Over recent years, mules have re-emerged as among the most versatile and intriguing footwear styles, prompting us to reconsider how to wear mule shoes for right now. Originally designed to be worn in the bedroom, their convenient lack of back means that they are still one of the most effortless styles for kicking your heels up in.
The origin of the word itself may lie in Ancient Rome, but everyone from the risqué Comtesse d’Olonne to Marie Antoinette has favoured mule shoes fashion over the years. In recent times, though, it’s brands like Rochas and Nina Ricci that have begun to rethink the silhouette for contemporary fashion.
It makes sense, too, because there is something undeniably alluring about the mule. Inspired by women of the French Court, Manolo Blahnik has articulated it best: ""When you walk in mules, you walk a bit differently. It’s very sexy to me; you have to get your balance… Madame de Pompadour in her mules, walking around Versailles, click click click… Can you think of anything more exquisite?"" So here we chart the shoe’s modern incarnations and explore how to pull off mule shoes, the shoe that approaches with poise, but walks away with nonchalance.
From boudoir to modern power suit
Flat mule shoes or low-heeled styles were originally designed as a form of lingerie to be worn exclusively for the bedroom. Today, however, sharply tailored suit separates like a cropped black trouser offer some of the most elegant mule accompaniments. The tapered silhouette and a hint of ankle straddle an unexpected line between curated and casual.
When emulating this look, a monochromatic palette lends an energy that's classic yet dramatic, so consider taking a cue from the Givenchy Fall 16 couture runway and opting for a bright white statement piece up top. You could even go so far as Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine and mirror your white top with the high heel mules to match, tying the look together for a modern take on the traditional power suit.
Keep things in proportion
The secret to mastering the art of how to wear mule shoes is all about clever proportion play. Because the open-back makes mules naturally less secure than other footwear styles, opting for a sturdier heel, especially with shorter hemlines, helps to add balance to the overall look. Think less stretch mini dress with stiletto mules à la Nicole Richie, for instance, and more laid-back elegance inspired by the Rochas SS17 collection.
On another note, high heel mules can also offer excellent way to offset proportion elsewhere in your outfit, like with a strikingly voluminous top for example. Again, chunkier styles will be particularly helpful in this form of proportion play — and here, Kenzo makes a compelling case for choosing a more substantial mule, unexpectedly creating interest by way of prints, cut-outs or embellishment.
Up the feminine factor
Who said that after-dark styles can’t also be appropriated for daytime? The relaxed nature of mules means that they can also allow you to transform luxe creations effortlessly for daytime. The key here is opting for slightly more casual, or even flat mule shoes. Hyper-feminine dresses, for example, can work well for daytime when weighted with a more solid style of mule. While daintier, pointed styles are best reserved for marrying with more masculine tailoring or even denim.
Modern day jean genie
Speaking of denim, this fabrication offers a fuss-free way to incorporate mules into your everyday wardrobe. Miranda Kerr, for example, demonstrates well how to wear mule shoes in order to dress up the relaxed mood of this classic cloth. The model adds them to her uniform of skinny jeans and denim shirts, giving the Canadian Tuxedo a sophisticated update with a pair of printed mules. Think less the caricatures of spaghetti westerns and try mixing up the weight and wash instead, for maximum effect.
Alternatively, take the oversized avenue like blogger Carmen Hamilton, who teams borrowed-from-the-boyfriend shirting with a cuffed pair of distressed jeans and sturdy mules. Stiffer styles of denim are particularly appealing here, since they offer a slightly more structured touch overall.
Jeans aside, denim miniskirts are also a fine candidate for matching with low-heeled mule shoes for women – a revived street favourite that powerfully plays with proportion. Just think of the fresh interpretations presented at Mansur Gavriel SS17, for example — the silk slipper styles were just the right amount of girly, while the brand’s two-tone take on the mule brings even greater sass to an already intrepid shoe.