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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gypsy by Seychelles

Seychelles Seashells ... : The Gypsy makes us want to wander to exotic locales.

Yes, please!

Oh, drat. We got ahead of ourselves. What we meant to say was, "Yes, please!"

There we go again.

It's hard not to get so excited when the object of our acquiescence is the Gypsy by Seychelles. According to their website, Seychelles's spring theme is La Femme Qui Voyage, to which we reply "Oui, s'il vous plait!" One. Track. Mind over here. The theme of traveling is welcome. We want a trip. We need a trip. And we want the Gypsy on our feet – this aptly named heel being a joy in which to wander about feeling exotic.

What's the cause of our single-mindedness? The passion starts with a blood orange-red suede upper, gathered and stitched into a corrugated kind of cool and finished with a matte gold buckle. We like the coverage over the front of the ankle. The foot looks wrapped in soft suede. Swaddled. Cradled. You don't wear the Gypsy so much as luxuriate in it. Luxury isn't price; it is the quality of our comfort: looking better and feeling better amplify each other. This shoe has that. A stacked leather heel looks great and is balanced by a modest hidden platform and a cushioned insole. The nap of the suede and the brushed finish of the buckle enhance the rich, warm tones. The swaths of leather coyly reveal your foot.

It's winter here in Chicago, but we're wearing this now. Play off the tight pleats with luxe socks or leggings ... or both for an ultra-layered look. Spring's shaping up to be more casual, more local, more personal. The Gypsy's bold color both singles you out and taps into ethnic/tribal trends – the exoticism of far-away local places. It will work well with statement wood and cloth jewelry and look at home beneath shorts or floaty dresses. (Of course, no one will object if some skinny jeans found their way in.) Come to think of it, the Gypsy would be just perfect for your trip to see Chris Ofili's exhibition at the Tate Modern.

It's nearly February. We're restless, curious. Call it wanderlust. Call it we're-tired-of-wearing-wellies-every-day. Maybe ahead of ourselves is exactly where we are supposed to be – somewhere off in the spring with a shoe that's lusty and laidback, luxe but easy, richly colored and detailed. Doesn't that sound perfect right about now?

Yes, please.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jellies by Steven

Clearly Big in Japan: Steven's Jellys rides a wave of popularity for Spring.

When a shoe starts to sell out and all the delivery addresses map to Tokyo, we know the Harajuku kids have formed a trend. The genius of Takeshita Dori is that nascent trends are seized upon, tinkered with and sent up exuberantly. And what blooms like the fair cherry blossom on Honshu inevitably grows back to us Westerners. Such are Jellys.

Perhaps the best thing to happen to salt and oil since the salad, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is the clear industrial plastic that made the leap from bypass kits and Home Depot window sashes to popular footwear in the '80s. That was some time ago, but in the sine wave of fashion hots and nots, 2010 looks to be the peak amplitude of a resurgence.

We can prove it. We're sure you recall this simple wave equation:
x = A \sin(t - K) + b \ ,

where A is the peak amplitude of the Jellys trend (i.e., Spring 2010),
x is the level of our desire,
t is the time it takes to sell out (soon) and
K and b are constants representing market saturation and arbitrary price reduction initiatives (e.g., discounts).

We know: "Duh, obviously!" Thus it's a mathematical proof that Jellys will be a hit this spring. Steven's clear flat (above) is joined by Nina's soon-to-be posted glitzy PVC slipper among others as spring progresses.

But what, you ask, is the motivation behind the math? Like all things '80s, the decade we hated the first time around has been making a steady comeback. (Just look at the return of the structured shoulder.) But there's also a wonderfully simple sense of play that come across in Jellys. They are cute and fun and bright and cheerful and we're all for that.

