Depending on your frame of reference, when you think of mules—the backless, slide-style shoes few various things may come to mind. Fredericks of Hollywood kitten-heel “bedroom” mules covered with maribou feathers (pop culture savants: Think “Troop Beverly Hills” livewire Phyllis Nefler or “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw when she’s trying to be “sexy” for Berger), or clunky gardening-style shoes that no stylish gal would wear outside, well, the garden.
All true of course, but it seems the mule has taken a decidedly chic turn for Fall 2013 and for Resort ’14, with designers such as Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten, The Row, showcasing the backless slide in various ways. While it’s relatively more intuitive to deduce how to wear the style when the weather’s warm, it’s a bit more of a challenge right now, since we don’t normally associate backless shoes with autumn weather.
It is, however, quite possible—even preferable, in some cases—to rock a mule throughout the fall, with a few tips in mind.
1. Keep the shades relatively dark.
As much as we adore a pastel or brightly-hued mule, they will look out of place in cold weather. Stick to black, brown, or gray, or deep winter shades like royal blue, hunter green, or oxblood. If you find a metallic pair you love (Acne makes a to-die-for version), just make sure the silhouette isn’t substantial.
2. Shape counts.
Dainty mules with skinny little heels are best left to summertime sojourns, as fall calls for styles that can be worn during the day with ease—think thick heels, slightly pointed toes, or, if you’re a tad edgier, a thick platform or Miley Cyrus-style creeper style (yes, creeper mules exist!). Peep toe styles are fine, but make sure the rest of the shape is boot-like.
3. Keep the materials heavy.
Stick to leather and suede—keep the plastic panels, fancy appliques, kitten heels, and vinyl for warm-weather outfits.
3. Check the weather.
If the day is fairly mild, try rocking a mule with straight ankle pants and no socks, and pair with a chunky turtleneck sweater or sleek blazer. On chilly days, suede or leather mules look amazing with super-opaque black tights (no sheer pantyhose here, ladies!) and a swingy minishirt or dress (they won’t look as high-style with pencil skirts and tights, though.) If you’re a little more daring, tryrocking them with a thin pair of socks (black or patterned) and super-straight jeans in chilly temperatures.
Got it? Now go check out our gallery above, featuring 13 chic pairs to buy now!