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Friday, June 24, 2011

Kendra by Libby Edelman

Bowed Over: Kendra by Libby Edelman wows us.

Libby Edelman’s Kendra does everything except fall flat.

The dusty mauve satin bow, the bold leopard print, the peep toe ... these are supremely feminine and classic details. The neutral tones with a casual pop of color lends versatility. This is a shoe with special-occasion attributes that is perfect for daily wear.

Pair it with white skinnies and a vibrantly colored top, or switch that around with a white top and add a bold stroke of color with our Ambiance Apparel cardigan in yellow. Go for a classic boyfriend look with a BB Dakota button-up in Green/Blue paired with our BB Dakota Camel shorts. Add a simple high-waisted skirt during work hours. Throw on a black or blue skinny jean and oversized lightweight top in a neutral tone for daily wear. This will make sure that all eyes are on Kendr— we mean, you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Drastic by Chinese Laundry

Extreme Measures: Drastic by Chinese Laundry plays up fun summer looks.
It's time to get drastic. Now hold on a minute. We don't want you to do anything rash; just get these incredibly cute wedges that look like Monet took a day off from the gardens at Giverny to design summer shoes. At $64 the Drastic by Chinese Laundry is not an extravagant purchase, but it is one calculated to last you all summer long.

This five-inch wedge with inch-and-a-half cork platform will give you a long and willowy look. We love that the straps wrap around the outside of the platform. It confuses where you stop and the ground starts. This gives you a more subtle height gain. (You won't look like you are trying to hard, we mean to say.)

As you can see, it is perfect for mini-golf and pretty much any outdoor experience you can imagine. We like this wedge with shorts, a woven grosgrain belt and ultra-soft graphic tee. Top with a floppy sunhat, or, wrap on some spangly chain-and-fabric bracelets for a balance of crunchy and sleek. It will match Drastic's manic patterning and simple cork sole. However you dress it, we hope you find the Drastic extremely wearable and fun!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Loop by French Sole

Thrown for a ... French Sole's Loop is a charming take on a simple flat.French Sole
French Sole's Loop may just be the perfect shoe to sell online. Though its name claims Norman ties, these beguiling skimmers are made in Italy. The subject matter is a riot of international newspaper clippings, Japanese advertisements, ukiyo-e prints, Siberian tigers and African cheetahs, zebras and giraffes. To try make a pair at home, set Wikipedia on random, pour into blender set to chop, mold into a glossy EVA upper and finish with genuine leather instep and sole. Loop: a flat perfectly in synch with our online lives.

Fortunately Loops also function as excellent footwear in the offline world. The all-leather inside and bottom ensure a smooth ride and a slow conformation to your foot shape for a comfortable fit. The upper is entirely man-made but, hey, that glossy patent stuff ain't exactly extracted from plant root.

Laminated into each shoe is a different theme: Animal, Newsprint and Japan. The photos are jumbled and overlaid in what only can be termed "fifth-grade craft," but the results are simply loveable. Instead of faux animal hair or embossing, close-ups of animals from magazines provide a stand-in that dissolves into animal-y looking print from a distance. Likewise the newsprint and Japan options, where typeface and screenprinted graphics surrender information to form pure, jaggy patterns.

Pair these up with capris, a tank and summerweight scarf or cardi. For something a touch more mature/less casual, switch to an unbleached linen, A-line dress at knee- or tea-length and let the subtle colors and patterns of the shoes add youthful pop. Obviously it's an easy option with jeans as well. With most busy shoes, we suggest letting them do the work; don't force the issue with lots of patterns up top. Continue the interest with well-chosen accessories on the neck, wrist and ear. As for a bag? Clean and beautiful with a bit of structure or a fab summer tote. But these are merely suggestions. As French Sole's Loop has shown, sometimes more is simply, well, more.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Munroe by Jeffrey Campbell

Fit to Be Tied: Walk into Memorial Day with this fair-weather heel. 
Jeffrey Campbell's Munroe is a tall order for summer: five and a half inches tall, to be specific. And while this is tempered by a one-and-one-half-inch platform, nothing can put a limit on its fresh, cool look. We think Munroe is an ideal shoe for Memorial Day weekend. The nude suede upper anticipates the holiday as the traditional jump-off for whites and for summer, while a contrasty captoe pokes at such formality. This tall girl is plenty airy and graceful thanks to an abundance of cloth ties that lace up the ankle and a spectatoresque two-tone jute sole.

We'd pair this one with a mini-dress (leggings on colder days). The neutral palette serves as an excellent base upon which to build an exciting outfit. Munroe has a lot of visual energy with three textures—suede, cotton cloth and jute wrapping—and a flowing silhouette courtesy of the ties. The palette of neutrals keeps it from being a competition with your outfit, so we say add bright colors or clean whites. Mini-dresses let you show off legs which look all the longer thanks to the nude colorway.

