Nikki’s Inbox: Lookin’ Chic Without the Heels

Hi Nikki. First, I want to say that I love your advice. I think it’s helpful! 🙂

The thing is, last year I had a change of heart with my style, and changed it into something more chic and feminine instead of the jeans and the last clean shirt.

There’s still one problem: the shoes! I want to swap my Converse into something also chic and feminine. But not heels, because I had surgery a couple years back on my right ankle which makes it impossible to wear heels without breaking into tears. I think strappy sandals work great but not in the winter! Brrr! Apart from heels, what kind of shoes can I wear in the winter that give that chic, feminine feel?

Please help! Many thanks!

Sandra, 19/Sweden

Sandra darling, you are such a loyal reader, thank you! Yes, change is indeed good. I’m glad that you’ve outgrown your “last clean shirt” phase. It does not bode well for one’s personal hygiene.

You’re also wise to heed your doctor’s advice. I’m not really a fan of extremely high heels myself (more of a ballet flat girl) so your dilemma is certainly something I can relate to. Strappy sandals are, of course, not advisable given you live in Sweden. So what are your options for that “chic and feminine” style you want, without resorting to sneakers? Read on!

Flattering Flats
Flats are my first recommendation to address your problem, Sandra, and when it comes to this style, the world is your oyster! Consider fabric, texture, pattern and details when you choose your flats. You can go for plaid and houndstooth patterns, for example, in keeping with seasonal traditions. Color-wise, you can take your cue from traditional autumn colors like red, brown, green, orange and yellow, along with hints of purple, blue, and gray.

Aside from the usual ballet flats, boots are also another great option. Chelsea boots are traditionally flat and have the elastic gore insets at the sides which give your ankles a little more wiggle room. You can also go with flat lace-up boots which should also give a little more support to your legs. Broguing (those decorative perforations that are sometimes known as wingtips) adds a timeless, classy element to these shoes and they put a refined air even to the most casual of outfits. Pair your boots with suspender pants or even a jumpsuit. For warmth, layer a fine cable-knit sweater and finish with a wool pea coat.

Distinctive Oxfords and Creepers
Lace-up shoes are something I also hold in high esteem. They have a retro charm that makes an outfit cute, especially if you’re going for a schoolgirl look. Oxfords also feature broguing, which adds elaborate embellishments to its style. Quite similar to oxfords are creepers, which also use a lace-up closure, but feature a platform sole and typically a suede upper. This might be something worth considering for yourself, Sandra, since the platform sole helps you keep your balance from toe to heel. Creepers became popular in the UK in the 1950s. They’re adopted by punk, indie, Goth and Japanese visual kei enthusiasts, to name a few, and even artists like Rihanna and Rita Ora. You can team both these styles with ankle-skimming trousers or jeans, a knit sweater and finish with a sharp-shoulder leather jacket to pay homage to its edgy origins.

Preppy Loafers
I love that loafers are making a comeback. These babies were the symbols of preppiehood in the 80s and Michael Jackson himself wore penny loafers all the time. Loafers exude more of a casual vibe than oxfords, and you can wear them with socks or without. Some are adorned with tassels or a kiltie (the fringed tongue that looks like eyelashes). I usually pair my loafers with dark stovepipe jeans with the cuffs rolled up, and a simple white button-down shirt. For the “chic and feminine” look you want, Sandra, you can team a classic loafer in black or brown leather with an animal print blouse or faux fur coat. You can even go up a step by buying one with additional details like a metallic-tone buckle, calf hair insets or contrast trim. They look great with a simple sweater dress and leather jacket, with skinny colored jeans and a chunky cable-knit cardigan, or with a cute plaid skirt, knit top, toggle coat and beret. The possibilities are endless!


Just to be on the safe side, do ask your doctor if these shoes are safe to wear for you. Update me on what you’ll get, okay?


PS. Dear readers, I’m bringing back “Show Your Closet!” Got a certain outfit or item of clothing that you have no idea how to wear, or what to wear it with? Send a photo of the clothes or outfit in question, and don’t forget to include a general description of your body type so I can give you a more specific solution!

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