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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

8541 Terra by Laredo

We love boots, especially when they are as sunny and fun as the 8541 ankle boot in Terra by Laredo, one of our exclusive Italian lines! This is a spring boot. (What better way to survive the winter?) Think forward to blue skies and this boot with skinny jeans or rolled shorts!

8541 taps into the ongoing motorcycle/rocker trend, but lightens the mood with a soft, slim, taupe suede. The short stack makes it an easy look. It is less 'cycle than scooter. Your Vespa will love you for these. The 8541 is perfect with skinny jeans or – our new favorite – HUE denim leggings. Huge this spring, people. Huge. Add on a summerweight plaid shirt, short denim shorts ... 8541 was made to take advantage of carefree days.

The boot shaft has a natural, unstructured shape – not so much a slouch as a kind of shrug. A gusset at the top makes them easy to pull on and encourages the casual look. Likewise the toe and heel are weathered, the suede nap worn to a polish. It's a sign that the rest of the boot will wear just as well as you break it in. The leather sole has been pocked (we're guessing ballpeen hammer). This is not a detail anyone will especially notice, but it's a guarantee of sorts that these boots have been hand-crafted (that, and the incised "Lavorate a mano" near the heel).

The only thing we don't like about this boot is the serial number name. Che noia! Upon removing these from the box, promptly christen them with a more imaginative name like "Penelope," or "Sally" or "Sassafras." Something that sounds as bright as May, as fun as a Coney Island summer and as fun as it looks with your outfit.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rowdy by Charles David

Soldier On: Charles David's neo-dragoon boot blends military pomp with civilian chic.

Happy holidays! Mirth and cheer! Egg and Nog! (Can we go home now?) All this festivusness can be a bit draining. We need a pick-me-up. We need a retail therapy. We need a present for ourselves.

Fortunately for us this winter season, Charles David agrees. At least that is the message we are receiving from the Rowdy, a bold, beautifully grey cavalry boot with bright red zip up the calf. It stands at attention there in the store, watching us. Commanding. We nod our head in unconscious acquiescence. Corree's already succumbed. She bought a pair last week and now, like The Red Shoes, they never leave her feet. She is condemned to look good ... forever! Now, that's a present.

We simply drool over the silhouette of this boot. Knee high, shaped in the calf with an almond toe and light distressing at toe and heel. The bootshaft is higher on the inside leg, a nod to the form's equestrian roots. A buckled rand wraps the ankle. It's just so ... clean and ... CLASSIC! But that ZIPPER! and RED! AND GREY! OMG MASS HYSTERIA-EEEEEEEE!

OK, we're calm. -er. Look, get this boot. Buy some skinny black jeans. Procure a peacoat nipped in the waist for a bit of flare and a slimming profile. Walk down the street and feel hot enough to melt us out of this winter whiteout.

We'd say you can thank us later, but, really, pat yourself on the back. This season, getting Rowdy is the best gift you are going to give to yourself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ronni by Calvin Klein

Ronni. We like that name. It feels recently retro, '70s. The nickname-that's-a-full-name. The woman who introduced you to Vogue as a kid. Speaking of the Bible, the name's root word means "strong counsel." You should consider this heel your wardrobe's fashion consigliere: it will inform your outfit and keep everything humming along.

The Ronnie comes in a beautiful metallic pewter perched on a slender 4-1/2" heel with a one-inch, leather-wrapped platform. Doing the math gives us a very comfortable 3-1/2" toe-to-heel height differential. Easy peasy. You could daywalk that with denim leggings, glide into the office sporting a pencil skirt and blousy top and finish the night in grand holiday style with statement jewelry (rhinestones, pearls and glass gems in layered ropes) and a party dress. Piped ankle straps and micro-braided trim and T-strap add addtional texture.

Ronni comes in Anthracite. Appropriate, since Ronni's cluster of faceted, smoked-glass cubes over peeptoe looks like nothing so much as a fancy version of Pennsylvania bitumen. (If coal were this pretty, we wager there would be a higher percentage of fashionista miners.) The mineral look is a perfect compliment to the estate jewelry trend we love. We like this look for its elegance and grace in fussy clusters of mix-matched textures and colors. The contemporary take suggests a hint of decadence. This is fine with us. We'll be the sophisticated bad girl. We'll wear our lumps of coal, prancing and singing "Santa, Baby."

Ronni is stylish. It's now and a little bit then. That breadth lets it work with different outfits and different times of day. Wear it elegantly, wear it naughtily. Either way, we strongly urge you to take our advice: get this shoe before it's gone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tick by Jeffrey Campbell

Dare we say it? Dare we tell you this shoe will make you look sharp as a ... tack? How about this from our marketing department: Tick. Tack. ... Peeptoe! OK–yes! Slap it on the homepage! We give in to the easy one-liners. We have no willpower. Not in the face of this lovely peeptoe wedge that looks like the apotheosis of a Project Runway fashion challenge. The DIY aesthetic of a four-and-one-half-inch wedge scaled over with chromed thumbtacks is surprisingly seductive. The black leather upper is a zip-up with a gusseted ankle for a seamless fit. And don't fear the peeptoe in winter – those leggings you're going to pair to this shoe will take care of the cold factor.

As for the visibility factor, you will be noticed from across the block, much less the room. There's an affinity with the bricolage aesthetic of punk safety pins, but the orderly, overlapping rows of shining domes also feel discoball and fiercely indy-glam. What's more, it's just ... different. Fresh. We like the styling of these as seen on Cupcakes and Cashmere via Jeffrey Campbell's site (though it is decidedly West Coast. Snow? What snow?). The frilly, feminine dress is a nice contrast to the boot and we like the big slouch bag with a pattern that doesn't so much clash as simply disregard the rest of the look.

But what really toots our horn is how JC took this aggressive, H-O-T-hot urban bootie ... and turned it into ... resort. Yep, the Tick in natural is a heavy-gauge cotton duck upper over antiqued bronze tackheads. We can't wait to see these on the beach, by the pool, in the warmer climes. Sigh: warmer climes. This cold is making us develop a ... tic? Ouch, sorry, couldn't resist.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Good Vibrations by Poetic License

Feel the Vibe: The Good Vibrations by Poetic License has us feeling the season.

EEEEEEEE! HOW CUTE ARE THESE SHOES! We picked these up earlier in the season when we were taking a hard look at pumps. Lori was (and is) obsessed with the classic pump silhouette. It is a return to the basics, a return to comfort, a return to the elegantly understated instead of the self-consciously ostentatious. That being said, we strayed (but just a little bit). The Good Vibrations goes a bit beyond classic, but its style is as harmonious as the eponymous Beach Boys tune. It merges multiple elements into one stylish whole.

We LOVE the oversized gingham check in colors that melt our hearts: fuschia, teal, white. Add to that a giant fabric rose looming over a dainty peeptoe and you have a shoe that takes a page out of British stylebooks: clash it just enough to make it amazing. Flowers and checks? Blacks and brights? Oui, nous t'aimons. Customers have walked in the store and made a beeline for this peppy little kicker. It's the footwear equivalent of a puppy: you just want to pick it up and squeeze it and widda widdle wuggums!

