Trends » Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends

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The fall 2020 shoe trends are here! The average woman buys around five pairs of shoes per year: a couple for warm weather, a couple for cold weather, and perhaps one more just for fun. However, if you’re reading about the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends, you’re likely not an average person!

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends

Just like with other fashion trends this season, the fall 2020 shoe trends pulled strongly towards practical footwear. For many of us, 2020 feels like the end-times, and a lot of the protective, heavy-duty boots we saw on the runways seemed very appropriate for a post-apocalyptic climate.

That said, there was some frivolous, high-fashion fun on the runways this season, as well. There were seasonally not quite appropriate strappy sandals and a few different sparkly shoe options, not to mention blingy fringe and sky-high platforms.

Whether you’ll only pick up a new pair of boots or intend to buy one of each trendy shoe, we help by breaking things down and identifying exactly what’s going to be on the shelves or on the streets for the fall/ winter 2020-2021 shoe trends.

#1. Doc Martens-Style Chunky Combat Boots

I’ve been going strong in my wannabe Docs all throughout this current season, so it’s thrilling to know that I’ll fit right in with the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends. These tough boots first gained popularity in the ‘90s, albeit with a specific subsection of the population. I’d say that right now they’re becoming not just trendy but mainstream thanks to their ubiquity on the runways. 

From the extra glamorous to the earthy and sustainable, we certainly saw some unusual combat boot and outfit pairings. At Gabriela Hearst, for instance, shiny black patent combat boots were worn with a loose and flowy white dress, while at Valentino, they were worn both with fierce leather ensembles and with delicate dresses.

We saw more chunky combat boots at the Rochas, and Margaret Howell shows.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Combat Boots

#2. Chelsea Boots

Chelsea boots have managed to transcend trends. They can be designed to look professional enough for any work function, or they can keep a bit of bulk à la Blundstones to suit more outdoorsy adventures, and they go with nearly every outfit. No wonder there were so many of them on the runways!

Stella McCartney presented the best of both worlds, with sleek, pointed-toe Chelsea boots with a zipped front fit for the office and heavy-soled ones that you could wear when you need to look tough. What’s more – all of the shoes were vegan, per the designer’s ethos!

In addition to the combat boots we’ve already mentioned, Valentino presented Chelsea boots in either burgundy or black that were fitted with the same heavy-duty rubber soles. We saw more Chelsea boots at Nina Ricci and Giambattista Valli.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Chelsea Boots

#3. Thigh-High Boots

We think of thigh-high boots as a bad girl staple, and there were certainly a few daring outfits that made use of that on the runways. These were easily the most significant fall 2020 boots. Some of the thigh-highs on the runways actually had the opposite effect since by rising up high past skirt hemlines, they actually covered more skin and made outfits somehow more modest.

The bad girl vibe at Saint Laurent came courtesy of a ton of latex, including skin-tight thigh-high boots made of the shiny material.

At Balenciaga, thigh-high boots looked like hip-waders, with a loose shaft that allowed them to be worn over even larger trousers. They fit in well with the slight post-apocalyptic theme, which included a runway floor covered in water.

There were a ton more thigh-high boots, including at Bottega Veneta, Moschino, Off-White, Sportmax, and Victoria Beckham.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Thigh-High Boots

#4. Equestrian Knee-High Boots

Fitting in with an equestrian theme, lots of runways presented low-heeled or flat knee-high boots for fall 2020. You can’t actually ride in most of these boots, but you’d fit right in with the society crowd at the races.

All of the models at Chanel wore the same boots, which were designed based on a pair worn by Karl Lagerfeld at some point in the early-’80s. These riding-style boots were made of black leather, with the top part of the shaft folded over to show the inner part of brown leather. 

At Brandon Maxwell, riding-style boots were styled to look casual and chic, with short skirts or over tight jeans. The knee-high boots had a V-shaped dip and came in burgundy, brown, or navy leather.

We spotted more riding boots stomping the runway at Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and Coach 1941.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Equestrian Knee-High Boots

#5. Boots with Wrinkled Shaft

We first noticed boots with wrinkled shafts last season, but they’re actually a major part of the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends. They were often designed to also fit in with the thigh-high boot trend, so if you’re only going to buy one new pair this season, this might be the best way to kill two birds with one stone.

At Oscar de la Renta, slouchy shaft boots were designed with a low kitten heel, making them a comfortable but still glamorous option, especially when paired with a big, bougie coat.

Thigh-high boots with wrinkled shafts at Balmain helped to keep legs covered and the runway relatively modest. These boots came in earth tones, gray, and black, and were paired with everything from pencil skirts and shorts to boyfriend jeans.

