The Black Shoe Trend That Used to Make Me Cringe Is Now a Thing

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.


(Image credit: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)

Going for an "extra" look that's still versatile? Patent leather shoes are the ticket.


(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Going to work? Swap out for shoes for a shiny pair to give your outfit a little boost.


(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Pair them with bold colors for an '80s look.


(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Slouchy boots have been around for a minute, but slouchy patent leather boots feel quite fresh.


(Image credit: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images)

Designer brands (like Saint Laurent, pictured above) are fully embracing the trend.


(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Combine two trends in one and get yourself a pair of Western patent leather boots.


(Image credit: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images)

Over-the-knee boots are undoubtedly the most daring way to wear the trend.


(Image credit: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images)

As you can see, pairing patent leather shoes with basics does wonders for an outfit.


(Image credit: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images)

These might be the number one day-to-night winter shoe trend.


(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

No boring black shoes here.

Shop Black Patent Leather Shoes

Next: the best shoes buys from 2018, according to our editors.

Allyson Payer
Senior Editor

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.