6 Controversial Shoe Trends Fashion People Will Be Wearing in 2023


(Image credit: @theaudreypeters)

We're no strangers to controversial shoe trends here at Who What Wear. The start of every season brings a new rotation of somewhat questionable footwear into our closet— especially when transitioning from the winter to the spring. Rising temperatures mean more chances to show off our post-snow pedicures with a chic pair of sandals, or alternatively, a new pair of shoes meant for stomping around the city now that blue skies are no longer a rarity.

While spring trends and must-have jackets are being shuffled back into our closets after liberation, most spring 2023 shoe trends are new to us—especially the ones that have caused a stir on the internet in the past. Now that we know nostalgia reigns supreme in the trend cycle, it's no surprise to find the fashion crowd digging up old silhouettes from their donate piles only to style them in a newer way that feels fresh. (Jelly sandals, we're looking at you.)

Below are all of the controversial shoe trends fashion people can't seem to put down as we enter the warmer months. If you're looking to get ahead of the trends before they sell out, scroll on through. 

Biker Boots

I may or may not have been influenced to buy a pair of these controversial boots after seeing them on another NYC editor. Although I'm not the edgiest person style-wise, these boots are just speaking to me. And according to Miu Miu's Spring/Summer 2023 runway, I'm not the only one feeling the motto love. Expect to see buckles, harnesses, and straps all over boots this spring. 

Slingback Heels

Who needs backs? The slingback trend is a shoe riff of fall 2022's pretty things trend, with delicate silhouettes and streamlined, thinner styles replacing the chunky look of footwear everywhere. While heels have been getting thinner and thinner after 2017's block heel apex, slingbacks are just the latest fashion crowd iteration. 

Rubber Shoes

Yes, 2014 called and they want their shoes back. After Tumblr aesthetics have slowly made their way back into the fashion crowd's repertoire, caged-in jelly shoes are the next It style to be worn this spring. Personally, I'm all for it.

Abstract Heels

Over the last few years, architectural designs have garnered a lot of attention. From heels shaped like bars of soap (we see you, Loewe) or crystal balls, fashion girls are over staple straight silhouettes. Enter the otherworldly, sculpted heel designs that different houses and retailers are adopting. Sure, it's alien-like, but that doesn't mean it's not cute.

Studded Soles

Although Y2K oversaturation is all that seems to be on my mind as of late, fashion people still have a soft spot for embellished heels. While spikes and studs were a core staple of the mid-2010s uniform, pairing the out-there embellishment style with clogs, mules, and ankle booties has suddenly made me excited to wear real shoes instead of my Ugg boots again. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Tie-Up Sandals

While gladiator sandals bring back memories from my unstylish high-school days, the arrival of spring brings back the mid-calf and knee-high strappy style that's popular among celebrities at the beach or at music festivals. On their own, tie-up sandals are unconvincing, but when paired with a flowy sundress, they're a surprisingly stylish statement.

Next: You're In, You're Out: 7 Dated Boot Trends That Didn't Make the Cut in 2023

Assistant Shopping Editor
Ana Escalante is an award-winning journalist and Gen Z editor whose work ranges from dissecting size inclusivity at fashion week to discussing how American Girl Doll meme accounts are the the answer to society's collective spiral. She's covered it all: Queen Elizabeth II's corgis, Roe v. Wade frontline protests, and the emergence of jorts (or jean shorts for the uninitated). At Who What Wear, Ana is responsible for delivering smart, insightful, personality-driven shopping guides and trend features for a digital-first generation.

Before joining Who What Wear, Ana was Glamour magazine's editorial assistant, where she focused on daily news and special packages, including leading the brand's 2022 Met Gala coverage. For more than half a decade, she has covered style, beauty, and digital culture for publications such as Paper magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue Japan, and Allure, among others. Ana has been called a rising star in media by publications such as Nylon and Teen Vogue. (Her mother, meanwhile, calls her "the coolest person" she knows.)