Shoes this fall are a shoe-in in the footrace for comfort, thanks to their scaled-down heels, and they are feet-down winners in the color competition, so brilliant in hues that shoes alone can brighten and freshen any look.

So can a change of stockings. Hose this fall are color-keyed to compliment and contrast, an added bonus in one of the best shoe seasons to come along in years.

Another new angle is the heel that angles in from the back, inspired, no doubt, by the cowboy boot. For cowboys, the angular heel is all the better to dig into the ground when you are roping a steer. For shoe designers, the slanty heel is strictly for fashion -- and to make the straight-cut heel look outdated.

Which brings up the matter of economics, probably the most important motivation for designers to make yearly changes in styles and colors. Clothes take on fresh proportions, of course, when worn with low or mid heels rather than stilettos, but the new shoes may be designed primarily to knock fashion-conscious women off their high heels and send them back to the starting gate -- the store. And if there is comfort in the shape of shoes to come, there is little comfort in the prices. The leap on the price tags is not as great as a year ago, but the price of leather on the world market and the price of the workmanship -- shoes are probably the most labor-intensive item we wear -- combine to make the prices extraordinarily high even if the heels are low.

It may be some consolation to know that if you have to spend more money for a pair of shoes this season, you'll also be getting more -- more color and more comfort. CAPTION: Illustration 1, Sleek burgundy pump piped in a deeper wine by Joan and David at Ann Taylor, $98; ribbed hose by Evan-Picone at Raleighs.; Illustration 2, The New Wave-inspired mustard-colored patent pump from the Woodward & Lothrop Designer Collection, $86; Regal Plum opaque hose by Round the Clock at Woodward & Lothrop.; Illustration 3, Ralph Lauren's classic handmade limited-edition wing tip for women from Lord & Taylor, $198; yellow cable knee socks by J. G. Hook also from Lord & Taylor.; Illustration 4, Bowed burgundy pump by Salvatore Ferragamo from I. Magnin, $100; hose by Hanes at Raleighs.; Illustration 5, Woodward & Lothrop's own red-fringed moccasin, $55; heavy black Danskin ribbed-cotton tights from Woodies.; Illustration 6, The pump with a new silhouette and a stacked heel in a new color by Sophisticates at Hahn's, $52; rose quartz checkered textured panty hose by Lortay at Lord & Taylor.; Illustration 7, The definitive tuxedo pump in black patent by Andrew Geller from Garfinckel's, $92; ruby-red tights by Electric Sox, also from Garfinckel's.; Illustration 8, Pink lizard-look pump by Shoe Strings from Rich's Shoes, $56; Bloomingdale's own sheer pink hose.; Illustration 9, Washington's favorite boating shoe in chartreuse by Cole-Hahn from Neiman-Marcus $59, worn with your best white sweat socks.; Illustration 10, Snakeskin-look low oxford by Shoe Strings at Hess Shoes, $58; sheer hose from Bloomingdale's. By Donald Gates