No matter what anyone might say, kitten heels will forever have a special place in my heart. Despite their low height, kitten heel shoes are still sexy and sophisticated, especially if your style already has a vintage flare.
Over the past few years we have seen some gorgeous kitten heel shoes and kitten heel sandals grace the runways – especially the runways of the big Italian designer brands like Prada, Bottega Veneta, and Fendi. These catwalk showings tell us what will be in style for the year ahead, and we must say it’s an exciting time for anyone sick of both flats and stilettos.
We’ve compiled the best kitten heels that you can buy right now from the hottest designers and brands! We included a short history of the kitten heel shoes, so you know where they come from and predict where they’re headed. To finish things off, there’s a style guide, so you’ll know exactly how to dress once you’ve picked the kitten heels of your dreams!
Your Ultimate Kitten Heels Style Cheat Sheet: Contents
From minimalist black kitten heels to wild leopard patterned options to fancy kitten heel sandals, these shoes are made for taking from day to night flawlessly!
1. Leopard Kitten Heel Shoes
Animal prints are one of the hottest trends, so one of the easiest ways to know that your kitten heels are fashionable is to get an animal print pair. These Saint Laurent babies are made of pony hair with leather soles and a 2-inch heel. The design is surprisingly elegant, with a wrap-tie around the ankle and a pointed toe. Buy them from Forward!
2. Bow-Tied Black Kitten Heels
If you’re looking for a playful pair of kitten heels that’ll work day to day, outfit to outfit, these are it. They have a comfy rubber sole, slingback design, and are elegantly crafted out of suede with a pointed-toe design that will make any outfit look that much more stylish. Big black bows behind the ankle lend a romantic charm that begs you wear these Ganni kitten heels out on a date. Order them online from Shopbop!
3. Timeless Kitten Heels
Look no further than Calvin Klein if you’d like to keep it simple with your kitten heels. This pump design is as classic as it gets, with a thin heel, pointed toe, and your choice of leather, suede or fabric in a variety of colors. No inserts are needed with these kitten heels, as they are already fitted with an invisible gel pod. Pick up a pair at Nordstrom!
4. Kitten Heel Sandals
These can be your sexy summer go-to shoes! The mule design means they are simple to slip on, while the low kitten heels ensure you can wear them for longer than the average high heeled sandal. The design is ‘90s-inspired, with a square toe and strappy patent leather over the toes. They come in a variety of colors to suit every flare. These By Far kitten heel sandals are available online through Net-a-Porter.
5. Futurist Kitten Heels
Inspired by Italian Futurism, these unique Fendi kitten heels will not go ignored. The design is as unusual as it gets, with a combination of mesh, elastic fabric, and leather coming together to give a sporty yet technical vibe.
We could see these shoes worn by a retro-futurist inhibitor of a sepia-toned spaceship. On the technical side these kitten heel shoes are quite comfy, with a blocky low heel, good hold over the foot and ankle, and a bit of cushioning where you would normally expect blisters to pop up. Find these kitten heels at My Theresa!
6. Classy Slingback Kitten Heels
You can always trust a brand like Mansur Gavriel to make the ideal version of an item – the only one you’ll need or want. These slingback kitten heels have a design that despite its incredible simplicity is still quite unique. These shoes have a blocky 1.5-inch heel that is one of the comfiest on this list, along with a buckled strap behind the ankle that will keep your foot supported.
The toe is quite pointy – a design guaranteed to elongate your legs and flatter no matter the outfit. Wear them to work, to the bar, and the next day when you go shopping! There are options in leather, but we gotta say the suede is our favorite. Order them online from Net-a-Porter!
7. Disco Gold Kitten Heels
Party girls can absolutely rock kitten heels! This golden number from Saint Laurent proves it, with its shiny crinkle leather and tapered design. Wear them with your favorite LBD and dance all night long. Try them on at Nordstrom!
8. Vinyl and Suede Kitten Heels
These sophisticated kitten heels combine trends, with transparent vinyl panels being especially of the moment. The design is a classic pump with a closed toe covered in black suede, which means they are absolutely appropriate for the office as well as for whatever comes after. Get these kitten heel shoes at Shopbop!
9. Glitter Striped Kitten Heel Shoes
Slip your feet into this cheerful pair of kitten heel mules and feel your 6-year-old fantasy. While these shoes might feel a little childish to some, we think that’s exactly why they’re so appealing! The glittery colorful stripes are such a fun way of injecting color into a look, while their uneven pattern and the pointy toe ensure that the shoes still look somewhat adult. These kitten heels are available at Farfetch.
10. Quilted-Toe Slingback Kitten Heels
The asymmetrical framing design on these Bottega Veneta kitten heels is obsession worthy, ensuring that these shoes look modern and chic despite a few old school elements, like a powder blue color and metallic cushioned toe. You can find these heels at Moda Operandi.
11. Metallic Silver Kitten Heels
So far, these are the lowest kitten heels on our list, and yet they are quite fancy. Made of silver colored leather, they shine quite bright, with an elongating pointed toe and an ankle-hugging slingback strap. Small clear PVC panels below the strap add additional support. Order them online from Net-a-Porter!
12. Sporty Black Kitten Heels
You can expect a brand like Miu Miu to combine sporty elements with girlish styles, and yet each new iteration surprises us in a new way. These pumps have elegant features in the form of patent black leather, pointed toes, and a delicate buckle ankle strap. The sporty elements act as a counter, with a thick rubber sole and geometric heel. Get them from My Theresa!
