Longer clothes call for lower heels. It's mostly a matter of proportion. There is something off balance about the look of added height with a below-calf skirt. As Anne Klein designer Donna Karan remarked awhile ago, ''It takes a very savvy woman to handle high heels with a long skirt.''
The shoe that is therefore being touted as numero uno in fall styles is the flat slip-on with a slim wedge or a pancake heel. It takes many forms, the soft leather shoe with pointed toe and V-shaped vamp being a favorite. In key with the masculine mode, the most fashionable basic is one of the new versions of the man's black patent dinner pump. Calvin Klein showed this low-heeled classic, with opaque black tights, throughout his collection with both skirts and pants, and other designers like the idea, too.
Besides the tuxedo pump, other styles that have an androgynous air are being offered. They include oxfords, kilties, and flat-heeled spectators with wing tips and perforated details. Monk straps of the sort found on men's moccasin styles have also been adapted for the feminine shoe-buying public.
Although lower heels have been a growing trend for a couple of seasons, they have by no means been having universal acceptance. That shoes with high heels are still the norm was evidenced by what a New York newspaper reported as ''a litter of women's pumps'' strewn about the floors of caucus rooms at the Democratic convention, where the ''aching feet of women delegates took precedence over their sense of fashion.'' In actual fact, shoes with lower heels would have been more in fashion.
The idea persists, and with some viability, that high heels are more flattering. A person with short legs is obviously going to look better with a bit of height added. Medium heels will take care of that exigency, and there are plenty of shoes with built-up leather and triangular-shaped heels to fill the bill. The assortment includes lace-up ankle boots as well as T-straps and instep straps, said straps being broader than before.
Boots are the ideal accompaniment for the new longer skirts that are often reminiscent of what women wore when they rode sidesaddle, which practically nobody does these days. Many of the season's boots are accordingly of the equestrian variety; both the conventional full-length and the jodhpur.
Leathers are grained to simulate alligator or some other reptilian species, also pleated, latticed, patented, or given a metallic finish. Among the exotic skins are matte snake, ostrich, and, for some unfathomable reason, anteater. Besides the usual wines, browns, and blacks, earth tones, navy, and lodens are strong, according to the Footwear Council, the association that represents America's shoe manufacturers.
While low heels are also advocated for evening, that is the hour when the seductive sandal and the elegant jewel-trimmed satin pump with elevated heel seems appropriate, if not obligatory. So footwear for the gala moments in life generally comes with high heels. It also comes with plenty of glitter this season: sequins, jeweling, and iridescent finishes abound. On some evening shoes , the heels are studded with rhinestones, a look that hasn't been seen since pre-World War II days.
Silk and satin, moire and lace, velvet and brocade, are some of the lavish fabrics. In emerald, red, violet, or midnight blue, the latest dressy shoes are ready for whatever fancy footwork is in view.