The Munroe in Beige/Tan is a long way from its more flamboyant sister in Fuschia, and we like that. Sometimes we want shoes to take center stage, and other times we want them to be the stage crew, quietly coordinating this whole production called an outfit we put together every morning. With its height, breezy tie-up and complimenting color and texture, we'd say Munroe is a great balance of good looks and coordinating accessory.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pierre by Dolce Vita

Eighties Gold: Go a step beyond the '70s trend with the decadent mid-heeled Pierre from Dolce Vita.
The new Pierre by Dolce Vita hooks into a quietly rising trend—the mid-heel—and looks back to some of our more extravagant cultural moments—that's right: the Eighties! (In a good way, promise.) A departure from the ever-climbing heights of last fall and also a change from spring's usual offering of flat sandals and casuals, the Pierre mid-heel measures an easy two inches. The mid-heel lends a bit of stability and lift to your posture familiar from any boot heel. It's a confident height. The feel is polished, a touch reserved.

The Pierre itself, however, is anything but modest. You get a little bit of height and a lot more mileage out of that chunky little gold stack. The straight-edged cylinder compliments a gold leather lining under the straps. The upper and footbed are equally luxurious: gleaming black patent makes this shoe as slick, confident and ferocious as a Grace Jones video.

The inspiration is pure '80s. It is "The Love Boat" meets a Helmut Newton photo shoot. Just imagine the Pierre beneath an asymmetrical, nautical-inspired one-piece bathing suit with Ray-Bans, a huge sun hat and fire engine red lipstick. Big gold statement jewelry. If the breeze off the ocean is too much, throw on your boyfriend's Oxford button-down and a high-waisted skirt. No yacht? Shorts are a blessing for these sandals and Pierre's reserved lines encourage embellishment with neck and wrist adornments.

Pierre latches onto that '80s confidence but loses the decadence in its minimal lines and middling heel height. In a season when '70s vibes are all the rage, we like Dolce Vita's skip forward a couple years on the timeline to bring us something equally compelling, yet unique.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Enfield by Bass & Co.

Old Sport: Bass & Co.'s Enfield takes a page from Gatsby for a dapper summer look.
The Enfield by Bass & Co. looked so Gatsby the company just couldn't get past it. Word is they did the Charleston down in shipping/receiving when it arrived, and customer service just can't stop signing their emails "Good to see you, old sport." Over here in the creatives department where cooler heads prevail, we're taking on the role of Nick: simply observing. OK, not entirely true since we did dress up this pristine buck to look like Dr. T.J. Eckleberg (though we balk at intimating our site is any Valley of Ashes).

Enough with the allusions. [Head shake, self-slap] OK! That the classics continue to excite us is just testament to the power of clean lines and simple colors. What also excites us is that this white-and-tan buck with the wingtip punching and red gum sole is only $60. Since this look has weathered the trends for about one hundred years, at that price you may as well get two pair since the look will stay but the price certainly will not. (Not to mention you won't feel quite so bad when you first scuff that snowy white toe, knowing there's a fresh pair back in your closet.)

We have loads of new dresses perfect for this shoe. Their tailored lines can support the menswear look of the Enfield for a jaunty "Gal Friday" look. Balance the masculinity with a wide-brimmed sun hat or a Melie Bianco bow bag. Dress down options are easy with khakis and casual pants (jeans may look a bit forced here).

Bass & Co. has a range of loafers, bucks and spectators that epitomize the menswear/classic look. The Enfield's two-tone appeal wins our hearts, but for those who want to put the look on a pedestal, the Glenbrook spectator takes our dear Enfield up a notch with a demure 2-3/4" heel. Either way you like it, Bass takes their finger off the pulse and keeps its focus on what it knows: keeping the classics contemporary from the Gilded Age to the Google Era.


Friday, April 29, 2011

11201 by Khrio

Sneaky People: Khrio's sporty-casual low top for those days you want style without the pain.
We're not going to wear heels and five-inch wedges every day, are we? Are we? We didn't think so. Spring brings a lot of rain and warmer weather, but it also brings a release from the house arrest winter imposes. In Chicago, that means running season has started. Whatever your stance on forefoot vs. midfoot running, stability vs. racing flats, triathlons vs. marathons, the fact remains that people are getting outside and getting going.

This is the shoe the rest of us wear. The 11201 by Khrio isn't an "official" athletic shoe by any means (and we do not advocate wearing this one for any mileage). It is a sporty little number that falls into that space between style and athletics, taking on attributes of both while committing to neither. Italian leather inside and out, we are in love with the subtle coloring of the 11201—a cool, light grey braced with straps of dark steel blue with matching laces. Delicate touches like the double-stitched scalloped toe are dear to our hearts, and a thick, rubber, no-height sole is priceless for our posture.

