There’s an episode in season 4 of Gossip Girl, in which the show’s resident “evil dictator of taste,” Blair Waldorf, is unraveling as she tries to balance a full-time job at W Magazine and a hefty course load at Columbia University. So much so that she shows up at a birthday party wearing two different Roger Vivier shoes, a sign for everyone around her that she’s about to implode her life if she doesn’t take a break. But what if Waldorf was making, dare I say, a statement?
While I’ve always been against the idea of mismatched shoes, Gucci’s Resort 2023 collection made me reconsider Waldorf’s mishap. Creative director Alessandro Michele unveiled a look that not only put mismatched shoes on the runway, but celebrated the controversial styling, by way of a two-tone black-and-white blouse-and-pants combo, paired with non-matching shoes.
Michele might be doing this on the runway, but the deliberate mismatching took me back to Sex and the City’s season 3, when Carrie and her crew fly to Los Angeles to escape the monotony of their New York lives, where Carrie forgoes all styling rules and dons different colour shoes in metallic hues for their first night out. The statement — probably concocted by the show’s costume designer Patricia Field — signalled that one of the best ways to spice up your life is to break all the rules, even if you look like you rushed out of the house without looking in a mirror.
After Gucci’s show, I set out to try the trick on my own. I figured the best (and frankly most affordable) way to try it for myself was to literally wear two mismatched shoes in one outfit. I first analysed the references in front of me: I could go all out with contrasting, metallic colours à la Bradshaw, or I could take a tip from Waldorf’s mishap and wear two different shoes that were quite similar to one another.
As a fan of neutral dressing, I went with the latter because, well, baby steps. I also made sure to choose two pairs of shoes that were the same height because this experiment could not end up with me limping, or worse, a broken hip. I figured a white slip-on sandal with zigzag strings in front could go well with a beige sandal that featured wavy straps. As long as we were going for mismatched, I figured the asymmetry between the two pairs was justified.
Then, came the styling, which was easier than I imagined. I paired a white tank top — one of the season’s top trends — with a denim jacket and high-waisted shorts, a relatively blank canvas for the weirdness going on with my feet. I added a beige shoulder bag and white sunglasses. If you follow the colours there, you can see the formula: Pair each of your shoes to something in your outfit to make them fit in with the look, just like at Gucci. And it worked: no one — not even my boyfriend, who I went out with wearing the outfit — noticed I was wearing two different shoes (or at least, they were polite enough not to stare).
While this may be a quirky styling tool, much like with Bradshaw, it works wonders when your closet — or even your life — is feeling stagnant. And even when you’re feeling in shambles, accidentally wearing two different shoes by mistake, go with it. It’s a statement.