Styles in footwear have undergone substantial changes lately. We have become accustomed to such departures from the norm as conical heels, V-shape vamps, asymmetrical cuts, and unconventional color combinations. Shoes with these and other nonconformist traits are very much with us again for spring.
Still, every season has its basic wear-with-everything favorite. For a time, the tuxedo pump held the honors. This spring's leading candidate is the closed-toe, open-heeled black patent pump. Slim-lined, with a slender, moderately high heel, it has the pure and simple look that suits many of the new fashions. It is conservative without being dull, you can wear it any time, and for several designers - Ralph Lauren among them - it is the perfect all-around shoe.
The other style getting more than a modicum of attention is the updated spectator. Unlike the classic two-toned spectator of yore, the latest versions are not necessarily sporty in feeling. Bicolor pumps by Vittorio Ricci, for example, may be squared-off at the throat, have sling backs, and color contrast along the sides rather than at the usual heel and toe.
Besides the expected combinations of buck and calf, there are pairings of leather with linen. Perforations are being used for rococo patterns on the vamps of Ricci's spectators - an interesting variation on the theme of this classic shoe.
Once she is equipped with these two paragons of up-to-date footgear, the woman who loves to buy shoes will be confronted with one temptation after another.
According to a spokeswoman for the Footwear Council, the voice of the American shoe industry, the latest designs offer ''lots of color, varied heel heights, and innovative styling.''
No single heel height has been chosen as the one-and-only. There has, in fact , probably never been greater choice. Sculptured wedges and triangular shapes are just as prevalent as underslung flats. Chunky stacked heels, curved mid-heels, and delicate medium-high shafts are all in the picture. For those who do not mind teetering along in spikes, the ultra-high heel is available. It goes well with the '50s fashions that are now in flashback, and it often comes in bright-colored ankle-strapped styles.
The wrapped ankle is a Spring '83 theme. Sometimes, as in the case of the platform espadrilles shown by Perry Ellis, the wrapping is a wide cotton tape. A more sophisticated version - an open-heeled T-strap patent shoe by David Evins for James Galanos - is laced around the ankle with spaghetti-thin ties.
Fabrication has taken over in the shoe world. Open mesh and lace are among the cool materials being combined with leathers. Faille, Shantung, linen, and cottons in polka dots and stripes are newsworthy arrivals this season.
Nearly every popular style is represented - including the slide, the ballerina, and the action shoe with the traction sole. The big differences this season are (1) the advanced styling and (2) color - plenty of it. Paired with white, as a rule, just about every hue on an artist's palette is found in footwear - from black and navy to red, the whole range of neutrals, and the bright and pale pastels.