Like similar styles by Clarks and UES, the sneaker look is a refreshing change-up to other trends we've cited here like '70s throwback, boho stylings and various wedges. The casual street look can support more than you think—just look above how the color carries through from causal kicks to a blue, faux ostrich tote! Work straw clutches and statement jewelry into the mix as well.

The key to pulling off this look without looking 1) like you are borrowing your daughter's shoes and 2) slovenly is a basic outfit, and by "basic" we include denim, khakis, skirts, dresses with solid or minimal pattern and clean silhouettes. Keep the base layers easy and simple and let accessories on your feet, neck and arm put the pizzazz into your profile. This way your sneakers become more considered—more youthful, less clinging-to-the-past; hip, not tragic.

Isn't it just nice to have a middle ground between your workout gear and your going-out ensemble? Pick up a pair of fashionable sneaks and embrace the energy of spring. The sentence is lifted; you are free to go, and we suggest you do it in style.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Elegant by Jeffrey Campbell

Under the See: JC's Elegant dives into the nautical trend and surfaces with a visual feast.
We're going to be totally frank with you: The Elegant was our second choice for Shoe of the Week. The first, Jeffrey Campbell's Groovie, was featured in a mailer this week. It sold out in five minutes. It was gone before the mailer had finished sending—a big "psyche!" to those email addresses starting with letters in the nether half of the alphabet. It's OK: you did not want a five-inch-tall, puffy rainbowed, nude platform anyway. No, you didn't.

We know what you want: white leather, silver studs. Lots of both.

This is where Elegant is so timely, even if it is the stepchild of our reportage. The Elegant is an update on the classic loafer/driver moc shape with a rounded, more structured toe, a low-cut profile and modest one-inch heel. What is not very modest about the Elegant is the carpeting of silvered studs in the shape of cones, barnacles and stars. If Davy Jones had a wife in "Pirates of the Caribbean," she probably had a pair of these in her slimy footlocker.

We're advocating shorts with this one. Jack by BB Dakota just sent us a pair of lovely linens with a casual cuff. It's the perfect counterpart to Elegant's nubbly, maritime vibe. (Of course, you could always force the issue with the ubiquitous blue-and-white striped look that is everywhere at the moment, but we feel you'd be taking the visual cues of this shoe a little too much to heart.) Another option is the less-traveled (but soon to be much-traveled) bootcut or wide-leg jean or chino, which would hit just above Elegant's low silhouette. The studs would lend nice texture to that outfit.

Elegant is just that: a sophisticated rendition of JC's usually manic and over-the-top styling. That's not to say this shoe is subtle, but it will sparkle and wink with a nautical theme that from afar looked like the most badass biker flat you ever saw. And we think that with some summery shorts is one H-O-T look.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

A596 Short Boot by Strategia

These Boots Were Made for Gawking: Strategia's A596 is a gorgeous spring boot that bucks trends.
A cornerstone of Lori's Shoes is our emphasis on selection and quality. Nowhere is that more apparent than in our Italian Exclusives—the happy results of Lori's bi-annual trips to Milan to scout the shows for new collections and inspirational styles. Most of the lines we carry from Italy are available only at Lori's. We love Jeffrey Campbell as much as you, but what if you could also get the Italian Jeffrey Campbell in the same store—completely different approach, but the same singular vision? It's not easy to do, but this season we did it with Strategia's A596 short boot in Rust and Grey.

One reason we love this boot (and, really, lust after may be more appropriate) is because it is so unexpected. We are a-swamp in wedges, sandals, slingbacks, '70s-inspired designs and colors and natural materials (enough straw and raffia to open a dude ranch). We have very little in the "snakeskin-embossed leather/metallic top-stitching/brass studs" department. As with all things Italian, the quality of the detail on top of a masterfully crafted shoe is a signature. The silhouette is classic with a stacked two-inch heel, rounded toe and scalloped opening with tab. The burned-suede toe lends a vintage effect, but the embossed reptile flames and metallic blue zig-zag stitching under a row of brass medallion studs are all very right now.

And very what will be. The metallics and metal accents will carry through fall, as obviously will the easy shape which will support everything from skinny jeans to that street-rustic look under dresses and skirts. The half-rand with squared buckle merges the harness/biker look with cowboy sensibilities. This only increases the range of wearability—go from sassy-casual to garage rocker with a change of tops and accessories. Cowboys ride motorcycles, don't they?

