Is there any accessory more celebrated than shoes? Their power has been well documented and praised by many. Marilyn Monroe once said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” The ever-quotable Coco Chanel took a cheekier approach, saying, “A woman with good shoes is never ugly.”
But in a world of endless shoe choices, how do you know which styles will take your wardrobe from so-so to superb? The answer, of course, is to focus on heels. Below, you’ll find a guide to the different types of heels every stylish woman should have, with tips on how to wear each. Because, as Monroe also said, “Heels are a woman’s best friend.”
Mini Block Heel
Think of the low block heel as an alternative to flats—perfect for the moments when you want just a little bit of a lift. Clocking in at under two inches high and characterized by a sturdy heel shape, the low block heel is super versatile, comfortable, and easy to walk in. Plus, they come in a variety of shapes, like strappy sandals and pointy toe slides.
Though they may have a low profile, these shoes are anything but short on style; this season’s versions come in everything from metallics to lucite to pastels. Wear them with floaty midi skirts, cropped trousers, or—for more casual days—skirts and shorts. All the better to show them off.
These slender little heels measure in at under three inches and are ideal for times when you want the look of a heel but don’t want too much added height. Thanks to their timeless, polished look, they lend an aura of elegance to pencil skirts and slim cropped trousers, making them an ideal choice for busy, on-the-go days at the office.
But don’t let their diminutive name, walkable height, and slim silhouette mislead you: these days, they come in a variety of materials, patterns, and shapes that are sure to amp up the “wow” factor. Our favorites? Animal print slides and pointy-toed pumps embellished with bows or sparkling jewels.
Medium Stacked Heel
Get the leg-lengthening effects of a high heel without sacrificing stability (or walking speed) with a sturdy, stacked heel in a medium height. This practical yet stylish heel measures between two and three inches high and boasts a thick, square-ish heel silhouette. Though the most classic version of this style is usually made of stacked wood (hence the name), it can come in a variety of materials—anything from cork to lucite to fabric- or leather-covered synthetics.
Look for styles with thick crisscrossed straps in raffia for an on-trend vibe or a pair with metallic snakeskin ankle straps for a dressier occasion, like a wedding. (Bonus points: these heels are known to be so comfy you can certainly plan to dance all night.) They look chic with nearly everything, but we especially like them with A-line, knee-length skirts and breezy dresses that allow you to show a little leg. Or, use them to dress up your favorite jeans.
Out of all the different types of heels, the stiletto might be the most well-known. It’s also one of the most ubiquitous, as it can be found on classic pumps, strappy sandles, open-toe booties, knee-high boots, and more. Boasting a slim shape and tall height, this heel is not for times when you want to fade into the background. Stilletos are meant for strutting—it’s all about the va-va-voom.
Wear this heel when you want a boost, literally and figuratively. We like it with little black dresses, tailored pants (either wide leg or slender), knee-length pencil skirts, and even jeans. Don’t shy away from wearing these babies to the office either; they command attention. Consider them your power shoes.