And then you put it on your foot. This shoe is vivacious. Because of its festive nature, we like this for holiday and office parties. Continue what this pump starts: break style rules. Your confidence in mixing colors and patterns is the power of your look. Suit up with some herringbone tights (more texture!) or a bright legging (more color!), and pair with your best LBD. Add some glitz with estate jewelry or something from the big bauble aisle, but let your legs and shoes do the work this party season. Shoes that make the outfit? We've got good, good good vibrations indeed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

April by Dolce Vita

April Showers: The April by Dolce Vita is a towering accessory for holiday outfits.

Is it bad we're already thinking about Spring? Fall's a charm, but let's face it: winter's knocking on our door and we just don't feel like answering. Fast. Forward. Please. That's why the optimistically titled April by Dolce Vita has captured our hearts this week. Putting our minds to it, we found the merits of this confident pump to be equal to our emotional commitment.

Let's start with the heel. At five-and-a-half inches, this is less a support than it is a leather-wrapped monument to sex appeal. A significant, one-inch platform will keep your arches free from agony yet let you enjoy the benefits of gentlemen quaking before your newfound height.

The gently pebbled leather wrap feels luxurious and subtle; it softens the sleekly modern compound curves of the sole. These curves lend grace to the platform, preventing it from looking chunky and clunky. The upper is classic with a versatile rounded toe to keep the focus on your overall look.

For holiday outfits, this is a no-brainer. Office parties and holiday get-togethers are all about dressing up and showing off. What better way to accomplish this than standing above the crowd? The black is black; it works with everything, as does the uncomplicated upper. April works to keep your legs long, long, long on that helluva heel, but that simple upper holds something back to let your outfit do the work. We’re picturing holiday party dresses, short skirts, estate jewelry with plenty of crystal catching and throwing the light around you as glide across the floor. Dolce Vita’s a name we trust to provide all that come-hitherishness in a shoe that’s comfortable and quality.

We may be at the onset of winter, but we’re relying on the April’s tall confidence to lift our spirits (and our bums!) high this holiday season until the spring finally arrives.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Belle by Seychelles

Les Deux Belles: The Belle by Seychelles is (almost) the cutest thing we've seen.

As luck would have it, shooting the Belle coincided with the arrival of this adorable little puppy. So the question arose, "Qui est la plus 'belle?'" While Ginger melted our hearts in a way even shoes can't, we didn't think our jewelry buyer would quite appreciate our stealing her new best friend. Sigh. Seychelles it is.

We don't feel like we're settling. The Belle is a delightfully retro peeptoe pump from a small company we absolutely love. Seychelles is inspired by the mix of vintage glamour and modern design, by classic film, photography and literature. It's sex appeal and intellect. We love Belle's modern details like the tapered four-inch heel that continues the curve of the upper in one long slice; we adore the chocolate patent buttons that remind us of a fusty Victorian buttonup.

Antique gold leather lining, patent trim on buttons and toe and the heel-high upper are nicely balanced with revealing cutouts, trim modern lines and a top-notch construction. The blend of old and new here just feels fresh and versatile. We can see these worked back to your holiday dressy outfits as well as under jeans and leggings. Either way you go, a perfect compliment here is estate jewelry like bold, gem-encrusted rings, brooches and statement bibs and necklaces. The perfect compliment, that is, if you don't live with an eleven-month-old Bischonpoo bundle of cuteness.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Zoe by Sam Edelman

Skinny jeans are going nowhere. In fact, the trend is digging in for the long haul. This is just fine with us. According to Nylon magazine, the look is expanding from rock and roll into motorcycle territory with motocross articulated seams and zippers at the ankle. Different shades of rebellion? Yes, please. We're happy to see hardware trends continue because it makes Zoe by Sam Edelman the perfect choice for your next outfit.

Tower over the competition at your next cafe race. Zoe stands on a five-inch heel supported by a 1.25" hidden platform. A leather toe and heel are bridged by soft black suede. A quilted leather harness finished with chrome hardware is as tough as a punch in the face. (You can take it.) What you may not be able to handle is the silver patent leather lining. Bam! Makes us punchdrunk.

We like how this shoe deceives us. What looks like a tiny inch-tall heel is merely a tantalizing taste – the vast majority of this bootie's height is hidden, wrapped up in layers of leather and suede, protected by hardcore hardware. The overall effect is like something the girlfriend of Mad Max's cycle-cop buddy Goose might have worn on a date in post-apocalyptic Melbourne. There's a sense of esoteric functionality (harness, square biker toe) and cutting style. This shoe should come with a complimentary switchblade.

Weapons or no, what we can guarantee is that this shoe will lift you up, both in height and spirits, emphasizing your legs while hiding your foot in a silhouette that looks bold, powerful and full of mysterious purpose and seduction. Knives and bikes aside, this biker-chic bootie will get engines revving.

UPDATE! Thanks to the Big Brother-like qualities of contemporary search engine technology, we were recently made aware of fourteen-year-old Erin's blog, Stick Thin Legs. We love how she's rocking these shoes with leather leggings and a casually layered top. Bravo!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

905 by Fruit

Work a Mile: The brisk charm of Fruit's new worker short boot has us occupied.

We have an informal litmus test at the store to judge new arrivals. It goes something like this: 1. Receive new shipments; 2. Merchandise new arrivals on the floor; 3. Wait with baited breath. Like a magical scent, the odor of new arrivals will waft up to the office. Wait ... wait for it ... And there she is! Lori pops her head out, looking this way and that, bright-eyed and alert, moving through stacks of shoes and past bewildered customers, inevitably zeroing in on the best of the latest. It’s like watching a bloodhound to the fox. Truly inspiring. She has a sixth sense for uncovering the latest trend ... even in her own store! This week we found her posing in front of the mirror in dark skirt, black tights and the ultra-soft, black 905s by Fruit/Now.

It may not look like much in the box, but the 905 – an exclusive Lori’s pick from Italy – is an adorable work-inspired short boot that blends the hardware of utility with the supple luxury of buttery leather and a flawless construction. The result is a boot that looks tough but wears as gentle as a lamb. The rounded toe has a beautiful, narrow line that sweeps up to a double-stitched vamp. Five eyelets and three D-rings lend a rugged, masculine touch, as do the reinforced heelcup and padded ankle cuff.

But what drew Lori straight to this lovely number (also available in rustic brown – “I like that too,” she offers) was the amazing feel of the leather. Its soft hand and finish are so beguiling they overcome the manly edge of this boot, softening them to the cute and boyish.

The blend of masculine “toughness” – hiker, military, construction – and feminine discernment make this a versatile boot. It’s so damned cute worked back to leggings and a short skirt and tailored shirt, but it also makes sense with skinny jeans and a simple tee topped with layered chains and a Lives of the Saints bracelet, all the rage in Italy right now (available at the register). Conversely, you could cuff up your boyfriend jeans and butch out these boots, taking advantage of their blue-collar inspiration.

What draws a line through all these outfits is attention to silhouette (softer, more feminine and considered) and material (drool-worthy leathers). The irony is that this shoe is so comfortable you can walk and walk and walk and walk in them. They truly do become a workhorse for your wardrobe!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Legal by Jeffrey Campbell

Zip It: The Legal by Jeffrey Campbell brings closure to the question of a cool wedge.