We saw more boots with slouchy shafts at Rejina Pyo, Roksanda, and Proenza Schouler. 

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Wrinkled Shaft Boots

#6. Pointed-Toe Flat Shoes 

There is something fantastical about a shoe with a pointed pump, and when I saw some of the fall 2020 shoes, I immediately thought of extra-fashionable elves.

The Junya Watanabe collection, which was heavily inspired by Blondie’s Debbie Harry, featured flat leather shoes with pointed toes covered in tightly attached leather straps, which gave off strong punk vibes. 

At Louis Vuitton, Chelsea-style booties and wedges with men’s footwear-inspired designs both had extreme pointed toes for that eccentric, ass-kicking feel.

There was something fierce yet feminine about the pointed-toe flats at MSGM, which were made of patent leather in a few color options, and were also fitted with a multi-strap design. The Carolina Herrera, Stella McCartney, and Celine runways also featured some compelling pointed-toe shoes.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Pointed-Toe Flat Shoes

#7. Men’s Footwear

Brogues, oxfords, loafers, and monk shoes are the shoe versions of a woman in a blazer – these dapper shoes are inspired by menswear, but they can be worn with just about any kind of look. A lot of designers chose to stay away from high heels this season and to instead take inspiration from men’s formal footwear for the fall 2020 shoe trends. 

One of the main shoes at Chloé was a black leather monk shoe, which is a design that features a wide strap with a buckle (in this case, two buckles) at the side. Also fitted with some breathing holes and made out of patent black leather, these shoes were dapper and sophisticated. There were also monk shoes at Hermés, which came in either black or white.

A lot of models at Giambattista Valli wore black, sturdy loafers clearly designed with masculine styles in mind. What made things even more interesting is that these patent shoes were often worn with frilly and lacy dresses.

We spotted more menswear-inspired shoes for fall 2020 at Marc Jacobs and Celine.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Men's Footwear

#8. Platform Heels

The platform craze started a few seasons ago, along with a major shift to the ‘70s as a decade of inspiration. While there was less ‘70s inspiration on the runways this season, there were still a lot of platform heels to admire.

The Celine show was a feast of platforms that fit in perfectly with the modern touch Hedi Slimane finally gave to his ‘70s-inspired designs. While there were some plain black platforms, we also saw ones covered in snakeskin and others designed with a Mary Jane strap.

Models at Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini wore open-toed platform heels with a dual-color design. Borders and straps were black, while panels in colored leather added interest. On a closer look, one could see that the borders between the materials were edged with a crystal-studded strip.

Other designers who showcased platforms for the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends included Paco Rabanne, Off-White, Dries Van Noten, Versace, and Moschino.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Platform Heels

#9. Flatforms

Flatforms also remained a major part of the fall 2020 shoe trends, like their high-heeled counterparts. They’re a little wackier and definitely more comfortable. 

The flat platforms at Erdem were designed to look like they should have been heels, with both strappy and foot-covering options with uppers made of soft velvet or smooth satin.

At Sies Marjan, flatforms had some very quirky designs, including white clogs and patent black slip-on sandals with a thick black strap over the vamp. There were plenty of more flatforms to admire at Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, Marques’Almeida, and MSGM.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Flatforms

#10. Tread Sole Heels

Tread soles are a must on athletic and outdoor shoes, but the fashion world likes to play around by fitting them on not-so-outdoorsy footwear as well. For the fall/ winter 2020-2021 shoe trends, we saw sturdy tread soles on both rugged shoes and on more conceptual and high-fashion ones.

Marine Serre presented a pump for the end times. The gorgeous shoes were either gray booties or strappy hot pink heels, all fitted with a tread sole to give a bit more friction and support.  

At Prada, shiny patent leather high heels were fitted with a sporty rubber tread sole, which brought to mind a hybrid between a glamorous evening shoe and a sneaker. 

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Tread Sole Heels

#11. Rugged Tread Sole Shoes

The rugged tread sole shoes of the season will keep you upright and balanced at any terrain. We loved seeing these practical shoes from high-fashion brands since it really sent home the idea that fashion is going in a utilitarian and active direction.

White rain boots at Versace were made to work overtime, with a thick rubber tread sole to guarantee no one will slip on a rainy day, even over the smoothest sidewalk.

Fall 2020 boot trends were combined at Christian Dior, with chunky combat boots and Chelsea boots fitted with an extra-thick rubber tread sole that even went over the toe-box to give added protection. There were more rugged soles at Valentino and Kenzo.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Rugged Tread Sole Shoes

#12. Sparkly Boots

Fashion month wouldn’t be fun if it didn’t include a bit of glitz and glamour, which sparkly boots gave in spades. Alberta Ferretti matched glitzy boots to glitzy outfits, with reflective silver boots with (trend combo alert!) slouchy shafts.

