An Explanation of the ‘Wrong Shoe Theory’ That Is All Over Your TikTok For You Page

It’s actually a simple fashion trend that seems so wrong that it’s just right.
Emily Ratajkowski, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber.

Emily Ratajkowski, Kylie Jenner and Hailey Bieber.

If you’ve even spent a few minutes on the fashion side of TikTok this month, you’re already aware of the “wrong shoe theory.” But for those who are immune to the addictive nature of the video-based platform, have enough self-control to not end up on shopaholic TikTok or have simply just scrolled past the trending videos, we have broken things down for you.

What is the wrong shoe theory?

Fashion influencer Charlie Scott is just one of the many creators who have made a video explaining the theory that has “always worked for her.”

She began the video wearing a green patterned slip dress with a high neckline.

“This has to do with personal style, but when I look at something like this, I would consider the ‘right shoe’ to be pretty simple, like a sandal or a slim-fitting sneaker like a white Superga. It’s cute, it’s casual and super comfortable,” Scott said. “The ‘wrong shoe theory’ is basically just picking the wrong shoe when it comes to your outfit. For example, when styling something really feminine and dainty—a dress like this, it feels wrong to pair it with a more masculine shoe like the [black] Adidas Samba. Another fun option is the New Balance 990.”

She noted that her favorite combo is pairing an athletic-looking, dad-type sneaker with something more “put-together” like a flirty sundress.

Examples in fashion

A sundress and sneakers is the most classic combo—it’s tried and true, Kylie Jenner-approved (like when she rocked chunky white Nike dunks with her cottage-core floral midi-dress last week) and super comfortable for a sunny summer day full of walking.

But the “wrong shoe theory” applies to more outfits. Think ballet flats with wide-leg jeans, kitten heels with cargo pants, tailored trousers with tennis shoes—pairings that seem so wrong that they work so well together, adding unique flair and contrasting styles to a single outfit. For example, Hailey Bieber paired the baggiest light-wash jeans with bedazzled white pointed-toe heels earlier this year. 

Two-time SI Swimsuit model Emily Ratajkowski does it on the daily. Just last week, she rocked a floral satin midi skirt with rustic cowboy boots, while last month, she donned nude color cinched cargos with matching strappy heels. She frequently wears lace-up heels with her Inamorata bikinis and pairs club-worthy mini dresses with the same shoes she wears to the gym.

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Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.