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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flannel by Steve Madden

Glad for Plaid: Flannel's lining makes us all warm and fuzzy for Americana.
The Flannel by Steve Madden is a welcome relief. Don't get us wrong: we love the glitz, the glam—the whole ... pizazz of the holiday season—but we also sometimes need a shoe without metallics, glitter, sequins or shine of any kind. Thus we rush into the waiting arms of our latest amour.

Flannel is pure Americana and, being pure Americans (that is to say, ethnic mutts), we love it. And like a mutt this boot is made up of many parts. The classic captoe work boot is something we've seen a lot in the past few seasons from Steve Madden, Jeffrey Campbell and Sam Edelman. Flannel bootstraps its way to the top of our list with, well, bootstraps that can snap down for a secure fold-over. (Don't you hate it when your carefully folded-down cuffs get all floppy—one up, one down? Us too!)

An innovation from earlier seasons—the red zipper tape on the boot back—returns and is augmented by a plaid flannel lining. This is our favorite embellishment by far, mostly because we are cold! Also because it is so damned sentimentally cute, reminding us of barns, blankets, owls, carbines, hatchets, beards, beaver dams and the faint smell of woodsmoke in the city.

Trends of late are also well represented. Lace-up front on a military boot with menswear accents ... it's all here. One may be tempted to accuse this shoe of doing to much to which we would reply, why are you arguing with your footwear? Surely you have more important things to do right now. Besides, are we Americans not generally and generously accused of excess in everything we do? Embrace your heritage! We would also say the combination of parts here works quite well in a boot that feels utilitarian but wears easy.

Your standard dress options apply. This shorter boot works with denim, leggings and dresses. The red zipper tape and flannel are the styling anchors. Clash patterns with your leggings or skirts for a youthful street edge or contrast solid colors to bring attention to the boots. Snowy out? Throw on some jeans, lace these up high and clomp around to your heart's content. Flannel by Steve Madden lets you reinvent your look with ease. What could be more American than that?


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thandie by Michael Antonio

Cute Enough to Eat: Thandie by Michael Antonio is part party pump, part candy cane.
Opulence. We has it. And we call it the Thandie by Michael Antonio. It comes in gold, too, but we thought the silver was a bit more fitting for the time of year. (It even looks like a candy cane perched there waiting for you.) The Thandie is 100% glam. Wear it as such: All. Out. Party. Thandie has a 4-1/2" heel and a half-inch platform, giving you height with a little bit of offset. You're not going to be running laps in it, but the Thandie is perfect for night of dancing and partying to bring in that new year. (And wait 'til you see how the glitter catches that early morning light as you look for a cab!)

The silver glitter is backed by a fuchsia lining which works in your favor two ways: the bright, smart pop of the silver works with practically anything outside of other metallics; the brilliant lining belongs to the red family, which is a warm color, but the blue overtones that make it fuchsia give it a coolness as well. That's a fancy art school way of saying you can have your cake and eat it too: Thandie will work with any color dress from black to white and the rainbow in between.

We like to think you can wear Thandie into 2011 and beyond. We're not going to advocate tying this into casual looks like jeans or a standard night out with the girls, but we're willing to bet you've got something fancy-pants event—fundraiser, cocktail party, gala—coming up and Thandie will be there to carry you through it. Opulence isn't just having the bling, it's the luxury of having that option whenever you need it. Thandie: we has it.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sorelli Tall Lace by Sorel

From Wassail to WTF?: Sorel boots carry you through good snows and bad.
A winter is bounded by two distinct experiences: the Wonder and the Lament: the first snowfall of the year and the acceptance that winter is a miserably dark, cold wedge of the year. (In Chicago these realizations may occur at the same moment.) The first inspires Yuletide excitement—carols, cookies, eternal reruns of A Christmas Story on TNT. It is sentimentally picturesque. The second is one of surrender just this side of despair: trudging through the grimy snow, falling in the slushy snow, freezing in the crusty, brittle ice-snow.

Sorel is the company that makes the boot that gets you through both these experiences and into the relief (or at least respite) of spring. (Look for a story on Wellingtons come rainy March.)

Currently a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear, prior to 2000 the Kaufman Footwear boot was exclusive to Canada. (It remains ubiquitous up there.) We spent last winter begging Lori to carry Sorel after a trip to Montréal. This year she relented. We are in love with the Joan of Arctic, (cue it ... ) the closest we carry to the classic Sorel look. However that love is unrequited because greedy customers beat us to the register and we are nearly out of stock. Fine. No it's fine. We're getting more in January. We're also smitten with the Sorelli.

The Sorelli is a big boot (but leaner than Joan), but it fits. If footwear ever deserved the adjective "impermeable," you are reading about it. The foot is a handcrafted, natural rubber duck. The upper is quilted wool with a nine-eyelet tie-up. Sorelli doesn't have the iconic fur or lace reinforcements of Joan of Arctic—it's less showy and more practical for both the snow drift and the slushy curb. The wool upper helps you look smartly turned out, even in rugged weather that makes you want to turn in. Sorelli is fashion for the inclement weather set—no more suffering for your look.

How to wear this boot is really a question of when. Temperatures and snowfalls will dictate when the Sorelli or Joan of Arctic must be employed. Wearing a Sorel on a snow day is like flooring a Bigfoot monster truck down a fire road while everyone else is trying their best in a Hyundai Sonata. You'll gain traction, protection, confidence and a smug disregard for the misfortunes of others. Rest assured you may feel as miserable as the rest of your fellow-travelers navigating the snow and ice, but your feet will be toasty, cozy and happy—a feeling we're hoping grows from the ground up to get us through the ever-near winter blues.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hot Hot by Chinese Laundry

The Fire Next Time: Chinese Laundry's Hot Hot platform pump heats up a freezing December.
The Chinese Laundry Hot Hot is so hot we had to take a break from writing to let things cool down! At least that is what we tell Lori when she asks why we forgot to didn't post this last week. (Stupid travel plans.)

Okay, so this content production team isn't perfect, but in terms of a quality holiday shoe the Hot Hot comes pretty close. There's a lot of sparkle out there this time of year. Hot Hot's upper is festive, but restrained—more rippling pinpoints that blingy flashes. And the color? Blush champagne. A wonderfully subtle and shifting warm neutral. Playing up the gold high notes or the redder undertones, you can work a number of outfits back to this shoe.

That's important. The problem with holiday shoes is what to do with them in ordinary time. Consign them to the wilderness of your back closet? Chew toy for the dog? Sometimes we don't know either. Chinese Laundry mercifully takes the stress out of it—Hot Hot will work with your denim or dress looks outside of the month of December.

The obvious answer to "How would you wear this?" is the L.B.D. (or, if you're like some staffers lacking holiday spirit, "I wouldn't." Y'all can just stop reading here.) True, the little black dress with jet black tights would be a punchy and fun party look, especially with some complimentary jewelry. Off the party circuit we see dark denim or cigarette pants—that little sliver of ankle being all-important. Top with a drapey piece and silver, opals, white gold or pearls as accoutrement. The soft, white golds will emphasize the pump's red qualities; silver, pearl and opal will emphasize its glittering light. Stay away from gold or Indian gold looks; the Hot Hot's color balance is too delicate for such bossy, brassy colors.

A five-inch heel with a one-inch platform is going to get you noticed any time of the year, glitter or no, and, possibly-maybe bring you a little bit closer to that mistletoe when Mr. Big walks by at the holiday party. And the thought of that is definitely hot hot.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Privilege by Charles by Charles David

Pump Prerogative: The Privilege by Charles by Charles David is a classy and classic pump.

