Lots of women would confess to having a horrible shoe habit, but if you’re shopping on a budget, you need to stick to the essential pairs, the ones you’ll wear over and over again. Not only should they be versatile enough to wear with multiple outfits, they need to be classically styled so you can wear them year after year without looking dated. Perhaps most importantly, they need to be comfortable, and sufficiently sturdy to support your feet through your long, busy days.

How do you pack all of that into a limited number of pairs? By focusing on these key players:

A basic black pump. A three-inch heel keeps you comfy without looking dowdy, and a closed, rounded toe means they’ll look sharp year after year. (Overly pointed or squared toes can look dated.) You can wear them to a business meeting, on a date, to an interview almost anywhere. And in the winter months, you can pair them with black stockings under a dress to avoid shivering.

A basic nude pump. These should be similar to the black pump, but feel free to buy a peep-toe version to show off your pedicure.

A metallic heeled sandal. These should have low heels, probably two to three inches; be very strappy; and come in either a silver or champagne finish (choose based on whether you favor silver or gold jewelry). They’ll go with almost every dress in your closet, no matter the color or style.

A bright flat. Choose a sturdy pair in your favorite peppy color, like tomato red or sunshine yellow. Then wear them with anything, pants, dresses, shorts to perk up even a basic outfit.

Some fun sandals. They can be beaded, metallic, whatever you like; you can wear them with shorts when flats are too warm, then with a dress when heels are impractical (for example, to a beach wedding).

Sturdy riding boots. A winter staple, these knee-high boots can be worn with jeans and skirts alike. Not only are they fashionable, they’ll keep your feet warm and dry during the winter months. Whether you buy black or brown simply depends on which color you favor; many people wear a lot of black during the winter months, but if you typically carry a brown leather bag, then a dark brown boot might be more suitable. It also has a more classic vibe than black boots, which look a little more urbane.

Once you’ve got these fashion staples in your closet, you’ll just need a pair of sneakers for the gym and a pair of flip-flops for the beach. Now you can focus on adding shoes on a whim!

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