It’s a Nice Day for a White Graduation

By Amalah

Hi Amy,
You are fabulous and Noah is absolutely adorable. You always give such great advice so I am hoping you can help me. For graduation I have to wear a white dress, white gloves, and white shoes. After many shopping trips I have finally found a dress that I am happy with. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find suitable shoes. The shoes must be white and closed toe. They should also be comfortable since I’ll have to wear them for hours at a time. My graduation is coming up in a few weeks and I would really appreciate if you could help me find a great pair of shoes. My dress is nearly floor length but my shoes will be mostly visible. Thank you,
P.S. Even if you don’t post this on Advice Smackdown I would really appreciate if you have any suggestions. I’ve already checked many stores in San Francisco but I can’t find shoes that fit the specifications that my school requires. I am hoping to not spend more than $100 on shoes since that’s how much I paid for my dress. Everyone in my class seems to have already gotten shoes but the ones they bought are way more than I can afford.
P.P.S. Thank you for your last article about body image.

Oh man, the closed-toe thing. That’s the killer here, even more than price. White shoes are typically either 1) bridal or 2) super-summery, and both of those tend to be open-toe. What does your school have against TOES? What’s wrong with toes? Are they trying to protect your little white, virginal selves against those creepy foot fetishists? Because I think those guys tend to skip graduation ceremonies in favor of sitting on the computer favorite-ing shoe photos on Flickr.
(TANGENT! My lands, isn’t it time to do away with the head-to-toe white clothing for graduating girls? Why must we equate the admirable completion of education with a wedding, like these are similar high points in a modern woman’s life? I went to my niece’s graduation from a prestigious, academically-rigorous all-girls’ school last year, and was kind of icked out by dozens of Ivy-league-bound young women walking down a church aisle in floor-length white dresses, clutching roses. I at least got to put a white cap and gown over my white dress back at my graduation [the boys wore red gowns, natch] so I felt vaguely more scholarly and less bride-y, at least until the reception afterwards, when all the girls sat around awkwardly in white dresses we would NEVER wear again, petrified that someone would spill punch on us.)
So, obviously you know already that white closed-toe shoes are just not that common. I couldn’t find anything at most department stores, and then smaller stores were all kind of…teenybopper and cheap-looking. Searching for that exact term online predictably turns up a lot of prom boutiques and the same two or three satin dyeable styles, all of which LOOK perfectly serviceable, not probably not very comfortable. And then there are a couple beautiful styles by designers like Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, all of which are multiple hundreds of dollars and I’m guessing exist SOLELY to appease the prep-school graduation crowd. Whatever. You will probably not wear white pumps many times in your life, unless you regularly participate in local Easter parades, or something.
It took me awhile to figure out, but Zappos does let you sort by both color and toe style (my biggest complaint with that site remains the crazy MASSIVENESS of it). I ran searches for both round toes and pointed toes — I personally think round toes are more comfortable, but some people prefer the look of a point. Here are my under-$100 faves….
rocketdogotto.jpgRocket Dog Otto, $69.99. I picked these for two reasons. 1) Rocket Dogs are incredibly comfortable, and 2) check out the striking resemblance to this pair by Kate Spade. Plus there’s something both classic and funky about them that would double your odds of being able to wear them again, maybe with some skinny jeans or a bright-patterned dress.
rsvp Jewel, $90. Depending on how you feel about bows and/or patent leather and/or wedge heels, these do stand out in a sea of plain white pumps. They’d be less wobbly to walk in if you’re not accustomed to a high heel height, and the wedge makes them a lot less bridal/prommy than a lot of the other styles.
Gabriella Rocha Flore, $70. I go back and forth on the heel of this shoe, but I love love love Mary Janes and always will, particularly with longer-length dresses where the strap just peeks out.
BCBG Girls Nice, $93. If you look at Zappos’ collection of white pointy-toed heels, you’ll see at least half a dozen slight variations on this style. It’s about as basic of a pump as you can get. I picked out the BCBG Girls’ version not because it’s drastically cuter or different, but because it’s a brand I wear quite often and am always happy with the quality and the comfort — which is essential when you’re up on a long, skinny little heel like that. I am pretty sure I have this exact style in black leather, actually.
akdorsay.jpgAK Anne Klein Christa, $83. I love the look of D’Orsay pumps, but if they don’t fit properly, you can go nuts trying to keep your heel in the shoe — these aren’t true D’Orsays, but you might still have some fit issues. Another potential downside — the “ivory patent” color might not be a true white, although it’s hard to tell from the photo. These would be one of those “oh, what the hell” styles I toss into my order just to try on even though I know I’ll most likely return them. (Free return shipping, yay!) One plus? A recent purchase of Anne Klein patent peep-toes turned out to be the most comfortable heels I’ve worn in ages.
I’d encourage you to run those searches for yourself, since I did leave out a lot of shoes that *technically* fit the bill, but didn’t seem to jump out at me. I wasn’t sure how your felt about ornamentation (buckles, contrast trim, etc.) and I personally will never, ever wear a slingback style because they literally tear my ankles into shreds and I hate them. But that could just be my own freak foot. I also skipped completely over Zappos’ selection of satin dyeables, since I assume you’ve already seen and rejected most of them. Plus, the minute you say “comfort” I say “leather.” (Although owning a pair of dyeables is nothing to sniff at, since they’ll certainly come in handy the first time you’re asked to be a bridesmaid and are tasked with finding closed-toe tangerine pumps.)
Good luck finding something soon, and hey, maybe you can wear them to your wedding someday! Gosh, wouldn’t that just be sooo peachy keen?