Charles Malka does not golf. The man behind Charles David is simply too busy designing shoes. He considers shoes his only hobby. Having been in the business for 48 years, we assume he is in no danger of burning out. He is a man who lives for shoes. We don't know if that kind of dedication is noble or pathological—or both—but we're glad for it. We can't stop wearing his shoes.

The Privilege is a case in point, and just what it declares: wearing this shining, pointed beauty is something every woman should make her prerogative. To earn it is not about spending money (the $104 dollars aren't prohibitive) but about embracing classic style. This is a trend that got legs back in spring. Neutrals, classic silhouettes and pumps were the vanguard of the trend pack. Privilege continues the trend with a romantic winter look via deep scarlet (favorite), black and camel, all preserved beneath a patent that looks practically slathered on.

The characteristics of the classic pump are a moderate heel (three inches), conservative colors, closed heel and a toe, preferably pointed. Whoops! Looks like we just described the Privilege. Of course, just cobbling together a punch list of details does not an interesting shoe make. The trick is how to own it. Charles David lays claim to classic style through the aforementioned luscious lacquer, a delicate forefoot strap detail, an inset fabric trim and an extended pointy toe that feels Euro without the Trash, and slightly dangerous. Privilege may be the first shoe to weaponize the upper. (Or the second. Dagnabbit, Karl Lagerfeld!! ... )

Classic works for us this holiday season. You can dress it so many ways. We're just swooning over the dark red. It might be our obsession with vampire romances, but nonetheless this shoe just, heh, bleeds cool. The first thing that comes to mind is pencil skirts, but this shoe will hold up under bubble skirts, box pleats, skinny denim ... whatever you want to throw at it.

Privilege succeeds because its classic, clean lines and colors let it work with a huge range of outfits in situations spanning your professional and night lives. Just don't try them out on the golf course—we don't have time for that. Our hobby is looking good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tatum by Dolce Vita

The Preferred Fur: The Tatum by Dolce Vita put a dash of rabbit fur on a fab bootie.
You may have seen the Tatum gracing our homepage recently. It's a truly beautiful shoe, full of complexity and texture (and she's not afraid to flaunt it). Let's just take a moment to trace the highlights of this exceptional bootie. To start there's the whiskey-barrel caramel of buttery leather upper. This sits like a decadent dessert atop a five-inch cake stand of a heel. The rounded toe is uncomplicated and classic, a smart decision that doesn't detract from Tatum's transcending feature: a shock of rabbit fur bound like sheafed wheat by twin leather belts. Antiqued brass buckles and zippers melt into the scenery.

It's not your typical party shoe for the holiday season and that's why we're endorsing it as such. Leave the glitz to other, more dependent accessories like the Deux Luxe Navy bag with sequins shown above. We love the pile-on of textures here, and even we are surprised by how well the sequins compliment fur and leather. You know what it is? That navy and caramel/warm-cold tension. They push and pull themselves into a delightful stasis. Get decadent!

We all know fur is huge this season. We're glad to see Dolce Vita use the stuff with such artfulness. The leather belts create a sense of restraint, or, from the fur's point of view, bursting forth. Tatum sure has got a lot of tensions to resolve. Work that out on the dance floor, sister! Let's go!

And that where you wear this: out. Moving. Looking good out in the public eye. Your office holiday party. That other holiday party you "accidentally" crashed. (You've got to look good when photobombing strangers' candids.) Tatum can handle it because this bootie wasn't made for holiday, it was made for simply looking glamorous all the time in these months of weak, raking sunlight and blustering winds. Wear this with a dress. Wear it with a skirt. Wear it with denim, leggings, layered socks ... it can take it. The question is, where will you take her?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lita Fab by Jeffrey Campbell

Get Medieval: The Lita Fab by Jeffrey Campbell brings tapestries into the fashion limelight.
We haven't seen tapestry this enchanting since our last trip to The Cloisters. Jeffrey Campbell is an artist with his shoes: once he settles on a form he works and reworks it relentlessly with materials updates and embellishments. Us? We are the connoisseurs. We benefit with each new iteration. The latest, the Lita Fab, eschews leather altogether for a rich tapestry fabric that is one part Medieval masterpiece and two parts your grandma's furniture. That adds up to a quirky-cool, sky-high heel with a hidden platform that will rock your look.

It also rocks some trends. The five-inch heel (and two-inch platform) is a comfortable ride and a high-powered bootie. Witness the influence of the laces craze with an eight-eyelet fabric lace-up front. The tapestry, for all its departure from the norm, has a distinctive animal print affiliation. Patterns are good; busy is better.

The Lita Fab is a lot of shoe, but it is an accommodating shoe. We can see this with high-waisted skirts or an ultra-dark selvage denim. Also, gray. (Gray denim is a secret favorite.) Keep the outfit minimalist and let the shoe bear the weight of the look.

Or not.

This is Jeffrey Campbell, after all, and restraint is not the first word that comes to mind. Take it the other way: distressed-to-destroyed denim; bold, chunky (gray) cable sweaters or sweater coats; an animal print clutch or leopard print catseye sunglasses; a carpet bag. Not all this at once, mind you; we'll be maximal, not louche. Take your cues from this shoe and amplify it somewhere else on your outfit.

The Lita Fab is just that: fabulous. We recommend doing it and yourself justice by being nothing less. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rowdy by Charles David

Getting Rowdy: Charles David's new boot gets us excited for fall weather.
There's just not much to not like about the Rowdy: it's a classic equestrian silhouette sporting some military details. In fact, maybe it's not so much equestrian as something akin to what the Duke of Wellington might have worn to Waterloo when he trounced the French. (For further reading we recommend Thackeray's magnificent Vanity Fair. We love to hate you, Becky Sharp!). There's the arched top with a bellows cinched by an adjustable strap; the second cinch along the rand; a moderate heel height perfect for warhorses; and our favorite little bit of military pageantry: the back zipper with red taping. Marvelous!

A boot like this deserves nothing less than an outfit to command. We took advantage of its clean lines and fighting spirit to develop a classic all-American outfit that would make Ralph Lauren jealous. (Thanks to our ever-expanding apparel and accessories selections, we were able to put it together in-house.) The basic long-sleeve tee by BB Dakota and denim leggings by H.U.E. should be in every girl's wardrobe. We added some fall texture with a neutral plaid scarf and some sheen with Tano's glossy leather knapsack. For a youthful kick, we layered and scrunched sweater leggings over the denim. A field of prairie grass and wild rye is optional, but highly encouraged for all-American authenticity.

Of course accessories can make or remake the look. And while the sunglasses above are the model's own, we have a ton (maybe literally) of necklaces, bracelets, bags and more. Layer in some saddle leather-inspired cuffs or bunched-chain rings to take your all-Americanness to the streets. The collegiate look of bookbag and layered cuffs can be switched out for a rural ruggedness by swapping for a blanket coat by BB Dakota, or, add fur pieces and a Pour La Victoire Twiggy bag for a chic city vibe.

This boot is so easy to style because it stays true to a classic, even timeless, style. Grab a pair and head directly to your closet and work up some new looks. Go on, get crazy! Or, at least, Rowdy.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fox-Trot by Pajar

Make an Entrance: The Fox-Trot by Pajar dances with the season's killer fur trend.
The Fox-Trot is the turducken of our fall shoe lineup. Innermostly, we have a a fine Italian wool lining—a natural insulator and wicking fabric to keep your feet warm and comfortable even in wet conditions. The possibility of your feet getting wet is slim, however, given the middle layer—a cowhide upper—and by cowhide we mean this boot should come with a horse comb. And speaking of grooming, the outermost layer of our wearable feast is an explosion of variegated fox fur bound with a suede tie.

