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Your Stylist: Working those forgotten heels into your everyday wardrobe

March 29, 2010 |  8:00 am

Resident Image stylist and market editor Melissa Magsaysay soothes your sartorial woes in the weekly "Your Stylist" blog column.

Here's the thing -- shoes "always" fit at the store, even when you've put on weight. And heels make you feel prettier than practical flats. So in recent years I've been a shoe-shopping fool, scoring beautiful, dressy high heels from decent makers at low prices. However, my lifestyle is such that I don't wear dresses much, and my booty is such that I've been wearing not-skinny jeans. My closet is full of beautiful, unworn shoes. Is there any way to cheat and get away with fancy heels and not-so-fancy pants? I'm not massive, you know, just not at my "I'm confident and can wear anything" weight anymore.

I'm talking peep-toe pumps and sling backs by Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, Via Spiga, Coach -- plus regular brands like Enzo, Nine West, Franco Sarto too. Also, lots of them are patent leather, because I'm tacky that way. Heels are mostly 3-inch to 4-inch. The 4.5-inch platform Pella Moda gladiators I figured out myself!

I'm a fashion disaster, I know. I just really would like to wear some of these cool shoes.
C.D., Los Angeles

Pantsyourstylist You’re far from a fashion disaster. At least you’re eager to wear some good-looking footwear and not settling for some sensible walking loafers or, even worse, those Frankenstein-runs-a-10k  “fitness” shoes that are supposed to tone your legs as you wear them. Comfort is always good and a tight behind is even better, but you’ve got all these fantastic shoes just begging to be worn outside the bedroom, and I’m happy you’re trying to incorporate them into your everyday wardrobe.

Thankfully, this spring is all about pants. Trousers, khakis, chinos and cool, slouchy cargo pants are everywhere, and most look great with a brown heeled sandal or platform gladiators. If you own some boot cut suit pants, try pairing some heels with those. Wear a button-down blouse tucked casually into the waistband of the trousers, and throw on a tailored blazer and a long necklace to mirror the neckline of the blouse. Choose your shoes depending on the color palette of your clothing: black for cooler tones and brown with warmer shades. Wear jewelry that complements the colors rather than wear colorful jewelry that could just confuse the overall look.

As far as the patent leather, keep those puppies locked up until next winter when you can wear them with black tights and a dress or skirt. Patent leather in warm weather just looks heavy, sweaty and uncomfortable.

Remember, you can balance the dressiness level of the shoes by wearing something more feminine and dressy on top. Whether it’s your actual shirt, blazer or jewelry, work the shoes into an ensemble by adding other elegant elements. This way you can wear jeans; just make sure the wash is dark without any distressing and the cut is an obvious boot leg or flare.

Good luck getting more use out of your shoe collection. And since switching to heels may be a temporarily painful process, keep a pair of flats at your desk -- just in case.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

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Top photos: Alice + Olivia (left), J Brand "Santa Cruz" chinos (right). Bottom photos: Nine West "Velas" shoe (left), J Crew Thomas Mason striped tuxedo blouse, Ann Taylor pave pendant necklace.