FOOTWEAR Whimsical wedge is fun shoe

Unlike the once popular stiletto, the wedge goes with everything.
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Peel away those fishnets. Retire all calf boots and stilettos to the hall closet.
Today feet will rise and be free with the help of the wedge, that high and mighty heel that magically shrinks your ankles and lengthens your legs.
"The stiletto was huge for years, but the good thing about the wedge is that more people can walk in them," says Marshalls style expert Amy Gallagher. "It's a fun shoe that can be dressed up or down."
Last winter's dapper Mary Janes and danger-zone pointy toes matched the proper look of fitted tweed and faux-fur. But this season is all about flouncy full skirts, safari chic and bohemian peasant blouses, and the wedge is the perfect match for such free flowing femininity.
"The look after Sept. 11 was very cold and sleek," Gallagher says. "Everything in the world became more serious, but this year, the resounding message was 'Let's be footloose and free.' The wedge is very whimsical and exciting."
For all sizes
Wedges come in just about every look -- among the most popular is yummy pastel-with-high-cork heels for shorter women and one-to-two-inch heels for you taller lucky ducks.
And the good news, says Liz Claiborne creative director Richard Ostell, is that these shoes go with almost anything.
"I think they look great with skirts and straighter leg crop pants with a cuff," Ostell says. As for miniskirts and short shorts: "Yes, if you're 18 years old."
The canvas espadrille look is especially hot this season, in greens, oranges and yellows so exotic you could pass them off as something you picked up on your summer in Istanbul.
The Indian prints you're spotting on camisoles and skirts are dripping onto wedges, along with beads, sequins, fake flowers and just about any other legal embellishment.
Gallagher says unlike fall's round-toed stiletto that got lost underneath long jeans, the wedge actually leaves something to be seen.
"Many of the wedge heels are bright, a lot of them have interesting weaving, whether it's leather or wicker," she says, "so the cool thing about the jeans look is that you can actually see the patterns."
Wedges also look fabulous with dresses and this season's can't-live-without item, the full skirt: It's fitted at the waist and hips, then flows out to below the knee or longer. Some even have a gauzy lining for added pouf.
Don't go overboard
Since the skirts are ornate, many covered in large florals or ethnic paisleys, Gallagher says you don't want to go overboard by pairing them with shoes that are too wild, especially since jewelry, belts and handbags are just as busy this season.
"There's a really good rule," Ostell says. "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take something off. Then you're probably OK."
While all heels elongate the legs, the wedge will hold a special place in the hearts of those with less-than-dainty ankles.
"The wedge makes the leg look smaller, especially if you have thicker legs." Gallagher says.
Given that, they can look a bit odd -- unless you're going for the Dee-Lite look -- on superskinny legs.

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