The first thing you might think when you see the Legal by Jeffrey Campbell is, "Eh?" The second will either be "Whoa" or "Wow!" This is a surprise addition that will stump you or seduce you and we're sure both camps will have their adherents. One thing's for sure: there's one lucky zipper manufacturer out there singing JC's praises.

Perched on a narrow, four-inch wedge sheathed in black suede, the Legal is wrapped in seven layers of chromed zippers that come together at the foot to form an unexpected peeptoe. All the zippers are functional and provide an unexpected degree of customizable fit and creative license with the look. Should you leave them open, closed, or open-and-closed? The bright chrome of the solid pulltabs creates a fantastic visual flash (and not a little bit of noise) on top the criss-crossed wrapping of the metal teeth.

Legal's a costume setpiece for a remake of "The Mummy" produced by The Cure and Trent Reznor. Nevertheless, there's an certain charm to the overt "rebel" in this shoe. It's so earnest we just can't help but love the Legal for it. And in a very strange way, the pulltabs start to read like fringe and, in that way, tap into the Western look that is all over the scene. Has Jeffrey Campbell taken the rock-and-roll rebel and ported it, ingeniously, into the Western camp? Possibly. Marry all that to the Project Runway vibe ("You have four hours and forty feet of zipper to make something wearable ... ") and you have an ostentatious shoe that behaves like a lady. A real rambunctious lady, but a lady nonetheless.

How? With denim, absolutely. Also with spangly leggings. Pick up the flash and dance of these wedges with layered necklaces or big tassled earrings. You can also work back into the punk angle with a bold plaid scarf and jeans jacket with band buttons. However you choose, safe to say the Legal will brng some closure to the question of what to wear.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maxine Loop Pull On by Frye

To The Max: Frye's Maxine takes the fold-over all the way down.

You know what we love about Frye? Here's a company founded on supplying boots to Union Army soldiers in the 1860s that has kept true to its roots yet serves up current trends. Sure, boots always hold a certain fascination regardless of the era, but think about it: how do you design a functional boot for a Rough Rider that translates some hundred years later into a fashion boot for the chic set?

If you are Frye, you do it by crafting a boot for a specific function then fiddling endlessly with the details. A boot made for soldiering becomes a mainstay of Flower Power becomes a sleek must-have in metropolitan fashion circles. The Maxine Loop Pull On is a classic that feels immediately now: a knee-high boot shaft over a low riding heel and a beautifully rounded toe, all dressed in jet black pebbled leather. What sets it apart is a fold-over that's been folded over nearly to the heel, giving the boot shaft the appearance of being twice as tall as it actually is (it doesn't unfold). A belting detail wraps the boot at the ankle, meeting at back around a signature Frye element: the harness ring.

Frye has taken a common element of over-the-knee boots and taken it to the extreme. It's that kind of innovation that keeps them not just alive, but relevant. The look is sharp and clean. Elegant with a dash of purpose. The elements that once supported spurs for Pony Express riders are now decorative touches that lend confidence and authority to your look. Keep the past present by picking up on that functional essence. Wear these with a long duster. Focus on the texture by layering on cuffed tweed shorts. Give it more edge with multiple long chain necklaces. We love how clean this boot looks from a distance, and how details reveal themselves the closer you look. Like its wearer, the Maxine is sophisticated and complex ... and utterly put-together.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Echo by Sam Edelman

City Mouse: The Echo by Sam Edelman brings urban polish to our fall wardrobes.

Last fall spectators became a huge trend. Combining this traditional menswear look with feminine touches was a contest amongst brands. Who could one-up the other with another clever take? This season the interest in menswear continues, but the spectator fire has reduced to smoldering embers which, as any grill aficionado knows, is the best time to cook. Sam Edelman must love its barbeque; their Echo is a smart and sophisticated spectator that stands alone this fall.

Available in brown leather and black patent, we much prefer the patent. The predilection rests on this shoe's most lovely feature: a vamp made of softest felt. We love the hard sheen of the jet black patent against the matte charcoal felt. It's Mad Men: Brylcreem and wool suits – urban and full of verve. The easy brown feels more laidback, and today we're just in a city mouse mood. A patent-wrapped heel and notched toecap feel flashy and office; the felt calms it down with a cozy, casual touch. The boyish four-eye lace-up over a patent tongue is just plain cute.

The menswear trend continues, Sam keeps the spectator alive and felt is showing up in a number of styles this season. This shoe is so relevant. With less spectator-specific styles around, it's also unique. The color-on-color palette makes for a subtle transition from what is yesterday's news to today's headline. Read all about it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Erna by Nina

Bedazzled: The Erna by Nina is a scintillating evening pump.

In a season glorifying boots, it's nice to take a step back and see what else is debuting in this, our favorite season. Amongst aisles of leather and suede, booties and over-the-knees, studs and buckles perches an evening shoe flashing a different kind of allure: the Erna by Nina. Once known only for its run-of-the-mill wedding heels, Nina has in recent seasons reinvented itself, becoming much more fashion forward and relevant. They have dazzled us, literally, with the Erna.

This silver peeptoe pump is sheathed in hundreds of tiny silver fishscale paillettes and topped with a spray of clear glass gems on the toe. The shimmery discs subtly shift color from steel at the peeptoe to an irridescent purple at the midstep and finally gunmetal blue near at the heel. The result is a shoe that's not so much flashy as scintillating – a shimmering pump on a 4-1/2" silver leather heel with a hidden 1/2" platform.

Shine a light on the Erna and you will light up the room like a disco ball. This is an evening shoe, a dancing shoe, a social shoe that demands a dark, rich pallette to showcase it: think navy, black, gray. The paillettes on Erna, besides having their own tint, pick up and reflect the colors around them. This shoe is sassy and bold. It makes us want to move, to move the light around the room, to be the center of attention. It's a shoe that makes us feel light and lighter in our step. Like the best of evening shoes, we love these Ernas because we don't just wear them, we shine in them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Trevis by La Canadienne

When It Rains ... Trevis by La Canadienne adds some style to cold weather looks.

If there's one thing they know in Montreal, it's weather. Gorgeous, cultural and fun as the city may be, there's no escaping the fact that it is an icebox come winter. Is it any surprise, then, that a city so frozen and fashionable should be the headquarters of La Canadienne?

Makers of waterproof boots for forty-five years, La Canadienne has gained a reputation for infusing cold-weather footwear with fresh and easy style – something we weather-beleagured Chicagoans can appreciate. They reaffirm their style stuff this season with the Trevis, a black, sueded, knee-high with faux fur lining on a contoured rubber sole. Much like a mullet ("business in front, party in back"), the Trevis multi-tasks its fashion and function with a chic boot shaft over a no-nonsense sole.

Style is literally sewn into the upper. The outer, waterproof shell is longer that the interior creating a perennial slouchy look. Flip down the top to reveal the ash grey furry lining when cold weather catches up to you. The bottom of this boot is a workhorse: the TRP outsole is molded for traction to keep you on your (dry) feet while providing flexibility. The insole makes use of technology beyond our ken – "Antibacterial hydrophilic breathable Microfibre Lining" – so we're just going to write that off as "effective." The rounded toe is casual and easy. Work this back to leggings as the weather turns colder.