This improbable blend of fabrics sounds like a whole lot of too much but, like a turducken, when you try it you realize how right too much can be. Appearances to the contrary, Fox-Trot is a demure boot; it shows itself coyly. From a distance it is all fur, bold and beautiful over a dark toe. A closer inspection reveals the sleek grooming of the cowhide and perhaps an unexpected element like the man-made sole. Trying this boot on is to experience a truly comfortable all-weather shoe. (They make Pajar in Montréal, friends. You think they don't know from cold?) The molded, thermal rubber sole boasts stolid traction. The suede thong ties at front to add a bit of form to the fur, but it's chiefly decorative.

Solid-color leggings are a perfect match to the Fox-Trot. They'll set off the boot without confusing the look. As the weather takes a turn for the worse, switch to skinny jeans and a sporty anorak. When the snow comes, do not forget a very long, one-color, chunky knit scarf—your opportunity to play with texture and material contrasts. Though it goes without saying, we will say it anyway: not too much. To extend our metaphor, the Fox-Trot is a rich repast; no need to make the meal richer with added patterns and textures in your outfit. Happy wearing ... or should we say Bon Apetit?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Winsford by Sam Edelman

Fur Sure: The shearling Winsford makes us actually look forward to cold weather.

There is a lot to love with Sam Edelman (when isn't there?). Edelman's latest offering, the Winsford, heats up our love to Fatal Attraction proportions. We love the blend of manly details and edgy studs with this season's most romantic (and cuddly) accessory, fur—shearling, if we're being specific. The genuine shearling toppers are understated luxury. We've paired it about with a faux vest. The difference in texture—the tight nap of the shearling, the long wave of the faux fur vest—keeps the look current without over-saturating it.

Details on the upper are no less satisfying. Antiqued brass studs secure the two-tone top to a plastic (think of it as faux wood) sole, which itself boasts a rubber lug tread. A second set of studs with a hammered pattern add some more interest. We like the Anorak-meets-urban kool kid we have going on up here: fur elements over a wispy cowl-cum-hoodie. Pair up with a supple leather bag like this olive gem from Cut N Paste. The leather or another element with seasonal structure will contrast nicely with the organic look of the fur, real or fake.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

D53 by Ripicca

Become a Convert: Ripicca's D53 is two boots – and two looks – in one.
One thing you gotta give the military: they're pragmatic. Not a lot of flowery embellishment in the armed forces we daresay. And while efficiencies may be a theory espoused more than practiced, we're happy to see the concept spill over into our fall fashion. The D53 by Ripicca is one of many shoes this fall to embrace the military look but one of the few to capitalize so well on its practical nature.

The practicality starts with boots on the ground: a satisfyingly hefty lug sole has enough grip to let you march on the slickest of surfaces. We burned out on the lug sole about a decade ago, but a ten-year breather freshens them up. The D53 also taps into what's being called the "spat boot" or "collared boot"—a turn-down on the shaft that reaches past the ankle to cover the arch. What's so lovely about this taupe spat with twin buckles is that it is removable: flip a snap at the back heel and, voilà, you have a decidedly less-military black Chelsea boot. If the D53 is your soldier look, this Chelsea is your outfit on leave. In civvies, so to speak, the D53 is a classic ankle boot that can work back to pretty much any outfit.

Wear these to work looking all sober and responsible, pop on the sleeves in the evening and you're ready for happy hour and then some. Sleeveless, try them with jeans or even office attire—the lugged bootie is a great choice for commutes through inclement weather. With the taupe spat on, we're feeling more of a shorter skirt or shorts look (leggings depending on the temperature and your frame of mind).

We also take a cue from our guest bloggers Valerie and Camilla of A Butterfly by Day. They pair military looks by Sam Edelman with softly feminine silhouettes, patterns and hairstyles to break up the regimental tendencies of such boots. The result is sweetly complex and a blast to wear. The point being that the D53 blends classic boot shapes with inspired military touches to give you a whole bunch of something you don't often find in the army: options.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dixie by Sam Edelman

Just Add Black Lipstick: Sam Edelman's Dixie ain't just whistlin' about the over-the-knee look.

Well at least this fall will not be boring. Over-the-knee boots, a huge trend in Fall 2009, is ramping up to be even bigger (or is that taller?) this season. While fall is always boot time, we had an inkling that booties and shorter styles would be the dominant boot. But taller and taller styles keep arriving ... and leaving in UPS boxes bound for excited customers. Sam Edelman's Dixie takes the look to a level that strains the definition of "over-the-knee" and conjures thoughts of hip waders.

When our boyfriends go to buy new suits (and this is indeed a rare occasion), there is a rule of thumb to determining a good fit. Don the jacket. Stand straight with hands loosely cupped. If the edge of the jacket hits at your fingers, it is the right size.

The same measurement can be used for these boots. Striking at mid-thigh after 22 pairs of eyelets, the Dixie is an incredible tower of badassedness. The upper of the boot has solid military/combat styling on a lug sole. The shaft rises past combat, past engineer, past logger lengths to something just ... vertiginous. At $322 they are not our cheapest boots, but consider this: you won't need pants. (Oh! The savings!) A simple mini works. Tights are perfect. In the past we've layered these over a purple bootliner and teal tights with a black mini skirt. The look is a dark, dark Mod. It is very sexy.

This look is edgier than a Chinese throwing star so respect it. (Edgier, but not difficult: a side zipper saves you the torture of unlacing to get in them.) Vintage denim jackets, fingerless gloves, biker gear = yes. A short trench over a mini and tortoiseshell  glasses, neck scarf, dark glasses ... you got us at "trench." Aggressive! We could also see some Madonna-inspiration (of "Desperately Seeking Susan" era) working here. Hell, find some coquettish plaid, a shrunken sling bag and Sharpie Xs on the back of your hands to wear it like a straight-edge lumberjack. These boots may be specific, but because they grab so many elements from military looks, Goth styling, punk and work gear, you can bend that specificity to your wardrobe whims. Go wild. These boots are already there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Toughen-Up by Poetic Licence

Is It Tough Enough? Poetic Licence's Toughen-Up is a riff on Victorian button-ups with a modern twist.
In England they must call this shoe the Stiff Upper Lip—it certainly has a heavy Victorian influence that we cannot ignore and must instead love. The Toughen-Up riffs the Victorian button-up boot, but deposits it squarely in the modern world. For one, you don't have to actually button it up. (This alone will save you 15-20 minutes.) However the buttons are operable and, as in a men's suit sleeve, working buttons are a sign of extra quality. Another modern touch is the nod to collar boots—boots and booties with a fold-over that extends all the way down the shaft to cover the upper and some heel. This creates a great silhouette and the extra material feels luxurious. (Also luxe is the metallic leather lining, but that's a private luxury.)

A 2-3/4" stacked heel is modest; Toughen-Up makes its mark not by height, but by details. We love the leather-covered buttons, the sawtooth edging on the fold-over and cap toe, the slightly Americanized snub toe which seems a compromise between a Western squared and an English equestrian. Other compromises also work for you: the shaft circumference is perfect for layering in leggings or a thicker sock and the middling boot height plays well with short jean skirts or a full jean, tucked or over.

