Open-toed shoes in seasonally cold weather are often controversial, but also, almost always situational! This means that knowing when, where and how to wear your open-toed shoes is essential — and it doesn’t just come down to the season. The actual key here is not looking cold. When you look cold or overexposed, other people get cold and even feel your vulnerability, which can affect more than just the perception of your ensemble.
So as far as when and where your open toes are appropriate: Have you ever seen a young woman hitting the snowy and icy city streets with her freezing, blueing toes squished into her strappy stiletto heels that can hardly take a step? Did you feel cold for her? Did you shake your head at her poor footwear choice and expect her to slip any second? It’s hard not to because it sticks out like 10 sore toes! When it comes to winter, you really need to read the scene and situation at hand to figure out when and where they’re appropriate. But don’t fret! There are plenty of times and places during the winter when they are an awesome choice.
With that in mind, HOW you wear your open-toed shoes in the winter can sometimes make them work even when they normally wouldn’t or make them fail even when they would normally thrive. Along with these fashion aspects, contributing to the success of your open-toed shoes during the colder seasons will be its functional aspects, and that’s what we want to step into first.
What Separates Warm and Cold Weather Shoes (Spoiler: It’s Not Style)
Come winter, closed-toe shoes are cute and common, but it’s not actually the closed-toe style that does it. In fact, it’s not their style or fashion elements at all (though they can help or hinder) but instead their features and functionality that separates a warm-weather shoe and a cold-weather shoe.
You’ll need to find features for winter like good non-slip tread, foot ankle or leg support of some sort to hold the shoe on and stop your foot from sliding out of it, flat soles or thicker heels for stability on icy streets and slippery floors and even if you simply buy a can of it in spray form, some sort of waterproofing.
Now that you understand the fundamental features for functionality, it’s time to explore fashion elements that we can use to amplify these features and help your cold-weather aesthetic, as well as the elements that will hinder it.
What Will Hinder
We’re all for breaking the rules if you can make it work for you, but certain pairings and styles will never work, so you’ll want to be careful and consider what you’re showcasing to the world around you. For example:
- Open-toed shoes with nude tights or leotards scream to most that you don’t own any other shoes. That these are the only nice shoes you own and that you’ve had to sacrifice your comfort to find clothes that will make your shoes not look out of place — likely not the look you’re going for or hoping to showcase.
- Styles like strappy heels and sandals, stiletto heels of any sort and those that feature gladiator-style straps scream spring and summer, thanks to how sparse the material is, how skimpy the shape is, how slick the soles tend to be and how little support the stiletto tends to offer on uneven and slippery surfaces.
What Will Help
Anything that makes you look warmer and makes your shoes look warmer will help, so consider:
- Solid pantyhose, especially in solid black, look absolutely intentional under open-toe shoes of any style. This will be your easiest and most effective effort at winterizing your shoes in a way that adds sensibility without sacrificing style. Bonus points if you can find a seamless toe!
- Sheer nylon socks in a nice color and hue that complements your outfit will look either adorable or alluring — and we love both. You can often find these with embellishments or sparkles that will make them look very intentional under a fancy open-toe like a strappy heel.
- Seasonal colors will instantly break the association between open-toed shoes and warm weather by replacing it with our strong color associations. For autumn, our color associations are stronger than most, so colors like burnt orange, mustard yellow, plums, wines, browns and blacks will work wonders. For winter, colors like glamorous red, dusty green, icy blue, grays and whites will work well — and you may even find out why winter colors are a crowd favorite!
- Thick, soft shoe materials like velvet and suede will make your shoes look warmer, as well as more seasonally appropriate. Materials like these are seldom used in the summer on anything, so it will start to draw people’s minds to autumn and winter without thinking — not to mention that it will open doors in terms of texture mixing and matching, which can really make your outfit!
- Styles like tall and seductive open-toe boots, cool or cute ankle boots, boho open-toe mules and playful peep-toe pumps will work best in terms of fashion and function come winter, but strappy styles can still work. If considering these options, though, we suggest something like comfortable sandals that often have chunkier straps.
Be Stylish, But Stay Sensible
Especially if you have a cold commute or commonly travel slippery sidewalks and snowy streets, there’s nothing wrong with making your outfit work for where it is. This means that wearing a pair of flexible, fur-lined flats (for instance) during your travels is understood and even respected when the weather is out of whack. If your commute is exceptionally slick and snowy, we also love slipper-style boots for the same reasons!