Hate Heels but Going Formal?


Lynne asked the other day in a comment: I’ve always stuck to dark shoes myself (yes, I’m brunette) or red — I have a weakness for red shoes. But I have a different shoe question. Because of back and foot issues, it is physically impossible for me to wear heels (or wedges with equivalent elevation). And, in the warmer half of the year, I live in skirts and dresses. I hate wearing pants in hot weather. Because I’m not in a situation wear I need business wear (I’m a p/t lay pastor) I can get away with ballet flats and sandals for everyday (even preaching I dress up, but I wear practical shoes). But there are the odd situations where I feel completely caught out — Christmas parties, or in a few months time, we have a nephew’s wedding coming up. What does one wear on one’s feet on such occasions when heels aren’t an option (I should add that I’m 5′ 7″ with proportionally long legs, so the whole leg lengthening issue doesn’t worry me) Are there any guidelines?

So you’ve been invited somewhere where you need to dress more formally, but you hate wearing heels (or just can’t or won’t) so how do you look dressed up while staying flat on the ground?

Here are my 7 top tips:


cocktail frocks and flat shoes


  1. Look for shoes that have some embellishment, sheen and or sparkle which makes them appear more formal.
  2. Finer straps, rather than chunky ones will keep your shoes dressier.  Your feet need to look feminine, even if they are flat.
  3. Avoid thick soles, look for thin soles.
  4. A small kitten or 1″ heel (if you wear up to that height) will also make the shoe appear more dressed up.
  5. Look for a flat, but more elegant nude shoe so it doesn’t draw attention to itself, this is particularly useful if you have long feet and feel that flat shoes make your feet look very large.
  6. Ideally, your dress should be no longer than just below your knee, with a flat shoe, or it needs to be full length, otherwise you can get into stumpy, frumpy territory.
  7.  A really easy way to avoid this as a problem is to wear a maxi or long dress – we can’t see your feet when your dress is so long, then it’s very easy to wear a flat sandal or shoe without it being obvious.

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  • Good tips! I think long skirts are a great way to go.

    I’ve never understood why showing toes is often done in formal shoes, to me it’s not very nice unless it’s quite warm outside.

  • Lynne and I are cut from the same cloth. (1″ heels are high in my eyes.) Thanks for covering this. Point 5 was especially helpful.

  • And 3 of the four suggestions have a heel. I too have something going on with my feet and cannot wear any elevation at all. Suggestions like this are frustrating because almost have if them are useless to someone who can’t wear any heel at all!! Believe me, I’d die to be able to wear even a 1” heel again!!

    • Many “non heel” people still wear a shoe that is not completely flat. If you can only wear completely flat – then wear a ballet flat or a flat sandal that has some sort of bling on it. The choice is up to you!

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