Did we mention the leather? That's because we saved the best for last. This boot is so supple you'd think it were rubbed with butter (it's not). It proved to be a bit of a pain to photograph it was so melty. What that means for you is a die-for comfortable, easy, forgiving fit. You can probably even scrunch Toughen-Up a bit for a casual slouch.

Collar boots, vintage looks, short boots ... these are all the qualities of fall in 2010 and they are all present in this one beaut of a boot. Between the detailing, the buttery (but, we stress, not buttered) leather and the smart construction, Toughen-Up is the way to beef up a 90-pound-weakling wardrobe.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bronte by Matisse

You Can Be My Heathcliff: The Bronte by Matisse is a darkly romantic fall hit.

Booties. They're big in popularity if not physical stature. There's something about the swift cut of a bootie across the ankle that is so pretty and so wonderful with leggings. They are magnificent with skirts. And shorts. And, well, they just work which is why every fall we're excited all over again to see them. The Bronte by Matisse is no exception. Although, maybe it is. Is it even a bootie to begin with?

The short answer may be no. Built on a slightly chunky heel with chic, sweeping lines, the upper has a typical conservative pump construction: closed heel and round mary-jane toe, medium heel height. A raised seam at the toe is the sole embellishment.

The exception comes above. Attached to the leather is a double-faced, canvas sheath secured above the ankle by elastic. The unstructured, organic look and feel of the canvas is a welcome contrast to the structured look of the shoe. Like its namesake author, there's a Victorian echo to the shoe's silhouette, but its elegance is born of the tension between the soft romantic bootie and the structured, classic upper. That offhand gloss simple means it's a killer shoe with leggings and skirts. Love the way Bronte blouses out from the foot to come in tight against the ankle. That bit above the elastic makes this shoe like a present around your foot. There's some structure here, some slouch. It's as multi-faceted as you are.

Kit it out the same way: structured bottoms and softer, unstructured fall tops in cashmere or fine wools. We'd insert a scarf or cowl neck at this point since the weather seems to have broke for the moment. Jewelry's fair game. The neutral palette will work with pretty much anything you throw at it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nervous by Charles David

Glamour-ous Pumps: The Nervous by Charles David is a low-heeled must-have for fall.

You know, we're biased. Our tendency in this blog is to praise and laud shoes. We may come off as slightly subjective. Then again, what are we, the New York Times? But in all fairness we thought we'd offer a second opinion: Glamour loves the Nervous by Charles David too. In their September 2010 issue (p. 179), the magazine declares "Lower Heels Are Back!"Amongst the Jimmy Choos and Stuart Weitzmans perches our dear Nervous.

She sports a two-and-a-half-inch heel – modest but not mousy. Higher than the kitten heels on the runway (so says Glamour) but not vertiginous. A sleek, swept slingback contrasts with an inverted seam on the upper's front. The two provide movement and a bit of texture. The nude/neutral palette makes it an easy choice for professional situations.

For several seasons now, Lori has been trumpeting the return of the "classic pump" – clean and simple lines, a closed toe, modest heel. The workhorse shoe. Seems like the industry is finally catching on. The Nervous has some flare, to be sure, but it's detail in the service of enhancing your look. Those reversed seams? They work in tandem with the sling to narrow your foot and draw attention up to you ankles. We'd pair this with a pencil skirt or other short dressy skirt to pick up on it professional vibe (you can then extend it to pro or sophisticated casual as you see fit).

We like this pump. Glamour likes this pump. Pick up a pair and try them on. We're pretty sure you'll get a kick out of a classic look with some details that will knock your socks (trend alert!) off.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

1078-D by Strategia

Tactical Advantage: The 1078-D by Stategia is a victor in the battle of fall styles.

Oh my. Where do we start? Whenever we find ourselves paralyzed by a multiplicity of options, we like to lean upon our good friend Lewis Carroll whose "Alice in Wonderland" lends some sage advice from the King: "Begin at the beginning ... and go on till you come to the end: then stop." It dissolves our perplexity like so much treacle in water.

Well, OK then: this shoe began in Italy and is part of a brand-new line we're carrying this fall. (Lori is in love with it.) Much like the red-hot Nicole boot from last year which was meant to be worn at several heights from knee-high to ankle boot, the 1078 is made of the most supple leather we've felt in some time. The shaft is fully lined; you can turn this thing down as far as your toes and it will look 100 percent on-purpose. If you don't like the flipped look, hike it tight or scrunch it down for a jaggy silhouette (above). In other words: abuse this boot. It's asking for it.

The rest of the boot is mean and clean. A simple round toe and a one-inch heel complete the bottom. There is a chrome three-quarters zipper up the back that's functional, but doesn't function for anything; it is pure decoration. We could lose that, honestly, and with creative styling that's an option. This boot has clean lines to put the focus on how you wear it. In that respect, there are so many options we get dizzy.

We just– we can't– we– Look, don't hide this boot! It's just so sexxxy. You know what we're going to say. Leggings. Of course, leggings! Look at that badass boot up there with teal knee-highs layered over dark heather leggings! Killer! Of course your skinnies are always a cooler-weather option, but right now we are basking in the glory of an absence of humidity and 90-degree days (in Chicago anyway).

The 1078 taps into the strong military trend by way of parade ground polish. There are echoes of the equestrian trend from a few seasons back, but it's been spit-shined and streamlined. The luxury of this boot is a bootshaft that lets you devise a look to suit the occasion from regal to rough-and-tumble.

We're closing in on the end, but we're reminded of another character from Lewis's managerie. As the Dormouse said to Alice, "you know you say things are 'much of a muchness' – did you ever see ... a drawing of a muchness?" We haven't either, but we may just be wearing it.

The End. Stop.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dallas by Jeffrey Campbell

Fringe Benefits: Jeffrey Campbell's Dallas revs up the fall boot season.

When we think of restraint, Jeffrey Campbell does not spring to mind. The designer, known for creative new uses for pushpins, thumbtacks, buckles and the like, is more often our first choice for edgy looks and creative daring. In that sense the Dallas does not surprise (though we are, of course, happy). Never one to settle on just a trend, Campbell made a boot that comprises, well, most of them: suede, fringe, OTK boots, Western looks ... this fall Dallas is fall.

Dallas reaches to the knee and, though there is a turn-down, it's meant to stay down – the brass nailheads edging the seams are meant to be seen. And the fringe. The fringe! Don't mistake this for a moccasin, Undaunted Courage-inspired riff. This fringe is there to simply sway and look magnificent, a hip and shaggy 'do on a chic Western boot. The effect is enhanced by the scalloped seam of the shaft which lends a naturally sinuous drape to the suede. We're fans of suede. It's coming back in bags and boots across the board. The soft look and hand of suede feels right this season. Looks aside, a three-inch heel, top zipper with belted cinch and leather calf lining make fitting and wearing Dallas a no-brainer.

We recommend wearing this boot naked. (What else is it you think you need?) This boot was just made for parading around looking glorious and we can't think of anything that will outshine the Dallas except your self. But if you want to save the prancing for bedrooms and closed curtains, you can venture out in leggings and a simple shift. Between the studs, heel, fringe and supple suede you are not going to need a whole lot more. Like its namesake city and TV show, Dallas is big and glamorous. It is a sashay, not a walk. Wearing Dallas will make you feel in the spotlight ... even with your clothes on.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Old Smart by Via Roma

When in Roma: The Old Smart adds some new details to a hot fall trend.

