Fashion’s ‘Wrong Shoe’ Theory

by Valerie Demetros

In the fashion world, sometimes opposites attract, and right now those opposites are your shoes.

If you haven’t heard of TikTok’s “wrong shoe” fashion trend, then be prepared to open up an entirely new wardrobe right in your own closet.

This fashion trend is exactly what it sounds like — wearing the wrong shoes leading to a new effortlessly cool look. Think Carrie Bradshaw and you can picture it pretty well, but let’s break it down just to be sure.

What it is

The “wrong shoe” theory is something you may already have done, only now it has a name.

Basically, the theory involves picking shoes for an outfit that are traditionally so wrong it actually works. Your outfit becomes more interesting and unique, making it the “right” choice.

What to do

You may be wondering how to try it and not look as if you got dressed in the dark or have absolutely no style.

Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. The secret is to own your choice and try a few before making that choice.

First, start with the shoes you’d usually pair with your outfit. Once you find the ‘right’ shoes, it makes it that much easier to find which would be the ‘wrong’ choice. Mix things up and try combinations you wouldn’t usually try; add new color and texture to create a look that works for you.

This also means you’ll be wearing your shoes with more outfits, creating new looks and needing to buy fewer shoes.


If your personal style is playful but sophisticated, you might wear a flowy dress with strappy sandals. Following the wrong shoe theory, switch them out for a pair of Doc Martins to look effortless and stylish.

For a more sporty look, instead of pairing ballet flats with a soft, flowing skirt, choose running shoes for comfort and style. Yes, they clash, but in a stylish way that makes them work perfectly together.

Track pants are certainly not usually a glamorous look, but by applying the wrong shoe theory, you can pair your casual track pants with a crop top and silver kitten heels for a night out with contemporary style.

Got a pencil skirt you haven’t worn lately? Try it with a pair of Birkenstocks for a wrong-shoe look that updates the skirt and makes it a more everyday item in your wardrobe.

Don’t be afraid to jump into your closet and go crazy. Try those heels you are saving for a special occasion with a pair of leggings or even shorts.

If this all seems a bit strange and scary, start slowly and work your way into cowboy boots and gym shorts. Just be confident and own it, just like Carrie would.

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