So, you’ve found a great new dress and you’re ready for it to make its grand debut—but what shoes can you wear with it? Regardless of whether you’re a fan of chic flats or show-stopping high heels, knowing how to pair your favorite pair with a dress is crucial to creating your next look.
With a few key styling tips, you can use your footwear to showcase your personality, prioritize your comfort, and highlight the best parts of the dresses in your wardrobe. Whether you’re styling a new piece or one of your tried-and-true favorite frocks, the right shoes can help you enhance your confidence and style when crafting your next ensemble.
Understanding Dress Types and Shoe Styles
If you’re wondering what shoes to wear with a dress, there is no one right answer, but instead, a world of possibilities. Understanding which shoe and dress pairings complement each other first requires an understanding of the different types of dresses and shoe styles.
Here’s a look at popular dress styles that you may already have hanging in your closet:
With their long lines and ultimate coverage, maxi dresses are a popular piece for both formal events and warm summer days. These stylish dresses usually hit somewhere below mid-shin, and may even be floor length, which makes it easy to pair with shoes of any height and heel.
Whether you’re going for a fun and playful vibe or you’re attending a more formal celebration, maxi dresses and the right pair of shoes are an easy way to look chic and elegant. They pair well with chunky heels and wedges, ankle boots, and even a fresh pair of casual sneakers, allowing you to wear a maxi dress no matter the occasion.
When you’re looking for flattering lines and an elegant physique, midi dresses are the way to go. They can hit anywhere from below the knee to above mid-shin, offering more thigh coverage than their shorter counterparts.
These somewhere-in-between options are versatile closet staples, easy to dress up or dress down depending on the footwear and accessories you choose. Styled with a pair of stylish flats, a midi-dress is a great business casual option, or elevate this piece with a pair of strappy heels, like the Chardonnay Heeled Sandal, when you head out on a dinner date.
For a fun and feminine vibe, mini dresses are a great go-to, allowing you to walk, dance, and move with ease. These dresses are on the shorter side, typically hitting anywhere from the top of the knee to the top of the thigh.
When it comes to shoes to wear with dresses, mini dresses are a top contender. You can match them with kitten heels, such as the Jacynda Kitten Heel, for a night out with friends, or dial down your look with a chunky sneaker, such as the Karmelle Sneaker, before strolling through the farmer’s market.
Button-Down Shirt Dresses
For a more unique look, you can opt for a button-down shirt dress, which can help you easily transition from a day at the office to drinks with the girls. They can be any length, but what sets them apart is their dress-shirt-style collar and line of buttons down the front.
When you want to break away from conventional materials like silk and chiffon, opt for a denim dress. This edgy look can help you showcase your personal style while staying comfortable when paired with a flat shoe, whether that be sandals, sneakers, or mules.
Whether headed to a concert or walking to your neighborhood coffee shop, you can pair a denim dress with classic, stylish footwear from spring through fall.
Finding the Perfect Color Harmony
Not only is dress length and style crucial when picking out the right footwear, but you’ll also want to take color into consideration. When you’re wondering what shoes to wear with a dress, creating color harmony can help you elevate your look and create a chic, cohesive ensemble.
You can use a color wheel, which includes primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, to highlight the relationships between them.1 This can help you get a better idea of the hues that align well with each other and integrate them into your wardrobe. Here are some tips to help you achieve your ideal look:
- Be bold with contrasting colors – It’s a common misconception that you can’t use contrasting colors and still create an elegant, sophisticated look. If you follow a 70:30 ratio (with one color dominating 70% of your outfit and the other occupying 30%) you can achieve a harmonious ensemble while styling bold dress shoe colors.
- Match your accessories – There’s no need to fret if you don’t have shoes that match your dress perfectly. You can still achieve color harmony within your outfit by choosing accessories that share a hue, like your purse and sunglasses.
- Treat denim as a neutral – If you plan on wearing a denim dress, treat it as you would another neutral color, like beige, light brown, or navy. This can help you balance the other colors of your outfit and choose footwear that really stands out.
Elevating Your Look with Heels
Regardless of whether you opt for a stylish button-down dress or a long and sleek maxi dress, the right pair of heels can help you create a more refined look. Depending on your destination, you can level up your look with a heel or wedge.
For example, you may want to pair a fitted midi dress with a pair of low kitten heels when you’re headed into the office or choose a strappy pump for date night. Heels, one of the most popular dress shoe styles, help add length to any look, making even the simplest of dresses appear runway-ready.
Embracing Flats for Casual Chic
The best shoes to wear with a dress doesn’t have to have to be among the various types of high heels. Prioritize your comfort and style your dress with a flat shoe, such as the Presidio Slingback Flat. Pair a sundress with a lower shoe for a polished summer look, or slip on some ballet flats for a fitted office ensemble that’s ready for any board meeting.
Or, add some flair to your ensemble by wearing a pair of colorful mules with a denim dress to achieve a combination of chic and casual on your next vacation getaway.
Make a Statement with Bold Shoe Choices
When you want to turn heads, there’s no better approach than a bold shoe choice with your dress. Whether you opt for bright colors or a striking style, the right shoe can help you make a lasting impression.
Eye-catching shoes can help you showcase your confidence and unique personality, allowing you to express yourself before you shake a single hand. Whether you’re off to a concert, gallery opening, or interview, opt for a brightly colored or patterned shoe with any dress for a memorable occasion.
The Versatility of Ankle Boots
A great addition to any closet, the ankle boot is a classic that pairs well with dresses that are long, short, or anywhere in between.
Ankle-length boots are a dress’s best friend because they’re short enough to accentuate the drapery of a dress, yet structured enough to add a visual dynamism. Whether you’re going for a business casual or a stylish daytime look, ankle boots can level up your dress in the spring or fall.
When the weather starts to cool, sweater dresses and ankle boots are a popular pairing, allowing you to create a feminine and stylish outfit while keeping cozy.
A versatile option, ankle boots like the Sibley Ankle Boot or Cecily Ankle Boot, can offer a bit of height without needing to fully commit to a heel, making it easy to elevate your outfit and prioritize your comfort.
Adding Sneakers for a Casual Twist on Dresses
While you may assume sneakers only pair with athleisure or jeans, styling them with a dress has become quite popular—and it can help you get even more wear out of your favorite comfy tennis shoes.
These versatile classics complement sundresses and midis alike, from cotton to denim. Sneakers offer the comfort and breathability your feet need, while adding a sporty edge to a flowy dress.
Adding a blazer and a pair of white sneakers, such as the Winny Sneaker, to your favorite dress can help you stay trendy and comfortable while in the office. They’re also a great addition to your favorite mid-length cotton dress, whether you’re on your way to a picnic, a movie, or brunch.
Put Your Best Foot Forward With Vionic
Knowing what shoes to wear with a dress can help you feel confident and elegant, no matter the season. Don’t let your dresses hang in your closet after only wearing them twice—find the perfect shoes to pair with them over and over again.
At Vionic, we take your shoe game a step further, prioritizing both your comfort and style. From sandals to flats and every style in between, our shoes are thoughtfully designed to elevate any outfit in your closet.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect business casual loafer, elegant kitten heel, or classic white sneaker, you can rely on the fit and quality of our shoes. Made with high-quality leather and suede and featuring built-in orthotics, put your best foot forward with a pair from Vionic.
- “Colour Wheel.” Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/color-wheel