I'll Just Say It: These 6 Shoe Trends Are Expiring in 2021


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

Ready for a fresh batch of shoe trends? As we sink our teeth into 2021, it's only natural that we sit down to discuss the upcoming styles that will dominate for the year ahead. Even though shoes tend to have a much longer shelf-life than typical clothing trends, they do also go through style cycles which is why we're about to highlight the freshest footwear of the moment and, consequently, which now feel outdated.

I think you'll agree with me when I say that shoes like pool slides are now safely a thing of the past while others like sock boots are nearing their end dates. Of course, these are simply my opinions based on what I've been noticing in the fashion world and you should always feel free to wear whatever you please. But if you're looking for some guidance for your next closet clean-out or are simply curious to see which styles are hitting their expiration dates, look no further than the below six outdated shoes for 2021 and which styles are replacing them. You'd even be wise to start shopping for your next restock now.

Phasing Out: Round Toes

Adopting: Square Toes


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

There was a point in time when round-toe shoes were the default option whether it was boots, pumps, or flats but now that square toes have emerged on the scene and displayed some real staying power, I think it's time to officially make them the go-to detail for fresh and forward footwear.

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Phasing Out: Skinny Stilettos

Adopting: Sculptural Heels


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why tall heels aren't resonating anymore. But even pre-pandemic, tall skinny stilettos were beginning to feel a tad dated. Since we know the fashion crowd will never truly ditch their heels, they're instead favoring these eye-catching sculptural shapes.

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Phasing Out: Flat Mules

Adopting: Loafers


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

When I began working in fashion several years ago, it was all about the flat mule, usually paired with cropped flare jeans (very 2017, I know). While there's nothing inherently wrong with the shoes, fashion has found a new flat shoe to get behind—loafers—and it only points to the eventual decline of flat mules. 

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Phasing Out: Platform Sneakers

Adopting: '70s-Inspired Sneakers


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

Sneakers with a thick platform sole had their moment in the spotlight, but like all out-there trends, it eventually came to an end. Taking their place, at least in my closet, are these retro kicks that are straight out of the '70s with basketball-inspired shapes and suede detailing.

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Phasing Out: Pool Slides

Adopting: Birkenstocks


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

There's nothing the fashion crowd loves more than a good high-low mix, which is why each season we see street style stars donning everything from rubber flip-flops to Teva's with their designer frocks. At one point in time, the go-to "ugly" sandals were pool slides but in 2021, it's all about Birkenstocks and simple slides inspired by the iconic German sandals with big buckles and velcro straps.

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Phasing out: Sock Boots

Adopting: Lug-Sole Boots


(Image credit: Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker)

Lug-sole boots are one of those trends that just won't quit, which means that it's a good idea to add a pair to your closet now and keep wearing them into next fall and beyond. Not only do they add a cool and tough element to your look, but they're practical and comfy, too. Of course, when one trend comes into style, another tends to go out, which is why I'm naming sock boots as the trend it's safe to say is over.

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Next up, see the six sandal trends I predict will define summer 2021

Senior Editor

Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.