Monday, April 30, 2012

Hunting Navy for Cork

I have a pair of cork heels that have made me become obsessed with navy blue pants. Not any specific pair of navy blue pants, more like the idea of navy blue pants. Mostly because I didn't own any and I decided they are the perfect pant to go with my cork Sam Edelman Novato heels. 

Most of the pants I own for work are black or some kind of beige or tweed (in shades of black), so I was really struggling with these damn cork shoes, which I obsessed over for months, and finally got from DNA Footwear (thanks again guys). I wore them once or twice, loved them because they’re comfortable and fabulous, and then didn’t wear them again. 

My reasoning was because I didn’t have navy pants, which would obviously go with these better than black or beige. 

This weekend I finally fixed that problem. I went strolling into Banana Republic, intent on buying a dress for my nephew’s baptism (which I didn’t), tried on a million things, was totally ignored by both sales associates who were instead fawning over this woman who was buying new clothes for her vacation, and finally got annoyed enough to be really, really shitty. 

After telling the sales girl that yes, I do in fact need a dressing room before my arm breaks under the weight of the dresses on my arm, I’m also looking for white pants where you can’t see the pocket lines when you have them on (why is that so hard?) and a pair of navy blue pants that are not jeans (seriously?). This woman tells me that they have indigo pants (totally not what I asked for), none of the white pants are lined (why God?), oh, and there are these navy pants, but they’re a cigarette pant and petite. 

Oh, so you mean it’s exactly what my short self has been looking for to match these giant towering cork heels for months! 

Good thing they fit, because the second I disappeared into that dressing room she never spoke to me again. 

Unfortunately none of the dresses fit because apparently your bust is supposed to be only marginally larger than your waist, which is the same as your hips and I’m just not built that way.  So it was just the navy pants for me. And a matching striped top. And a pencil skirt…and some new earrings. I almost bought a purse too, but I was afraid those horrible people were working on commission. 

And it was all for the cork shoes. Now I just need to find a second pair of pants to wear these with. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Extra Height and Added Spikes

I have some really tall heels. Some of them so tall that I don't wear them very often because my feet hurt in like 10 minutes, or I have a high chance of falling over.

The dinosaur heels are changing all that.

Named so (by me) because of the spikes running down the back of the heel making them look like a prehistoric animal, these things are five or six inch heels.

They were part of my shameless Bakers shoe splurge a couple of weeks ago. I'm a sucker for red and black anything, convinced myself I really needed a pair of red heels (even though these are not work appropriate) and bought the monstrous heels from Wild Pair simply because I wanted to.

Logic has no place in my shoe collection.

Urban dinosaurs
Saturday I finally got to wear them out of the house. Paired with cigarette pants (or cropped pants for those who hate cigarettes), a red button-down and pinstripe Gaultier vest, I managed to stab myself with the heel of the shoe while I was putting it on. That really wasn't boding well for the rest of the night. I had visions of myself falling down on the sidewalk and managing to stab myself or someone else with the heel, the spikes in the back, or just break the ankle straps. And since the shoes made me almost six feet tall, it was going to be a long way down.

Instead it turns out these are possibly some of the most comfortable heels I have. Probably because of the giant platform and small pitch, I was on my feet for hours before they started to hurt. And even then, it was the dull pain of too much running around, and not the searing agony of being in heels too long.

In fact, the whole night was incident free and fabulous (aside from when I stabbed myself putting them on). But just as all good things must end, at the end of the night, As I exited a car and made my way through the street to my house, I tripped on a rock, or branch, or just had too many drinks, and almost went down. I managed to regain my balance with the assistance of a parked car, but it was clear by then that my shoes and I had to retire for the night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Glam Documentaries, Heels and God

I’m fascinated with women’s interactions and relationships with their shoes. Some love them, hate them, wear heels for power, prestige, comfort, height or fashion.