Trevis is stylish in more than just the fashion sense. Like all La Canadienne products, the shoe is produced with a finger on the conscience of its customers: the environment plays a large role in the design and production of every boot. Fighting the environment with the environmentally friendly? We can dip our toes in that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rayne by Dolce Vita

When It Raynes ... The Rayne by Dolce Vita pours style into a great transition shoe.

We've finally received our Dolce Vita and we couldn't be happier. The Rayne is very trans-seasonal with a 4-1/2-inch knife wedge heel, peeptoe and open upper enclosed with woven straps. (There's a half-inch platform hidden in there as well.) That height and open space lend themselves to a huge fall obsession: leggings! While the weather is still warm, the Rayne is great as-is. When cooler weather hits, warm up with bold textured tights in metallics and patterns like lace.

We like the idea of pushing the menswear look. Rayne has a great gamine feel to it under some rolled boyfriend jeans or oversized, rolled shorts. Top with a long vest that hits mid-thigh or a knit sheath dress. Or try pairing Rayne against a tailored plaid top that will echo the basket weave of the shoe. A trilby or porkpie hat finishes this boyish look, while a large structured bag like a leather shopper or weekender keeps some girl in this guy aesthetic.

The consensus in the store is that this is a leg's shoe. The silhouette is a combination of sleek yet substantial heel and the chunky bulk of the woven strapping. The result is a strong profile that reinforces the clean lines of your leg in tights or tight jeans. Use big, structured bags and tailored tops to further exaggerate the lines of your body.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rilla by Jeffrey Campbell

The Eyelets Have It: Jeffrey Campbell's Rilla blends multiple boot trends into a singular shoe.

What we like most about Jeffrey Campbell is his ability to grab at all these trends and extract something unique – a non-trend boot that's in the moment but works the next season too. It's a delicate balancing act between tragically hip and abstrusely idiosyncratic. Fortunately the team at JC is decidedly acrobatic. The Rilla is one of our favorite acts this week.

The trends? Rilla boils down paratrooper zip details, the early-'90s Goth of linesman boots (23-eyelet tie-up? Think Doc Martens on steroids), combat boot construction (reinforced heel, rounded toe) and classic feminine touches like a 3" stacked heel.

The result: Classically male heavy-duty boot motifs abound, balanced by ladylike details. The matte black of your typical combat boot is transformed into a deep pewter with an alluring sheen. The linesman laceup moves forward over the toe, referencing Victorian booties and snubbing the front into a demure, even dainty, toe. The straight heel feels sturdy like a workaday boot while adding grace to the otherwise industrial look of the upper. The exposed zipper lacks the teeth (heh) of military-grade jumpers for a more delicate appearance. A hidden gusset at top ensures a snug fit.

Leggings are critical here. Rilla has the height and the detail to work under skirts and shorter-hem shorts. Tie the two together with something unexpected like a pair of HUE's degrade or metallic leggings. You could try in with skinny jeans, but the fun here is about length and materials. Let the boots be naughty by pairing with a structured top and knee-length skirt, or tap into "Singles"-era grunge with an oversized tee under a plaid hunting coat. Use your wardrobe to continue what JC started: exploding the trends and reassembling them into something uniquely new and specifically you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flick Flack in Black by Irregular Choice

Now for Something Completely Different: Irregular Choice's Flick Flack is a happy mash of styles.

We picked up Irregular Choice for fall and it immediately lifted out spirits. The company philosophy is to create shoes that "supply something fresh and fun that maintains imagination and originality above all else." The Flick Flack's eclectic mix of materials and styles places a premium on imagination and, better yet, makes us walk with a smile on our face.

The black patent upper sits on a 3-1/2 inch heel that rounds forward into a cute mary jane toe. The leather upper is topped with a double-faced fabric cowl – black and white ticking on the outside and white-on-black polka dots on the interior, which flips over for a rakish break of the shoe's silhouette. Three spat-like, cloth-covered buttons keep it secure. The inside? Crushed pink velvet! The heel and footbed are perforated. The sole is a riot of color featuring the Irregular Choice icon.

At first glance the shoe feels like a jumble of parts. As we wore it, we saw how each part related to the others. Perforations worked back to the polka dots. The dots were a riff on the reversed ticking opposite. The ticking played against the smooth, round toe. Cloth and leather did the same dance. The velvet? Pure fun, and why not? (Not everything needs a rationale.)

Irregular Choice lives up to its name: it's not a typical Lori's shoe and we like that. This shoe is young, fresh, fun. In a season of boots, this pump holds up. It has conservative lines topped with bold verve. Forget your jeans, these shoes demand skirts with structure or body to bring out their playfulness. It may be an irregular choice in our catalog, but this season it's a sure look for fall.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

24053 Brown by Janet and Janet

Here Comes the Cavalry: Janet & Janet put spurs to the Western look.

Janet & Janet, one of our Italian Exclusives lines, consistently turns out fantastic boots. The delight is in the details with the 24053, a Western boot that with rounded toe, clean lines and belted shaft feels more cavalry than cowpoke. The stitching comes in single and double rows, turning a mode of construction into finely illustrated texture. A reinforced heel tab, top pulltabs, leg cinch and vamp are all carefully curved to lend this utility boot feminine grace.

Then, the leather. It's so supple we want to fold it up and take a bite. (Don't worry, we behaved.) The quality is fantastic. A gold leather lining a nice surprise. This boot is sensual. We want to caress this boot until we maul it. The dusky mud brown simply begs to be scuffed, roughed and worn into weathered beauty. We might buy this boot to wear now, but we're thinking of how wonderful it will look in a year or two. And with a leather sole and stacked wood heel, your cobbler can make sure it lasts at least that long.

Not all is rough and tumble in this Spaghetti Western: the vamp and heel cup are delicately finished with dark burgundy piping. A thin brass plate finishes the heel where it meets the sole, a fashionable vestige of spurs and harnesses. Pick up this tiny detail with big metal accessories. As for outfits, this boot fits into pretty much any look. The straightforward silhouette is functional with a feminine lean; it's the agglomeration of those tiny details that let this boot prop up pretty much any personal style. One final, tiny detail: expect to go up a half size.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vamp by Restricted

Triple Take: Vamp by Restricted is a over-the-knee worth another look. Then another.

With nearly two feet of taupe suede perched atop an adorably feminine cone heel, the Vamp is a glam gam boot that has us very excited for cooler weather. "Versatility" is a byword of the season, and Vamp is certainly that. We'd wear this three ways. Flip the cuff up for a full over-the-knee look and pair with brilliant leggings and a mid-thigh dress (seen above); flip down for a sexy buccaneer knee boot you can wear with skinny jeans; or scrunch the supple upper down and down for an everyday sophistication.

