April 14, 2014 Updated: April 14, 2014 at 12:10 pm
It wasn't that long ago that ballet flats ruled.
Now flats in almost every style imaginable are demanding their share of attention.
Take your pick from ankle boots, menswear-style loafers, pointed-toe skimmers, oxfords, sling-backs, jellies, ankle-wrap sandals, sleek sneakers, espadrilles and a new generation of slip-ons. Details include perforations, snakeskin, embellishment, prints, woven, floral, bold color and cutouts.
Can anyone remember so many stylish choices with a flat heel? Ballet flats are still popular; they've just got lots of company this year.
Fascination with flats
Flats have evolved into their own genre and have expanded the definition, said Barbara Jansen, shoe buyer for Balliets in Oklahoma City.
A few years ago, mention a flat and what came to mind was a ballet style with a rounded toe, typically in black or nude, she said.
"Now flats come in all silhouettes, materials and colors," she said.
Popular colors include white, mint green, metallic and multicolor. Many flats also have distinct screen printing that has been made exclusively by the designer, she said. And floral prints are everywhere this season.
A slip-on flat is the most recent silhouette to grab the spotlight. Canvas styles have been around forever, but this year's take is more sophisticated.
Jane Webb, owner of CK & Co. in Oklahoma City, said slip-ons in snakeskin or perforated suede elevate the once-casual category. Even sneakers have upped their game with colorful prints, cool colors, embellishment and texture.
Another strong look is sandals with wide ankle straps. Many women shy away from ankle straps because they think they're not flattering, but they're a cool way to keep your feet well-dressed.
Select a style that shows plenty of foot if you're worried about the visual line that an ankle style creates. Or opt for a maxi dress or skirt or a really short one to show more leg.
Another way to fool the eye is wear an ankle-wrap sandal in nude or metallic gold.
If you're worried about how to wear some of the newer styles, don't be.
"There are really no limitations to how and when flats can be worn," Jansen said.
"Slip-ons can be worn with skirts, sweater and tights as seen on many fashionistas on a recent buying trip to Milan. Pointed-toe flats can be worn with distressed denim and a fancy T-shirt. A pair of loafers can be worn with dress slacks and a blazer."
Flats are staying in step for fall, too, especially boots, Jansen said.