The best shoe brands for a wardrobe update

From boots to ballet pumps, these are the best shoe brands guaranteed to bring comfort, versatility and style.

Collage of shoes styles
(Image credit: Future / White Stuff / H&M / La Redoute / Zara / Nike / Charles & Keith)

Shopping the best shoe brands that combine both comfort and style is no mean feat. 

Footwear can make or break an outfit so you want to be sure you’re investing in a pair that is versatile, expresses your own style and won’t cause you to yelp in pain with every step. 

Much like your best jeans, every capsule wardrobe should include a pair of shoes suitable for the different occasions in your life.

And, as Cinderella proved, a pair of shoes could even change your life.

Whether you’re after timeless trainers for running errands, the best sandals to take you from beach to bar or new season ankle boots that will kickstart your autumn wardrobe, shoes that you love will quickly become your best fashion friend.

There are lots of classics from brands you’re sure to know. 

It’s hard to discuss trainers without mentioning Nike, for example, or stomper boots without highlighting Grenson, but there are also hordes of specialist footwear brands that deserve time in the spotlight.

Plus, all-round hero brands like Zara, Mango and H&M can never be ignored.

So put your best foot forward as our fashion experts have compiled a list of the best shoe brands for you to choose from.

Best shoe brands—according to our fashion editor

Adidas Stan Smith Trainers

(Image credit: Adidas)

Trainers

Reasons to buy

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Comfort
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Support
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Creating a laidback look

While trainers have stood the test of time when it comes to casual footwear, they have been having a serious fashion moment for the last few years. Since Phoebe Philo, the former creative director of designer brand Celine, stepped onto the catwalk in chic tailored clothing with a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths in 2015, trainers have been a wardrobe staple of the fashion elite. Try teaming sneakers with floaty frocks, jeans and slip skirts. There is no outfit that doesn’t ooze style prowess when worn with a pair of cool kicks.

TRAINERS–FASHION EDITOR'S PICKS

Adidas Stan Smiths

RRP: $100/£75

Named after the US tennis player prominent in the 1970s, this classic trainer has cemented its position as a failsafe wardrobe staple and now it has been updated using recyclable materials.


Veja V-10 Mesh White Nautico 

RRP: $140/£110

Loved by the likes of Meghan Markle and Katie Holmes, this French vegan brand makes trainers from sustainable materials.


Nike Air Max 90

RRP: $130/£124.95

With that classic air bubble in the sole, the Nike Air Max provides cushioning technology that creates more flexibility and spring. Plus, you can now customise your own pair for added individuality. 


Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic High Top

RRP: $60/£57

All hail the high-top trainer that has been a classic among sports stars and A-listers alike. Now available in wide fit, this canvas trainer never goes out of style.


Black Jones Bootmaker Boots

(Image credit: Jones Bootmaker )

Ankle Boots

Reasons to buy

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Ankle support
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Toughening up a floaty frock
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Protection from winter weather

As the summer turns to autumn, attention moves to those must-have ankle boots that will become your most reliable purchase of the year. Whether you choose chunky stomper boots or dressy heels, there is rarely an occasion in the colder months where a pair of ankle boots won’t complete your look. Invest in a durable pair and they’ll see you sorted for years to come.

ANKLE BOOTS–FASHION EDITOR'S PICKS

Grenson Nanette

RRP: $490/£325

The humble hiker boot has had a fashion makeover after being spotted on a range of influencers and models including Hailey Bieber. This leather pair is great for giving a feminine frock a tougher edge.


H&M Chelsea Boots

RRP: $39.99/£29.99

Instantly recognisable thanks to the elastic side panel, a pair of pull-on chelsea boots are as comfortable as they are stylish. This sand colour looks great with warm tones.


Mango Pointed Heeled Ankle Boot

RRP: $79.99/£49.99

For a more formal boot, look to this Mango pair that are oh-so-chic. The slim stiletto heel is the perfect height for adding a touch of sophistication to your look.


Jones Bootmaker Neptune Leather Heeled Ankle Boots

RRP: $182/£135

There’s no need to shy away from white boots. Freshen up your outfit with this block heeled leather pair that will take you from day to night effortlessly well into spring.


Tan strappy flat sandal

(Image credit: Dune)

Flat Sandals

Reasons to buy

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Showing off your pedicure
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Summer comfort
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Timeless style

Every wardrobe should include a pair of comfortable flat sandals that you can rely on when the heat picks up. Perfect for throwing on with a breezy summer dress or pair of bermuda shorts, your feet will thank you for popping it in an airy pair of strappy sandals. Tan and black will go with everything and don’t forget to treat your feet to a pedicure before wearing.

FLAT SANDALS–FASHION EDITOR'S PICKS


La Redoute Flat Vegetable Tanned Leather Sandals 

RRP: $110/£75

You can’t go wrong with tan sandals. This thick strapped pair is made with vegetable tanning which is more environmentally friendly, too.


Dune Nubuck Flat Sandals

RRP: $75/£55

Deviate from your go-to black sandals and opt for a navy pair instead. These are made with a rubber sole for extra comfort.