The shiny boots at MSGM were also decidedly metallic, with knee-high designs in sparkly purple, green, or silver. We saw more sparkly boots at Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Dries Van Noten.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Sparkly Boots

#13. Gold Shoes and Boots

Like the sparkly boots, golden shoes also added that ostentatious touch of luxury to the runways, albeit in some very unique ways.

Gold was a major color on the Preen by Thornton Bregazzi runway, and we loved the conceptual effect of a pair of boots that looked as though they were made out of a black satin upper that was then covered with a delicate layer of gold leaf.

At AWAKE Mode, we loved a pair of strappy slip-on heels made with a gold fabric upper. They had a squared-off toe-box, which gave them a more serious feel and a sophisticated touch that gold footwear doesn’t normally possess.

At Emilia Wickstead, a pair of golden flats were designed with a decorative 3-dimensional piece that looked like a bare plaque. Finally, at Khaite, glamorous gold boots went over the knee and paired with a short skirt they made for the perfect club look. 

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Gold Shoes & Boots

#14. Floral Boots

Florals? For fall? Actually, that is a little groundbreaking. Autumnal florals were major in the fall 2020 shoe trends (as well as in the print trends), showing up in a few different styles.

Florals were big at Tory Burch, where they decorated both clothes and knee-high equestrian boots. The floral print was a little darker, so it complemented the brown, burgundy, and green leather of the boots extremely well and was a good fit for autumn.

The knee-high floral boots at Anna Sui worked well with the designer’s signature cutesy-goth style. The boots were fitted with combat-style laces and were covered in a tight and slightly-abstract floral print.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Floral Boots

#15. Ruched Heels

Ruched heels were probably the subtlest of the fall 2020 shoe trends. Heels were decorated with ruched straps, which gave them an elastic feel and added texture.

Slingback heels at Eckhaus Latta were given a twist with the slingback strap being ruched in a different color than the rest of the pump. Ruching took front and center at Christian Siriano, with slip-on heels in black or pink decorated with three ruched straps that kept the foot in place.

We also saw some ruching details at Alejandra Alonso Rojas and Off-White.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Ruched Heels

#16. Colorful Leather Boots

Brown and black leather boots can get boring pretty quickly, so if you’re looking for a bit of excitement in your wardrobe, you may want to pick one of the colorful fall 2020 boots. They mostly came in the knee- and thigh-high silhouettes that dominated this season, but the range of color choices is wide.

At Carolina Herrera, lively boots with slouchy shafts and pointed toes came in colors like green and red for an extra touch of color blocking. If you’d like something a touch more serious but still in color, Jonathan Simkhai presented orange leather boots with a tighter fit and a square toe-box.

There was lots more color on the runways of Dries Van Noten, Proenza Schouler, and Lanvin.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Colorful Leather Boots

#17. Strappy ‘90s Sandals

This shoe trend made us raise our eyebrows. Strappy sandals? For winter? Really? While we would certainly avoid actually wearing these in fall or winter, we gotta admit the strappy ‘90s-inspired design holds some sex appeal.

At Hellessy, sandal heels were actually made with straps that looked like knotted chords, which gave the shoes a slightly edgy touch. They were even styled with ankle-high stockings, which added a warm and unusual touch.

The strappy heels at Jason Wu were worn with pantyhose, another rule-breaking styling choice that helps make these shoes more bearable in the wintertime. We also spotted more strappy heels on the runways of Prabal Gurung, Bibhu Mohapatra, Ashley Williams, and Ulla Johnson. 

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Strappy '90s Sandals

#18. Bows and Ribbons

Ribbons and bows always add some feminine touch to a shoe, and in a season that was mostly quite somber, we appreciated the playfulness.

Pretty pastel heels at Prabal Gurung were made of satin, with an additional extension of the material tied into a small bow right over the toes.

Crystal-covered heels at Giambattista Valli would have been noticeable anyway, but a little piece of black ribbon tied into a bow helped to make them more interesting by adding that dark yet demure contrast. Marc Jacobs, Alberta Ferretti, and Brock Collection all also used bows and ribbons to decorate some of their shoes.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Shoes with Bows & Ribbons

#19. Slippers

Designs based on slippers were the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends’ version of the blanket fashion trend. Perhaps designers are predicting that we’ll have to stay indoors and isolated for a full year, or maybe they just want us to bring a bit of that homey coziness out with us into the real world.

