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Ask CF: How Can I Wear Flats as Formal Attire?


Flat shoes
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Welcome to the latest edition of Ask CF! Every two weeks, we select a reader fashion question and answer it here on the site. Do you have a specific fashion question for us? Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how to send it our way!

Ask CF Question

Dear CF,

I am in desperate need of shoe advice! I can no longer wear high heels for long periods after breaking my ankle last year. I’m about to graduate and move to a really large city — one with a nightlife that definitely requires dressing up on a regular basis. I’ve looked at other girls for inspiration, but they all wear heels! Do you have any suggestions for stylish flat shoes that would be appropriate for swanky nightclubs? What about cocktail parties and weddings?


Our Response

Dear Shoeless,

I am sorry to hear about your broken ankle. But even though you can’t wear heels for long periods of time, you can still get dressed up for more formal events without having to sacrifice style.

Since you will now be wearing flats often, I would suggest investing in some dressier flats if you don’t have some already. Little details like rhinestones, sequins, bows, or even just high quality materials and craftsmanship will provide that formal feel.

You might have to get a little creative with your outfits, and it might be challenging to transition at first (especially if you are used to wearing heels to formal events), but with a little experimentation and imagination you can surely find a look that is sure to make others envious of your style and pain-free soles. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Enjoy!



Outfit #1: Nightclub

Ask CF-Flat Shoes-Nightclub
Product Information: Dress, Lip Stick, Earrings, Ring, Clutch, Boots

One way to wear flats to a nightclub is to try a pair of boots. Pairing them with a velvet, peplum mini-dress will ensure that your look is right on trend. Accessorize the look with some dangly earrings, a statement cocktail ring, and an envelope clutch. Finally, swipe on your favorite eye-catching lip color and you’ll be ready to hit the town! And if boots aren’t your style, you can easily swap them out for a nice pair of sandals or ballet flats.

Outfit #2: Cocktail Party

Ask CF-Flat Shoes-Cocktail Party
Product Information: Jacket, Dress, Necklace, Bag, Shoes, Bracelets

For a unique look at your next cocktail party, try wearing this red blazer over a cream-colored, pleated dress. Add on a statement necklace for another eye-catching touch. Throw on some bangle bracelets and grab a cobalt blue bag for an extra pop of color. Finally, add on these glitter loafers – they’re sure to make a statement at any event.

Outfit #3: Wedding

Ask CF-Flat Shoes-Wedding
Product Information: Dress, Earrings, Jacket, Bracelets, Bag, Shoes

As you can see from the look above, it’s possible to dress for a wedding without donning heels. A pair of neutral ballet flats with a pretty bow detail are a perfect addition to a delicate dress like the one above. Put on a classic trench coat like the one above to stay warm. Finally, accessorize the look with some gold bangle bracelets, pretty drop earrings, and a whimsical ruffled bag.

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What do you think?

Do you have a similar problem that doesn’t allow you to wear heels? Or do you just prefer to wear flats in the first place? For you heel lovers, do you think you would wear flat shoes to these types of events? Do you like these outfits? Which is your favorite? Got any more advice? Please leave a comment below to let me know what you think!

Posted on on January 1, 2012 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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24 Responses to “Ask CF: How Can I Wear Flats as Formal Attire?”

  1. 1
    January 1st, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Great outfits! I also wear flats to formal events since my boyfriend is the same height as me, only five-six. I find it helpful to bring or wear a pair of dressy black flats I have to the store so that I can see how outfits will look with flats.

  2. 2
    January 1st, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I rarely ever wear heels to formal occasions because I’m tall and I feel self conscious about it, not to mention I can’t walk in heels, so I appreciate this post :). The only kinds of heels I wear are small to medium height wedges or kitten heeled shoes.

  3. 3
    January 1st, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this article! I broke my ankle at dance the day before Thanksgiving this year, and I have a lot of formal events coming up so this is extremely helpful :)

  4. 4
    January 1st, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I badly injured my ankle 6 months ago and since then I really can’t wear heels either.
    I love the sparkled flat trend that’s hot right now, as well as the orange-red trend that’s up and coming for the new year. Studs on flats dress it up a bit for the bars.
    What I really love for more formal occasions is a tiny kitten heel. I don’t think I would even call it a heel. It’s maybe a half inch high, barely raised off the ground. It gives the illusion of a little height without stressing the ankle.
    Also great are flats with pointed toes, as they elongate the body, like a heel would, but still keep you comfortable.

  5. 5
    January 1st, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I’m tall, so I never got used to wearing heels like other girls did when they were younger, and now I’m just not really trainable to wear them :) However, flats can be incredibly stylish, just make sure you buy high quality shoes and stay away from the trendier ones (stick to a more classic look, a la Blair Waldorf flats).
    You can wear heels from time to time though. On the rare day that I do want to wear high heels when I know I will be standing for a long time or dancing, I just put in my bag a pair of flexible flats and change into them when I can’t take it anymore (which is not long at all..). It also helps if you just wear the flats out of your house and when you get to the event change into your heels, and when you gat tired, repeat. I hope this helps.