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Would we write it up if it weren't? While importing shoes from Italy is not cheap, a determined shopper could place a nickel and a dime on every craft detail of this shoe and account for the cost. Or just take our word for it. (We're good for it. Swear.) The A596 is an investment purchase. It has the shape, comfort and craft to stay in your closet as long as you own that closet. The details are lush but not so specific as to obsolesce after a season. The A596 is a sassy and daring chameleon: as you break it in, it will blend into your look, a look that solicits the epic social win, "Where did you get that??"


Friday, April 8, 2011

Aria by Pour La Victoire

The Showstopper: The Aria by Pour La Victoire sings to us.
"My best friend's mom told her she needs to wear slingbacks to get a man," we overheard at the office the other day. "She said they are sexy!" Well, single men, beware. If there is truth to that assertion, then the Aria by Pour La Victoire shall surely seal your fate. Aria is just about the sexiest slingback we've seen pass through here. But don't take our word for it.

"Ohh, I LOVE the shoes in your profile pic," gushes a fan on Facebook as the teal Arias went online. "Are you selling them right now??? Details?" A standard response. What's the rumpus? Like its operatic namesake, the Aria is meant to draw attention to a single performer: you. It does this through  a range of talents: the high gloss on the pitch-perfect shade of lilac, the ideal ratio of heel height to platform, the sophisticated upsweep of the closed toe like the prow of a Cunard liner and graceful lines arching back into that elegant slingback.

Choose the powerful teal patent to make a statement or the light and airy lilac for a subtle, more feminine charm. Either sings the spirit of spring with clear and resonant tones. The more we thought on it, the more excuses we found to wear them: Sunday brunch, Mother's Day, Easter, all of Derby Days! (Especially the not-to-be-missed Thunder Over Louisville.)

These optimistic colors are also fairly neutral when it comes to pairing with other strong seasonal trends: straw and raffia clutches, floral-print sundresses and tops, sun hats. Florals are especially suitable: use the teal platforms to pick up on base notes and shadows in the pattern; lilac graces the top notes of blossoms and leaf highlights. Aria adds complexity without confusion and leaves a spring in your (now taller) step that will make you the star of any event. On that high note, we'll leave you to enjoy!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Adi by Jeffrey Campbell

Black Gold: Jeffrey Campbell's Adi is a disco pump that embraces the '70s trend.
Disco chic meets a continuing interest in neutrals when the Adi by Jeffrey Campbell steps out. Like many things Jeffrey, Adi is subversively neutral—its upper is less demure beige than an ephemeral, shimmering gold. Caught in the light, she shines with rainbow hues that form and evaporate with the passing of a sunbeam. Adi is roller skate chic without the wheels.

Of course, disco's an easy theme to conjure up during a resurgence of the fashionable Nixon-Ford-Carter years, but if you want to cite inspirational moments, let's talk oil. Between OPEC in '73 and the Iranian Revolution in '79, the seventies were less about dancing and more about existential, automotive dread. Adi captures both with her decadent, tall, aggressive heel (five-and-a-half inches) and her petrochemical sheen over bright gold straps. Love and loathing, riche et louche. With our own oil crisis to contend with (thanks, BP) and a new, if differently motivated, set of uprisings in the Middle East, the Adi seems altogether more relevant than perhaps even Mr. Campbell anticipated. (Nothing like a little gallows tangent, eh?)

Flimsy analogies aside, Adi's also just one attractive piece of footwear. The finish on these sky pumps makes for a versatile going-out shoe. A neutral base that hypercolors in the light does not a difficult shoe make. The height (buffered by a two-and-a-half platform) thrusts everything pleasingly upward (the heel is substantial enough to avoid gratuitous tottering).

Gold is a good compliment for the marine stripes dominating dresses and tops. Pair with stripes and gold hoop earrings, Ray-Ban aviators and perhaps some bangles, and you are all set for a summer cruise down memory lane. Or should we say Gasoline Alley?


Friday, March 25, 2011

Tombolo by Bacio 61

Tomboy to Geisha: Bacio 61's Tombolo is meant to transition between different looks.

Maurizio Celin, the hand behind Nicole and OTBT, is close confidant of Lori's. The two recently took a break from the Milan shoe shows to tour Paris, shop Colette and catch up on industry gossip.

Naturally some of that gossip revolved around Bacio 61, Celin's newest endeavor and a brand-new arrival at Lori's Shoes. Our current obsession within the line? The Tombolo, a mid-heel, snake-embossed, feathered beauty with a wrappy ankle tie. It is the archeopteryx of shoes—part reptile, partly oscine and promising the beginning of an evolution in spring sandal looks and quality.

The natural leather of the upper has been treated and embossed to look and feel like genuine snakeskin. This floats over a sleekly sculpted, stacked heel. (Celin's professed '70s inspiration aside, there is an updated fin-de-siecle—the last siecle, that is—vibe going on here too.) The leather insole has just the right spring to the touch. Of course, this being an Italian creation, all those fine details would be for naught without flare to balance them. Cue a pinwheel of suede fringe and bird feathers pinned down with a hammered brass stay. The shoes just feel substantial and they look like the quality they are. Given their $122 price tag, we'll call them a great value as well.

