Kitten heels also look great with uber-feminine retro looks a la Audrey Hepburn.

Flip-flops

As comfortable as these super-casual shoes are, they are not meant for anywhere other than the beach or the spa. If you must run errands in them, the fashion police may look the other way if they are in a good mood. But don't make this mistake: Several years ago, the Northwestern Women's Lacrosse team visited the White House, and each and every one of them wore flip flops, creating quite the footwear flap! (Jackie Kennedy is rolling over in her grave.)

It's seasonal

The season should dictate what shoe is appropriate for your outfit. Sounds like common sense, but everyone has seen photos of celebrities running around Malibu in July wearing their warm and fuzzy Ugg boots.

Winter calls for boots, wider heels (to avoid slipping), loafers and flats. Summer is the time to break out your sandals and espadrilles. Spring is universal -- pairing summer and winter pieces adds longevity to your wardrobe. Fall is flexible too, but avoid the sandals and espadrilles -- they are a bit too summery for the heavier fabrics of the season.

Choices, choices

Long gone is the time when a lady matched her shoes with her purse and belt. Your choice of shoe depends on several factors, and you can go about the decision many ways.

Nude pumps with bare legs elongate and slim your gams. If you are wearing tights, wear a shoe of the same color for a similar effect. Skinny heels are slimming, but can look disproportional on thicker legs; choose a more substantial heel to balance everything out.

What color to select?

On the whole, avoid wearing a single color from head to toe, including shoes. A green top with green pants and green shoes is great for the Jolly Green Giant, but not for a stylish woman! Tie in your shoe color to another piece of your wardrobe to make that color really pop. For example, gold shoes glitter with gold jewelry, and red would make the same color in the patterned top you're wearing stand out.

What about the material?

The level of formality truly dictates that. A leather pump is not appropriate with an evening gown -- choose satin, silk or velvet instead. By the same token, leather and canvas are great with office wear and jeans alike. The words "plastic" and "shoes" do not even belong in the same sentence, no matter the occasion.

Whatever you choose, make sure your shoes are comfortable for your activity level. Nothing ruins an otherwise fabulous look faster than an expression of extreme pain on the wearer's face!

More footwear fun

How to find the perfect running shoe for you

Fantastic fall shoe trends

Top online shoe stores

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