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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.