As Simple as Black and White

As we step into summer this season’s shoes make a bold statement. It’s modern and timeless. It’s pure and linear. When you want to make a statement, you say it in black and white. And that’s exactly what this season’s shoes do.

Simply put, they dazzle in understated monochrome. They attract with slick, futuristic lines and architectural sensibility.

Summer fashion is all about finding the right color, but simple black and white shoes are classic staples and a good way to incorporate accessories without endlessly fretting about matching.

Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton set the foundations for this trend. And no matter what you’re pairing it with, it serves as the perfect accessory. My heart melts a little when I see a beautiful black patent pump with the right point, toe cleavage and heel height.

The look may evoke the slick and futuristic styles of Rudi Gernreich’s 1960s fashions, but you’ll find the modern take on mod leaves the novelty behind in favor of a timeless, clean look that will transition into next season flawlessly.

This, happily, comes at the expense of last season’s trend toward complicated patterns and excessive hardware. Gone are the metallics, heavy soles, covered platforms and sky-high heels which now seem dated and over the top. These heavy styles may feel all right in the store but trust me, you’ll be in pain after two hours of wearing what amounts to dumbbells on your feet.

Likewise, tongs and ballerinas are quickly approaching overplayed territory (I was recently in London and all the girls are wearing loafers there, they are definitely the new ballerinas). And it should go without saying, but burn those Uggs. Especially after a whole winter of them getting soaked and stained. Instead, stick with this season’s trend toward a much cleaner, purer silhouette.

Look for a shoe with a single sole. An elegant strappy sandal is a great choice because you can dress it up or down. Yes, gladiator-inspired shapes have their place, but the truly discerning fashionista will look for a transitional piece to carry her into fall. Seek out open-heel booties and you will be richly rewarded.

And don’t skimp on quality—materials are key. You can spot cheap shoes from miles away if you simply learn what you’re looking for; you can tell quality of the leather by its appearance. If the color is uneven, there are creases and it looks dry or plastic-like, then you know it’s not good leather. A quality shoe will be supple and have finesse, the stitch lines should be even, there should not be any traces of glue on the edges and so on. Also pay attention to the weight of the shoes, well-made shoes are always lighter than their cheaper-made cousins.

imageMaterials aside, another important criterion is to find what works for you. There is a big misconception that if the shoe is your size it should fit you. The fact is that not every shoe is made for every foot the same way that not every dress is for every body type. Certain styles are more forgiving while others may be scaled more narrow or require a higher arch.

And what about heel height? Lower heels feel fresh and modern again. You’ll want to find a heel high enough that you can register the difference in your posture and confidence, but not so tall that you are uncomfortable.

And don’t be afraid to spend some time with it—if you walk around in flats all day, you cannot expect to switch to high heels and walk like Naomi Campbell. As with everything else in life, you will be able to master the walk with patience and time.

So now that you have your black and white gem picked out, what do you wear it with? I’m always against the “matching it all” rule. It feels lazy and way too safe. Fashion should not be taken so seriously. Colors should complement, but never match. Otherwise, you risk looking like you’re wearing a uniform. And with your shoes being so easily matched, you’ll have that much more time to spend with your color wheel picking out the perfect outfit.

Look for this trend toward brilliant monochromatic simplicity to continue into next season, as shoe styles continue to evolve toward wearability, textures and interesting materials.

The classic black and white is back, and yes, you can continue to wear white after Labor Day. It’s my favorite fashion rule to break.
imageGio Metodiev launched his own line of sculptural footwear, Gio Diev, in 2010 and has garnered a following among celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Carrie Underwood. He lives and works in New York City and loves obscure foreign films, uncanny music and anything with a witty touch of humor. Locally, his shoes can be found at Hirshleifer’s at Americana Manhasset.