  6. 6
    January 1st, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    These three looks are beautiful! Being petite, I have always been a heel-addict, myself, but recently I have been taking my cues from the likes of Audrey Hepburn and rediscovering the understated elegance of the flat or kitten heel. Some of it also comes out of just finally accepting my (lack of) height, as well.

  7. 7
    January 1st, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    ooh love the glitter slippers! i keep seeing them pop up everywhere, and am tempted to get a pair.

  8. 8
    January 1st, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I’m also all flats, all the time! I broke my foot when I was ten and it never healed properly. While I can “sort of” walk in heels, it’s an adventure. I love the looks and I think it would be great if CF featured more flats in their dressy looks :D

  9. 9
    January 1st, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    These are great ideas!

  10. 10
    January 2nd, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I have a bunion/ pinched nerve on my right foot so I usually don’t wear heels at all, unless I’m going to a fancy dinner where I can just sit :) I often wear flat boots- black ones look especially sexy.

  11. 11
    January 2nd, 2012 at 2:39 am

    I’ve had to have both of my ankles reconstructed TWICE and seeing as I have a major heel fetish, I’ve had to find ways to work around this:

    1) Invest in modest heels with nice, thick stems. Mary Jane style heels also add a bit of extra support with the strap and tend to be a bit shorter but still look cute.
    2) Wedges! Again, make sure they have a thick base.
    3) Anything with sequins quickly dresses an outfit up. Classic black suede flats also look great.
    4) Open toed flats paired with bright, un-chipped polish makes it obvious that you’ve tried to clean up and dress up.
    5) Make sure all of your shoes have proper non-slip soles. If you need to, go to a shoe repair shop and they can add one for you.

  12. 12
    January 2nd, 2012 at 7:02 am

    amazing outfits!! most of the times I wear flats so I really love this article!

  13. 13
    January 2nd, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Though I could never go clubbing/to a party without heels (tiny :/) i love all of these outfits, especially the first one. Soo daring&cool to wear a fancy dress with boots!

  14. 14
    January 2nd, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I cannot wear heels, between all my ankles/knee problems and the fact that I just can’t walk in them it’s not worth it for me. I love the shoes from the third outfit. I can’t see myself wearing the other ones, but I’m sure they would work for others. I really love flats that have extra details for dressing up. My holiday season pair was red patent (it sounds horrible when I describe them, but they were pretty cute).

  15. 15
    January 3rd, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Thank you so much Jessica! I’d also like to say that judging by some of the comments taller girls seem to feel uncomfortable wearing heels, perhaps you might want to devote your next article on how they can pull that off. The rest of us are jealous of you tall girls or at least I am.

  16. 16
    January 3rd, 2012 at 10:40 am

    This post is a GOD-SEND!!!! I have a knee injury and I cannot really walk in heels. I wobble. I look unnatural. But with flats, I’m ready, get set and go! I would so appreciate if CF does more posts on flats! There’re more “flats” kinda girls than one would think!!! :)

  17. 17
    January 3rd, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Great post! I broke my pelvis in June and can no longer walk in heels, flats are now my go to. These are all great ideas. Thank you.

  18. 18
    January 3rd, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Great! While I love heels, I prefer flats at work because I’m 5’7″ and these are great options. Maybe you could do a flat boot article in the same respect?

  19. 19
    January 3rd, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    This is really helpful! I also broke my ankle when I was in high school, and for some reason I had to walk on the broken ankle before it healed, which has left me with some pain and illness with the ankle and I can never wear heels since then, and I’m not tall (5’4”), which is sad, but I’m confident and comfortable with myself wearing flats :) However, this article is still very helpful because I do have to attend some formal occasions and it really helps me to be even more stylish than those girls wearing high heels! I love all three outfits listed above! Thanks CF!

  20. 20
    January 5th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Looove the flats from look 3, I would def wear those to a wedding

  21. 21
    January 6th, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I need some help Im 180 cm and I need help for choosing some outfits and i love wearing heals but i feel stupid when Im taller than every one please help me for choosing some heals that are not to long!! thank you

  22. 22
    January 31st, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    its very hot in my school, wat do i wear and stil look fashionable and decent. Thanks

  23. 23
    February 19th, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I like all of these outfit ideas. I have problems with my foot and it hard for me to wear heels for long periods of time. Aside from that, heels are just hard to walk in. I would like to see you incorporate more flats into your outfit ideas just so you could help girls like myself that are “heel inapt.”

  24. 24
    December 19th, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I am 16 and roman catholic.I was confirmed last may and all of us girls had to wear a poofy,white,formal,floor length dress with a veil,gloves,tights and white ‘mary jane’shoes.The shoes felt weird and looked little girlish with our dresses and tights! I havent worn the shoes since and am planning on selling them to a girl in the 2015 class. P.S.-the ‘mary jane’ shoes werent the only weird part of our required outfits-we all had to wear white plastic pants under our tights that were given to each of us by the parish!

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