13. Delicate Suede Kitten Heels
If you’re in the mood for a feminine pair of kitten heels, this suede pair might be ideal. Their tapered heel is lovely and delicate, as is the half d’Orsay cut of the shoes. They are still mature, however, thanks to a bulky and unique bow above the toes, which are naturally pointy. Pick up a pair in either deep blue or magenta at Nordstrom!
14. Pink Princess Kitten Heels
There are feminine kitten heels, and then there are shamelessly girly kitten heels like this bright pink Roger Vivier pair. These closed-toe shoes are two toned, made of fuchsia and baby pink leather, with a slingback strap as well as a strap over the foot. Both are embellished with crystal buckles that give the heels that princessy charm. The heels themselves are 2.5 inches high and quite sculptural, so you will want to show them off. They are available online via Net-a-Porter.
15. Plaid Kitten Heels
If you’re not quite over autumn yet, make sure to grab these plaid kitten heel shoes! They give a cozy take on the style, since the upper part is made of warm red plaid fabric. A thick, bejeweled strap in turquoise gives these shoes a hint of glamour. Order these kitten heels from ASOS!
Kitten heels are shoes or sandals with a low heel – somewhere between 1 inch and 2.5 inches at the highest. The heel is usually tapered or comma shaped, though that’s not a mandatory feature of the low-heeled shoe.
It’s important to think of kitten heels as a type of response to stilettos, which we tend to think of as the default type of high heels these days. Before the rise of the stiletto heel, which is primarily credited to shoe designer Roger Vivier, the reality is that most women wore high heels that would be categorized as kitten heel shoes these days.
Even earlier in the 18th century, pictures of male and female courtiers in the European courts show them wearing shoes that are easy to classify as kitten heels, with a short, tapered heel.
Even to this day, kitten heels are often thought of as “training heels” that are more appropriate for young girls to wear. This started in the mid-1950s, corresponding with the rise of stilettos, when it was expected that teen girls would wear kitten heel shoes at first and then make the switch to higher heels as they grew up.
However, what happened instead is that many of those teen girls kept wearing kitten heels as they grew up and into the next decade. As a result, kitten heels became a perfectly accepted adult style in the early 1960s. Audrey Hepburn was partially responsible as well, having made kitten heels especially iconic when she wore them with her slinky black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The rising popularity of the kitten heels represented the shift in women’s lifestyles. Whereas before high heels were meant to slow women down, the kitten heel did no such thing and instead helped prop up a lifestyle that involved a lot of going out and dancing.
Towards the late ‘60s and into the ‘70s, flats and blocky heels took over, so we saw a lot less of the adorable kitten heels. However, they had a resurgence in the ‘80s and for the next three decades could always be relied on to come in and out of style.
If you could only own one pair of shoes, a pair of kitten heels could be a serious contender, since they are remarkably versatile. They are the ultimate day to night shoes – perfectly work-appropriate, but also easy to dress down for a casual day.
In other cases, kitten heels can also be dressed up and worn to upscale evening events. Whether you’re going out dancing, exploring a new city, or just meeting a friend for lunch… you know kitten heels will keep you looking chic yet comfy.
We’ve got some styling suggestions to get you rocking those kitten heel shoes.
• When choosing a color, consider when you’ll be wearing your kitten heels and how often. If you are looking to complement a primarily black wardrobe, a colorful pair of shoes can be a great way of punching up your look.
• On the other hand, if you already wear a lot of color, then opt for neutral kitten heel shoes that will work with most of what you own.
• Kitten heels are an awesome part of a professional wardrobe, but chances are you will want a more conservative style with a closed toe and a solid color without too many embellishments.
• The best kitten heel sandals or shoes for evening wear will be a little more glammed up. Look for shoes made of patent leather, velvet or satin, or opt for a pair embellished with crystals or luxe bows.
• Going into colder seasons, make sure to choose closed-toe kitten heel pumps or boots that will cover more of your foot.
• If you’ve opted for a colorful or embellished pair of kitten heels, let them star in a casual daytime outfit. Stick to neutral tones and don’t be afraid of wearing denim to let a pair of statement kitten heels shine!
• The same principle applies when putting together a look for the office – keep it simple with a pencil skirt and a tucked-in blouse. A matching blazer is optional.
• Don’t be afraid of wearing kitten heel shoes with a casual jeans and T-shirt look – it’ll instantly elevate your outfit.
• Cropped jeans are an especially lovely way of showing off your kitten heels.
• Colorful kitten heels can be awesome for color blocking! If you’ve opted for a pair of kitten heel shoes in a louder color, take into account the kinds of color patterns you could play with. A few examples are teal shoes, a purple top, and dark denim jeans, or yellow shoes with a wine-colored dress.
• If your style leans towards lighter tones with a lot of whites, tans, soft grays, and pastels, then definitely stick to that color for your kitten heels as well. There are some really gorgeous white and pastel colored kitten heel shoes you can wear with just about any light-colored outfit. Nude kitten heels might also be a good choice.
• If you’re on the shorter side, take care to pair your kitten heels with items that will elongate your body, like long skirts, vertical stripes, or high waisted trousers. While we love a cropped pant or skirt that falls just below the knee, they are generally not a great choice for someone short.
• Colorful or opaque tights can also be worn as part of a color blocked outfit that features kitten heels, and as a bonus they’ll help keep you warm in the winter.
Photos via @Bartabacmode, @ariadibari, @lafotka, @songofstyle