I Did a Full Cleanse of My Fall Shoes—I Now Only Own These 5 Perfect Pairs


(Image credit: @nataliecantell)

I don't know what to tell you, but this year I got really good at packing. Almost "put it on my rèsumè" level of good. As someone who notoriously loves options, I was quite surprised to discover that apparently traveling with just the right number of things (where I can see everything at a glance and do outfit math in my head) is my ultimate zen. So the experiment is this: transplant my medium Away suitcase mindset to my New York City apartment. Cull the clutter, invest in a few items to fill in the gaps, and create a full-time capsule wardrobe grounded in the mantra of having fewer, better things.

In honor of the above photo that started this all, I began with my fall footwear: I've cleared out all the not-quite-right shoes and boots that were taking over my closet, and narrowed it down to just those five perfect pairs I took to Paris this year. That being said! I am still in the market for a trendy pair of flats for this season that can do the heavy lifting when I'm having a lazy outfit day, so feel free to slide into my DMs if you've found a great pair I've missed. The pairs I'm considering are below, along with lots of currently shoppable takes on my most-worn styles.

Low, Retro Sneakers

My Sambas are beginning to looking a little thrashed, so I'm in discussions with myself as to whether I'm allowed an extra pair of "good sneakers," strictly to be worn only when a worthy occasion overlaps with 0% chance of rain—or is this just how it begins? My heart obviously wants Loewe's ballerina sneakers, but here are six other pairs I'm distracting myself with (including two pairs of Samba OGs, naturally).

A Slingback Pump

As we witness this moment they're having, I truly couldn't be more self-congratulatory that I bought The Row's Bourgeoisie slingbacks during the sale last year—which is a lovely turn of events because at the time, I had absolutely no business buying them. If you missed out (or exercised better self-control), here are a handful of this season's excellent options, all in fall-ready neutrals with very on-trend heels.

An Everyday Ankle Boot

Considering how often you probably wear your ankle boots, it's very worth making sure you have a pair you love. Mine are gum-soled, which definitely isn't a thing I thought I wanted, but it makes them them delightfully lightweight and easily the most comfortable pair I've ever owned. If I were to re-up this season, it might be a style with a squared-off toe—but this almond shape is doing it for me too, as is the idea of a not-quite-black pair to keep things interesting? Discuss.

A Kitten-Heel Boot

After all those seasons of comically chunky lug soles, the dainty little kitten heel is defining fall's footwear. I'm still high-fiving myself for impulse-purchasing my kitten-heeled knee-high boots at the Nanushka sample sale, I truly don't know how I ever did without being able to inject fresh, creamy, mini-heeled footwear into my cold-weather looks. Here are some ideas if you fancy doing the same—I'm including some great black and brown pairs, plus some ankle-boot options that are perfect with jeans.

A Riding Boot

One gap I didn't know I had in my wardrobe was for a pair of knee-high flat boots, but not too chunky and not too equestrian. There are loads of good options floating around right now. These styles start at $200 (and include a mock-croc option, if you're that-way inclined).

On-Trend Flats

Here's where I'm tossing up some options for my bonus pair. It could be something metallic, or maybe I'll jump on the red train, but most temping is to invest in this season's svelte loafers—the height of quiet luxury. I'm in danger of Toteme winning me over here, but this Dolce Vita pair from Nordstrom deserves a moment for punching well above its price tag.

This post was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Natalie Cantell
Executive Director, Brand Studio

Natalie leads the style direction for the all content we create in partnership with our friends at various brands plus the legendary team of editors who work on those shoots and stories. She loves collaborating and storytelling, so it's a really fun role for her. It's also the first full-time job she's ever had⁠! She started out in her career as a very mediocre model who agreed to her first styling job to impress a photographer she had a crush on, which led her down a happy path of contributing to Vogue Australia and working as a stylist, fashion writer, and creative director for all sorts of brands and titles. She has a bachelor of communications, but most of her career opportunities came up thanks to some fleeting and accidental street style moments. She's been at Who What Wear for three and a half years and still loves to work as a freelance consultant with brands and designers to shoot their campaigns in NYC. She's originally from New Zealand, and Bondi Beach is her second home, but like just about every other 20-something, she fell in love with New York at some point. She lives in Williamsburg with her fiancé and their weird little dog, Ruby. If you ever need reccies for feel-good fashion, legit coffee spots, politics podcasts, or non-intimidating yoga studios, she's very much your girl.