Jennifer Lane, Tina Weller, Julie Benasra and Maria Smithsburg in front Thierry Daher
Photo by Maureen Schulman

All this and more was delved into in the heel-centric documentary, God Save My Shoes, written and directed by Julie Benasra. The Service Club of Chicago organized a fundraiser, and excuse to get dressed up and wear your best shoes, by premiering the film downtown, complete with a red carpet after party, and Ms. Benasra and producer Thierry Daher (in an amazing pair of custom shoes) in attendance.

The film looks at heels and women’s relationships with their heels from the point of view of designers, historians, fetish experts, celebrities, and a couple people that may be celebrities but I had never heard of. Overall it was fabulous, informative, and interesting. I loved seeingChristian Louboutin bounce around his studio, grabbing shoes and animatedly describing each one; hearing Manolo Blahnik talk about shoes and why he designs the way he does, or hearing Dita Von Teese explain the more sexual nature of shoes, having a New York drag queen show how a great pair of heels can change your profile, and seeing women crazier than I am with closets of designer shoes they have never worn.
Thierry's custom shoes and a classic pump.

I've worn all my heels at least once, no matter how uncomfortable. 

The ladies of the Service Club of Chicago hosted this classy event in their cocktail best, and some amazing heels, which put my fabulous new satin and metal floral off-the-rack heels to shame (although they did get tons of compliments). I have great shoes, but very few of them can get into a name contest with the likes of Prada, Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Ferragamo.

The evening was sponsored by Michigan Avenue Magazine, the after party was hosted at the Hotel Palomar, and included champagne from Charlie Trotters, a Xante bar, and bite-sized desserts including mini whoopie pies, mini cupcakes, and chocolate covered cheesecake bites from Eli’s

A good movie, good shoes, and a great event. I wish more documentaries were as glam as God Save My Shoes

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shopping Euphoria and Therapy Shoes

There’s a reason they call it “retail therapy.”

Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated the term as much as I did on Saturday when Bakers on State Street and their Grand Re-Opening calmed my nerves, one pair of heels at a time.

Life has been insanely busy lately. Not bad, just that kind of non-stop, soul draining clipping pace that leaves you without a moment to yourself and even your dreams are filled with projects at work, things you didn’t get to do at home, and sudden panics that you somehow missed giant event like a birthday or baptism. (True story. Freaked out about both, though neither one was missed).

So after waking up at dawn on Saturday, and running around to various places, I took a detour between errands to drive downtown, spend $5at a meter (damn downtown parking), and hoofed it over to Bakers Shoes, praying that it was worth my time to go over there.

Maybe it was the humidity, the walk, the throngs of children and tourists, or the stress, but when I walked into that store I was supremely annoyed and suddenly felt like I was on a mission. And my mission was to buy shoes.

Just a few of the shoes that were piled in front of me.
Instead of logically thinking about what I need, what I have, etc. I started grabbing things I like. Snakeskin pumps with a six inch stiletto, polka dots, anything that sparkled, nothing that made any sense or filled any voids in my closet, and nothing normal people can even walk in. I dumped the armload of shoes on the first sales girl who talked to me, and started trying stuff on.

Pretty soon the menagerie of insane shoes I had at my feet was attracting the notice of all the sales people. I was given other shoe options, grand re-opening discounts, and brought purses they thought I would like. I’m sure they saw money, but also a crazed woman in platform boots and a t-shirt with all their out-there styles, not turning anything down as being too over-the-top.

I’m a dream to shop with.

By the time I walked out I had three pairs of shoes, and I’m still not sure any of them can be worn anywhere I go on a regular basis. And maybe it was the new shoes, or being able to channel my pent up energy towards something, maybe it was the fact that I finally felt like I had done something for myself or my brain shutting down so I didn’t think about the fact that I spent my grocery money on shoes; but as I walked back towards my car I suddenly felt more serene than I had been in days, and it made me love my shoes all over again. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

‘God Save My Shoes’ Creating Shoe Stress

I blog about shoes. A lot. My own shoes, other people’s shoes, shoe style, fashion, and make fun of it all too. That means wherever I go (assuming people know who I am) they are looking at my shoes. And judging them.

Generally that’s totally fine with me, because I don’t really have bad shoes. And if someone thinks my shoes are bad…well…they’re just wrong.