New Look Black Leather Studded Sandals

RRP: $36/£25.99

Give your look a tougher edge with this studded style. The double strap around the ankle provides a cool gladiator feel - just beware of ankle tan lines.


Ugg Rynell Leopard Sandal

RRP: $85/£65

The brand Ugg might be more synonymous with sheepskin boots, but the foam footbed on these leopard print sandals is not to be ignored.


Dune pink sling black block heel

(Image credit: Dune)

Block Heels

Reasons to buy

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Shaping calf muscles
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Elongating legs
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Dressing up a look

When it comes to garden parties and weddings, we can’t speak more highly of block heels. Providing height without sinking into the grass or hobbling in pain, the chunkier style of these heels will mean you can feel dressed-up all day. Sturdy enough so you can walk tall with confidence, block heels add definition to your legs, too.

BLOCK HEELS–FASHION EDITOR'S PICKS


M&S Block Heel Pointed Court Shoes

RRP: £42.50/£25

The ultimate heel for work and play, here is a classic black court shoe that won’t leave you with painful soles as they are made with technology to reduce pressure on the balls of your feet. 


Carvela Kianni

RRP: $137/£99

This is a pair of shoes made to hit the dance floor. The studded style shimmers in the light making them the ultimate accessory for making a statement.


Zara Tied Heeled Sandals With Square Toe

RRP: $59.90/£45.99

Add a pop of colour to your outfit with these yellow strappy sandals. Zara are known for bright shoes so keep an eye out for footwear that’s anything but boring.


Vionic Nola Block Heel

RRP: $153/£110

One of the best shoe brands for specialist technology that support the arches of your foot. These snake print slingbacks will feel like you’re walking on air.


Zara Green Loafers

(Image credit: Zara)

Loafers

Reasons to buy

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A smart casual look
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Slip-on ease
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Trans-seasonal style

Looking for a smart-casual hybrid? The search is over. A slip-on loafer has become a style staple of the preppy look. Seen on the feet of  some of the world’s biggest style inspirations like Alexa Chung and Sienna Miller, the humble loafer holds serious style credentials. While the Gucci loafer might be the designer of choice among the fashion crowd, there are plenty of brands that emulate the look for a fraction of the eye-watering £500 price tag.

LOAFERS–FASHION EDITOR'S PICKS

& Other Stories Chunky Leather Penny Loafers

RRP: $129/£110

Chunky shoes are the trend of 2021 and thick soles have made their way into the loafers camp. Think of these as the modern version of the stomper boot.


Zara Track Sole Loafers

RRP: $59.90/£45.99

Don’t always think black is best. A lighter hue takes your outfit to a new level. This pair will look fab with grey ankle socks and a boho dress.


Charles & Keith Printed Fabric Bow Loafers

RRP: $68/£49

An olive pair of loafers is the perfect hue for autumn while the fabric bow on the front gives the androgynous design a feminine touch.


Russell & Bromley Snaffle Loafer

RRP: $270/£195

Make a statement in bright red loafers that will instantly elevate your jeans. The gold bar on this pair gives them a luxe feel.


Pretty Ballerinas Polka dot ballet pumps

(Image credit: Pretty Ballerinas)

Ballet Pumps

Reasons to buy

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Flattening in a bag
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Flexibility 
+
Slim fit

Ballet pumps are making their way back to the forefront of footwear must-haves. Thanks to fashion house Chanel, the discreet flats burst into the wardrobes of celebrities as a chic alternative to heels in the 1980s and have been a firm fixture since. A key look when worn with skinny jeans to elongate legs, the style loved by fashion royalty Kate Moss is great for a fuss-free outfit. Plus, they are usually flat enough to stash in your bag for when your heels become too painful.

BALLET PUMPS–FASHION EDITOR'S PICKS


White Stuff Bow Ballet Pump

RRP: $74.50/£49

Don’t forget that leopard print is a neutral and this patterned pair is way more versatile than you might think. We love the contrasting pink bow, too.


Next Signature Forever Comfort Ruched Ballerina Shoes 

RRP: $43/£36

Trust us, black ballet pumps will become your go-to shoes for everything. Easy to slip on, soft and comfortable, leave them by the front door for whenever you’re rushing out.


La Redoute Metallic Ballet Flats with Bow Detail

RRP: $33/£20

Shine with every step in these gold ballet pumps that will elongate legs while upping the glam factor.


Pretty Ballerinas Rosario

RRP: $276/£169

This independent brand is known for its excellent craftsmanship. With so many colours and patterns to choose from, they are the go-to for ballet pumps that last.


Joely Chilcott is an experienced fashion and features editor having spent over ten years writing, styling and editing for a number of women's lifestyle publications, including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own. 


A certified shopping expert, Joely is always on the lookout for new and exciting brands that she can champion, while holding the high street close to her heart. She has had work published in Drapers, Women's Health, Fabulous, YOU, The Sun and the Metro, as well as being a regular fashion contributor to TalkRadio.