They often say that the first thing people notice when they meet you is your shoes. Yet, when my colleague Fashion Market Editor Kelly Connor and I were trekking back to the office last week after a round of early morning showroom appointments, attention-grabbing footwear was the last thing on my mind. I was looking haggard in an outfit I had blindly thrown together at the crack of dawn: a pair of faded black jeans, a basic button-down, and a pair of scuffed flatforms. The whole time I kept thinking “But how do French fashion editors like Emmanuelle Alt make it work?” Their uniform of choice is straightforward—a simple shirt and skinnies—and yet the overall effect is always enviably chic. “It’s the shoes,” said Connor as I look down at my chunky-soled clunkers. “A classic black pump can work wonders.” Aside from a pair of classic office-appropriate wedges that I’ve never worn (and never will), I do not own a pair of shoes that will upgrade a lazy, last-minute look—say, a pair of jeans and a classic white shirt—to something vaguely boardroom-worthy. According to Connor, there are two types of shoes to stow underneath your desk for those just-in-case moments, namely a pointed pump and a strappy heeled sandal. “These are timeless classic shoes you can throw on at a moment’s notice if you’re wearing something super casual and have a meeting or interview,” she says. “A good suede or leather pump can make jeans and T-shirt look intentional and a little bit more pulled-together even if you did just roll out of bed.” Simple enough. But what if you are into experimenting with color and texture? “It’s tricky because if the shoe is in a color or pattern you have to plan your outfit more carefully. The point of the shoe is its simplicity and versatility,” she says. Another benefit to keeping pumps at your desk besides their game-changing powers? You won’t feel guilty sneaking into work in your box-fresh Stan Smiths. Here are five sophisticated shoes to add to your closet, or desk, right now.
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