No one expects a pair of shoes to go on forever. A fortunate thing, too, because aside from the conservative classics, styles nowadays can easily become obsolete before shoes are completely worn out. Fashions in footwear are subject to swift changes from season to season.
This spring is no exception. Besides revamping shapes and proportions, shoemakers have been expanding their ranges of different kinds of shoes. Shoppers will be confronted with a befuddling array in every category.
Point one to remember in charting one's way through the maze of shapes, textures, details, and colors is that lowered heels are still in the majority. Flats, short geometric heels, curved and underslung Louis types, and -- above all -- wedges are prime choices for all times of day, for work or for play.
None of these heels is heavy or clunky. The latest wedge, which is being called ''linear,'' is a long, streamlined sliver that is sometimes notched at the heel or sculptured in a manner that calls up images of racy sports cars and modern speedboats. Another modish flat is a light rendition of the Moroccan slipper, cut low on the sides, high at the back, and curved to a point at the instep. Soft as a ballet slipper, it comes in a range of pastels as well as black, red, or navy and is sometimes piped in silver, the top metallic accent for spring. These styles are seen as appropriate accompaniments for the sort of simplified architectural clothes that Ronaldus Shamask designs, but the linear flat wedge or the Moroccan slipper would also work well with a short-flared culotte and a loose, low-belted top.
In the overall picture, ornamentation is less in evidence now. There are fewer decorated vamps. Gleaming metallics have been replaced by shimmering textures; pearlized and luster finishes are the spring-summer alternatives.
Warm weather is sandal time, and shoe producers have accordingly supplied their public with a vast variety. Wider bands and tubular straps are regarded in the footwear world as ''newsy,'' but Egyptian thongs, slave-girl ankle and toe bands, and low-wedge sandals with lacings that are meant to crisscross up bare legs to the knees will surely attract attention, too.
Colored stones, which also decorate leathers this season, owe their origins to the Far West. In grouping shoe trends, the Footwear Council of America has lumped all the ''desert sands'' influences together -- nomadic North African and Asian along with native-American Santa Fe.
The kind of petticoated and ruffled dressing known in some quarters as ''country peasant'' (in others as ''milkmaid'') calls for ballerinas, embroidered espadrilles (some go so far as to have eyelet edgings), openwork weaves, and lattice treatments. Pleating and ruching has also been used on calfskins as well as canvases for shoes that have a provincial air.
Always a hot-weather favorite, the nautical theme is again strong this year. Bicolor and tricolor shoes, stripes, and perforated leathers are some of the variations used in navy and white pumps and slingbacks.