While in the end fashion is really about what makes you feel good, and there aren’t strict rules anymore, sometimes it’s helpful to have a few guidelines about what looks good together. With that in mind, we’ve put together this primer for how to mix and match heel heights and hemlines.
A few basics before we go into the skirt/shoe pairings—in addition to matching a flat with anything from a mini to a maxi, you also want to pay attention to how much skin you’re exposing (especially if you work in an office!). So follow the rule of three when it comes to getting dressed, and pay attention to your arms, legs, and torso. If your arms and legs are more exposed—think shorter skirt and shell or sleeveless blouse, you want your torso to be more covered up, with a more conservative neckline. And if your legs are completely covered by a maxi skirt, then it’s fine to break out the more relaxed tank top. With that in mind, let’s go short to long and figure out which heel to wear with each hemline.
The trick with mini skirts is that it’s all about balance. You can wear most heel heights with a mini skirt, but just as long as you balance it with the right kind of top. For example, if your skirt is tight, you want to balance with a looser blouse. With that combination you can wear any kind of flat or heel. If you’re mixing a boot with a mini skirt, choose a looser, slouchy boot, that will balance the mini. When choosing heels, a wedge is a solid option, and will give you the height without being too formal. If you want to go for a sportier look, you can even opt for a sneaker or another canvas shoe like one from Toms.
The one thing to avoid with mini skirts—kitten heels. They can actually end up shortening your leg, especially if they have an ankle strap.
With a mid-thigh length skirt, you’re definitely going to want to wear some sort of a heel. Any height you can add with this hemline will visually lengthen your legs. If you want something that’s more comfortable, try a kitten or mid-heel shoe or bootie. And because you are going a bit more conservative with the hemline, you can choose a more fitted top. Just avoid flats, as you really want to elongate the leg.
If you’re wearing a more form-fitting version like the pencil skirt shown above, keep the shoe simple and chic. Don’t go for something chunky, especially if you’re wearing a sandal. Instead pick a minimally embellished gladiator sandal or a slim leather flip flop. When you’re choosing a heel, you can’t go wrong with a classic pump. The key is to keep everything in proportion. Don’t go clunky here; keep the shoe minimal.
For a flowy, A-line skirt that falls at or below the knee, you can go a bit more playful with the heel. Focus on coordinating with the patterns of the garment. If you have a printed skirt, tone down the shoe. But with a neutral skirt, you can go for a bright color or even a pattern. Pick one statement piece, and stick with it.
With mid-calf skirts there’s really only one rule to follow—avoid anything that goes up past your ankle. Because a mid-calf skirt is on the longish side, you want to show as much of the bottom portion of your leg as possible to maintain proportions (remember that rule from the beginning). Aside from that, you can choose the type of heel you want to wear, pumps, wedges, kitten heels, or gladiator sandals. The sky, or well, the ground, is the limit.
With a maxi skirt, it’s less about choosing a shoe for the shoe itself, and more about how it affects where the hemline falls. That means if you’re short, and buy maxi skirts or dresses, you’re likely going to be wearing heels. Here’s how to tell if your shoes are the right height: the hem should be almost touching the ground, and your toes should peek out as you walk. The highest your hem should ever go is just below your ankle bone. If it creeps up any higher than that, it won’t look right. Next time you’re shopping for a maxi skirt, choose one that has an elastic waist, you’ll have the most flexibility in being able to wear it high or low, and you can adjust your heels accordingly.
What’s your favorite skirt and shoe pairing? Tell us in the comments!