Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Cat brings heels to the aristocrats

Heels are actually functional. They're not just for fashion or for making your legs look long, they're actually for your horse.

Big collars and tall shoes.
She was all the rage. 
Oh, you don't have a horse? Me either, but that's totally what they were made for. That way your feet don't slide off the stirrups while you're riding. Luckily a woman who shares my name decided that heels were a brilliant idea and brought them into fashion.

Catherine 'de Medici, queen of France, had two inch heels put on her wedding shoes.  Or, more likely, she had someone else do it for her. This is arguably the first instance of heels being used for fashion instead of function. Suddenly men and women were wearing heels to show their status in this world, because apparently only peasants wear flats. Louis XIV of France even went so far as to outlaw anyone other than aristocrats from wearing flats.

Inspired by Marie Antoinette who
lost her head in 2 inch heels.
Hence the term "well heeled."

So while the French were wearing heels, making amazing shoes, and European women were binding their feet like the Chinese (because who needs to be able to walk?), the Puritans in the new world went ahead and ruined fashion like everything else and decided that women who wear heels are witches. Predictably, they burned women bold enough to wear the accursed shoe.

So wearing heels means you're a high-born spell caster who cavorts with the devil, and stands above the "commoners" in their flats? And it was all started by a woman named Catherine.

No wonder I love them so much.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Over the top is just enough

Getting dressed for a wedding is really stressful. You have to find something cute, but appropriate. Attractive, but not so attractive that you look better than the bridesmaids or, God forbid, the bride. And you can't ever match the bridesmaids.

All this is one of the many reasons there is open bar at a wedding.

So what happens when you're at a wedding in another state, there's no bar at the reception (cash or otherwise) and the girl seated next to you is wearing an eerily similar dress and the bride is swishing her lacy white dress all over the dance floor to gangster rap?

You start texting your sister all the snarky things you're thinking and shouldn't say.

This weekend I wasn't the snarky one. I was the sister.

As the texts came rolling in, bitching about the lack of booze, the music, the absence of vegetarian menu options and the fact that Nirvana was turned into classical music for dinner, it was the girl unfortunately seated ext to her that was also wearing a leopard dress.
My sister's shoes are better than yours

Really, what are the chances there are two girls who have enough balls to wear a fitted leopard dress to a wedding? Luckily, my wedding saved my sister because her shoes were better.

Of course they were. They were the shoes she wore for my wedding, where the bridesmaids' shoes were as important as the dresses.

Black patent peep toes with a giant bow. Really there's no way to go wrong with that, and few people who have the balls to pull it off. Especially when paired with leopard.

Sure, she was a little reticent at first. Leopard dress, patent shoes with an enormous bow, and a black rose with feathers in her hair. I assured her it wasn't too much.

Or maybe it was, but at least she stood out from the other girl in a leopard dress. And she sure as hell didn't dance to gangster rap in her glam getup.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ruffled zebras in the rain

Rainy days destroy me. I never know what to wear, I don't own rain boots, always get water in my shoes, I'm short enough that my pants drag on the ground and get muddy and wet, and my hair goes flat.

Rain and I are not good friends at all.

This weekend I had a kid's birthday party to attend. Party in the park with yelling children hopped up on pizza, caffeinated pop and cake frosting (because none of them eat the cake part), and then they run off to play on equipment that can't give them splinters or tetanus like playgrounds of yore. This leaves the adults alone to sip beer out of coffee cups (because park rules frown on drinking outside at noon), and talk about adult things like the economy, work, how much they both suck, and of course, shoes.

I was standing around, drinking my beer and nodding about some economic story or discussing work, hoping no one bloodied a nose on the playground, and wondering how bad my hair looked because of the on again, off again rain, and suddenly a Steve Madden box was shoved into my hands.
These are going to go with everything (except rain).

"Here, if these fit you and you like them, they're yours."

I opened the box and saw a pair of zebra print heels with a red patent heel and red ruffle staring up at me. The same heels I had almost bought half a dozen times, and suddenly they're being handed to me in the middle of a birthday party.

So what's the catch? Why would someone give up a perfectly good pair of zebra print Madden Girl heels that had obviously never been worn?

"I can't walk in them," the gift giver explained. "Seriously, I put them on, tried to walk across the room and was crippled. There's no way that was going to happen. But I love them, and I know you love heels, and they're your size, so take them."