However you wear it, the carved wood heel props you up 3-1/2" inches: tall, but manageable. A narrow toebox keeps your feet looking petite and demure. That opens up opportunities for more daring styling with the upper, like experimenting with hemlines and leggings. The unstructured lines of the shaft can play nicely off an A-line skirt or a structured bag. The genius of this boot is how it manages to lengthen your lines without conforming to them. It's like an unexpected jazz riff on a tried-and-true tune; it arrives from nowhere and it just works. The Vamp is sexy because it's easy and confident. The embellishments of spring have melted into the silhouettes of fall. It has certainly seduced us this season with its easy chic and urban charm. Try a pair with our huge selection of leggings for a new fall look that will definitely mature into a classic.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All by Jeffrey Campbell

Urban Combat: Jeffrey Campbell's All brings down the house.

Boots are awfully big for fall, but even Jeffrey Campbell might show a little hubris dubbing his new combat boot the All. Then again ... it does have a little bit of everything we love. To start, this nine-eyed, paratrooper-style (side zip) combat boot is made from incredibly supple and washed leather for a weathered look that feels vintage '44. Details are standard issue as well: double-stitched captoe and reinforced heel and a spat-like upper over a vamp that unfolds into a delightfully floppy tongue. Modern upgrades include fat, waxed cotton laces, a laminated leather sole and one-inch heel, and antiqued ring pull.

We're focussed on the Khaki (over the Brown) because of its slight olive cast, as though we'd been scuffing our feet through the forests of the Western Front (or at least scrubbed them a bit at the local park). The Army green is a versatile neutral and the combat style – a classic elevated back into Trendland – works tirelessly for your outfit.

We say wear it loose, open, unzipped, flopped out. Hunter style. Laces uncinched, tongue hanging out, jeans tucked in. Let it display its personality. As the weather turns cooler, tighten up and don the leggings and skirt. Even cooler: baggy boyfriend jeans cut up and cuffed up. By now you've scuffed up those toes peeking out from beneath to look like a veteran of chic urban trend wars.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Right Now by Nicole

A Boot for All Seasons: Nicole's Right Now ... knot your average knee-high.

Some boots are simply too hip. The aptly named Right Now by Nicole? Tragically so. It's cool factor lies in its ability to work in any season. This is a knee boot made for the present. The omni-present. The trick lies in an incredibly supple and lean leather in copper or black that can be yanked on, scrunched down and otherwise mistreated to achieve the perfect look. What this means for you is an on-trend boot that works throughout summer (scrunched waaaaay down) through autumn (flipped down, scrunched) and into winter (hiked up to the knees over leggings).

The copper-penny-brown is rich and rife with possible outfit pairings. The staff insisted on skinny jeans, but was willing to concede leggings and brightly colored tights. Deep blue jeans topped with a structured white blouse and lots of gold hardware is a clean, modern look. The tailoring and glam contrast the organic, folding tendency of the boot's upper. Prairie looks were a foregone conclusion, with breezy linens, muslins and calicos coming to mind. As the season cools, source a magnificently simple wool jumper (we're thinking charcoal gray), yank up those boots and apply legging treatments and colors liberally.

We realized that all this working of the the leather will age it. That's a good thing. Scratches from fingernails, oils from hands build up a bootstrap chic. You may miss the clean, unmarred newness, but dings, dents and scratches are sexy. You will earn the look of having weathered many a trend while still looking achingly current ... right now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

29086 (Koala) by Khrio

Spot On: Khrio's Koala is a balanced mix of past and future styling in a presently relevant boot.

We spent a good amount of time bandying about descriptions of Khrio's 29086 in Koala (also in black and brown) since "29086" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. At once, it looks like a set piece from a live-action staging of Akira; a motorcycle boot from a steam punk alternate reality; an off-duty combat boot; an earthy, casual-chic city walker. It's casual, confident, chic, fun, well-made, comfortable. Like its namesake, the Koala is adorable ... and a befuddlement to categorize. However you interpret it, let's agree it's singular. And we like things that stand out.

A titch shorter than last fall's version, Koala stands just over a foot high with a recessed one-inch heel. The molded rubber sole gives your step some spritely bounce. The cutaway floats the shoe above the pavement, reinforcing the look of spring in your step. The rounded toe is casual; a center reverse-seam makes it a bit rough-and-tumble, as does paneling at the vamp and heel reinforced with small rivets.

There's no zipper here. A Neoprene calf panel in distressed reptile pattern provides form-fitting comfort. Two Velcro straps at top cinch the fit while providing a cool edge. The aged leather upper has an easy, washed look. We particularly like the welted buckle washers in antiqued brass – nice detail.

Lightweight and airy, this is a boot to wear now, before (and into) fall. In the sunny months, pair it with long socks or knee socks in a contrasting color and a knee length (or slightly higher) skirt – something prim or structured to work against this boot's casual look. As fall progresses, graduate to leggings. In denim we're thinking gray or white, skinny (there's room to tuck), under an oversized tee with statement belt. Big metal buckle or pyramid studs tap into the upcoming accessories metal trend. Speaking of big tees, try one under a cropped military blazer to pull out Koala's regimental leanings.

We may not have a slick classification for the Koala, but that in itself says something. This is a boot that has many looks, that will garner many appreciative glances, that works in multiple seasons with myriad outfits. And when you're wearing it – looking fabulous – who cares about adjectives?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Destiny by Laura Brandon

Wrap It Up: The Destiny by Laura Brandon is a chic take on the fall bootie trend.

Continuing last fall's boot obsessions, this autumn will witness new styles with a heavy emphasis on short-shafted boots and booties. The Destiny by Laura Brandon is an early arrival. If there's one thing we love, it's punctuality ... that, and a sexy new silhouette. As gladiators and sandals are supplanted by fall's trends, we have our eye on Destiny's sleekly angular, open-front bootie with a rounded, closed toe on a narrow wedge. Wedge and upper are wrapped with the same panels for a lovely play on surface and structure. It's toned muscles flexing beneath flawless skin, the allure of a high cheekbone.

Staffers and shoppers are buying this to pair with mid-length, full skirts or bubble hems – the volume and soft lines contrast nicely with Destiny's organic, but angular lines and the playfully long, two-eye tie in front. The open front is chic and perfect for wearing between seasons and into fall. We could also see it working with tights as it gets cooler or even a superskinny pant leg, tucked inside for a dressy take on an undone workboot.

We like dressy for fall. Destiny's open front feels sophisticated and casual, confidently sexy like a woman wearing her boyfriend's oxford with three undone buttons. The closed toe and easy 3-1/2" heel echo another upcoming trend: the straightforward dress pump. Elegant, unadorned, classic. Destiny's combination of the cool and the cultured neatly sums up early fall trends, making it a versatile 'tween-seasons choice. Maybe it's just fate it arrived when it did.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Buckles by Jeffrey Campbell

Big Love: Buckles by Jeffrey Campbell stills our cheating hearts. Sorry, Attic.

When the Attic came out, even Jeffrey Campbell blogged about it. The attention must have had them thinking because now we have Buckles, a gladiator sandal with an ice cream name and bad metal looks that flirts with our attraction to Attic, then steals our heart.

If we have a steady relationship with the Attic, then Buckles is surely our mistress. That femmy heel (JC always nails the heels, no?) supports a rough-and-tumble, mean black gladiator shape. Whereas spring's Attic was all color and geometry, lightness and space, the Buckles is boldness and aggression, hardware and leathers. It's an urban take on a traditional glad sandal: smoothly tough but alluring and attractive.

