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Nine Pairs of Non-Boring But Classic Black Pumps

Getty Images; WireImage

This might be shoe heresy, but when I'm putting together an outfit and start hunting for a shoe, I typically don't want something too dramatic. Usually—as in 90 percent of the time—I wouldn't want a glitter bootie or leaf-covered Manolo as my pairing, even if I could afford them.

But on the flipside, I don't want a too-basic pump or sandal either. Instead, I want a shoe that toes the line between attention-stealing and the snooze-worthy—something that's slightly, perfectly off-kilter. Essentially, I'm looking for the footwear equivalent of a solid skirt with an asymmetrical hem, or Michelle Obama's really versatile black dress.

Brooklyn Decker's pair, above, would do the trick. Next to Rihanna's understated pumps, those little criss-cross straps shoot an extra bit of voltage through her outfit: interesting, but not overwhelming. The same is true for the pair Mad Men's Jessica Paré wore for the season premiere last week. With their deep V shape at the vamp (the part that covers your upper foot), they're memorable. But not, like, too much.

I already own a pair much like Rihanna's (imagine what you'd draw on a Pictionary board if someone gave you 5 seconds for "black pump"—they're that). And maybe it seems silly to want another pair that's only slightly more detailed, but yeah, I do. I think those subtle tweaks—an extra strap, an oddly-shaped vamp, a bow, a bit of studs—make a world of difference. Which is why I'll probably be buying one of these pairs below—or something like them—soon.

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If oversized bows are too feminine for you.

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Slightly menswear slanted.

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The detailing on the back is a "blink and you'll miss it" sort of thing, but it's definitely a little bit punk. Which is why we're not surprised Gwen Stefani designed them.

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That square cut vamp would look so good with a pencil skirt.

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The embossing puts them a step above more common patent pumps.

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Business in the front, party in the back?

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Ladylike without any frills.

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Ladylike, with frills.

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