But don't rely on our opinion; let the designer himself tell you. Transcribed from a recent Skype interview, here is Celin's motivation behind his latest line and our newest treasure:

Maurizio Celin Explains His Design Philosophy Behind Bacio 61

"When I am asked to do a new shoe collection, I ask myself, 'What is the market missing? Is there a woman that exists that would like to see shoes designed by me? What do I need to do that will make my designs more desirable or attractive than those of other designers?'

Then, I think how can I translate the current trends and design shoes for 'my woman'—a modern woman, an independent woman, a world traveler, a woman that follows the trends but is not a slave to fashion. She has her own strong personality and sense of style that is not necessarily influenced by advertising or the divas on the red carpet.  She is woman that works, travels, loves men but does not live for them ... in short, a woman who is a little bitchy, flirty, sexy ... like a woman I know named Lori Andre. ;-) She is my muse.

Looking at the trends of this season, I was inspired by revisiting the 1970s with a touch of modernity, those years of sumptuous material and excess—young and bohemian, rebellious and streetwise. As always I incorporate the beautiful, often handcrafted, materials that I find in Italy to create 'independent' looks.

Our Bacio 61 collection gives clear insight to into the complexity of the future woman's wardrobe, where complete style overhauls can be a common occurrence: a tomboy by day to a geisha by night.

(Like you, my dear ... )

Naturally, all [this is] linked to the hand of an Italian designer ... attention to details and 'touch' that only Italians know and have ... never boring and always unexpected!"

—as told to Lori Andre via Skype


Monday, March 21, 2011

Frank by Jeffrey Campbell

Technicolor Dream Wedge: JC's latest spring heel is Broadway by way of Devil's Island.
For such a dazzler of a spring heel, Frank has an awfully matter-of-fact name. Maybe that's because Jeffrey Campbell decided to let the show do the talking ... or should we say, performing? Also available in red, Frank doesn't so much talk as sing during a smart softshoe routine that brings out standing O in the crowd. The striped, burlap-wrapped, chunky heel reminds us of a neon night on the Great White Way back in the late '60s, while its casual electric feel makes us wish for a crazy fun day at Devil's Island.

The three-part suede upper (black or red) is a the perfect stage for a glossy pedicure. We'd put this under a bell bottom (yes, coming back ... again) or slimmer bootcut jean and a blousy top. Of course, there are gobs of accessories on the racks at Lori's that work with this. Check out some of the statement necklaces just in, or Cut N Paste's grey fringe bag. Actual trips to the beach may require something larger and more festive, like the monster shoulder bag by Earth Axxessories. Likewise, a trip to the theatre in warmer weather requires a wardrobe change. How about a lightweight, belted shirt dress and smaller, structured bag to hold your ticket, phone and Playbill? Melie Bianco has a bold orange tiny-tote that blends class and casual in a way that acknowledges and tames Frank's insouciance.

Color and florals and patterns and wedges and natural materials and a whole passel of looks are emerging this spring like flowers on Broadway's pedestrian islands. Frank's rolling stripes like so much electric fuzz takes a little of this, a bit of that and drafts up a lovely casual-chic heel that works from day to night, beach to asphalt, sun to neon. Frankly, that sounds like a spring shoe we need.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Alpha by Libby Edelman

This is Just the Beginning: Libby Edelman's Alpha is a welcome respite from the wedge trend.
Wedges and heels are big this spring (and big with heights soaring past the five and a half mark). Natural fabrics like hemp rope and raffia always tend to crop up when the lilies bloom. Bright pastels and cottony fabrics are an annual ushering into the new season. We love it—no shame there—but this week we're going in the opposite direction: shiny, flat driver mocs.

Did we mention they are shiny, flat driver mocs by Libby Edelman? You may have a passing familiarity with her husband and business partner, Sam. Ms. Edelman, a former editor for Harper's and Seventeen, as well as co-designer and partner of Sam Edelman has crafted her line to reflect the needs of the modern-day lady—comfortable, versatile, fashionable. Something to go from mom to power broker in a step.

Or a drive. Libby's new Alpha flat are so very exciting that we had to sweep all the wedges and towering heels off the table and just look admiringly at these patent flats. Glossy and deeply saturated in black, turquoise and pink (really more of a profound lavender), these flats are a relief from the heights. The nubbly rubber bottoms are grippy and cushioning. The stylized logo medallion on the toe is at bold, but the color-on-color scheme gives it a touch of classy reserve.

