In February, when this fall’s selection of footwear was first presented, we had little to no idea how 2020 would play out. For one, we didn’t know we’d be spending most of our time inside, making anything with too high a heel or an uncomfortable strap impractical for our daily life. Now that fall’s actually here, though, and we’ve had the chance to (somewhat) adjust to life in a pandemic, we’ve realized something: our favorite shoes don’t have to go untouched — we just have to get creative about the ones we choose and the ways we wear them. Those that made the cut have to check off one of the following two boxes: durability — for the rainy and cold weather — or style — that way, even if they’re impractical, they still make you happy, which, these days, is a feat in and of itself. What we’re trying to say is that hope is not lost for fall footwear. 

This fall, there are no surprises in the footwear department. Instead, by our calculations, there are seven pairs of shoes that you need to round out your autumnal collection, most of which probably already exist in your wardrobe. Loafers and cowboy boots are a must in terms of trends — the former being paired with socks and trousers or jeans, while the latter coordinated with a midi skirt and tights. Comfort is of the utmost importance. Meaning: One pair of sneakers must be included, preferably a retro-esque pair that your dad would wear (for instance, a style similar to those showcased at Balenciaga’s recent show in Paris or some New Balance 990v5s). Ballet flats for dry days, Wellies for wet ones, and knee-high boots for everything in between. Add in a classic black boot, and voila! You’re ready for fall, no matter what it throws at you. 

Ahead, shop the seven shoe styles you need for fall, all of which will have you falling in love with footwear again.

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Loafers

If we had to choose just one shoe to invest in this season, it’d have to be a really good pair of loafers. Not only are they one of the biggest trends to hit footwear since cowboy boots arrived in fashion in 2018, but they also work for every season and, for that matter, every outfit. For your first pair, we suggest going simple, with a hint of unexpected, like for instance, Maison Margiela’s iteration, which are white and have a collapsible heel, or Telfar’s just-launched logo style. Save the platforms and lug soles for once you and loafers are better acquainted. 

Telfar Black Logo Loafers, $, available at SSENSE

G.H. Bass & Co. Whitney Colorblock Weejuns, $, available at G. H. Bass & Co

Maison Margiela White Slip-On Loafers, $, available at SSENSE

Knee-High Boots

For as long as we can remember, knee-high boots have been our go-to for fall. Sure, they’ve gone through periods of low popularity — we blame over-the-knee boots for that — but, luckily, they’re back where they belong, which is in the front of our closets. Wear them with slim-fitting jeans or baggy ones, mini skirts or maxis, and every type of dress under the sun — but really, no matter what you wear them with, knee-high boots will always look good. 

Miista Anahera Black Florentique Leather Tall Boot, $, available at Miista

Zara Low-Heeled Leather Tall Boots, $, available at Zara

& Other Stories Square Toe Knee High Leather Boots, $, available at & Other Stories

Cowboy Boots

Two years ago, if you’d have asked us if the just-risen cowboy boot trend would still be going strong, we’d have scoffed at you in disbelief. And yet, countless one-off footwear fads and a pandemic later, and cowboy boots have leveled up, now firmly in the world of classic staples. 

Ganni High Texas Boots, $, available at Ganni

The Source Unknown Vegan Suede Western Boots, Dark Brown, $, available at The Source Unknown

Mango Leather Boots With Tall Leg, $, available at Mango

Wellington Boots

In the U.K., Wellies are a well-known staple in most everyone’s fall wardrobe. In the States, though, the often knee-high rain boots aren’t quite so overwhelmingly popular. That is, until now. Today, lug-sole knee-highs and Chelsea boots in rubber and other waterproof materials are as much a fashion trend as they are a wet-weather essential. Don’t believe us? Just check the latest from Ganni, Bottega Veneta, and Prada. 

Hunter Huntress Field Boot, $, available at Zappos

Bottega Veneta Brown Matte BV Puddle Boots, $, available at SSENSE

Jileon Rain Boots Extra Wide Calf Rain Boots, $, available at Jileon Rain Boots

Dad Sneakers

Sneakers are a no-brainer for fall. This season, we’re continuing with the dad trend, but taking it down a notch from previous styles, which often featured platform soles or super bright colors. Instead, we’re mellowing out our sneaker collection, opting for more neutral, sporty shades of gray, white, and navy. 

New Balance Off-White Made In US 990v5 Sneakers, $, available at SSENSE

Loewe Ballet Runner Leather And Suede Trainers, $, available at Matches Fashion

Reebok Club C Revenge Sneaker, $, available at Urban Outfitters

Black Boot

That’s it. That’s the caption. Not really, but it does go without saying that every fall wardrobe needs at least one pair of simple, probably heeled, black boots. This season, we’ve grown a liking for slim, sock-like boots in materials like leather or satin, as they’re elevated and classic, yet still comfortable. That, or a super-structured boot that can withstand the elements with ease.

Pêche Bia, $, available at Pêche

Sunni Sunni Reese Square Toe Boot, $, available at Sunni Sunni

Nomasei Aria Ankle Boots in Black Stretch Satin, $, available at Nomasei

Ballet Flats

In the past, ballet flats have often aired on the youthful side. Thanks to Catherine Holstein, creative director of NY-based brand Khaite, as of summer 2020, they are now all grown up, and as much a shoe staple as black boots or strappy sandals. And while they’re not always the most practical option for fall weather, when the sun does come out, flats (maybe with socks) are a welcome alternative. 

Khaite The Ashland Ballet Flat, $, available at khaite

Mansur Gavriel Dream Ballerina, $, available at Mansur Gavriel

Schutz Arissa Square Toe Ballet Flat, $, available at Nordstrom

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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