As the Harajuku girls can tell you the focus is on fun and playful. Dress these with skinny jeans and a casual tee you picked up from the thrift store or Threadless. Camp and kitsch encouraged, just keep it put-together and styled. Big, white, asymmetrical rocks on the toes add to the summery playfulness of this sandal and the floral footbed even more so. The stones make it easy to accessorize with the natural jewelry trend (big necklaces in stone, wood, beads). The show-all transparency simply begs for a proper pedi. (Don't deny Jellys their pedi.)

You can do the math or follow the trends, but take it from us: Jellys are a fresh start to the year. Their cheerful, casual look is fun, slightly insouciant and fresh. That's a look that will add up to some great outfits this spring.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jane Tall Cuff by Frye

Sweet Jane: Frye's OTK is ideal for standing on the corner or copping any other Velvet Underground song.

This boot transports us. Donning it zaps us from the cold slush of 2010 Chicago's Lincoln Park to the cold slush on Park Ave South outside Max's Kansas City circa 1969, hoping we'd run into Lou Reed or John Cale or, flutter, Nico.

Cousin to the Jane Stitch (in to-die-for Redwood), the Tall Cuff differentiates itself with an over-the-knee extension which can be cuffed down just below the knee. The finish on Frye's top-quality leather is an over-washed beige that adds texture and depth to the clean lines of this boot. It also shows off the rich chestnut of the heel and sole. The only functional detail is a cinch at the top back of the boot shaft.

Wear it as such: contemporary with the clean lines of HUE's denim leggings and a high-belted long cardi. Or harken back to the spirit of the times in '69 with boho details like spring jewelry's natural palette and nature-inspired materials like canvas and wood in bold statement pieces.

The color and quality of the Jane make it our recommendation for your staple OTK boot. You can dress this boot up or down and wear it for hours on end without ending the evening in arch-induced agony. If jeans and denim leggings aren't your bag, try these with an colorblocked, structured dress, opaque tights and long straight hair. (We prefer bangs, but that's your call.) This boot will carry from today through the spring with its light color and clean lines. We guarantee you will fall in love with sweet Jane and that love will be returned when you wear them on the street. After all: Anyone who ever had a heart / Wouldn't want to turn around and break it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cast-Mid by Jeffrey Campbell

Winter's First-Aid: Jeffrey Campbell's Cast heals our longing for spring.

The Cast is one of those pre-spring sandals you see in the dead of a Chicago winter and think "Yeah, I guess." Then you ask your friend to do you a good turn and model them, maybe try them with the new HUE denim tights? and she does and then you're like "Got it. Damn. Want them. Need them. Also in black?" and then you've got two pair shoes and couldn't care less it will take you three hours to get home on the Eisenhower in this blizzard.

That's the Cast. It FIXES things. It makes you a better person ... yes, even on the inside. And since today mid-blizzard we're all about feeling good by looking good, we're only going to talk about them in relation to denim tights. We spell "obsession" H-U-E. Not exactly denim per se, these second-skinners are rendered with a trompe l'oeil denim pattern replete with whiskering, seams and faux pockets. It's the dream jean with the perfect fit, nevermind they are not actually jeans. What else? Big, drapey, oversized number or a long cardi. Ropey, drapey multistrand necklaces or clacky-clanky bangles. Spring's thing is ethnic and natural: wood beads, cotton canvas, layered applique.

Cast fits into this accessories trend looking less plaster bandage and more like a maverick from basketweaving masterclass. Thin supple leather straps meet along the foot top in some complex knotting thing we won't even try to understand. These end at a heel back with zipper above a three-inch, leather-wrapped cone heel. The supple straps make for an easy fit in addition to a complex peek-a-boo effect. (Did we mention the peeptoe??)

The chit-chat between sandal and legging is complex and ... well, we get choked up just thinking about it. The opaque tights and the barely-there shoe. How both are sexy and revealing in a coy, even sly, way. Seductive and enticing, but dans mode and cool (if not cooler-than-thou). Be brave and wear with footed leggings outdoor, or simply get yours now and prance around inside all snuggly and warm listening to "Girl Talk." Once you've got them, this is one shoe you will not want to ... (dare we? we do.) ... cast off.

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