How to dress: wallpaper print court shoes

4 May 2012

These shoes are slightly silly – I'm not disputing that – but it's all relative. We've had the six-inch heel, the SUV platform, Lady Gaga's armadillo shoes and those unicorn-hoof tippytoe boots (platform under the toe, no heel). Not to mention Miu Miu's glitterbomb sandals, Louboutin's zebra-print wedges and the Louis Vuitton high-end steel toe-capped stilettos.

In other words, in the context of recent shoe fashions, the wallpaper print court you see here is fairly restrained. At least it doesn't appear to have been designed with the intention of making walking difficult, as many fashionable shoes these days are. The decoration may be pretty out there, but the functionality is sound.

Still, a printed shoe is most definitely a fashion statement. More importantly, it is a shoe for fun. Black shoes do the heavy lifting in your wardrobe, coloured shoes are the blondes who get to have more fun. Printed shoes, then, are the celebrity cameo appearance, but while they're on stage, they can steal the show. They are a good-mood shoe, a shoe to celebrate a day out of the ordinary: perfect, in other words, for a bank holiday.

Just as wallpaper needs to continue making visual sense even once you've hung a mirror and put furniture against the wall, printed shoes work best in patterns that can be recognised from a big-toe-sized scrap, from a distance of around five and a half to six feet, and in motion. Floral prints and abstract painterly splashes work well; anything too subtle or too large-scale is likely to be lost in translation.

It is worth remembering, also, that shoes go on the floor. Sounds obvious, but it is actually quite easy to lose sight of this fact after half an hour in a store where the shoes are pedestalled and softly lit. Be realistic: bear in mind that a printed canvas can probably be scrubbed down if it gets in a spot of bother, whereas a printed satin can't. And when assessing heel height, factor in the need to skitter sharply from the kerb to avoid splashy drivers. You know what they say about puddles: if you can't jump in them, you need to be able to jump over them.

• Jess wears dress, £45, by Marks & Spencer. Shoes, from a selection, by Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem.

Hair and make-up: Celia Burton at Mandy Coakley. © Guardian News and Media 2012

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