At Ashley Williams, models wore the most extra fuzzy slippers, which came in either pink or green, almost like a fur coat for your feet. While most models at Sandy Liang wore knee-high boots, one stood out in a pair of cozy soled slippers made of a fuzzy white material and covered in black leopard spots.

Finally, at Marques’Almeida, a pair of pink, fuzzy slippers made sense paired with a pajama-esque striped outfit. 

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Slippers

#20. Blingy Fringe

Fringe was everywhere on the runways, but when it came to the fall 2020 shoe trends, it was specifically bejeweled fringe that really ruled.

Blingy fringe is actually a major part of the Area brand, so seeing it decorate heeled sandals and closed-toe pumps was not surprising. Our favorite was a hot pink pump lined with a symmetrical fringe at the vamp that fell over the toe-box.

At Halpern, a joyful and sparkly fringe covered knee-high boots, adding a ton of fun and sway, as well as strappy sandals for a glam night out. Lastly, at Libertine, silvery fringe embellished the upper part of a pair of low-tops worn by one of the female models, although we saw even more fringe on men’s shoes.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Shoes with Blingy Fringe

#21. Chains

The chain trend from spring continued into the fall/ winter 2020-2021 shoe trends. Chain elements are very versatile: they can add a touch of grunge (sometimes to an otherwise very glamorous shoe), or they can do the opposite and glam things up.

At Simone Rocha, a thick gold chain threaded with pearls at its center was secured over the vamp of otherwise unadorned leather flats to look almost like it was wrapped around the shoe and to add a color and texture contrast.

Silvery metal chains were a little more intense at No. 21. The chain links were thick and heavy-duty, especially in contrast to the delicate pumps and flats to which they were attached either to decorate the ankle or to secure the vamp. 

There were tons of more chain embellishments on the fall 2020 shoes, including at AWAKE Mode, Michael Kors, Junya Watanabe, Ulla Johnson, Sacai, Off-White, Adeam, and Longchamp.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Shoes with Chains

#22. Vintage Kitten Heels

With quite a few designers taking their inspiration from decades past, it’s no surprise that vintage kitten heel designs were essential for driving looks home. It also helps that they are really cute and much more comfortable than higher stilettos.

The Marc Jacobs collection was a blast from the past, with models wearing all kinds of exceedingly pretty vintage-style kitten heels, from patent black Mary Janes to a fuzzy burgundy pair of kitten heels with a bow embellishment.

The adorable kitten heel design at Khaite was thankfully also simple enough for a wide range of occasions. The slip-on kitten heels, which came in red, white, and black, were covered in a layer of folded satin that lent them elegance and softness.

Rodarte, Y/Project, and Loewe all also presented lovely kitten heels with a vintage influence.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Vintage Kitten Heels

#23. Sneakers

Sneakers aren’t going anywhere yet, so you don’t need to toss your pair of chunky white trainers yet. That said, white wasn’t the major athletic footwear color for the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends. Instead, vintage-inspired color combinations (especially earth tones) had a much bigger showing.

Sneakers at Louis Vuitton stood out for their retro-futurist look, with an old-school upper design fitted to an oversized sole, and with velcro straps instead of laces.

The main decade of inspiration for the Coach runway was the ‘80s, so it featured a ton of multi-color low-top sneakers, often worn with colorful socks. There were also a few sneakers at Loewe, Marni, and Rag & Bone to keep things athletic.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Sneakers

#24. Heeled Loafers

A flat loafer is an easy shoe that turns any outfit just a little more formal, and while heeled loafers miss the convenience factor, they still have their own unique charm.

At Lanvin, loafer-mule hybrids were easy to slip on but still looked elegant, with a two-tone leather design with a pretty gold buckle over the front. Amongst all of the platforms at Celine, there was also a pair of platform loafer heels made out of black snake-embossed leather and even decorated with a little tassel.

We spotted a few more loafers at Stella McCartney and Fendi.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Heeled Loafers

#25. Square Toe

The major toe-box design for the fall/ winter 2020 shoe trends may have been pointed, but there were still quite a few square-toed options that will make it easier for you if you had purchased such a pair for spring. 

From Rejina Pyo, we saw white or black kitten heels with a slip-on design that left most of the foot bare, but with a square toe-box that added a sturdy feel.

At AWAKE Mode, both boots and strappy heels were designed with a very geometric square toe-box that will appeal to those who like minimalist but conceptual footwear.

Fall/ Winter 2020-2021 Shoe Trends: Square-Toe Shoes & Boots

Photos via Vogue, Livingly