What came first, the motorcycle or the engineer boot? Whichever it is, the engineer boot wins hands-down at capturing the fancies of fashionable women (though we respect you, ladies who ride). The secret lies in its classic form. Evolved from the lasts of English riding boots, the engineer typically sports a strap with buckle or harness across the upper and round or square toe. The rest? Up for grabs.

One designer that's been particularly grabby is Via Roma. One of our exclusive Italian labels, Via Roma has been spinning fresh takes on classics (check out the camo Hangar.) Old Smart's quilted leather upper adds a cozy luxury to an otherwise bad-ass boot. Along with an antiqued, oval brass buckle, this shoe keeps its street smarts while reaching back for a little of that English riding gentility. We like a boot that lets you look demure and maybe just a little bit threatening at the same time.

Old Smart is savvier than just her good looks, of course. She's on-trend. The short boot look is a seamless transition from summer to fall: cooler than a pair of OTKs like the Miami but more forward-looking than the current crop of sandals, short boots are versatile without looking pragmatic. They'll be just as relevant in November as September. Just layer in that other big trend – socks – and you have a look that is easy and cheap to change up and up and up to fit the weather and, more importantly, your mood and the occasion. (If socks aren't your thing, these boots look equally as darling over or under denim.)

Old Smart's only here at Lori's. It's one of our finds from the Milan shows. We're excited about everything we bought in this line. (Seriously, did you see the Smart??) The Old Smart has captured our hearts at the this particular moment. It's not our cheapest boot, but it's absolutely top quality and craftsmanship. Given that this is a boot that will last you not through this season but, with care, scores of them, we think that makes the Old Smart a pretty intelligent purchase.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

20413 by Khrio

Spotlight: Khrio's micro-shearling short boot is a great way to usher in the fall season.

We know it's still hot – a better word might be melty – but that doesn't changed the inevitable and glee-filled fact that cooler climes await us come fall. It certainly has not escaped the attention of the folks over at Khrio. They've shipped us a darling little boot with the ungainly moniker of 20413. (Unless you are Robert Duvall, we believe shoes, like people, should have a name.)

The 20413 is a light transition boot with a number of beguiling features, chief among them that it looks great with socks. This is important as socks are more important this season than most. In fact, we have taken the liberty of pairing not one but two pairs of socks with the '413 in the photo above: a heavier grey rib knit under a sheer burgundy wool. The look is appropriate to Khrio's designing, a kind of future-perfect casual ... like a bootie moc in space. The look is cool and also cozy. We're wearing this with longer boyfriend jean shorts and a well-loved tee or cardigan (or both depending on the temperature).

The idea is comfort over cool (though that does not exclude chic). This is a look we're seeing in the star set yonder West with the emergence of the Warishofer sandal sported by Maggie Gyllenhaal and others. Let's just say it's comfort level exceeds its pulchritude. Khrio's 20413 is lined with a soft micro-shearling inside a suede upper. This is stitched to a molded crepe sole. It wears like pure comfort and, while it looks casual, it does not look sloppy. This is an important distinction. Call the look an offshoot of the sexy librarian. Maybe we'll coin it the "sultry academic." (This is not to say you can't pop these on with jeans for a quick errand run; they excel at that as well.)

We're in transition mode (or "transistion" mode if you spotted the typo in our recent mailer. Whoops!) Both modes require a versatile shoe that can work with summer and fall palettes and temperatures. Khrio lives for this time of year. The 20413 is light enough to wear today and warm enough for October evenings. It works because it has a straightforward, classic, low-boot profile that supports your look (remember: socks!) regardless of season. And did we mention it comes in brown and navy? Now you have no excuses. We know you are a quick study. Show it with a pair of these beauts and flaunt your best post-grad come-hither look.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Miles by Rosegold

Walk On: Rosegold's Miles presents two looks in one shoe: polished and ultra-polished.

We're of two minds on the Miles ... literally. With a leg-lengthening four and one-half inch heel and a three-quarters platform, Miles is comfortably in the realm of the fashion heel. The color, billed as "beige" is actually warmer and rosier – more of a "nude," if that nude were slightly flushed, or perhaps blushing. It's a singular color that we love. Now, of height and color we are of one mind. What splits our attention is the construction of the shoe itself. Divided straight down the middle of the shoe are two treatments that make us gasp and ogle ... or was that ogle and gasp?

The instep of the shoe is wrapped in clean, flawless leather. It is the ultimate classic pump (a big trend again this fall). It bespeaks confidence and power, professionalism and a classy gal. Turn your gaze 180 degrees and prepare to get ruffled. The same leather, the same dye on the outstep are here gathered, ruched and sewn down onto the classic side. This side is all waves and wrinkles and edges. The look is forward and organic, dynamic and aggressive. Watching a walk in these pumps is like watching a two-image flipbook: clean/embellished/clean/embellished/clean/embellished/ (The geek in us secretly wishes Miles were called the Harvey, as in Dent.)

How to wear such a complex piece of footwear? Easy peasy. We pick up the theme of neutrals with a Christopher Kon day bag, but shift to gray. This keeps the outfit in the same tonal range without looking boringly matchy-matchy. The reptile embossing on the bag echoes the ruching of the Miles, while the structured silhouette works back to Miles's clean side. The killer touch is the tie-back knee-high crocheted socks by Bloom Boom Boom. Top with a mid-thigh retro pattern dress and your summer just got a little brighter.

Miles satisfies our twin desires for classic American dressing and something a little more daring, and it does them at the same time. While the split may address different aspects of our personality, the overall look is cohesive thanks to quality leather and spot-on construction. Give the Miles a spin; we guarantee you'll get a number of double-takes on the street.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fatale by Gee'WaWa

Bad Romance? Gee'WaWa's Fatale taps our inner fame monster.

Rah, rah, ah-ah-ah! Roma Roma-m* – uh that's, we mean, welcome to our review of Fatale by Gee'Wawa. Dubbed the "Lady Gaga shoe" before it even arrived at the store, Fatale is a thrilling new look for fall and for Lori's and may prove deadly should our heart rate continue to flutter so.

This is just a monster of a shoe. How can we put it otherwise? The platform, verging on ridiculous, measures 2-1/4". That's the platform. The thick pincer of a wedge/heel rockets up another 3-1/4" to top out in the 5-1/2"-to-6" range. An upturned toe and sharp V at the heel define the silhouette – and this shoe is all silhouette, blacking out giant swaths of ground as you walk. It makes our spines tingle. But the immensity is all in the looks. The shoe is featherweight and comfortable, the leather high quality and easy to wear. (This from Lori herself, clonking around in Fatales the moment they arrived. See below next to a size 12 men's Frye harness boot.)

We just love how calmly outrageous Fatale is. Ever since McQueen debuted the armadillo shoe, we've been quietly obsessed with shoes that completely overwrite the body's natural contours. Armadillo sent up Edo-era foot binding to a modern (if precarious) aesthetic; Fatale fits into the new styling of Gaga-era: dance hall bizarro cult glam, perhaps. Since Gaga wore the armadillo in "Bad Romance," maybe we're not too far off.

Though weight is not an issue, Fatale is visually bottom-heavy. A nice benefit of this is that your legs will invariably look longer and more skinny poking out of the wide shaft. (There's also a zipper on the insole.) This is a natural with leggings of any stripe (or color, or pattern). Pair with short, cut-off denim or small skirts and a simple tee. Go big on accessories. You can make your outfit about the outré and get away with it: statement necklaces, clangy bangles, soda can curlers in your hair, you name it. Now if we could just stop singing ...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dreyfuss by Jeffrey Campbell

The Dreyfuss Affair: Jeffrey Campbell's diaphanous pump makes us want to betray our wardrobe.