Sometimes (most times?) just slipping on a flat is such an easy relief. Wear them as chic commuting shoes ... or keep them on in the office. Their timeless look works with pretty much anything from pants to jeans to dresses, and the bold color lends a lot of personality to your look. We love our high shoes, but right now the Alpha is looking like the start of a great spring season. Enjoy!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Feel the Rhythm by Poetic Licence

It's Gonna Get You: Poetic Licence dances into spring with a floral motif pump.
Feel the Rhythm sounds appropriate for a Poetic Licence pump—their shoes always look like crystallized bits of music, as if whatever wackiness ensued at their magical footwear laboratory settled into the very fabric of the shoe itself. When we wear this pump we are hard-core channeling Gloria Estefan. This shoe is going to get us despite our best efforts to save our payche— What's that? $122? ... That's for both of them, right? Well. That's not so bad for some spring dancin' shoes.

(And if you've been paying attention on Facebook and our mailers, you'd know we regularly give some Poetic away, which is even cheaper, though you pay in anticipation.)

The flower motif is a perennial spring favorite and we've already seen a number crop up, including Poetic itself. What we like about Rhythm is that is doesn't sport flowers or floral patterns, it has been made into a flower. The upper is made of overlapping petals of rose leather, fronted by a bloom of dusky rose patent around a peeptoe. (Does this make your toes the stamen?)


Rhythm's not just for the dance floor. It's a versatile pump that can play it cute or serious. It sounds like a complicated and specific shoe, but the color-on-color treatment (it also comes in neutrals) holds the shoe together. Try it with a marine stripe top—both pieces are light and airy and the navy and white stripes will complement this fresh rose pump. Short dresses with a '70s feel—think busy patterns, chock-a-block geometrics—will highlight the Rhythm's internal lines.

Poetic always has a few surprises and Rhythm is no exception. The screaming lemon yellow sole is a bright surprise, and the yellow logo cutout on the heel is a nice touch. We love the patent-wrapped heel and heelcup. The glossy, dark back contrasts with the lighter forefoot to make your foot seem taller, even though at 4-1/2" with a 1/2" platform, the heel is fairly manageable.

Extra height without even trying? Now that's something we can groove to all night.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Darien by Report

Glad for the Blooms: Report's stripped-down gladiator is dressed up with a big bouquet.
We were getting all cranked up to write about selective spots of bright color this season, but what has been arriving is the flip side of that coin: the basics and neutrals you need to showcase beautiful hues. Now, we wouldn't go so far as to call Report's Darien a "basic," but it is the most active-looking neutral we have seen in along time.

Springtime is inevitably flowers-on-the-shoes time; 2011 is no exception. Darien arrives at your door in full and perpetual bloom. The fabric rosettes' outer petals have a fils-coupe casual edge. The center bloom is comprised of tightly clustered leather petals. Two sets of blush leather bands at the mid-foot and ankle faintly echo the gladiator look without being difficult to dress. You can fuss with the three adjustable ankle straps or simply scoot in  and out via the rear zip.

Darien is a busy little spring sandal, but the all-over neutral palette restrains it. The result is a nice mix: this sandal has an optimistic energy in a colorway that's agreeable with just about anything. Slip on the Darien and your pop of color becomes your bag, your belt, a bold print dress, killer shades, bright earrings.

On the heels of some of our other recent posts, like Kitty's rehash of the vintage slip, April's clash mashing and Ashley's sassy take on the tulle, we expect you to take this shoe to daring new territory. We wonder aloud what Darien would look like with a punchy floral maxi—Garden of Eden or overgrown lot? We want to carry that floral motif through the whole look and temper it with tightly edited spots of color and texture over a generally neutral foundation. Comment here and let us know what you think!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jarn by Boutique 9

Spinning Jarns: Boutique 9's laser-perfed boot kicks off spring with style. Shown with Pietro Alessandro bag.

We've heard it before: "The military trend should surrender;" "We're unsaddled by all the equestrian;" "Those Western boots should move back east." Apparently some of you are tired of boots.

You obviously haven't played around with a laser cutter.

Thankfully, Boutique 9 has. The Jarn stands as a firm rebuke to your trend fatigue. Think you have enough of the menswear/military-industrial utility boot? Maybe. Do you have said trend that also looks like it were made out of leathery lace? Jarn represents the ultimate refreshment to weary boot lovers. It is both a straight-shooting calf-high boot and wicked take on filigree. This lightweight and light-looking style sings spring.

Boutique 9 has impressed us across the board this year with their refined leathers. It is because of shoes like these we're hoping Web 3.0 will have an honest-to-God "touch" screen. Pictures simply don't tell the whole story; you need to feel these. Jarn takes this leather hand even further with its seemingly delicate upper that rises like smoke from a utilitarian round toe and one-and-a-quarter-inch heel. (An inseam calf zip means you won't tear this lacy goodness.)