Now the pressure is on though, because on April 17 my heels and I have a chance to attend the Chicago premier of “God Save My Shoes,” a documentary about women and their relationships with their heels.

I’ve never met the filmmaker, Julie Benasra, but I’m pretty sure she and I would hit it off.  

Lipstick and heels. Kind of what my house looks like. 
God Save My Shoes” features interviews with designers, including Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, and celebrities such as Dita Von Teese (loves Louboutin), KellyRowland (names her shoes) and Fergie (has her own footwear line).

Women love their heels in a way that blue jeans, cardigan sweaters and pony-tail holders will never know.

Shoes can change a life.

Tickets for the premier and red carpet after party are $75 and are going fast. Proceeds from the event benefit the Service Club of Chicago. And you know everyone will be in good shoes.

At least I now know how I’m spending my weekend; trying on outfits and shoes, looking for something that’s fabulous and eye catching, without being too over the top (by my standards). I’m sure I won’t be the only one there taking pictures, and if I end up on film, I’d like to look good. Feel free to send me suggestions because I’m already panicking.

Or maybe I should just skip my closet and go straight to the shops. Because you know that if nothing else, everyone will be looking at my shoes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hybrid Heel

Mules are part pump, part clog, part slipper, and all the rage again. Last popular in the 1980's this hybrid heel has managed to sashay back into the fashion limelight and will be popping up all over again soon.
Loving these Vivenne Westwood mules with a bow.

The mule seems to be the distant, and infinitely more wearable cousin to the chopine. Characterized by its lack of back and high heel, it's a shoe that can either be so wrong, or so right, and it's all in how you wear them.

Mules are not meant to be paired with any old thing. Best paired with cropped pants, skirts or dresses, it's the perfect summer shoe. The closed toe version is especially nice if you're between pedicures. Wearing these with pants can work, but a pant tends to hide the open back and the fact that it is a mule, and can create the awkward problem of getting your pant hem pulled under your heel and into your shoe.

Mules are hard enough to walk in without pulling your pants into them.

Walking is a delicate balance, and if you've never tried, I recommend a lap around the house prior to going out. They're deceptively easy to accidentally walk out of, and the smaller and higher the heel is, the more balance they require.

Louis Vuitton does this perfectly with a cap toe.
If you love the open mule sandals, often called slides, the balance required is even greater, but the look is totally worth it. Just be sure to skip the ones with feathers on them if you're leaving the house (wrong look). Instead go for something sleek and open without a platform, or a wider strap across the top of the foot with a bit of a platform. And while there are a variety of heel heights to choose from, for the most part the more slender the better or it starts to look a little too much like a clog.

I had a pair of bronze sequin mule sandals that I wore to death and had to retire at the end of last summer (because I can figure out how to make sequins a daily thing) but I am definitely going to have to get another pair this summer. For me they're almost like flip flops, but better looking. They're easy to put on, go with anything and are perfect for almost any occasion.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Shoes and Egg Hunts

Easter always meant new shoes for me when I was a kid. I can't even remember getting shoes at any time other than Easter (although I'm sure I did). Every year I would get a pair of new, white patent leather shoes and would somehow instantly wander into the grass and stain them up.
Bad for chasing children, but I want them.

I remember one year I even tried to polish them myself with some white shoe polish I found under the sink. Needless to say that didn't work out well.

Now as an adult I no longer get new shoes for Easter, or any other holiday. Sure, I may treat myself to a new pair of Christmas shoes, but not specifically for the holiday. But I think maybe I should start.

Both my sisters showed up at Easter dinner in some awesome shoes and dresses. I was wearing a pair of white jeans, black top and my black Blowfish sandals. Immediately I wished that I had treated myself to new shoes for Easter like I was five again. Although maybe not white patent leather this time.

Logical but cute
One sister showed up in red suede heels that struck jealousy in the hearts of heel lovers. The other one (who has two small children and is way more logical than I am) was wearing a pair of cute blue flats. The three of us spent the day chasing children through the house and yard hunting for Easter eggs, which are hard to find when you're trying to follow a running, sugared up two-year-old.

