How to Style Printed Shoes

how to wear printed shoes

I’ve been drooling over the various printed shoes and sandals that are flooding the shops this season, and since the amazing folks at ideeli were kind enough to send me a pair of pumps from Desigual’s new line of footwear,* I thought I’d whip up a post about printed shoes. Mostly because – if I’m being honest – they challenge me.

And by “challenge,” I mean “stymie.”

Now, I realize that this is subject to taste and preference, but I find animal prints to be far easier to style:

Animal prints are typically done up in neutral colors, and read fairly neutral themselves. They can be incorporated into colorful mixes, neutral ensembles, or any hybrid with relative ease.

It’s colorful prints that trip me up. The shoes themselves are gorgeous, but working them seamlessly into a sophisticated ensemble is no mean feat. Here are the three main tricks I use to style my printed shoes:


It’s not exactly polka dots and plaid, but there IS a print mix going on within this outfit. Printed shoes are energetic and eye-catching, and a great way to balance them out is to incorporate pattern elsewhere in your ensemble. A printed top is ideal – like this striped button-front shirt – but a printed scarf can do the job just as well.

Printed shoes can also be worn with printed dresses, but make sure that the two prints create a harmonious mix. For instance, these brightly colored pumps have a fairly large scale floral print, so they complement their print opposites: Fairly neutral regular geometrics like polka dots, stripes, or even gingham.


If your printed shoes will be the lone printed item in your outfit, picking colors from the shoes’ print and utilizing those colors in solids will create a unified look. Depending upon the print in question, this can allow for some very bold color pairings, but you could certainly choose to temper them with a neutral or two.

This particular outfit was designed to showcase the shoes, but it could be tweaked to be less shoe-centric. Remove the tights, and add a bold statement necklace up top to balance the printed pumps and you’ll achieve a more even distribution of focus.


This option may be the trickiest, but it’s awfully fun when it works. If you happen to have a pair of printed shoes with a pattern that occurs elsewhere in your wardrobe, throw it into the mix and see what happens! Florals, polka dots, stripes, and even plaid have been known to show up on the occasional pair of shoes, and those prints are common enough that they may also lurk within your closet.

Here, I’ve picked up the stripes on the platform of my Desigual peeptoes, and repeated it by wearing a seersucker dress. Both striped patterns include white, so they pair well and create a very spring-y mix.

Just a few ideas to get you started! Have fun experimenting with your own printed shoes and see what outfit combos you can come up with on your own.


Originally posted 2012-04-03 15:00:42.

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34 Responses to “How to Style Printed Shoes”

  1. Amy

    Love those shoes! Soooo pretty! I could see myself wearing these with denim and solid colors on top…

  2. Kristine

    Those Desigual shoes are darling and I liked the way you styled them with a neutral top and colorful bag. And, intentional or not, they highlight your ink beautifully.

  3. Peldyn

    I am in love with printed shoes! I want all the amazing irregular choice ones plus a pair of yellow striped wedges. Now to win the lottery to affordthem all, lol!

  4. elwanda murphpy

    Wish LEGGS would make pretty pastel colored hosery for this spring/summer to go with those great printed shoes.

  5. Eleanorjane

    Ooh, love those shoes! Very sexy! How are they to wear – do you feel comfy/ stable?

    • Sal

      Nope! They’re easily my highest heels, and will be reserved for special occasions.

  6. meli22

    the first pair of shoes are the most decidedly attractive pair of shoes I have ever seen on you, and holy crap in the close up your legs and particularly ankle shape are really gorgeous. I love how they set off your tattoos too!

  7. Audi

    Whoa, that is gorgeous, Sal! You totally nailed it with the way you’ve styled those fabulous Desigual shoes!

  8. A. Marie

    Well, I am a bit of a curmudgeon about the new look in shoes- too high- with a lot of women looking goofy trying to navigate them… I don’t like the way most of the complicatred atterns are paired with skirts and dresses. I do think they can look fabulous with the right pair of blue or white jeans that leave just enough to catch the eye. I see these shoes as having about a 5 month “shelf-life,” thus, not the best investment.

  9. Nicole

    I absolutely love your style and what great tips you offer for those of us that love “crazy” shoes but dont want to look crazy wearing them <3


  10. Alison

    The Desigual’s are absolutely stunning with your tattoos!

  11. Lorri

    This shoe wouldn’t work for me in my 50’s after a broken foot, but LOVE how they look on you! The colors look similar to the floral cardi from yesterday’s post – would they work together? I agree with a previous poster that if I were to wear these I’d go for jeans with a solid top and let the shoes make most of the noise.

  12. Lisa W.

    It could be my monitor, but the pieces you’re wearing with the SNAKE shoe option looks to me like would work with these shoes? Maybe too cold weather, though— just looks like the colors in the scarf echo the colors in the shoes….
    Beautiful shoes!

  13. Loryn

    I love those Desigual shoes! I think they would look great with a plain black dress and some chunky jewelry, it would really let the shoes shine!

  14. teresssimo

    OK, the shoes are nice,,,, but the dress!!!! It is awesome! Details on the dress? Please?

    • teresssimo

      Sorry, I should clarify, the coral dress with the buttons and pockets on the front.

      • Sal

        Oh, it’s vintage, my dear. Bought it two or three years ago at a thrift store. Sorry!

        • Anonymous

          Sigh……most of my favorite pieces are vintage too, and I love that, but i will continue to covet your dress. love your style. thanks

  15. Emme

    Great outfits and shoes! But please tell me where you got the fab seersucker dress. Thanks!

      • Emme

        Oh too bad I can’t get that one. I’ll add pink/red seersucker dress to my “be on the lookout for” list. Thanks!

  16. Danimom

    Love these. I want these for my granddaughter-in-law and she is a junior minister’s wife in a very very large church. She will be able to wear them with anything I make for her and will love them.

  17. Sam

    Good lord. That first photo made my jaw drop. Green printed shoes + your ankle tattoo = WIN!

    All these outfits are fantastic. I think you’ve single-handedly won me over to the printed shoes trend.