Give yourself some legroom with this one. Short shorts and short skirts, black, to show them off. A blousy white or light shirt topped with a hugely floppy hat (we are in love with Hermes's recent runway appearance) and giant sunglasses and bold lip colors. The nice thing about this mean shoe is that it remains classic enough to wear through this season into winter and pick it back up next year. Buckles may well best the Attic for first place in your fickle heart, but find a way to navigate this love triangle and you'll be guaranteed to look your best all year long.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tab-2 by Jeffrey Campbell

Scaled Back, Fashion Forward: Tab-2 is back by popular demand.

We thought the Tab-2 was a pretty, pretty shoe. Apparently, so did you. After selling out of it in record time, we're excited to say it's back ... and in more colors. In addition to the ever-popular pewter and brown, we've received a posh dove gray suede (above). There's something about a gray shoe that is light and summery but outside the season. The punchy aqua footbed and tabs in darker gray, aqua and brown are a sophisticated color combination that we first saw (and loved) in Biviel's 1893 earlier this season.

All around the color palettes are fantastic. Undoubtedly a color wheel was consulted, maybe a Googling of that holy triumvirate of color theory: saturation, lightness and hue. The knocked-back, muted result lends Tab-2 a vintage feel which contrasts smartly with the '80s-inspired neon-bright footbeds. Whatever the process, the result works. It comes off fun but sophisticated. Considered. We also like how the overlapping scales subtly reference the new gladiator trend without straying from its origins as a pump with an easy three-inch heel.

Staff recommendations are to try this with cuffed skinny jeans and a buttondown shirt that's belted to pull some of that color up into your torso. Finish it off with some bangles. If that's not your look, the vintage feel works back to straight hems and A-line dresses. Try a floral pattern to pick up the organic shape of the color tabs and further the delicious tension of old and new that makes us love the Tab-2.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trina-2 by Via Spiga

Just Right: Trina-2 is a versatile shoe that works with a wide range of outfits.

Sometimes we pick a shoe for this column because it epitomizes a look. Sometimes we pick it because it defines a look. And sometimes we pick it because it does exactly the opposite. Trina-2, that Goldilocks of shoes, supports such a wide range of outfits that it works with just about anything. Versatility is the new look.

We'll start with its best trait, that lovely heel. Neither too tall nor too short, the slender, three-inch tapered heel lifts just enough for the new office or the night's outing. Its top half is wrapped in leather, the bottom stacked for texture. Trina-2 comes in classic black or a more assertive platino. A t-strap, wide at the toe and narrowing at the buckled anklet to meet a heel cup, is wonderfully demure. It creates tantalizing cutouts along the arch and toes while providing enough cover for more prim occasions.

While you can snap this shoe into just about any outfit to complete the look, what's coming to our mind is cropped cigarette pants and a blousy white top. We're also thinking A-line: fitted bodice and something fuller at the waist ... perfect with a heel of this height.

We like that Trina-2 makes its mark by not standing out. It simply makes your outfit work. That's not to say this is a boring shoe – far from it – rather, this is a shoe that plays its supporting role masterfully, shifting the focus to you in all your put-togetheredness. It takes some moxy to pull that off. We'd have to say Trina-2 is a pretty canny piece of footwear. This kind of classy classic will wear well for plenty of summer seasons to come. Like Goldilocks, it will always end up feeling just right.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chrysta by Jeffrey Campbell

The Braided Bunch: Jeffrey Campbell's Chrysta weaves casual and chic into the ideal summer pump.

It's just perfect, isn't it? The nude patent peeptoe and heel, the plait of silver braided above that, the silver footbed, the sleek kitten-y heel, the demure ankle strap ... The Chrysta by Jeffrey Campbell is a girl we want to be besties with. Fun and playful, you can nevertheless dress this up for a summer wedding or patio soiree.

We are slightly obsessed with this shoe under Lacoste's Stretch Gab High Waist Full Pleated Skirt in white. There is a certain Jazz Age zip to the Chrysta – something Daisy would wear to visit in East Egg. This is a simple shoe; there's an elegance in that simplicity. It has just enough trickery in all that overlapping peeptoe to keep things coy, which is to say interesting. The silver and beige work in a kind of slant rhyme: not matchy-matchy like a sweater set, they are close enough in tone and value to work with a range of wardrobes. Throw in a gauzy summer scarf (our favorite look this season) to add an aristocratic insouciance. Fun and easy-going with an understated glamour? BFFs indeed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rye by Chinese Laundry

Fine Grain: The Rye by Chinese Laundry is a refreshing summer treat.

Like its namesake, Chinese Laundry's Rye is a summer staple that can be worked into an intoxicating mixture with a little time and a few added ingredients (in this case, a shot of teal handbag by Junior Drake). Nude huarache slingback on top, cork wedge on the bottom, Rye blends two trends into an easy, sunny look.

The neutral colorway is a nice balance: just dark enough to offset fair skin but light enough to do the same for darker complexions. A woven leather escutcheon over the foot is the visual focal point, falling off on either side in an open weave to the upsweep of ankle sling. The result is a foot casually thonged without discomfort. (You can also thank a sueded footbed for that.)

The focus may begin at the front of your foot, but a four-and-a-half-inch cork platform wedge shifts attention to your new-found height. A subtle curve up at the toes helps maintain the sense of lightness inspired by all that cork.

We're pairing this one up with a bold block of color like Junior Drake's pleated tote with whip ruffles (shown above) and jewelry sporting turquoises and corals – the former to triangulate your color scheme and the latter to bridge it to the gauzy linen summer dress or clean white V you are wearing over wideleg jeans. The look is casual and understated with a considered polish. Kind of like the drink itself (we recommend the Sazerac.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kammi by Pelle Moda

Cage Match: The Kammi nets top marks for edgy cool and sexy summer wear.

Sometimes you need a shoe with a just little bit of sexy bitch in it. Sometimes you need a lot. And then there's occasion to don the Kammi by Pelle Moda. Summer is that occasion. Kammi's basic look – a platform heel with geometric upper and a lot of attitude – is on-trend for the season. We've seen similar in Pour La Victoire's Bianca, Jeffrey Campbell's Attic and the urban grit of JC's Bank-2. Kammi's advantage is wrapping all these traits into a sleek and aggressive heel that can't help but externalize your libido.

Available in a golden pewter or black with pewter lining, the three-part upper is a leather webbing that wraps the sole and ends in a coquettish peeptoe. This, coupled with an undercut platform and slender straw of a four-and-a-half-inch heel, float you above the ground an extra quarter inch, you dominating goddess. Bondage looks aside, a heel zipper, padded leather footbed and quality leather make this a comfortable wear by all accounts of the sales staff.

A shoe this confident requires an outfit to suit. The season's predilection toward athletica, fitness looks and tight shorts works a fabulous contrast. So does a legging jean with a high crop that just skims the shoe. For some reason we're also thinking aviators, an ultrasoft, overlarge tee or perhaps a washed and cropped leather jacket. The Kammi may have a specific look, but it's not picky; all is asks is a little bit of excitement for summer in the city.