I stared in awe of my new shoes, suddenly having something that I have been intermittently lusting after for years, and profusely thanked her for the gift.

And no, I assured everyone, I don't have anything like them (which some seemed hard to believe). In fact, I don't even own anything in a zebra print. Which really seems almost criminal. Good thing that's been fixed. Now I can obsess over something in a giraffe print, because I'm pretty sure I don't have that either.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Filing shoes

A few days ago I couldn't find the shoes I was looking for in the closet.

There I am, rushing around, getting ready for work, probably brushing my teeth while trying not to trip on a shoe and end up bleeding to death on the floor of my closet with a stiletto in my temple, and I couldn't find my damn navy blue heeled loafers. Finally I gave up, grabbed a different pair and ran off to work.

Once I got to the office all my suspicions were confirmed. The missing shoes were sitting in a drawer. Yep, a drawer.

Some people own less shoes than I keep at work.
I have managed to create a shoe drawer at work in one of my file cabinets. It's rare that I travel to work in certain shoes, especially when it's raining or snowing. Sure, cheap shoes put up with crap weather, but rain ruins suede and tweed, sidewalk construction can rid the patent off a pair of covered heels, and snow...I don't even feel the need to explain myself.

As a result of big city living, I often change my shoes when I get to work, change for the trip home, and end up leaving my shoes in a large drawer of my file cabinet that also contains my gym bag, yoga mat, and copies of a few client proposals that got lost down there during it's transition to a shoe drawer.

Now I'm pretty sure the drawer is turning into a full blown corporate shoe closet since it contains shoes rarely worn outside the office. There's also the "work version" of shoes that also have the "home version."

Cork platform sandals (patent for the office), black pumps (sensible heel stays at the office), gray patent shoes which only match work clothes, purple tweed (too preppy for my real life), and a pair of ankle boots I forgot about and don't particularly like. There's also a black cardigan I forgot I ever even brought to work that I'm pretty sure I never use, and has a footprint on it from a heel carelessly tossed into the drawer.

I think I have a problem. Yesterday I even found myself bringing an extra pair of shoes to work in case I decided I didn't like the ones I was wearing. At the end of the day both stayed in the drawer and I wore a different pair home.

Maybe tonight when I pack up my gym bag and bring it home for the weekend I should pack up my work closet. Then I can get at least half of my drawer back for actual files.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nike saves lives and ruins my eyes

There is really very little I hate more in this world than gym shoes. At least as far as footwear goes, and we all know I have a lot of hate for varying kinds of footwear.

The really unfortunate thing about gym shoes is that they’re actually functional in their hideousness. Yes, they are easier to exercise in than heels, and make kickboxing way less dangerous. Probably everyone owns one pair. Most people own more than one pair.


There’s no reason to buy more than one pair of hideous shoes, even if they are functional. If you have to wear a uniform to work do you buy extras so you can hang out in it later? As if the UPS guy goes home and puts on another pair of brown pants. Probably not. So what’s the obsession with gym shoes? The massive sales of such awful footwear make the fact that the U.S. is obese even more horrifying. That means people are wearing them for fashion.

Jump in your DeLorean, you can now forget how to tie shoes
Spreading even further into fashion, Nike has now brought their ugly-ass designs of fiction into the real world, creating 1,500 of the “Back to the Future II” self-lacing Nikes. They could have made a hoverboard, or sponsored the opening of a CafĂ© ‘80s chain, but no, they had to find the ugliest thing in the whole damn film and create it.

At least they did it all in the name of charity.

The Nike’s are currently selling for over $2,000 a pair on eBay, which is a horrid disaster, but at least it goes to a good cause. Proceeds benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Maybe for their next trick they can create a gym shoe that doesn’t make me not want to work out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cat's night out for fashion

What kind of shoes do you wear to Fashion's Night out when it's drizzling and you're in a suit? Iron Fist Nightmare heels. They matched my red jacket and black pants, and provided a bit of flair for Fashion's Night Out and the opening of Topshop Chicago.

The evening started with me getting stuck at the office. Isn't that always the way things go? By the time I got out and got to Topshop my sister was lost in the bowels of the packed store.