We often think of boots as a fall look, but Jarn demonstrates how they can march right into, well, March. You can scrunch this down if you like—Jarn will take it—but we're thinking wear it high for a while and get those appreciative looks, then change it up as the season progresses. We're loving it with bright, pure whites like the Pietro Alessandro bag above and a natural/neutral palette. Dark denim is an obvious color choice too. As for the opportunities with leggings, well, can you think of a boot that lends itself more to colors and patterns than one you can pretty much see through? As April Francis demonstrated last week, clashing patterns can work for spring.

We don't think the perforated boot will be a trend. That's why we like it. Don a pair of these airy boots and take a breather from the styles you've stocked up. It's refreshing and different but has enough common features to keep it from being outright strange while ensuring you look outright gorgeous and unique this spring.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Wildchild by Jeffrey Campbell

More Fringe Than a John Wayne Convention: Jeffrey Campbell's Wildchild goes extreme with the '60s vibe.
Believe it or not, there is a shoe beneath that fringe. Well, most of a shoe. The Jeffrey Campbell Wildchild seems to be so, well, wild that it can't even keep itself together. The upper of this shoe is actually more strips of fringe wrapped over and over and over from peep-toe to mid-calf, almost as if the wild flow of loose lengths has blown off a formerly solid upper. (We'll vouch for the stability of the five-inch heel and two-inch platform.)

We've been writing quite a bit on our blogs about this incipient '60s/'70s trend. As you can see, there is much yet to be discussed. There's something interesting with Campbell's latest take—a shoe that looks as if it is tearing itself apart, unraveling in its energy. Do we take that as a contemporary wrestling with aesthetics past? Or is it a reminiscence of the exuberance of that period? Perhaps a bit of both? Whatever your interpretation, it is hard not to look confident and ballsy several inches above ground trailing what seems like a mile of suede.

As with most statement shoes from Jeffrey Campbell, we suggest letting Wildchild carry your look. The ever-shifting view of your foot and legs between fringe and suede bands lends enough visual punch. Tame this beast with bare legs or neutral leggings, a casual top and small to mid-sized bag with clean lines. Or your best Wookie suit. (Your call.) Stay away from other period accoutrements, menswear trends or leather: you run the risk of looking too much like, respectively, the Summer of Love or a radical at a John Wayne convention. Go minimal; the wildchild is anything but.

See what Jeffrey Campbell has to say about our post!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Mariel by Jeffrey Campbell

Springtime for Jeffrey: The Mariel's blooms heralds a fun spring shoe season.
The Jeffrey Campbell veterans out there will remember spring of 2010 arrived in much the same fashion: via Jeffrey Campbell and via a bold new take on florals, as embodied in the rabidly popular Charlie clog. This year's contender, the Mariel, bests even the Charlie for dizzying debut in terms of towering and flowering.

Like a climbing wisteria, Mariel's all-over pattern reaches for the sun on a 5-1/4" wedge offset by a 1-3/4" platform, which is getting high enough to need a platform of its own. As for flowers, chintz has never looked so good as this riot of roses and pansies in fantastical bloom twisting on stalks laced over a black ground. Yes, your grandmother's sofa has had its revenge.

The nice thing about this bounty is that it needs not feel overpowering. The dark ground keeps the pattern from being too difficult and, like a Seurat, the business blurs to a fresh visual buzz from a distance. Build your outfit from basic lights and darks using the flowers' pinks, russets and greens as accent foundations. The balance of warm hues (pinks and melons) and cool (greens) and neutral offer ample opportunity for outfits.

Keep tabs on the '70s trend roaring into our '10s this season—this shoe will apply. And perhaps that is Mariel's defining grace: its blend of parlor kitsch and Summer of Love meet at the springtime of our contentment. With the spectre of a recession and monstrous winter, if not gone, glowering low behind us, this kicky, loud and insouciant wedge may be just the bouquet we need to bounce back to good times.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Thunderbird II by Minnetonka

Bird of Play: Minnetonka's Thunderbird II ushers the moccasin look into spring.
Once upon a time in, say, 2010, moccasins heralded the arrival of fall. Not so much the cool weather and blustery skies, but the more playful side—the smell of woodsmoke and changing leaves. It was a tradition, this appearance of Native American heritage, as much as Natty Bumppo and John Ford Westerns.

But now it's coming on spring. What gives?

Welcome to the '70s revival. We caught a whiff of this several seasons ago when Nicole Ritchie's House of Harlow 1960 line became so popular. A few collections and ten fashion years later, the disco '70s have their turn. And whether you love the croonings of Redbone or prefer the catchy rubbish of The Garnets, you have to concede the song of the latter: the spring of 2011 is an Indian uprising.

