In summer I ditch black shoes. The first tinny siren call of an ice-cream van and I swap black shoes for pale ones. I have been through every iteration of non-black shoe and have come to the conclusion that the shoe of eternal summer is tan. Or caramel, or toffee, even just brown.
Call it what you will, except please don’t call it nude. Nude shoes are the last word in naff. Say the words Leg-Lengthening Nude Court in fashionable company and people will recoil. And not in an ironic, guilty-pleasure, bonding over Love Island kind of way, but in an embarrassed silence kind of way. Nude isn’t a colour, there being no singular shade of skin. But in the shoe business, nude has come to refer to the colour of the sheer hosiery female members of the royal family wear on official engagements. It is a slightly unnatural shade of glossy, pinky brown. A couple of weeks on a sun lounger, topped with a slick of pearlised lipgloss. Where the chic summer accessory tone is darker. More deeply saturated, more earthy.
The colour of your shoes needs to work with your skin tone. Which means figuring out whether a sunny saffron kind of brown or a dusky cool tone works better. It is personal. You know how your idea of the colour of a perfect cup of tea is different from someone else’s? That. Same thing. Also, you want the colour that flatters your skin in its normal state, not a melanoma-enabling shade that shows off a tan. A colour that harmonises with the tone of your legs makes an ankle or T-bar strap way more flattering. Which is excellent because an ankle or T-bar strap makes a summer sandal way more comfortable.
The semi-logic that takes you from a black shoe to a tan one in the summer also applies to your handbag. A black bag is a work bag and a dinner date bag but it can’t be a picnic bag. If we can agree that our ideal summer bag is a straw basket with room for a bag of peaches, a pair of sunglasses and a newspaper, then the bag that gets us close to that is a brown leather saddle bag. Just the right amount of Provençal Jane Birkin for a breezy British summer afternoon.
Matchy-matchy is fine, with tan accessories. They have an unconsidered, effortless air which means you can have shoes and bag in the same shade – even throw in a belt too – without the constipated-wedding-guest vibe of matching pastels. An instant wardrobe, without the stress. What could be more summery?
- Jess wears silk dress, £185, kitristudio.com. Bag, £9.99, and sandals, £19.99, both newlook.com. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management
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