Trend Watch: Kerplunk! Chunky Shoes and How to Redirect the Eye

The June 2008 of Marie Claire magazine provides this fashion prediction about women’s pants: “Think cropped . . . with ankle-enhancing chunky shoes. Now through fall.” Chunky shoes, including all manner of wedges and sandals with thick straps and heavy platforms, are providing an anchor to the lightweight and sometimes light-hearted fashions shown with them this season, and not only with cropped pants, but also with summer dresses.


The issue with this look is that, done poorly, it draws the viewer’s attention right down to the floor.


Here is a visual example from the June 2008 issue of Lucky magazine. A lightweight dress is not complemented by heavy, chunky shoes. Kerplunk! The weight of the shoes draws the eye down. A simple “blink test” reveals this immediately. 



As I wrote back in April 2007, the blink test is a technique used by image consultants to help their clients determine the effect of their choices of apparel and accessories. If you stand a few feet away from a full-length mirror and close your eyes for a few seconds, and then open them and look at yourself– sort of blink at yourself — where do your eyes first go? What you see first is what others are likely to notice first as well.


The saving grace of the ensemble shown in the photo here is that the model has long, very dark hair, so that the dark accents at the top and bottom of her figure cause the attention to drop down and then loop back up to her head. Wearing shoes that approximate one’s hair color is a time-tested technique for creating a visually balanced appearance.


However, as is so often the case when advice is given generally, without qualification, the look of chunky footwear is not going to work well for anyone with hair lighter and less substantial than her choice of heavy shoes.


How then, can one wear chunky shoes and keep the attention up above the floor?


With jewelry, of course! The bumper crop of huge, statement necklaces, and necklaces worn in multiples to create a similar look of lavish plenty, is the perfect antidote to kerplunk. Substantial necklaces incorporating the color of the shoes will work especially well. Imagine the dress shown in the photo accessorized with such necklaces, and consider how jewelry can pull together an outfit and redirect the viewer’s eye back up to the woman and off the floor.

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