We just want to throw it all away. Lose the clothes, the shoes and boots and sandals, chuck the accessories and run off with our new love, Dreyfuss. What is it about this petite pump that makes us want to betray the rest of our wardrobe, to abscond with it in the dead of night and start anew? We definitely respond to its three-inch heel: not too high, not too low. But, no, that's not quite it. The silhouette? Well certainly we like the classic pump shape set to take fall by storm. Love the low heel, full heelcup, low-slung upper ending in a fabric-wrapped toe. But, no ... it's not quite that either.

It must be the wrapped upper.

Or rather, the wrapping, since the upper isn't so much there: it's formed by crisscrossing bands of ruched, diaphanous fabric that hug your foot. Without our foot, Dreyfuss doesn't come to life. She appears deflated. She needs us. We can respond to that. We need her too.

Like this shoe and our illicit desires, the look here is subversively conservative. Dreyfuss builds a femmy, classy, sexy look on top of a fairly straightforward pump silhouette. Work with that. Palette: whites, beiges, blacks with an emphasis on whites. What about a pair of ankle-cropped white cigarette pants? Right? We know. Or change up the office girl look with a clean knee-length secretary skirt which will make the Dreyfuss look like a peek at the flirt beneath the professional crust.

Summer's raging across the country. While we're (always) looking forward to fall, we want to see the summer through in relative comfort. The fabric composition of this pump is easy and cool on the foot, making it a practical solution in addition to a romantic obsession. But really that's just a justification which in the heat of our passion we don't need. We're happy to be wrapped in the fabric of our fantasy for Dreyfuss, heat be damned.

Friday, July 9, 2010

View by Franco Sarto

Seeing the Potential: Franco Sarto's View is the foundation of many a look.

Maybe we're just getting older. You know, set in our ways, taking less risks and we still don't know why we need an iPad. Maybe we're just getting ... boring. All of this is true, especially the boring part. Classic pumps – and we mean classic – no frills, no embellishments, no crazy materials, no hidden lifts (well a couple) or fancy colors are the crest of fall's trend wave. We hesitate to even label them a trend as they've been around forever and are now, for once, getting their due.

Franco Sarto's View is an excellent example, though even the View spices things up with a conservative peeptoe. The colors are exquisitely boring: black, beige (shown) and moss. The four-inch heel (half-inch platform) is safely high. No ka-RAY-zy five-inchers here, folks. The upper has a graceful swoop rising to a full heel cup (don't want to show too much skin after all). It's all just so nicely – yawn (excuse us) – put-together. If this shoe went to a party, the host would remark, "Oh hel-lo! Terribly sorry, remind me of your name again?" Twice. At least.

The View's a wallflower, and that's just the way we like it. Our closets are full of Jeffrey Campbells and Sam Edelmans, Italian Exclusives in exotic materials. This blog is guilty on all counts of advocating a look that starts feet-first at the expense of the rest.  Sometimes you must go back to basics. Sometimes your shoe must play a supporting role. Sometimes you have to make your pump a little bit boring to make the whole ensemble an outrageous success.

The View, like all our classic pumps, is a team player. It is superb foundation piece. The conservative cut, the considered colors, the classic look make the View supremely easy to build upon. The hues chosen are masterfully blended. You have to see the beige to believe how subtly it bridges grays and tans and taupes: a perfect neutral. All-day comfort is a matter of course. With the View we'd load up on bold accessories or break out a more complicated top. Skirts, still, as it is July after all. (We'd see them working under linen pants as well.) The View moves between looks effortlessly, giving you leeway to experiment. We're all about wearing beautiful footwear, all the time. View is no exception; it simply works behind the scenes to keep you gorgeous and, in our view, that's not boring at all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Girl's Dream by Poetic Licence

Seeing Through the Hype: Poetic Licence's "A Girl's Dream" is a coy transition pump we fantasize about.

We'll start with a disclaimer: we got really excited about the toe detail on this shoe and stuffed it full of clear Lucite pendant necklaces. (The boys in creatives wanted to drive a point home.) The only gems that come with this looker are the rainbow-hued cluster over the toe. Box-cut, teardrops, princess cuts: these sit on a rosette of reptile-patterned leather and form the top of a lovely little peeptoe.

Available in Sandstone and Black, A Girl's Dream sits atop a 3.5" stacked and back-swept heel, giving it a cool lean. This is picked up in the upper that rides high against the sides of the foot like a starched Edwardian collar before plunging like risqué decolletage into the gems. The rounded high sides lend the shoe a distinctly retro look, the swooping lines and graceful arcs reminding us of early-20th-century Futurism, a fact reinforced by the metallic leather lining. Maybe Daisy Buchanan would have worn these into the city (maybe they're what caught Gatsby's eye).

The office loves this shoe. Chances are if you don't buy it, the staff will. And considering how many shoes these gals see in a day, that kind of Pavlovian response to one particular shoe says something. (That something is, roughly, "minemineminemineminemine.") What's the appeal? It's just so ... chic. Something about this pump just breathes style and ultimate cool.

We see it with skirts. Skirts skirts skirts. Preferably short to mini, but you could make a case for just-lightly-brushing-the knee and we'd listen. For the younger amongst us, the opalescent sheen of the gems could work with a bold legging, making A Girl's Dream a nice transition shoe. However you work it, this pump can make your look polished and hip ... and that is most definitely our dream come true.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shimmer by Gee WaWa

The Delight is in the Details: The pre-fall Shimmer heralds a clog explosion.

Shimmer reminds us of a mirage, and not just because of the name (well OK, also because of the name). But like a mirage, that phantom water always just out of reach, Shimmer's a shoe you see in parts, as a collection of fabulous details. You see this clog one fleeting moment at a time and end up with an impression greater than the shoe alone. We know: deep.

But true! Let's start with the obvious: it's a clog. Clogs are big. Expect them to get bigger. Fall will be clogged with clogs (heh). Gee WaWa's pre-fall jump on the trend is prescient; they've bridged current looks with coming fashions. There are the clever appointments we've seen this spring: the antiqued brass hobnails along the sole, the burned-out suede upper (don't discount the ultra-hot chestnut leather), and fringe. That last has been resurrected from last year's fall/winter; we're sure more is on the way. On Shimmer it sits in a double layer like bed-messy Mod bangs (or an adorable Bouvier!). C'est très chic!

To those current details we add more: a reverse seam down the center front keeps this clog closer to casual, boho roots, unlike a more posh rendition like, say, the Jeffrey Campbell Charli. The same can be said for the leather whipstitch detail along the top and a fun, chunky, stacked leather heel. At four-and-one-half inches, you gain some height; a generous one-inch platform makes it no big deal. Finally, it's just so well constructed! Leather lining, padded footbed, all-leather sole.

A lot of you may find this a difficult look, which is a nice way of saying clogs make you want to puke in your face. But lo! You can wear the clog without looking like a clunky cat-lady. We think their strength is with wider leg jeans (no skinnies, please) that partially cover the shoe. This gives you that substantial boot look and a wicked free-spirit vibe in a shoe that's much easier to wear in warmer weather. And you have to smile at Gee WaWa's playful designs. Their collection feels light and fun, young but not childish – something we care to capitalize on in these fleeting summer months.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lorissa by Sam Edelman

Dragging Heels: You'll want a sprightly step to sport Lorissa by Sam Edelman.

Well, guess you can leave the pepper spray at home.

