The right steps to spring style
The female world divides into those who spend a lot on shoes and those who spend a little… I am sorry to disappoint/disillusion readers, but I am in the latter camp.
Yes, I know all the arguments in favour of pricey shoes - they camouflage a Primark outfit making it look as if it came from Browns, they are "noticed" in chi-chi shops and ritzy restaurants marking you out as well-dressed rather than a chav, and a real lady always wears "good" shoes, etc.
But, really, what a lot of anachronistic twaddle, intended to make us slaves to the idea that only designer shoes will do.
Shoe prices soared into the stratosphere about 20 years ago when shoe designers stopped being the Cinderellas of the fashion universe, and Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo took their place at the couture table at suitably eye-watering prices. They were followed by Christian Louboutin and Rupert Sanderson, and more recently by designers like Nicholas Kirkwood, Michael Lewis, Beatrix Ong and Jerome C Rousseau.
If you want to splurge, there is no reason not to buy their fabulously stylish, innovative designs - usually, but not inevitably, crafted from better materials and with a more comfortable "last". But it is perfectly possible to have very well-dressed feet at a fifth of the price and I have a strong suspicion that not even the concierge at the very cool Soho Hotel or the maitre d' at The Ivy can tell a Rupert Sanderson from a Dune if the woman wearing them looks suitably fashionable and groomed.
For spring, there is the same dazzling array of options in shoes as in clothing - at designer, high street and mid-price points.
What you buy should reflect your clothing choices, and if you are planning to work several different trends, the bad news is you'll need shoes to match.
You'll need platforms and block heels or scarily high platform wedges to work that glamazon/disco diva 70s trend of wide-leg trousers, palazzo pants, playsuits and mid-calf skirts; a pair of ladylike petit stilettos or mid-heel stilettos - courts or slingback versions - to wear with Capri pants or with a smart little Hepburn-esque shift dress; killer-heel cage sandals to give an appropriately tough edge to a librarian-chic skirt-and-blouse ensemble or shirt dress; and brogues as the essential footwear to toughen up a pretty, floral print frock, as well as to accompany a pair of rolled-to-the-ankle trousers.
The perfect shoes to transform a simple dress from desk-wear to dinner is a pair of the spectacularly impractical, divinely beautiful and infinitely desirable sandals with vertiginously high heels, lots of little straps and sometimes intricate embellishment. Our favourites at the JC fashion desk are by Gianmarco Lorenzi, Jerome C Rousseau, Kurt Geiger and Topshop.
In line with the colour block trend, shoes have also gone technicolour this season, so as well as all the neutrals like black, tan, navy, taupe and luscious nude, there is a whole paintbox of shades - again at every price point - with yellow, orange, coral, fuchsia, purple, cobalt, turquoise and green the most irresistibly on trend.
For those who demand comfort (and have a perverse desire to walk further than 200 yards without requiring two Nurofen), there are still plenty of ballerinas around, including some prettily embellished ones from French Sole, Pied a Terre and French Connection.
A report out this week may make you think carefully about the styling of your ballet flat, however. According to the report from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, many of these babies are so flat and offer so little support that they can damage your feet.
The report's author, Lorraine Jones advises buying a pair with a bit of a heel and some support.