Bunnies in Bloomie's
Twenty minutes and four failed phone calls later, we finally met up among seas of oddly dressed people staring at furry vests and took advantage of the hairstylists on hand to fix my now wet hair and we headed over to the 900 N. Shops.

Scads of rich people roamed through the high end mall, cocktails in hand, toting bags from Karen Millen and Gucci. We shopped more within our budget at Banana Republic and coveted half the collection at Charles David, including a pair of black patent and pony hair heels that I am still fantasizing about.

Playboy Bunnies from the upcoming show wandered around Bloomingdale's along with actors from other shows I hadn't heard of. Somewhere Brad Goreski from Bravo held court with VIPs who spent $1,000 or more at the mall that evening.

My sister and I drank cocktails, had makeup done by Estee Lauder and cursed our shoes through the multiple floors of the mall. Finally we took our leave by way of Michael Kors, sending loving looks at handbags and a pair of $800 shoes before wandering back into the drizzle and packed streets of Michigan Avenue, bags in hand. None of them which contained shoes.

I can't decide if that means the evening was a success or failure. Maybe I'll just go back and get those heels to call it a draw.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

History of soles

The human obsession with shoes dates back to the first time some cave man strapped pieces of dead animal to his foot and tied it on, forever changing the human foot. Sure, the first shoes probably weren't very pretty, but neither are gym shoes and people wear the heck out of those. 

I came across a link to a National Geographic article called "The Joy of Shoes" that DNA Footwear linked to. This amazing article chronicles the history of a few different kinds of shoes, interviews the master of shoes, Manolo Blahnik, and shows that shoes really can be a window into the soul (sole?) of humanity. 

A chopine required having servants help you walk.
Shoes are everything. From identifying social status to bronzed baby shoes of the deceased and the war that brought us floor ruining stilettos, shoes define us and can define a generation or culture. No wonder women are so obsessed with them. Not only are shoes wearable art, they are wearable history. You are actually walking through life, making history in something that is identified as a piece of history. 

My only criticism is that I wish the article were longer. I wish there were more pictures. I wish I could sit down and have a martini with Manolo and discuss why I love his mink rosettes and talk with fetish boot maker Natasha Marro about what exactly defines a fetish boot (as opposed to just a hot looking boot) and have a coffee with June Swann, keeper of the Boot and shoe collection at the Northampton Museum in England. 

I also need to go to Northampton and see the Boot and Shoe Collection.  Shoes are art. Shoes are history. Shoes are a way to define ourselves and our lives. Maybe that means I can turn my closet into a museum. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peeping at tights

The debate about tights and open toed shoes has raged long and hard within fashion.

I am adamantly against tights and open toed shoes in any capacity. It just isn’t a look that works on anyone, regardless of what kind of clever tight/shoe color combination you put together.

Fishnet tights and peep toes are passable in my opinion, but I still am not an ardent supporter. Either find new shoes or polish those toes and go bare legged. And no, I don’t give a shit if it’s winter, there’s a foot of snow on the ground and the wind chill is -80. Look good or change your outfit.

A friend of mine was texting me this weekend asking about my feelings on tights and open toe shoes, trying to get my blessing, which I just refused to give. She gave me all kinds of excuses.

Good shoes made bad.

  • Her friend from LA did it and it looked cute
  • She had it on right now and looked good
  • It’s not as bad as I think
  • Cosmo totally had it featured in a recent issue

The last one is my favorite because I recall years ago an article in Cosmopolitan that said to manipulate your hand in the same motion as opening a jar when fondling the neither regions of your man. Because every guy loves the idea of having his junk wrenched around in your fist like a pickle jar.

Cosmo is so full of shit. About tights and shoes and “sexy” little hand-job tips. If we all take our cues from there we’d be walking around in mismatched bullshit clothing that we can’t afford, with tights sticking out of our peep-toe heels, wearing drugstore makeup and batting our false-lashed smoky eyes at every dude we see so we can find out if those 100 hot tips really work.

No, my opinion hasn’t changed. Yes, I see tights and open toes on runways, red carpets, magazines and blogs, and every time I do I cringe. It looks dumb and there’s no excuse for it. So shave your legs, toss on some moisturizer and accept the fact that it’s cold out and you have to wear those new shoes to dinner tonight because nothing else will work with your sexy little dress, and be a woman.

Fashion and beauty are pain. Start suffering.