As boring as it feels sometimes, we all need black shoes. Speaking from personal experience, I'll say my wardrobe suffers when I don't have good black shoes of every type to wear. This is why I always take note when something new and fresh is happening in the black-shoe arena, but the latest one to emerge this season threw me for a bit of a loop: patent leather shoes.
Until now, the first thing that would come to mind when I thought of the high-shine shoes was my childhood tap dance recitals. The next thought that would come to mind was the patent leather Mary Janes I'd pair with little white dresses pre–age 10. But I'm happy to say that 2018 was the year my perception about patent leather changed. It makes whatever you're wearing a bit more polished and fancy in an instant, and the shiny style is far less boring than its matte black and suede counterparts. I have to admit they've grown on me. (Bonus: They're pretty much waterproof.)
This year, it was impossible not to notice that patent leather shoes had made a return as of late. Cool brands were selling them, and celebrities, influencers, and the fashion crowd have been wearing them. To share the outfit inspiration wealth, I pulled some of my favorite street style examples for your scrolling pleasure and found the best pairs on the market to buy right now—none of which resemble tap shoes.
Going for an "extra" look that's still versatile? Patent leather shoes are the ticket.
Going to work? Swap out for shoes for a shiny pair to give your outfit a little boost.
Pair them with bold colors for an '80s look.
Slouchy boots have been around for a minute, but slouchy patent leather boots feel quite fresh.
Designer brands (like Saint Laurent, pictured above) are fully embracing the trend.
Combine two trends in one and get yourself a pair of Western patent leather boots.
Over-the-knee boots are undoubtedly the most daring way to wear the trend.
As you can see, pairing patent leather shoes with basics does wonders for an outfit.
These might be the number one day-to-night winter shoe trend.
No boring black shoes here.
Shop Black Patent Leather Shoes
Yep, these Balenciaga It shoes got the patent leather treatment.
We didn't think Dr. Martens could get any hotter this season, but we were wrong.
The shiny finish and pearl heel make these basically irresistible.
Throw these on the next time you're headed to the airport.
When it finally arrives, I'll be kicking off spring in these. Until then, I'm wearing them with pretty socks.
Behold: shoes that make you look like you know what you're doing.
Yes, even these trendy sneakers come in patent leather.
These brand-new arrivals are so special thanks to the contrasting trim and buckle.
Can you see why these beauties are quickly selling out?
Allyson is a senior editor for Who What Wear. She joined the company in 2014 as co-founder Katherine Power's executive assistant and over the years has written hundreds of stories for Who What Wear. Prior to her career in fashion, Allyson worked in the entertainment industry at companies such as Sony Pictures Television. Allyson is now based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds a BFA in theater. Her path to fashion may not have been linear, but based on the number of fashion magazines she collected as a child and young adult, it was meant to be.