As a transition season, fall footwear is all about finding the perfect balance between style and sensibility. While we all know at this point that some killer boots and closed-toe shoes are a staple for the season, do we all know why we need them or what we’re supposed to be looking for in the perfect autumn bootie or seasonal shoe? We’ve gathered our five favorite fall shoes to add to the autumn arsenal — but for the sake of understanding, it’s important to explain that any awesome autumn style worth its weight in pumpkin spice will rely on two things:
Autumn ensembles are all about textures, and even more importantly, the ability to mix, match and layer those textures. Suede is commonly seen come fall, and thanks to how rich and soft the material is and how muted its colors are, it makes for the perfect fall fabric to include in your outfit (and is hard to find used in any piece other than your shoes — so embrace it where you can!). Along with suede, leather and canvas can have a similar aesthetic appeal when layered with your autumn outfit, but boast different features so it will all depend on what you need for the season.
While material like suede will mute colors automatically, you won’t always be so lucky when it comes to canvas, leather, or otherwise. Luckily, seasonal preferences and shopping normally serve up the perfect burnt pumpkins, mustard yellows, deep plums, and wonderful berries/wines.
Aside from colors like these, accents stolen from other seasonal palettes like pops of periwinkle or sage green will complement autumn colors and symbolically embrace the transition season for its true nature. If you’re tapping into your summer or winter shoe stash (or if you’re shopping for something new and you want to make sure it will work for any season), neutral colors like black, brown, and beige are hard to beat.
When it comes to flat and subtle footwear styles, ballet flats have become a crowd favorite. With that said, the fall aesthetic calls for comfortable flats in a style even more sophisticated, smart, and seasonally appropriate — the loafer. And whether you opt for leather or suede, a chunky lug sole or a slim silhouette, something feminine and flirty, or something minimal and menswear-inspired, you’ll want to aim for features like:
- A soft inner lining to keep your feet warm as the weather gets cool. When it comes to crisp autumn mornings, nothing feels better in our opinion than a soft sherpa lining!
- A thick rubber sole to take you anywhere you want to go and stop you from slipping on rainy days and slippery leaf-covered streets.
- Extra thick, quality stitching to endure the autumn-induced puddles — and everything else you throw at them.
2. Flat Clogs
Open-back, slip-on shoes are a perfect solution for the frustration of transitional dressing we all feel come fall. This is because they are comfortable (mimicking your summer shoes, while getting you ready for the full cover of your winter shoes), offer tread for slippery surfaces, won’t suffocate and burn your feet when autumn decides to look hot like August and won’t freeze your feet when fall takes on the frigid form of February. With that said, mules and clogs are THE perfect footwear for the fall transitional season. Flat, fur-lined clogs in muted fall tones or neutral colors, in particular, will be your go-to for slipping on, getting out the door, and doing almost anything.
3. Ankle Boots
Finding ankle boots that you love to add to your autumn shoe lineup will be key when it comes to the transition from fall to full-blown winter. As you shop for cute ankle boots this autumn season, whether you’re on the hunt for timeless and sophisticated black booties with stiletto heels or trendy and stylish statement boots with platform soles, be sure to look for features like:
- Square or round toe to balance your silhouette. This is thanks to chunky sweaters, jackets, and scarves making you appear slightly more “top-heavy” in balance.
- Details from ankle embellishments to patterned side panels will make a world of difference to your outfits if you’re super into layering (as most of us come fall!).
- Machine washable, while a trickier feature to find, will be well worth the hunt! Out of all of your autumn shoes, your ankle boots are bound to get worn for the worst of the weather — which means through the unclean puddles on your commute, through the mud at the pumpkin patch, through the piles of slimy leaves in your yard and through the dirty slush on your way to Starbucks for your seasonal pumpkin spice latte if you start getting snow early.
4. Rain Boots
Rain boots, whether tall or short, are an essential part of autumn outfits — and are bound to become one of your favorite pairs of footwear. And while their reason for making the list is function-based, their reason for staying here is purely based on fashion. Gone are the days of clunky rubber galoshes and simple solid yellow rubbers. Instead, today’s rain boots boast true waterproofing, fun patterns, sophisticated styles, intricate details, and interesting accents. From tall and timeless rubber boots that have been revamped with matte finishes, skinnier silhouettes, and stylish details to sophisticated and modern short rain boots in waterproof suedes, there are no wrong answers! The right rain boots can be worn with skinny jeans, tights, skirts, or dresses and still hit the mark in terms of unpredictable fall weather and your favorite fall wardrobe pieces.
5. Heeled Mules
Heeled mules — for when your clogs just aren’t cutting it. While there won’t actually be too many situations where your cute clogs don’t cut it, heeled mules are an amazing (and incredibly easy) way to amp up your outfits and create a killer but casual, sophisticated autumn aesthetic.
From Autumn-Inspired to Never-Retired
Aside from adding winter boots, summer sandals, and maybe some gym/activewear shoes, these five staple shoes could easily go from season to season and act as your shoe wardrobe in its entirety — and you have autumn’s awesome aesthetic inspiration to thank for it!