Friday, May 8, 2009

7096 by Gastone Lucioli

En Pleine Air: Gastone Lucioli's cork wedge captures the natural look (and our hearts).

The natural look continues to dominate our thoughts. As the weather warms and color returns, we’re finding a real joy in the directness of simple, well-crafted things. The unending expanse of a blue sky, the greening of shoots on trees, the vividness of tulips … we’re letting nature take the lead on color right now. We will follow with clean looks and light-hearted neutrals that compliment our surroundings and reflect our positive mood.

So when the 7096 by Gastone Lucioli came in the other week, we became quite a bit happier. Perched on a five-inch cork wedge, the woven upper comes in a chocolate brown or taupe suede. The quality is unparalleled. Evidence of this can be found in the subtle, sinuously curved cork wedge: a slim, tall stalk of a heel gently fulls out and down along the arch to the ball of the foot where it flips up at the toes. The effect is a sense of airy weightlessness, sandals on which you seem to glide a quarter inch above the pavement.

The basket woven upper completes this easy, natural look. It’s perfect for the warming spring. Out of the box, we were a staff divided between leather and suede, but a certain magic happens – as it always does – on the foot: this shoe is all lightness and breeze, but that sensibility comes out of contrast. Lighter skin tones may find the suede too neutral; the rich brown of the leather reinforces your distance from the ground. Likewise with darker hues under the suede.

Of course it will work with denim and casual outfits, but we’re really insisting on whites here. Summerweight, overlong men’s trousers, summer dresses and prairie skirts, bright and clean. Accessorize with bits of natural color: the veiny blue of turquoise, the dark striation of ebony woods on chain and leather, layered. Leather will pick up steam into fall; Gastone’s wedges will guide you there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pristine by Boutique 9

Urban Warrior: Boutique 9's Pristine is a down and dirty gladiator.

As we mentioned earlier this month Boutique 9 has been doing some interesting things with the gladiator. They really caught our attention with the Pristine. Available in taupe and black, the Pristine is not so much a sandal as a spat tacked to a footbed. It's the anti-sandal. Where you expect volume there is space. Instead of the typical gladiator's strappy climb up the leg, the Pristine has a sueded and gathered greave suspended above the top foot, plunging sole-ward at the toe and heel. The unstructured upper is folded about the ankle by way of a shiny pewter strap. A zip-up heel makes it a breeze to slide on.

We love the summery feel of this sandal – how it exposes the entire foot, yet boasts a punky, ankle cuff with edgy gatherings for a rebel insouciance. The unstructured feel of the sandal is pure summer casual, but the shiny strapping and suede lend it polish that lets it work in more sophisticated locales.

Pristine is perfect wrapped over skinny denim or loose and slouchy under boyfriend jeans. Pick up on the strappy pewter with layered statement jewelry or a handful of smaller filigreed pieces. Toughen up the black version with an MJ motorcycle jacket. We see the taupe with an edgy blouson or dress by Filippa K. Any way you wear it, Pristine is going to give lend your look unadulterated attitude.

This isn't a safe sandal, but who needs more safe? It's time to get out there in the glorious weather. Make it work! We like that fearlessness, so we love the Pristine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

85509 by Giorgia Martino

Foliage à deux: Georgia Martino's leather flower sandals have us going green.

We were going to start out this review with a comment on how flowers and floral-themed patterns were cropping up (heh) in spring collections, but let's be honest: when are flowers not cropping up in spring collections? This year is no exception, but it does bring forth some exceptional examples. Georgia Martino's leather bouquet sandal may be the most exceptional one yet.

Available in sand, chocolate and green (shown), the T-strap upper is made of beautifully supple leather and cut with gracefully modern lines that recall the retro-modern stylings of Biviel. The two-tone bouquet is feminine and casual, the petals and leaves rolling and folding for an improvisational organic feel. The short, rounded, leather-wrapped heel and padded footbed make it a very easy wear.

For us, the standout is the green, a trend alternative to the season's predominant neutrals and nudes. This particular shade is cooler, desaturated, softer. It feels demure but confident. It feels considered. (We picture a team of Biviel designers, color chips spilled across the table, determinedly hunting for the perfect shade.) It's not an easy color to wear, but worn right it's a true head-turner. There's a tension between this and dark blue denim that, worn confidently, works (the sand and chocolate are easier options). Beneath a white spring dress with a little structure to it, these are amazing. The feminine look of this sandal calls for a bit of hard contrast and sexy edge. Put on some color – a mismatched green – and a tough cycle jacket to take your outfit from ladylike to Mapplethorpe.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Daylight by Nicole

Darkest Before the Don: Nicole's Daylight shines a light on your ensemble.

We have a slight obsession with Nicole, in no small part because Lori recently spent a quality afternoon in Milan shopping with Maurizio Celin, Nicole's designer and all-around handsome lad. But connections aside, the Daylight stands out for its blend of the simple and the lavish.

The spare but elegant T-strap is the perfect shade of turquoise. This thin blue line leads up to an ankle cuff and full heel cup over a soft, suede footbed with contrast stitching. Besides acting as a secure support, this nicely frames the bold cluster of clear glass gems at the front of foot.

We're seeing this with skinny jeans: imagine that bright stripe of blue leading down to flashing gems over a fantastic pedi. But we also know it would work with a flowing spring dress. We like a bold green, maybe even yellow or fuschia -- something that clashes a bit to bring out some personality with the sun.

Daylight is the perfect shoe for these lean times, mirroring our own concerns balancing responsible spending and a desire to be happy and comfortable. (And at $78 is does a pretty darn good job of the former.) If so-called Recessionista is the look of the late aughts, then Daylight may well be the dawn of a new way of dressing where a little bit of flash carries, but doesn't overwhelm, quality construction and grace of shape.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Solaine by Calvin Klein

Chain of Command: Calvin Klein's Solaine's authoritative links.

Platform pumps aren't so much a trend this season as, finally, in the spotlight. We're willing to bet the ever-higher heels on luxury lines are an influence. As we all strive for the height (and our balance), the platform preserves the lift and cheats the height to make the wearing more tolerable. And no one's a better cheater than Calvin Klein.

There's something about a CK platform pump that always feels a little effortless, a lot classy and overwhlemingly current. The Solaine is beautiful example. It's 4-1/2" glossy stacked heel has enough stability to reference to the casualness of the thick-sole trend, yet is built with an elegant geometry that's dressy. Except for the peeptoe, the platform is hidden by a ruched leather wrap tied together with a double-figure-eight of metal links inspired by YSL's classy-flashy segmented chainlink necklace.

The look is confident with decidedly punk-industrial edges. We love the way the sheen of the chain shimmers like oil on water while the ruching lends adventure as though the chain were a quick but expertly tied double bowline hitch. It's a throaty purr that menaces a roar. It's Joan Jett with a dollop of Reznor.

Despite the rumpled leather and the metal chain, expect comfort. Our floor staff were surprised they couldn't even feel the chain. The footbed is nicely padded and the fit true. We see these with loose and roughed-up boyfriend jeans, cinched at the waist under a superbly simple wifebeater from Alexander Wang's new line of tees. Enjoy!