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Olivia

    May 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Cute shoes, I really like the mary janes.
    “I personally will never, ever wear a slingback style because they literally tear my ankles into shreds and I hate them.”
    This makes me laugh because I will only wear slingbacks or something with a strap because regular pumps (or flats) slide right off my heels. Especially my left foot because it is at least a half size smaller than the right.

  • qwyneth

    May 2, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Olivia, that’s EXACTLY what happens to me with regular heels. Drives me batty and makes it impossible to walk. I end up wearing a lot of mules and slingbacks. Woe.
    And, ugh. I had to wear a white dress and white tea gloves and white shoes (not closed toe!) and carry red roses down the aisle. Unfortunately, we had to all wear MATCHING dresses. It was hideous. And the dress was too big, and I couldn’t get it fitted by a real seamstress. UGH.

  • Aimee

    May 2, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I too had to wear a white graduation dress and carry red roses for my high school graduation– I think I went to that all- girls prep school you’re referring to, Amy! Alas, I have no memory whatsoever as to what shoes I wore– it was over 10 years ago! It’s possible I wore pre-died dyeables, since my sister’s wedding was the following fall, and I was a bridesmaid. Buying dyeables isn’t a bad idea, since you’ll likely wear them again. Then again, I really like the Rocket Dog pumps Amy posted.

  • TasterSpoon

    May 2, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I had to get white closed-toe pumps for my high school graduation, and kept putting it off because they were hard to find. Then during setup a couple days before, I accidentally dropped a load of folding chairs on my big toe and had this ridiculous swollen toe/toenail situation that required a trip to the doctor. Long story short, I had a huge bandage on my toe and bought open-toe pumps. What were they going to say?
    So you could try that.

  • Suzy Q

    May 2, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I have NEVER in my life heard of this girls-wearing-white-for-graduation thing. I totally would have rebelled against that kind of shit, even to the point of not participating in the ceremony (which is, after all, just someone handing you a rolled-up tube of paper that’s probably not even your real diploma). That is ALL KINDS of icky. I’m sorry you have to go through this, Lauren.
    PS: What the fuck century is it again? 18th?
    PSS: REBEL!!! In 10 or 20 years, you’ll be glad you did. Maybe even in one.

  • kathryn

    May 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I went to a women’s college that required we wear white dresses to graduate in (though not white shoes) and we were always told it was to represent the suffragette movement. I don’t know if this is true, but I’m sure that if they didn’t use that line, the feminist contingency on campus would have overthrown the white dress (or pants) thing long, long ago.
    So, there is some (supposedly) non-virginal non-bridal symbolism associated with the white clothing thing.

  • deanna

    May 2, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Thankfully we could wear whatever style/color dress and shoes we wanted for graduation plus we had the black cap and gowns over the top so it didn’t really matter but anyways, my two cents would be to go with the wedges if the ceremony will be on a field of some kind (mine was) because you don’t want to sink on to the field. Otherwise, I love the Rocket Dog shoes. A pair of white ballet flats would work well too… I think I saw some at American Eagle or Forever 21 the other day.


    May 2, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    God Bless my public alma mater… hehe! I wore black patent pointy toe heels to my hs graduation and skipped the college rigmarole… will likely skip grad school graduation, too. Just like my wedding plans, I prefer little ceremony & BIG PARTY!

  • mary ann

    May 2, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    We had to wear ankle-to-floor length black dresses with at least cap sleeves and black shoes for graduation. The boys wore tuxes. We were a merry looking lot walking up the aisle of the Cathedral at precise spacing in order alternating by sex and increasing in height. (We had to wear our shoes to rehearsal since we were arranged by height.) But in comparison with all white, I’ll take the all black thing.

  • barnmouse

    May 2, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    I have a pair of gray/silver-ish Anne Klein heels just like the ones in the pictures and they are COMFY! I bought them to wear to a baby shower and have ended up wearing them every chance I get. I usually have a hard time keeping shoes like that on my feet, but these stay pretty well.

  • Melissa Wiley

    May 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Hey, Amy–OT comment but thought your crowd would like to know. E.L.F. Cosmetics has been bought by a department store and is selling off all products with the ELF logo CHEAP–almost everything at the site is only $1. That goes for eyeshadows, mascaras, brushes, lip glosses, blush, etc etc. I don’t know if ELF is a decent brand or not, but at a dollar a pop I figured it was worth snagging a few of the SPF lip glosses at least.
    Use coupon code CAROLINA to get $7.50 off to boot!
    Melissa, your former ClubMom fellow blogger

  • Dashrashi

    May 5, 2008 at 10:03 am

    For the record, the ELF rumor comes up a lot, but it’s just a rumor. ELF cosmetics are always $1 each–it’s unlikely that this is the time when they really truly got bought out by a department store.

  • Cerys

    May 6, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    My boyfriend just bought me the Rocket Dogs in black (I wanted white, but they don’t sell them at any shoe shops in the south of England! Boo!) and they are deliciously comfortable- I’m going to be using them to photograph a wedding where the bride’s requested that I be in formal clothes :S
    I’ve never heard of the “white for graduation” thing either- but then again we don’t go in for “graduation” so much over here- just for uni. After five years of being about to wear whatever the hell I like to college, I think I’d choose to not go instead of buying things I’d probably never wear again…