There is an episode in season 4 of Gossip Girlin which the show’s resident “evil dictator of taste,” Blair Waldorf, is falling apart as she tries to balance a full-time job at W Magazine and a heavy workload at Columbia University. So much so that she shows up to a birthday party wearing two different Roger Vivier shoes, a sign to everyone around her that she is about to implode her life if she doesn’t take a break. But what if Waldorf was making, dare I say it, a statement?
While I’ve always been against the idea of incompatible shoes, Gucci’s Resort 2023 collection made me reconsider the Waldorf mishap. Creative director Alessandro Michele unveiled a look that not only put mismatched shoes on the runway, but celebrated the controversial style through a two-tone black and white top and pants combination paired with mismatched shoes.
Michele might be doing it on the runway, but the deliberate mismatch has led me back to the Sex and the City3, when Carrie and her team fly to Los Angeles to escape the monotony of their lives in New York. So much so that Carrie renounces all style rules and wears different colored shoes in metallic shades for the first night. The statement — likely concocted by the show’s costume designer Patricia Field — signaled that one of the best ways to spice up your life is to break all the rules, even if it feels like you ran out of the house without looking in the mirror.
After the Gucci show, I started trying the trick on my own. I thought the best (and frankly most affordable) way to experience it for myself was literally wearing two mismatched shoes in one outfit. I analyzed the references in front of me first: I could wear contrasting colors and metallics à la Bradshaw, or I could take a hint from the Waldorf accident and wear two different shoes that look very similar to each other.
As a fan of neutral clothes, I opted for the latter because, well, baby steps. I also made sure to pick two pairs of shoes that were the same height, because this experiment couldn’t end up with me limping, or worse, a broken hip. I thought a white sandal with zigzag straps at the front could go well with a beige sandal with wavy straps. As long as we were incompatible, I figured the asymmetry between the two pairs was justified.
Then came the styling, which was easier than I imagined. I paired a white tank top – one of the main trends of the season – with a denim jacket and high-waisted shorts, a relatively blank canvas for the weirdness happening to my feet. I added a beige shoulder bag and white sunglasses. If you follow the colors there, you can see the formula: match each of your shoes to something in your outfit so they fit the look, just like Gucci. And it worked: no one – not even my boyfriend, who I went out with the outfit with – noticed that I was wearing two different shoes (or at least, they were polite enough not to look).
While this can be a quirky style tool, just like Bradshaw, it works wonders when your closet – or even your life – is stagnant. And even when you’re feeling frazzled, accidentally wearing two different shoes by mistake, go for it. It’s a declaration.
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