Mules, the Unlikely Fashion Favourites

Mules, the Unlikely Fashion Favourites

A mule – not the most attractive name for a shoe, is it? And generally, I think the style matches the name in its (lack of) attractiveness. I’ve never been a fan: mules remind me of pictures of perfect retro housewives and boudoirs and Barbies. Or, if they are lower and have a sturdier heel, they just tend to look ugly on humans of non-model variety. But what is fashion for if not for making people to change their minds and wear things they thought hideous about two weeks ago?

Mules are, I am pretty certain, The Shoe of the Season. For the purposes of this post, I will define a mule very loosely as a backless shoe (unless it’s a sling-back or a slide). This is a wide definition, but it has its merits, because anything and everything backless seems in fact to be in fashion. So the heels can be high, medium, kitten or entirely absent. The toe can be open or closed, pointy or round or square. The colour can literally be anything. Even sling-backs (and slides!) are in fashion, although we have already established that they aren’t mules. Not entirely sure what the difference between slides and mules is, but never mind.

One of my favourite type of mule is basically an open-back loafer. This is a spin-off of the loafer trend in general and „inspired by“ Gucci Princetown slippers in particular. There isn’t anything too original about it, but having fallen hard for my Gucci loafers, I would totally wear this – it’s a great way to do loafers in summer. There is also a fancier, evening slipper version of the same idea, sometimes with added ribbons. I like this one, too – I’ve become quite fond of the fancy flat.

Then there’re the offerings for the cool and the minimal among us. There are several options, but I think the most This Season are the simple block-heel styles, often in neutral or slightly off colours. I find these the most difficult to pull off. They are deceptively simple, which means that the rest of your look has to make it very clear that you know your fashion – otherwise it can end up looking on the wrong side of normcore.

Last but not least, there are the pretty and the elegant versions. These usually have a slender heel, but range from extremely simple (see the black ones on the picture) to completely insane. Prada has a wide selection, but many designers have done them. My favourite flat ones in the “elegant” category are by Frances Valentine.

My main tip regarding mules is a practical one, though: make sure you try them on properly before buying. Some of them are incredibly comfortable – much more so than one would suspect -, others are only good for standing still on even ground. And it’s not always possible to tell the difference by just looking at them.


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  1. 1

    I am convinced I will fall out of them – and I am not generally aware of practicalities until rather too late! I love the very simple high ones with a thin heel and think they look amazingly cool but nonchalant – and might have try see if I can actually keep a pair on. I have always loved the sort of mule sandal for summer which is a thin strap across the toe and a medium heel and seem to remember I managed to wear a pair all night (or close to) many years ago. Separately, the furry flat ones look only too comfortable if a little random!

    • 2

      The ones on the picture I’ve only worn indoors for a party and I’m probably going to keep it that way. But some of the lower-heeled models are quite comfy. I also really like the pale pink Gucci furry ones, but in our weather? No. Or maybe yes, but with a lifestyle that I don’t have.

  2. 3

    A slingback is the thing for me, I’ve seen some wonderful slingback loafers but due to high arches actual mules don’t work for me.

    • 4

      Ah, that’s a good point. I’m high-arched, too, and that’s probably one reason I never liked mules much. I didn’t like sling-backs either, to be honest, but it’s a new day and a new dawn.

  3. 5

    The ones with the ribbons touched my heart! But pretty shoes I can only look at cos my arches are so high I have to wear special medical insoles even with trainers and can’t wear half of the footwear out there. Wixh is ok by me as I’ve always had a laid back style 🙂 although I *would* probably love to wear fluffy high heeled mules and silk kimono once a year- whilst lounging on the couch sipping a dry martini, petting the pug and reading Nancy Mitford essays. Great. Now I want a martini.

    • 6

      They are really nice, aren’t they? The pink ribbony ones. And not as expensive as some others. It took me ages to figure out why ballerinas are uncomfortable for me, but they don’t provide any support for high arches.

      We should do that mules-kimonos-martinis thing when Suss comes.

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