ASK ALISON, SOMETIMES SHE ANSWERS: "Can I Wear These Shiny Sequined Shoes in the Middle of the Day?"

Spoiler alert: The answer is HELL YES YOU CAN! Also, this post contains my #1 piece of advice on how to get ahead in life and work: LIE THROUGH YOUR TEETH, THEN HURRY UP AND LEARN.
Publish date:
September 25, 2012
clothes, shoppables, style, Ask Alison, shoes

You clever kittens always send me interesting fashion questions, half of which stump me and necesitate a ton of research for me to figure out on my own. (That’s my secret to success, actually -- I never admit when I don’t know something. I either go buy a book, jump on the Internet, call someone who knows and ask for a favor, or find someone to teach me.)

When Emily asked me months ago if I was proficient at using the content management system they use here at xoJane, I said, “Oh, of course, I know everything there is to know about that." and then promptly hired my 19-year-old neighbor to teach me, as I really had no clue what in the hell she was talking about. I eventually learned, she was happy, and now here I am!

But a question on how to wear fancy/glittery/weird shoes in the middle of the day is right up my alley, as I have no problem wearing sequins to a production meeting. In fact, it’s one of my signature moves! Here's the email I got from xoJane reader Austen:

Hi Alison,

So I finally got a pair of beautiful amazing wonderful shoes from Bordello that I've been lusting over for a few years. Behold:

However, I'm neither a burlesque queen nor a circus goddess....SO HOW THE HELL DO I WEAR THESE THINGS? I figure with a little black dress, sure...but what else? I go to school in Boston (read: cold) and would like to be able to wear these during the day "casually" as well as during a fancy night out. Would pegged jeans do the trick?

Thanks a ton!


I had never even heard of Bordello shoes until Austen emailed me. They are pretty fantabulous and vixen-esque. They are also surprisingly decently priced!

Bordello shoes, $49.95-$115.95 at

My first advice to Austen was to absolutely not be afraid of sparkle and shine in the daytime. Have no fear to wear your “fancy” shoes as you would any other pair of high-heeled sandals -- don't only treat them as "special occasion" shoes.

Tights are always a great way to tone down fancy shoes. How cute would Austen’s red sparklers be with matte tights and a wool plaid schoolgirl skirt? Then they are like Dorothy's ruby slippers, the star of the outfit.

Top: Alice+Olivia leather skirt, $396.00. Botom left: A/X tweed skirt, $88.00. Bottom right: Warehouse plaid skirt, about $73.00 U.S.

I also said that I'd love to see her wear them with jeans and an interesting printed top during the day, or out to a bar with a fun floral print summer dress. Making crazy shoes work in places you wouldn’t expect boils down to finding a clever, unexpected way to mix it all up. Contrast is the key to a successful outfit, in my opinion. Austen -- if you are afraid of veering into clashing territory, be sure to pick a printed garment that has red in it to match the shoes, so the contrast is somewhat grounded.

That’s the key to making crazy sparkly shoes work -- playing them as a stylistic contrast to the rest of your already interesting outfit instead of making them the star, as you’d be doing if you simply wore them with a plain black dress. Then the whole vibe of the ensemble becomes, "Oh, these fabulous shoes are just the throw-away part of my totes interesting look.” It takes the pressure off of the shoes when your clothes are pitching in to do some of the work.

This tones down the circus performer or burlesque bordello babe aspect that Austen was worried about. Wearing them with a trendy printed dress or jeans and an interesting top makes them take on a cutesy, sparkly, downtown NYC style vibe. (SEE: GALA DARLING, GLITTER PRINCESS OF PLANET EARTH.)

I personally own a pair of shoes kind of like Austen’s. I wore them out on New Year’s Eve last year, but in a very casual way. I paired them with muted floral tights, a slinky jersey fabric grey mini with a beaded hem, a very fitted Ted Nugent t-shirt, and some rhinestone bangle bracelets. So the "stars" of my outfit were the beaded skirt and my sparkly earrings, the shiny shoes were just the 3rd "fancy" thing that caught your eye.

I also think Austen's shiny red shoes would be really cute worn with a dress that has a sort of vintage ‘60s kitsch feel to it.

Top, from left: Dolce&Gabanna, $2,249.00. Polka dot shift, about $7.00 U.S. Lace collar dress, $52.99.

Bottom, from left: Scallop dress, $94.99. Moschino blue silk, $408.38. Houndstooth shift, $99.99.

I kind of love red shoes with an orange polka dot dress. It's so wrong that it's right. Guess what happened after this email exchange between Austen and I? She took some of my advice and successfully wore the shoes out, not just ONCE, but TWICE! Then she sent me pics:

Austen:"This casual outfit includes pretty much the loudest shirt I own, which I love. It somehow contrasts with the shoes and works with them at the same time."

Austen:"With the dress, it's plain in that there's no pattern but it's definitely a loud color, and I like that balance with the shoes. When it comes to jewelry, the bigger/sparkly-er/more obnoxious, the better. Just pile it on. Also, I tend to forget that my hair is pretty bold as it is, since I'm so used to it."

And there you have it -- a fashion conundrum from evolution to solution. I couldn't be more proud, and Austen looks adorable! I love it when a plan comes together.

Send your fashion/style questions to me at: (Also, I’m on Twitter: @IveyAlison)