Ankle Strap Mania

Ankle straps are everywhere this spring! A barely-there strappy sandal is something that will never go out fashion. It may disappear from time to time as other trends take over, but it will always have a comeback, just like the pointy-toe pump. Why? In a nutshell, the look is ladylike, minimalistic, and very versatile. It’s also interpreted in many ways by designers and companies, which allows for a huge array of options. But how do you choose which style is right for you?

there are so many options, it can be a bit tricky to find the right pair. Not all ankle strap shoes are made the same, and not every ankle looks the same. Just like clothing can flatter or change the way your body looks, shoes can alter, highlight, or hide the way your feet and legs look. Understanding what works for your leg shape will help you find the right pair.

If you have short legs:
Anything that wraps around the ankle visually breaks the length of the leg. Avoid thick straps and dark colors, they make the leg look shorter. Choose a shoe with a thin strap that rests low on the ankle in a color that is light or close to your skin tone, which will elongate the leg. If you have small feet, a pointed toe will add the illusion of length.

Sam Edelman Abbott Gold Sandal

Sam Edelman Abbott (Nordstrom, ShopBop)

If you have long legs:
Feel free to experiment! You have more leg to show and you don’t run the risk of making your legs look short. Try wearing shoes with thicker ankle straps (like the Gucci Ursula at the top of this post), embellishments, and wrap-around styles. Remember to balance out thicker straps and details with more leg exposure by wearing shorter skirts and shorts.

Michael Kors Josephine

Michael Kors Josephine (Macy’s)

If you have large calves or legs:
Choose a strappy shoe that has a thicker straight heel to balance out a heavier leg. Avoid very delicate shoes and thin heels because they make the leg look off-balance, but don’t immediately reach for wedges because they can add extra volume. If you want the ankle strap look, choose a looser medium-width strap that sits at the narrowest part of your leg. Thicker ankle straps will look too bulky. More skin means your leg will look leaner!

Plenty by Tracy Reese Destiny

Plenty by Tracy Reese Destiny (DSW)

If you have thick ankles:
Too much coverage will make the ankle look heavier, so opt for thinner straps that are loose and rest at the smallest part of your leg. Make sure the strap is not too tight because this will emphasize thickness. A pointy toe will also elongate the leg and create the illusion of a skinnier ankle.

Calvin Klein Val

Calvin Klein Val (Zappos)

If you have thin ankles:
Avoid chunky and loose ankle straps because they can give the appearance that your shoes are too big. Look for shoes with delicate ankle straps in a light color, or try a shoe with a t-strap design.

Fergie Roxane Ankle Strap Sandal

Fergie Roxane (Zappos, Macy’s)

If you have small feet:
Pointed toes and an ankle strap that sits higher above the ankle will give the illusion that your foot is longer. Fewer straps across the shoe look better. Minimal strappy sandals in lighter colors that show more skin help your legs look more balanced. A pair of wedges also adds volume to small feet and can add to the overall proportion of your legs.

Michael Kors Adrielle

KORS by Michael Kors Adreille (Piperlime)

If you have big feet:
Rounded toes and horizontal straps create the illusion of a shorter foot. A shoe that covers more of the foot will also help shorten the appearance of a big foot. Try a t-strap design, and avoid pointy-toed shoes.

Pour La Victoire Sierra

Pour la Victoire Sierra (Amazon, Victoria’s Secret, Zappos)

Of course, not everyone’s legs fits into the same mold. Your feet and legs could be a combination of several of the above. I have small and narrow feet with thicker ankles and runner’s calves, and my favorite way to balance all of that is with chunkier straight heels and thinner ankle straps. But the best way to find your ideal style is to try on many styles before you make a decision. You might be surprised when you discover what flatters your foot!