What Is TikTok’s ‘Wrong Shoe Theory’?

By Charlie Colville

10 months ago

So wrong, but so good?


There are many cursed combos in life – socks and sandals, pineapple and pizza, introverts and extroverts, to name a few – but the latest trend on TikTok is proving that, in some cases, opposites do indeed attract. Welcome to the platform’s latest styling trick: ‘wrong shoe theory’.

What Is ‘Wrong Shoe Theory’?

As the name implies, ‘wrong shoe theory’ is the act of picking footwear that completely contrasts with the rest of your outfit – and the more unexpected, the better. The idea is to give your outfit a little more personality, while also exploring combinations that break traditional pairings.

@truthfullycharlie The wrong shoe theory 👟 #fyp #fashiontip #fashionhack ♬ original sound – Charlie ☻

Take a girly summer dress, for example. You might think to wear it with sandals, pumps or white trainers usually, right? Well, ‘wrong shoe theory’ might instead put you in chunky socks and loafers, or a sporty sneaker. What about jorts and a blouse? Team them up with a pair of slingbacks. A pinstripe three-piece suit? Try cowboy boots. The idea is to be experimental and see what works for you personally, rather than stick to any ingrained fashion rules.

But while the term may be new, the idea itself has been lurking around for a while (we’ve all seen the early noughties eveningwear and sneakers trainers – thank you, Kristen Stewart). It’s just that, in 2023, we’re a bit more willing to give it a go.

Try It Out

As TikToker @truthfullycharlie demonstrates in her video above, start with the shoes you’d usually pair with your outfit. Once you’ve identified the ‘right’ footwear, it makes it easier to figure out which ones would be ‘wrong’ (hint: it’s usually the opposite). This forces you to mix things up and try combinations you wouldn’t usually think to try, adding new colour and textural dynamics to your current look. It also stops you from going out to the shops to buy yet another pair of shoes you’ll only wear with one outfit.

Wrong Shoe Theory In Practice

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Featured image: Christian Diokno, Pexels