Feeling uninspired by your summer wardrobe? Have no fear: A simple styling trick could help you instantly update your hot-weather looks. Dubbed the “wrong-shoe theory” by stylist Allison Bornstein, the hack simply involves picking the most unexpected shoe to finish off a look, giving it more personality.
“In working with clients and breaking down the style of our favorite celebrities, I realized what makes a look feel interesting and personal is the addition of accessories that feel slightly ‘off’ or mismatched with the vibe of the rest of the look,” Bornstein, author of the forthcoming book Wear It Well, tells Vogue.
One example is teaming a pair of tailored trousers with a pair of flip-flops (a combination sported by Elle Fanning in Cannes earlier this month). “Flip-flops add a casual and beachy element to a tailored trouser, and the trouser elevates the flip-flop,” Bornstein explains. “A trouser of course is still super chic with a classic heel or a loafer; however, if your look feels too straightforward or one-note, this is a really easy and low-stakes trick to try.”
Similarly, a pair of Mary-Jane flats—the shoe of the moment—with a maxi dress or skirt also shows how the wrong-shoe theory works in action. Recently Katie Holmes was spotted on the red carpet in a long crocheted dress teamed with her Miu Miu ballet flats. It was an unexpected choice, given that the more obvious option would have been a pair of heels.
Other celebrities who subscribe to the wrong-shoe theory include the Olsen twins, who often dress down a look with their choice of footwear. “When they wear The Row, which is kind of an austere and chic aesthetic, I love how they will add sandals, sneakers, or slippers to give it their own lived-in type of spin,” Bornstein says.
For those who are unsure where to start, the stylist suggests trying on the shoe that you would usually wear with an outfit before opting for another pair that goes completely against your first instinct. “If you love your first-instinct shoe, great,” she says. “But this just forces you to mix it up and try something that might totally blow your mind and change the entire look.” If you want to take it one step further, you can try introducing socks, which “adds another layer and texture and changes the proportion.”
The best thing about the wrong-shoe theory? “It doesn’t require you to buy a single thing—it’s about using what you have in your wardrobe in a new way,” Bornstein says.
This article first appeared on British Vogue.