How to Apply the ‘Wrong Shoe Theory’ to Your Home Decor

This fashion trend isn’t just for your outfits—TikTok’s “wrong shoe theory” can elevate your home decor, too.

Robert Brantley

There’s a new fashion theory taking TikTok by storm: When you’re feeling uninspired by your wardrobe, you should pick the most unexpected shoe to complete your outfit. It’s called the “wrong shoe theory,” first dubbed by stylist and author Allison Bornstein.

“In working with clients and breaking down the style of our favorite celebrities, I realized what makes a look feel interesting and personal is the addition of accessories that feel slightly ‘off’ or mismatched with the vibe of the rest of the look,” Bornstein told Vogue.

In her TikTok about the trend, which currently has over 21,000 views, she explains how choosing the wrong shoe can make a look more personalized and interesting: For example, wearing flip flops with your work outfit or dress shoes with your summer beach get-up. Bornstein also described how the theory is all about making use of what’s already in your wardrobe instead of purchasing new clothes or shoes regularly.

Related: How Fashion Trends Influence Our Decor and Interior Design

David A. Land

David A. Land

For instance, if your furniture is predominately midcentury modern, introduce an unexpected touch of grandeur by adding an oversized Baroque mirror. The stark contrast between the clean lines of midcentury furniture and the ornate, intricate details of the mirror might just create a captivating juxtaposition—similar to how Mary Jane flats complement a maxi dress.

Give intentional color clashing a shot, too, with bright, colorful design accessories like blankets and books. Lighten up a green couch with orange pillows, or add electric blue vases to your yellow coffee table. The key is to explore surprising color pairings that defy convention, adding visual intrigue and interest. The same feel can be achieved with adding an unexpected pattern, whether its via wallpaper, posters, curtains, or decor.

Related: 21 Maximalist Rooms That Master the Over-the-Top Style

Embracing the principles of the wrong shoe theory allows you to forge a distinctive style that celebrates deliberate eclecticism and shows off pieces you really love. It also steers away from typical notions of decor harmony and ventures into a realm of curated intentionality—which makes it seem as if each decor choice is made with thought and purpose, a process that culminates in a cohesive yet unexpected design. All it takes is making a small choice that seems “wrong.”

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