We love this white leather classic! Can you think of a better color for a '70s revival than white? Us neither! As you've probably seen over at The Gap, Piperlime and elsewhere, the bootcut and bell bottom are having a moment. Again. And it's not too late to crop in some severe bangs on that coiffure of yours (the fringe on the T-bird will compliment it quite nicely). Hallmarks of the '70s are popping up everywhere; the Thunderbird is spot on trend.

White is simply lovely for spring—bright and optimistic, neutral yet stark, you can wear it with most anything and still make a bit of a statement. We also like how the standard moccasin features—whipstitching, the soft flat, beading, a leather thong tie, fringe—merge so seemlessly into the burgeoning marine trend. Something about that standard white-and-blue striped pattern feels correct with these bright white beauties and their easy construction. A stand-in for the deck shoe? Aye aye!

The bead work and stitch detail are a match for huge statement pieces like our limited-run Harry Neufeld layered bead necklaces or the natural cuteness of the standing 3-D Squirrel Ring. In this eco-everything era, we guess it's fitting for a return to our Earth Mother. With kicks like these, we're happy to worship nature, especially our natural instinct to look great regardless of the season.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pot of Gold by Seychelles

Don't Touch Me Lucky Charms: The Pot of Gold by Seychelles will have you fending off your own treasure seekers.
Why is it called "Pot of Gold"? The metallic gold peeking out from under black? Is the black satin reminiscent of a pig-iron cauldron? Was it designed by wily leprechauns? (Wait, we like this.) Seychelles has hit the jackpot with a shoe that tweaks everything just right and just lovely. Perhaps the most lovely aspect is the return of black to spring. This is a welcome relief from the pastels and neutrals that so often dominate. Our staffer, Ashley, also picks up on this in her post on spring bag trends. That this is done by also carrying over the holiday metallics is simply (and literally) brilliant.

The "just right" we love about Seychelles, as long as we're counting the ways, is how small details are tweaked to make a stand-out shoe, as though someone designed a pretty awesome shoe and went to bed, at which time the cobbler's elv— leprechauns finished the job in the night, elevating it to a masterwork. The four-inch heel is not an extreme height, but the balance of this height with its conical thickness is spot-on. The lift feels significant, but the silhouette seems low and effortless. It's polished, but not too sleek—the edging of natural leather knocks the glitz down a peg. This is not a look begging for affirmation.

In fact there is something overall "edged" about this shoe that thrills us. We like our photographer David's interpretation above: the shoe harshly spotted on a gritty floor. Not the place you'd expect a rainbow to end. It feels like a WeeGee crime photo, or the late-night mugshot of a celebrity. And that's what we like about Pot Of Gold: it continues to reveal itself to us. The semi-open forefoot is a nice transition look from dead winter to high summer. A golden T-strap bridges a cut-out toe and heel cup—all the more opportunity to show off golds and blacks, satins and leathers while appearing to give nothing away.

The funny thing is that Pot's black and gold really are neutrals (oh, you wily leprechauns!). They have more affinity for spring than you'd think at first blush. You can dress this up in cold weather with bright tights for a fun and warm look and, later, bare your legs and put the pizazz in your skirt or dress for clear and bright spring days. It will behave under denim, but we don't think you'd be doing it justice. After all, with a look this rich you're sure to have admirers asking after them. Your response? Somewhere over the rainbow, naturally.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Boat Shoe by Sperry Top-Sider

Ahoy, Indeed: Sperry's metallic deck shoe fills our sail this pre-spring season.
We love it when an old classic is overhauled with a modern sensibility. Thus we are elated to see that casual of casuals, the standard-issue deck shoe, sheathed in a blinding white-gold/platino metallic leather. Required footwear on the Good Ship Lollipop, to be sure (though we'd prefer something stronger than a Shirley Temple on our outing).

What's to say that you don't already know? The boat shoe's heritage is rooted in no-fuss functionality: rubber soles kept one from slipping off the deck into the deep blue. The leather thong gets tighter when wet making sure your shoes stay on in rough seas. The gold upper? Well that's more recent, as befits your derring-do on the high street. (Though we bet Edward Teach would have loved these ... or at least Jack Sparrow.)

For the rest of us landlubbers, the oh-so-easy deck shoe is a simple way to finish off a look with a bit of jazz-prep tradition. The gold lends a blingy fun that works well with dark tights and denim. The warm, bright tones also make accessorizing a snap. We keep coming back to vintage American looks: dark denim, white top, a well-placed bracelet or necklace. Throw on an oversized tote to take some of the starch out of those preppy influences. Most of all, don these shoes and sail away from the chill winter weather on thoughts of sand and sun. Happy New Year!

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