I Need A…Work Shoe Wardrobe

Although I follow a strict $30-40 limit on most shoe expenses, I do splurge when I can’t find what I’m looking for.  This happens close to never.  I’d rather scour the aisles of TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack and DSW before forking $50+ for shoes that are inevitably going to be “shot to s%*!” after several outings.  Yes, even the “perfect” black, pointed Coach heels were destroyed after a semester of student teaching and a few, very few, nights out.  Regardless of QT with the cobbler, I still rarely wear them, hanging onto them because they’re a “classic”, made to last me forever.  Now, just because you’re not willing to give up your daily cup of Starbucks (is it really necessary?) for the price of leather doesn’t mean you need to rush into Target.  Great findings await you at the above mentioned stores.  Why pay $25 for synthetic shoes from Target when you can purchase synthetic “leather” Nine Wests for under $35, or better yet, a decent Cole Haan for under $60?

I’ve grouped the shoes into two categories:  The Essentials and The Bonuses.  These are my go-to shoes in the order posted, but you know your wardrobe best.  The shoes are leveled into three price ranges with the student teacher selections topping at $50, the teacher selections topping at $100, and the administrator selections beginning over $100.

Starting with the basics, the black patent pump, worn with skirts, dresses, and straight leg pants.  I opt to wear these in the winter and also have a peep toe pair for the warmer months.  I recommend patent over plain leather because it offers a bit of contrast from drab fabric and holds up to precipitation.  Patent also pairs nicely with navy blue, providing you with additional options.

The nude pump is a go-to for just about any pairing…black, brown, navy, etc.  Get a pair!  Their ability to swing either way, may trump the notorious black pump.  Make sure the shade matches your skin tone which will help in warmer weather when your legs are bare.

There is nothing more sleek than a well-fitted pair of slacks and a pointy pump.  These are easy to find in a lower price point.  Be on the look out for a mid-height heel in a nice leather.  Stay away from patent leather in this style and a “too-pointy” toe, i.e. elf shoes.

The gold flat.  A necessity.  The gold flat will work on casual days and carry over into the weekend.  Make sure to pick out a pair that fits well, flats are supposed to be comfortable after all.


Onto The Bonus Edition for the pairs you may find on clearance, or just need to make an appearance in your closet. Addressing the very brown question, round toe or pointy toe? They both have a place in your 7 to 3, errr all hours of the day wardrobe. The loafer pump has received quite a bit of attention, both positive and negative; I’m still undecided. I do see a pair of these rounding out a nice skirt or jean on a casual Friday, but I’m a classic girl at heart and still don my brown, pointy pumps from three (four??) years ago. The pointy toe will complement a brown, camel, or khaki slack AND pencil skirt, but will not work as well with an A-Line skirt (keep the loafers for that).

And, onto the animals. I swear by my Tahari snakeskin flats (you can find them for under $40 at TJ Maxx and Marshalls on the regular).  I wear them with skirts, straight leg pants, dresses, tights etc. The black/white pattern functions as a grey. Onto the “felines”, the leopard flat is a go-to for both black, brown, and everything in between. Adding the snakeskin and leopard to your closet will leave no gaps and will prevent you from needing a black or brown flat.  Quite frankly, you’ll look a bit above the rest with a print rather than a solid.

And if you’re really building a wardrobe, next up would be a silver flat, pairing well with navy, pink, grey, and some of those Spring floral prints.

I Need A...Work Shoe Wardrobe: The Bonus Edition


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