We're at a loss for words with the Lorissa, mostly because we can't talk while salivating so profusely. We had plans to talk up a different shoe this week (sorry, Caparros) when the sultry and heavily-armed Lorissa caught our eye. And with all those studs and sharp gems there are plenty of places to get snagged. This shoe is two-faced. From the front, a demure but sexy peeptoe is cut out of a velvety black suede upper. A towering five-inch heel is mitigated somewhat by a concealed platform. As you rise toward the heel, though, the quills come out like a Goth hedgehog; the back bristles with metal cone studs and cut gems. It's biker chic meets the marauding horde. A barbarian Bedazzler.

Besides it's versatility as footwear and lethal weapon, the Lorissa has other qualities, such as it is H-O-T-hot. We love the thought of approaching some unsuspecting man at a party, flirting then turning our back on him wanting more ... with a tinge of alarm. We got claws, kid. A word of warning on your look as you prowl the streets: don't over-do it. This shoe has personality out the wazoo. Too much going on up top may come out a hot mess. Keep your outfit sleek and chic and let these sexy numbers give the come-hither looks. You just practice your graceful-walk in five-inchers, secure in the knowledge that you Mace isn't in you clutch, it's on your feet.

The Lorissa will be back in stock on or around Monday, July 12. We apologize for any inconvenience, but, really, are you that surprised?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Randy by Charles David

Just One of the Guys: Randy by Charles David gets our motor revving for menswear trends.

Menswear. It's not so much a trend as just a fact. It's more or less going to be around as long as the men are. And, while some days we wish that masculine eschaton would happen sooner (like, right now) than later, we have to admit at least the dudes got some good clothes to pick through.

Case in point: Randy by Charles David. It's one of the more masculine dress styles we've carried for a while. It's just a thrillingly straightforward captoe blucher. Chaz D. has the good sense to keep the classic points of this style intact, but inverts some details to make this dressy number satisfyingly current. For instance: your classic captoe ends at the toebox with a cap over the vamp of the shoe. The Randy's abuts and a double welted seam ends in a piping that reverses the look: the upper seems to go over the cap. Genius. We love it. In fact, most of this shoe seems to be about meeting points: each panel overlaps at discrete points, marked with leather tabs sewn down with a box stitch. This shoe is a handshake. Each part meets and covers the part next to it. We like that kind of camaraderie.

Continue the bonhomie with your outfit. The nice thing about classic men's styles is that they are, well, classic. They kind of shrug and work with what they're paired with. Don a short short or skirt and one of our new apparel pieces for a look that continues Charles David's reversals – men/women/male/female/etc. The cognac color (above, also in black) is a natural with jeans or dress pants. The work/play transition is fairly obvious in that it's really easy.

If you can't beat 'em (or if they won't go away), join 'em, right? One thing the men have going for them is classic styles that weather the seasons. Charles David's Randy is a weathered soul of a sole. Pick one up and see what you can do with it. This show is all about the meeting of parts; show us how you'd introduce it to the rest of your wardobe!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Drastic by Chinese Laundry

Drastic Measures: Chinese Laundry's latest wedge changes the animal print game.

The Drastic, Chinese Laundry's newest wedge, arrives just in time for summer fun. Is it just us or is that zebra print upper making us feel even hotter, reminiscent of the Serengeti? We'll take it having developed a morbid fear of the cold that comes with a Chicago winter. But this wedge plays tricks – that zebra stripe doesn't have the texture of a pelt. It is smoothly glazed in a crackle lacquer to temper the hotness of the continent with a bit of cool finish.

Supporting (heh) this is towering five-inch wedge in a deep, rich ebony paired with a 1-1/4 inch platform. All this lends a bit of the posh and glam to the exoticism of the upper. The result of this mix is a worldly wedge that travels well from day job to nighttime responsibilities. A padded leather footbed makes sure you make the transition comfortably.

Wearing it is easy. The height makes us want to look even taller, so we're recommending you hike those hems up and show off some leg. Short shorts and skirts, which we saw all over the UK last month whilst traveling, are a perfect match. Pursuant to another favorite look, the mismatch, cut across standard rules for dressing and don a lightweight floral sundress with a small, colorful, all-over pattern (smaller in proportion than Drastic's stripes for contrast, please). Your gams will bridge the gap between patterns so the clash remains subtle, and interesting.

Drastic mixes it up with the polished and the gamey, giving you a lot of dressing latitude. That makes it ideal for summer fun looks and fair weather serious occasions. Do not fear the bold animal print: on them, it's camouflage. On you, it's pure, sweet, delicious attention.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gigi by Sam Edelman

Spend the Weekend with Your Uncle Sam: Sam Edelman's Gigi kicks off summer.

Memorial Day. One of two cherished, three-day weekends. The day when your friends inevitably plan their wedding. Their destination wedding. We cherish Memorial Day. We honor those who have served our country. We allow ourselves to wear white ... but let's propose an amendment to that. The Gigi comes in everything but: black, citrine (shown), turquoise, silver and cork. With a sandal this easy, ou won't miss it. This weekend, don some nonwhite and BBQ with your Uncle Sam.

Sam Edelman has always been a favorite of Lori's. Gigi makes the love understandable. This simple thong sandal has a subtle reptile print on both upper and sole. The texture and rich color pick up where the materials end. An ankle buckle adjusts the fit. This is an everything sandal made from practically nothing. There's not much in the summer months that you can't wear with it. And Gigi is a cheap date: $48. With so many colors, buying a couple colors is an easy way to extend your range of outfits.

This Memorial Day, relax and remember that summer is here. Kick off the last of spring and winter wardrobes and don a shoe as light and fun and bright as a sunny free Monday at the beach.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chainge by Steve Madden

The Times They Are A-Chaingin': Steve Madden puts a new twist on the sandal.

The Chainge by Steve Madden can only be taken literally if you are into fussy, overly complex footwear that fits poorly. Otherwise, the Chainge is a welcome update on a straightforward and easy sandal. We are not (OK, we try not to be) overly complex people. We like the Chainge for summer. perhaps it reminds us of the kind of easy-breezy lifestyle we want to live.

Based on a man-made sole with a modest heel wedge for a slightly forward pitch, a leather upper twists over the toes into a braid. This travels up the foot before unspiraling into twin ankle straps that meet at a full heel cup (zipper entry). Nestled in the leather is sparkling gold chain that winks and flashes in the horizontal light of sunrises and sunsets, making this the perfect Going Out/Walk of Shame shoe. (We know, we don't do that either.)

Chainge is a versatile city sandal. (Just look how well it works against a crumbling concrete wall!) The balance of natural leather and glittering metal let it work with several types of outfits. Dress it up with more formal attire and work back to the gold chain in your accessories or dress it down with boyfriend shorts or damaged denim and a draping tee. And at $68, this is one sandal that will – oh, we can't resist – spare you some change!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Petalx by Jon Josef

The Natural: Jon Josef's Petalx is a soft and easy wedge for summer outfits.

We're excited to bring Jon Josef into the mix here at Lori's Shoes. This Spanish-born designer has a real knack for adding detail in unconventional ways. The Petalx exemplifies this with it's toe-flower embellishment. It's not just any old fabric flower, but burlap, the rough, scratchy stuff of hundred-pound coffee sacks, topped with a leather bud. This is mounted on a fine-weave denim upper in a soft red or quiet blue. Things change up again: the wedge is wrapped in braided jute rope. Burlap, leather, denim, jute. We can't quite think of another shoe that runs so well with so much in the natural materials trend.

