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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.


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