Friday, March 6, 2009

1881 by Biviel

Spring Green: The 1881 by Biviel has an obtuse name, but a very direct look.

Maybe it's the color that made us choose the 1881. Green. The "it" color for spring. And is that any surprise? It's the color of everything that's going away -- our money, our environment -- and the color of everything coming up: foliage, warmth and color to our gray, salt-encrusted winter world. Perhaps it is just the pleasant shock of seeing such a vibrant hue on our foot in a sea of neutrals that made us choose it.

And vibrant it is! The deep, saturated viridian of this platform pump is beguiling; your inner girl can't help but stifle a squeal of glee. (Same goes for the yellow, the color of baby blades of grass or aspen leaves in the fall.) A 3 1/2" heel with 3/4" platform isn't too tall to teeter, and a well-padded footbed takes comfort to another level. The T-strap leads from an adjustable ankle wrap down to six perforated bands that have a slight future-jock feel, though we approve the texture. In any case it's mitigated by a solid, stacked-wood heel that keeps these pumps balanced between casual and forward. The highlight is the teardrop keyhole on top of the foot. It's decolletage for the foot! (At any rate it makes us want to cry ... )

We see the yellows paired with darker denim and the green with white: culottes or a throw-on white summer dress. Toss in some wilder hues like pinks and purples to sharpen the edge of your look. A splash of red in makeup or accessories can make the yellows really pop (careful to avoid ketchup-and-mustard syndrome). These shoes are brilliant and eye-catching; they will insist on being paired to an outfit equally as bold. Work them up with a confident summer ensemble and watch the passers-by give you that final reason green is the color of the season: envy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kirabu & Kaylor by Jessica Bennett

Jessica Bennett Kirabu and Kaylor for Spring 2009The Naturals: Kirabu and Kaylor by Jessica Bennett show too much craft can be just enough.

Sometimes we just want to unplug. Working online day in, day out leaves us wanting something. Something like ... sunlight. Computers make us relive the paranoia of the '80s when the threat of world domination by aliens and computers was a thin disguise for those pesky Soviets. We spend an eternity in this phantom zone slaving away on the MCP and playing games with Joshua and dreaming of sweet revenge. Well, we agree that the only winning move is not to play, so let's take things offline for a minute and go native.

A favorite trend is what we, in this Luddite moment, are referring to as Offline Embellishments. These are the tribal stylings, wooden beads, craft-y DIY constructions and use of pre-Silicon Valley materials like wood, stone and metal for adornment. It's soothingly anti-mechanical and a delightful spectacle.

Not to mention a cinch to dress up.

Jessica Bennett leads the pack with two similar shoes, the Kirabu and the Kaylor. Unable to choose just one, we naturally chose both (our blog, our rules). These babies are a feast of over-embellishment. They don't read too much, they read plenty enough. They feel exuberant and fresh, light and maybe just a touch precious. In other words, perfect girlie shoes for spring.

Kirabu's deep blue denim looks great under a wideleg pant or even a cropped jean. The range of colors in the beading give you plenty to pick up in your accessories and outfit. And that peeptoe! So cute! We insist you pedi before wearing for optimum color possibilities. A four-inch stacked-wood heel is sculpted into a sweeping, narrow column that lends contrast to the fabric and beads, yet supports them by adding a touch of polish. Casual, but knowingly. Wear these to a street fest, Mardi Gras, a lecture on Mayan codices or a visit to the Smarties factory.

The Kaylor's beige upper and woven jute wedge sole just beg for a white summer dress with a floppy sunhat or anything to show off your legs and be happy about the warmer weather. The front is cotton webbing with a riot of embroidery topped with wooden beads. The slingback is made of nude leather. All of this perches vertiginously on a two-inch platform rising to a narrow four-inch heel. The embroidery - cobalt, magenta, ice blue - feels vaguely Hopi as though our kachina collection had been reshaped into shoes while we slept. These happy sandals feel close to the earth and far from the office.

We hope you understand our dilemma now. Two shoes, a brace of ways to celebrate the outdoors using the stuff you find outside, not indoors bound in the nutshell of infinite cyberspace.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sarika by Calvin Klein

Off the Ssssscale: Petal snakeskin platform pump Sarika by Calvin Klein

Let's start with the obvious: this shoe is gorgeous. We see a lot of reptile patterns cross our floor and Calvin Klein, per usual, takes it to another place. The petal-colored upper with its easy contrast against the dark brown platform riveted us. (Compare it to the black to see how strong a difference a color maketh.) The silver leather lining works back to those surprise pops of color we've been harping on in recent posts. The overall color palette is soft and as ethereal as spring itself.

Another stand-out is the texture. The scales on this pattern aren't simply stamped into the leather for an ersatz embossed look, they are undercut and rough, giving the shoe a natural, organic feel, which taps into two more spring trends: a back-to-nature ethos inspired by green movements (and the recession?) and a recurrence of goddess trends (we're thinking more Athena than Gorgon, but whatever suits you). With a five-inch heel (and 3/4" platform), the Sarika lends you definite presence. The snakeskin and wood-dyed sole feels very dryad, very Ovid, very Hesiod to us.

It should be no surprise, then, that we want to work this shoe back to a satiny babydoll top or causal bubble skirt -- items with fullness, drape and volumes of fabric -- or full and long jersey pieces that have the flow and cling of a caryatid. One of the girls based her Valentine's Day outfit on this: worn with brown tights and a babydoll dress with some layered jewelry, she received compliments left and right. She also mentioned the shoe runs very slightly big, so order your true size, add some foot pads and float into spring on these unearthly heels.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bianca by Pour La Victoire

Architectural Integrity: Pour La Victoire's Bianca builds up excitement for Spring.

As we mentioned in our blog the other week, the Bianca by Pour La Victoire epitomizes the platform pump trend this Spring as well as designs inspired by modern architecture. We are absolutely wowed by the crazy laticework uppers in black leather or dove grey suede. They are aggressive and forward while referencing work by contemporary masters like Koolhaas, Gehry, Calatrava and (our favorite) Le Courbusier (we're thinking Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut Ronchamp).

Another trend we heart is the use of brightly colored leather linings and other secretive pops of color on standard-issue blacks, browns and greys. There's an excitement there; this sense of something more than just the lines of the shoe. It's a secret surprise. Surely the woman who wears these has some tantalizing secrets of her own, n'est pas? While the black Bianca is lined in screaming yellow-lime, the grey is paired to a gentle aqua ... but the sole is sheathed in cobalt blue. These shoes reveal something new with each wear. It brings the structure inside. As a stained glass window builds a luminous image out of fragments, the Bianca hints at your character through color and shape, fullness and absence.

The Bianca is a very forward gal. She's complex and confident. Despite her architectural lines, some might call her mercurial (but we think she just takes time to unfold). Aggressive, but not easy. A bit of a wildcat and definitely a patron of the beautiful, this shoe requires a confident woman that can harness Bianca's energy. Otherwise you may just find that the Bianca isn't something you wear, it's something that wears you.

And we like a shoe that makes us work for it.

For larger sizes, visit Barefoot Tess Barefoot Tess for larger sizes.