Style Stories

Kitten heel loafers: the solution to an age-old footwear conundrum?

You know the one -- winter shoes and pants suck together
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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It might be too late to be talking about this, but then again winter has a way of dragging on like an extended nasal drip, so: one conversation that’s been coming up for years revolves around the question of why it seems like winter shoes ruin everyday outfits (or at least the ones with pants).

Heels are impractical on a daily basis. It’s too cold for a shoe that boasts an open foot. Sneakers are comfortable, but sometimes you just want (or need) to dress up a notch and while you can resort to the same Chelsea boots every day, they don’t always (dare I say often) deliver the kind of aesthetic flexibility that really, you should expect from a reliable basic (e.g. can I wear it every day without looking exactly the same?).

There’s a chicken or egg thing at play here — what ruins what? Is it the pants that ruin the shoes, or the shoes that ruin the pants?

The last time I met with some friends from fashion, we lamented the pants-and-shoes debacle and I realized then (while wearing this)👇🏻

Skall Studios jacket and sweater, Khaite jeans and boots, Savette mini bag

That if I were to replace every shoe on every one of our outfits (one friend was in boat shoes with skinny jeans, another in sneakers and wide-leg jeans, and the last in Chelsea boots with straight wool trousers) with a pair of loafer-style kitten heels, all of the outfits would look just as good or even better.

I should have known — Prada has a way of sneaking into the recesses of the feminine psyche.

But she’s not the only one who's been on this train. During Daniel Lee’s tenure, Bottega Venetta reissued their version too.

The vibe is Milanese power woman. Are you up for the challenge of filling her shoes?

If you scan The Real Real (search phrase is tricky for these, I’d refine by shoe > pump > low heel), you’ll find plenty more.

1,2,3,4, 5

They’re more closed upfront than a regular kitten heel pump would be, and that makes them more dynamic contenders for a pair of socks.

Toteme has made a few pairs.

This pair from a brand called Storeez is on Farfetch for $204.

But other than these instances, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is like, the pre-eminent trend of right now. Which actually makes it a perfect time to seize them and declare the solution: Kitten loafers will fix winter pants!

As an offering of proof, here’s a dose of some visual sampling, tugging at early onset spring: jacket, Michael Kors henley, Frame jeans, Prada boots

With a pair of Prada boots that look like loafers attached to a black neoprene insert.

With the same jeans, I took inspiration from The Row’s Spring 2022 collection:

The jeans have a matching shirt! (My belt is Saks Potts)

Other ways to wear them: while encapsulating “Just get dressed up” energy.

Azi land jacket, Rochas dress (if you’re into this look, any party dress that hits below the knee but above the ankle would probably work here), Khaite jeans, Prada boots

For work/your day-to-day with ripped jeans:

Toteme cardigan and shoes, Khaite jeans

Not no with a barrel leg either.

Nadaam sweater, Toteme jeans

Off the topic of jeans, here’s how they look casually when paired with trousers.

I specify casually because printed sweaters are perceived as less “serious” than solid ones, which makes this look, with khaki corduroys more “playful.” For more ways to wear sweater vests, I went down a rabbit hole last fall.

More vibey (like out-for-dinner vibey) with other trousers:

My daughter made this necklace! From a Don't Let Disco set

One more way, this one “for work,” with trousers here:

“No I will not move my meeting up to 4!” You’re looking at a tuxedo shirt styled over a lightweight turtleneck but over a huge sweater. This would be good with wide leg pants and the turtleneck solo, too.

They’re good as shown on the Miu Miu runway, too, with socks and something short.

It might be time to consider cycling shorts under a mini-mini skirt.

Or when styled with straight-up tights:

I don’t expect you to wear black briefs as shorts or a mini skirt though. (The jacket, meanwhile, is Khaite)

You’ll notice I showed three pairs here relatively interchangeably. My recommendation to you would be a pair of loafer heels (as opposed to boots) that you could wear with socks (size up one size for maximum cozy effect). The loafers are more versatile, they look better with short things for example, and don’t need to be styled with socks but could also serve the same function the boots do (keep whole of foot warm).

The last thing I’ll say has to do with winter coats, which are annoying too. But I maintain the basic principles of this post about what makes one good and the collarless ones with rounded shoulders that are highlighted there actually look best with a narrow-toe kitten heel anyway.

Why? Round shoulders look softer than structured ones with pointed shoes and as I’ve mentioned before, collars — especially lapels — just get in the way. EASE INTO YOUR FEMININE WISDOM WITH THOSE SOFT SHOULDERS. ABANDON A RIGID COLLAR, GROUND YOUR UTERUS WITH PURÉED ROOT VEGETABLES AND REMEMBER: conception happens from the front, not back.

I don’t know where that came from — but here’s hoping this is the last mention of deep winter anything until at least next October.

Signing off yours,

Unhinged at the 23rd hour