Pointy Pumps

Recently, in the name of research, we spent an afternoon pondering a rather iconic footwear option: the pointy shoe. Using our favorite unscientific-but-impassioned problem-solving processÂ--the roundtableÂ--we discussed all of the pointy pump's iconic associations. For some of us, these sharp shoes bring to mind a sort of dangerous retro-femininity (think: troubled Hitchcock heroines like Tippi Hedren in The Birds or Kim Novak in Vertigo), while others feel like the statement footwear is reminiscent of '80s style icons like Cindy Crawford and Madonna. While we couldn't settle our debate about which era best exemplifies the pointy pumpÂ--yes, the fight rages onÂ--we did manage to agree on one thing: this shoe style is back in the spotlight and better than ever. As seen on the most referenced runways and top trendsetters like Mary-Kate Olsen and Alexa Chung, the pointy pump is a must-buy for fall!

The reason we're so excited about this shoe style right now is simple: it works with lots of disparate looks and therefore enjoys a wide-reaching appeal. For example, minimalists should check out the way Stella McCartney used the Morgana Patent Pointed Slingbacks ($695) to punctuate her polished collection of streamlined separates. We think the shoe's clean lines are the perfect accent to her pared-down pieces. If you're on the other side of the fashion spectrum and love ladylike looks, you should study the Louis Vuitton and Prada shows, where this shoe style was equally popular. At the former, designer Marc Jacobs paired bow-bedecked Beauty Pumps ($1240, 866.VUITTON) with circle skirts and décolletage-revealing necklines, as discussed in our D.I.Y. Bow Shoes story, while Miuccia Prada accented her feminine frocks with Prada's Patent Leather Bow Pumps ($895). Even the patron saint of cool-girl styleÂ--Isabel MarantÂ--did a version of this iconic shoe, proving our point that this silhouette is universally adored and therefore a timeless wardrobe essential.

But if our runway examples alone haven't convinced you that pointed pumps are a delightful footwear choice this fall, surely our latest batch of style stars will change your mind. First things first: you don't need to go for a stiletto heel to enjoy this trend. In fact, two of our celebrity examples are actually wearing flat (or almost flat) versions of these must-try shoes! For example, the always-effortless Alexa Chung was snapped wearing a no-heel version of this accessory du jour at the Miu Miu S/S 11 show. Chung gave her adorable Jason Wu Dress ($1195, 212.643.0598) a touch of toughness by styling it with a strappy pair of Valentino Garavani Rockstud Flats ($795, available in select Saks Fifth Avenue stores). (Fashion insiders such as Dree Hemingway, Anna Dello Russo, and Caroline Seiber have been spotted wearing the much-desired stiletto version.) A month earlier in London, Elle Macpherson opted for a similarly modest style, though her pick has a sweet kitten heel. Her Christian Louboutin for L'Wren Scott shoes perfectly compliment her casual daytime attire, which was comprised of a Topshop shirt, L'Wren Scott cardigan, and J Brand Gigi Mid Rise Crop Flair Jeans ($163) in Shadow.

In addition to these foot-friendly picks, a high-heeled version of the pointy shoe is equally on-trend right nowÂ--just make sure to look to Olivia Palermo and Mary-Kate Olsen for smart dressing ideas. As Palermo shows us, a brightly-colored pointy pump is an excellent way to give a neutral ensemble a playful splash of color. While at the Giambattista Valli S/S 11 fashion show in Paris last month, Palermo paired her Kurt Geiger Fashionistas Corso Como Pumps ($456) in Mustard with a Giambattista Valli dress from the Resort 11 collection and Willow's Resort 11 Front Tuck Jacket ($795). We particularly love how the Swarovski crystal embellishments on the toe and heel give her chic look a touch of glamour. But Palermo wasn't the only paparazzi-favorite in pointy pumps during Paris Fashion Week; Mary-Kate Olsen also stepped out in these super chic shoes. The style icon was photographed en route to lunch at Caviar Kaspia wearing Prada's Patent Leather Bow Pumps ($650), another one of the season's of-the-moment heels! Olsen styled her feminine footwear with a floor-length skirt, leaving just the pointed toe and ladylike bow to peek out from underneath.

Now that we've reviewed how this shoe trend is being addressed both on and off the runways, it's time to present our obsession-worthy shoe list for your purchasing pleasures. If you're looking to emulate Chung and Macpherson's flat and low-heeled versions, Nine West's Madeup Pumps ($80) and Elizabeth and James' Joit Haircalf Tapered Flats ($265) are both superb choices, especially if you're going to be doing a ton of walking. Are you in the market for an ultra-feminine pair of pumps? We are huge fans of Topshop's Jonah Lace Court Shoes ($135), and think they would look amazing teamed up with a knee-length pleated skirt. Of course our list wouldn't be complete without a few dream picks. Aside from the designer pairs we mentioned earlier, we're currently eyeing Jean-Michel Cazabat's Penny Suede Wedge Heels ($395) and have been eyeing Miu Miu's Two-Tone Patent Leather Pumps ($595) for some time now. And because we've never met an animal print we didn't like, Michael Kors' Zebra-Print Calf Hair Flats ($650) are our final must-buy recommendation for the season. Wear them with cropped pants and a long-sleeve blouse for an undeniably chic daytime outfit.

Photos of Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo, courtesy of Getty; Photo of Mary-Kate Olsen, courtesy of X17; Photo of Elle Macpherson, courtesy of Bauer Griffin
EXPLORE: Alexa Chung, Elle Macpherson, Mary-Kate Olsen, Olivia Palermo, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Stella McCartney, Accessories
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