I'd say ,maybe next year when I go for Easter shoes I should look for flats, but we all know that's not going to happen, but I'll probably stay away from stilettos.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Socks and Heels: A Cautionary Tale

People ask me a lot about socks and heels.

How do I feel about it? Under what circumstances is it OK? What about sandals and socks?


This is a trend I want to like. And sometimes I do like it. On the right people it looks amazing. Unfortunately, I am generally not the right people, so it’s not something I personally wear often. But it looks like it’s here to stay, and if it’s a trend you’re dying to try then jump in.
If you can pull this off, it can look good.

A lot of designers have taken us back to the 1980s with the slouchy, colored socks, dress shoes and skirts. Please don’t layer it up and pair these with tights and add the socks over it. Go bare legged, pick a sock color that matches your clothes, and make sure the heel of your sock isn’t pulled up onto the back of your ankle, looking all stupid.

To truly pull off this look you have to make sure you have a good sock that fits well. Buy socks just for this look. Don’t just pull any old loafer sock out of the drawer, slip it on and jam your foot into a shoe. It will end up looking completely dumb.

Instead go for a slouchy sock that comes up to lower or mid-calf. It helps balance the whole look and gives the illusion of covering the leg appropriately. Plus these taller socks can also be paired with lace up ankle boots for a more chic, military look. This actually is something that I’ll do every so often. I usually reserve it for a night out as opposed to a day at the office, but it’s fun and a strong statement.

If you’re feeling really daring you can go for the folded sock. While this can look cute on the right person, you also need to realize it can also look a bit fetish. Generally speaking, if you’re pairing a shorter sock with a heel, make sure you’re also wearing a knee length or longer skirt.  If your skirt is too short it’s likely to conjure images of school girl uniforms and not an envelope pushing fashionista. You also need to be careful of your skirt being too long though too or it may start to look a little Amish.
I admit I love this, but I'm not sure those count as socks.

If you’re one of those lucky women who has legs for miles, you can even pull off a folded sock or ankle sock and heels with a pair of cropped pants. You usually need a lot of leg for this, and if done right it looks awesome. If done wrong you cut yourself up in all the wrong places and look like a hot mess.

Just remember that as much as you love your socks, they can wreak havoc on a pair of heels if they're too thick. Suddenly your favorite pair of shoes is all stretched out and the only way you can wear them is with socks.

So wear them if you dare, but just remember to look in a full-length mirror before you leave, and if you don't like what you see change. Better to exercise caution than become a fashion victim.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Capping It Off

Cap toe shoes are all over the damn place this spring. 

Seriously, I can’t wander through a store without those fun little shoes and their contrasting toes peeping out from under racks of clothes like colorful little bunnies.  Lucky me I like cap toe shoes, and own two pair (although they’re both kind of uninspired), which makes me think I really need to add a new pair to my collection. 
I love the metal toe caps from Zara.

The ones I have are the coveted and classic Banana Republic heels I got a few weeks ago, and a pair of Steve Madden heels that happen to have a cap toe, though they were designed and bought far before cap toes became a “thing.” 

What is the obsession of the cap toe all about though? It’s just building on last season’s color-blocking explosion, and really isn’t even that different, it’s just a little less color. And it’s certainly not a new look. Cap toes were originally popular in the 1940’s and were perfect for polishing off those pencil skirts.

These look like a bird. 
Always a classic look, cap toes create an anything goes kind of look. Zara has colored, pointy toe heels with a metal cap toe, and Ann Taylor has surprised the hell out of me by pairing neutral colors with bright neons. Neon just seems so un-Ann Taylor to me, but I’m glad they did it. Banana Republic did it with taupe on beige with a black heel, and Sergio Rossi made me think of tropical birds with their all neon cap toe heels. 

There’s really no wrong answer, or bad way to create this shoe. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular. And with it’s simple shape, lack of pattern and obvious colors, it’s also really hard to screw it up, ruin your outfit and look like a total ass.