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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.

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