But this shoe ain't no granola. Have you ever seen the video for Take on Me by A-Ha? Yes, you have. So imagine that instead of getting sucked into a comic about homicidal motocross racers, you pick up the latest Anthropologie catalog and – zoom! – you dive right into Anthropologieland! Everything is golden sun, soft focus and a picnic by the pond. And you look down and you are wearing these shoes! That's this look.

The Petalx presence is less serene. A five-inch heel is far from willowy. This is an aggressive espadrille that can more than keep up with a summer in the city. (A one-and-one-quarter-inch platform adds stability.) We'd like to think you'd wear these down to the beach and kick them off when you hit the sand, donning them in time to go dancing at Ñ.

We think you will find Petalx a versatile and accommodating wedge. The natural materials will work back to the all-denim trend that's ramping up as well as easy, casual outfits like summer dresses – everything from maxi dresses to tennis skirts. You know what might be interesting? Pairing this with some really hard metal jewelry. Not like spikes and studs, but something sleeker and polished and gleaming. Maybe the contrast would work, maybe not, but a shoe like the Petalx makes us want to try. Go ahead and push the boundaries. See what the response is. Our bet is the look will come off naturally.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Daria by Sam Edelman

Rock and Roll Lifestyle: Sam Edelman's Daria begs for a bad attitude.

Daria's that shy, quiet girl in grade school that went Goth in high school – black nail polish, black, well, everything, smoking cigarettes, secretly getting straight As – dropped off at some small college and discovered fashion sans angst, emerging fifteen years later as a society mover and shaker – a gallery director, a savvy marketing exec for an internationally known vodka label or a senior art director at a powerful ad agency. She wears Ann Klein; she has leather pants. She occasionally smokes weed; she can twist into bakasana crow pose like it's nothing. She reads Vogue, New Yorker, Le Monde, and Us Weekly. Cubs, not Sox. And Sam Edelman in the summertime. All the time.

Daria's a badass, but it's not a posture, it's just experience. Attitude is just there like ballast lending gravity to her look. We dress her up young because we're all young at heart. Black, weathered jeans, oversize print tee, cropped leather jacket, clashing polish (why not?), preferably a healthy dose of fuck-you attitude to keep the weirdos away.

That's summer here in Chicago, our urbs in horto, our city in a garden: It's beautiful, it's dirty. It's a crushed can of PBR in a bed of tulips outside Wrigley. Daria gleams with a crust of cut-glass gems on a diamond-shaped upper. The look is beefy gladiator, able to withstand the fast-paced city scene. We especially love the double cuff around the ankle that lets you get away with something like a cropped jean or graphic skirt. She comes in natural or mineral blue. Both are a hot look for nights out with your girls – perhaps a drinks at The Wit or a shot-and-a-beer in Palookavi-, erm, Wrigleyville. Daria commands respect wherever she goes. Dress appropriately.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Village by MIA

It takes a ... well, you know: Village by MIA weaves simple lines for a clean look.

Sometimes we wonder at the provenance of a shoe's name. Village? Were the designers at MIA inspired by country living, peasants, field labor, M. Night Shyamalan? Movies aside, the stripped-down, clean lines of the Village would certainly support that. Somewhat. On closer inspection we notice the three-strap construction meets at a common joint under the ankle and splays out in sophisticated parabolas like the Sydney Opera House. Perhaps the Village we're really thinking of is a bit more of the Internet variety – the "global village" of the '90s.

Look at us. Our laptops and smart phones and on-demand Netflix and, what, iPads? Are we ever not connected? We're going to think of the Village as inspired by the escape of the digital citizen to those fabled remote backroads where wi-fi is some kind of farm instrument and the airwaves are unstained by Bluetooth. This place does not actually exist for us, but the look can.

The Village is simple function raised to a Bauhuasian standards of beauty. It is spare and unadorned. It does not come with GPS. But the graceful sweep of its leather straps is elegant and placed to carefully divide and highlight the foot: the toe, the arch, the ankle, the heel, the calf.

Use Village accordingly. Build a summer outfit in sections that are easy and elegant and in support of showing off you. The combined effect of so much thoughtfulness will create that je ne sais quoi that draws people to you for no particular reason, save that you simply look so ... put-together. Dress simply and carry a lot of electronics. We're sanguine at the confluence of technology and our lives ... as long as we dress for it appropriately.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Kira Low Top by Frye

Summer Blues: Frye's Kira low top and a new Tano bag in summer's hot hue.

We've always loved Frye for their timeless campus and harness boots. The best thing about the cold season is the opportunity to weather our campus and harness boots a little bit more (or pick up a new pair). So it came as a surprise to receive the Kira – a low-top leather sneaker in three sophisticated colors: gray, lavender and sapphire (pictured). A pleasant surprise, we should add. Frye's quality leather and construction in a casual low kick? Sold, three times over.

We've got plenty of wedges, mocs, pumps with four-inch heels, OTK boots and more, but what we're missing is what has just arrived: a way to be classy and casual – that broken-in look of a well-washed faded tee, a Steven Alan shirt, J Crew chinos. That rumpled, hammock chic we can take to the streets (or just the grocery) without looking the slob.

Kira's a straightforward lace-up. The leather upper is stamped with the "Double-F" Frye logo. The rubber soles are slightly distressed to create a rugged city-sneaker. She makes for the ultimate easy, casual outfit. We've paired it above with the Tano 4543 in Twilight to finish the look.This rich, vibrant blue is cropping up across collections. We wouldn't go so far as to call it a trend, but it's a welcome addition to this summer's lineup of natural materials, hybrid sandals, wedges and the like. It makes a great contrast to summer whites. If you want a gentler color match, the gray and lavender versions provide a softer ensemble.

Summer's bright and fun. We're glad that Frye has added rich, well-thought-out colors in a casual shoe that doesn't sacrifice style. The Kira is a must-have, for summer and for any laid-back activity year-round.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jade by Franco Sarto

Faux-getaboutit: The Jade by Franco Sarto blends fake snake, wood and stone to create a genuine wonder for your foot.

At first blush, this may look like just another gladiator-style sandal and maybe that's its strength: it lowers your guard so it can suckerpunch you with smart details. Such as: criss-crossing bands of faux snake print (in cuoio and roccia, pictured) and a strand of embellishments along the foot top. These deserve some further inspection. Beveled like the bottom of a princess-cut diamond sit three octagonal "gems" that have been colored and striated to resemble wood grain. In between these are a faux turquoise stone and a pair of antiqued bronze pyramid studs.

So we have fake snake, fake gems cut like diamonds but modeled like wood, an un-turquoise and some studs to boot. Imposter, you cry? Nay, say we: the real deal! Jade's a shoe that makes the most of natural textures without harvesting those raw materials. And as we write this on Earth Day, we're thinking that's rather apropos.

Did we mention it also looks like heaven on your foot? That's right: heaven – like God leaned down and said, "No, this is what we're wearing up Here ... That's it." God also probably recommended you wear them with shorts, as do we. Cuff up or pair with a short, fun skirt (denim's an option). Jade's variety within a fairly natural palette make it a fab neutral, go-to shoe. It has personality, yet remains easy to wear. Pair with wooden bangles and walk out the door! Best yet? Under $75. Yep.

The Jade is part of the Franco Sarto Artist series – a tightly-knit collection with a limited production run and greater focus on ornamentation and style. The collection supports the maestro's credo, which we can really get behind:

"Beautiful shoes that make every woman feel beautiful ... this is my passion."

Couldn't have said it better ourselves.

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