Archive for January, 2008


Blahniks: The Pain Reliever of Choice

When it comes to mending the wounded heart after a break-up, it’s best to limit yourself to only three options before venturing off to dating-ville for the next round: go on a chocolate binge, spend a night out with the girls, or treat yourself to the pair of Blahniks you’ve been eyeing all season.

In most cases, the best way extend this critical time is with a week-long adventure in the shoe department. After all, you can’t expect to enter dating land in your oh-so-vulnerable state; a healthy recovery is required.

I opted for the Shoe Solution as pain reliever of choice after my most recent breakup. It was Breakup #7 for the year, nothing short of pathetic after I realized his business trips with the office were a cover for a getaway with his admin sweetheart, Sandra. Sandra was his long-legged secretary who had been giving giving me the evil eye since the day I surprised him with a picnic lunch for our one month anniversary; the Sandra who also managed to find her way to my yoga class and show off her lotus position – and flaunt her high school figure; the same Sandra who had now snuck away with him to the Vineyard for a romantic vacation.

I found out about this trip sans moi after he left his cell phone at my apartment, and I picked it up to hear her ranting about getting to the airport late, exclaiming that the flight to the Vineyard would be cancelled if he didn’t get there ASAP. Oh, and could he please remember to bring the earrings that she left at the hotel last night?

I was floored; he had been cheating on me and now was off for this ‘business trip’…

After dumping his cellphone and all his belongings taking up space in my apartment, I resolved to alleviate the pain, the frustration, the agony of the situation with my pain reliever of choice.

I immediately sped to the shoe salon at Bergdorf’s, surrounded by true… loyal.. love in its purest of forms; Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Prada, oh my! And so, my therapy began with an assignment of finding the most outrageously expensive, show-them-off-like-you-mean-it pair.

Cupid’s arrow soon stung me with these: the Manolo Leopard Stingray Sandal, a sweet safari adventure with a leopard-printed stingray skin and halter ankle strap just begging for a meeting with a micro miniskirt. Just slipping into those 3.5” heels was enough to alleviate my woes –until I caught sight of the price tag….

Asking price? $685.00

How much did I pay for them?

Take a look at #7’s AmEx bill, the card he left behind…


Old Shoes, New Lives: Shopping for Vintage Shoes

Vintage shoes have their issues, from pinchy toes to antique foot funk. But those lost designs and chic details make them hard to pass up.

My love of vintage clothing probably dates back to some other life when I actually wore all that stuff with no sense of irony. (Okay, maybe not the boldly-printed 1970s maxi dresses, because I was actually alive in the 70s, which I hold up as an excuse for my sometimes questionable taste.) As a kid with limited allowance and even less in the way of birthday cash, I developed a personal flair for putting together retro outfits culled from rummage sales, the Salvation Army, estate auctions and my mother’s cast-offs. By age nine I could rock a mustard-colored felt hat; by fifteen I’d moved on to pleather car coats and paisley shirts.

But the one area of vintage that has always been questionable, in my mind, is shoes. Not because I’m not attracted to retro footwear — I am — but the idea of strutting someone else’s shoe is kind of … icky. I mean, do vintage stores fumigate those things? Because I have an idea about what a pair of platform boots have faced, hours in to a disco marathon. And I’m not convinced that thirty years is long enough to remove a good, polyester-fueled sweat. Having shared close quarters with my sister who, as a pre-teen, wore her sneakers sockless, I know that shoes + stinky feet are akin to the expedited version of a hundred-year egg.

The other problem with vintage shoes is sizing. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason why a size 7 1/2 circa 1945 has little in common with the shoes currently stocking my closet. So I’ve learned. When investing in vintage footwear (which I do, from sellers I trust to carry well-cleaned shoes and boots), I go by measurements and pay no mind to the sizes. The best bet is to try them on in person, but I’ve anted up for more than one cute pair on eBay (my favorites: a knee-high pair of lace-up brown boots that perfectly resemble Holly Hobby’s kicks of choice) and actually broke out the tape measure to be certain I could fit into the shoes. For what it’s worth, one of those flexible tapes used for sewing, rather than carpentry, works best.

Finally, after obsessing over a gorgeous, if impractical pair of brown suede kitten heels that looked to be from the 1930s, I came across a vital nugget of wisdom. A fashion-forward friend of mine listened to my woe: The shoes were too small to wear comfortably, and made no sense with my daily wardrobe, but were too cute to let get away. Wisely she suggested that I buy them and use them for decor. Displayed on a bookshelf, gracing a mantle or even placed conspicuously on the floor, the artfully-worn heels and well-loved leather come off as architectural antiquities. Even better, they serve to remind me that I love shoes not only for how they get me from point A to point B, but for how they speak to some deeper artistic sensibility.


Designer Shoes in Italy?

When I arrived in Italy I could not wait to see the all the century old art and sculptures that Florence is so famous for. Sorry, who was I kidding? I wanted to see the shoes! I imagined Italians everywhere wearing Ferrigamo’s, Cavalli’s and Prada. Instead, I found something that disturbed me a little, Converse! They were everywhere, children, mother’s grandfathers, were all wearing Converse.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was five I had an assortment of converse in many colors. My younger sister wears them every day to school. However, I was shocked to see that Italy, the shoe Mecca of the world, has a city full of sneaker wearers. I saw all types of Converse’s, the usual black, red and navy. Then there were ones I had never seen, like tie-died, rainbow and graffiti patterned. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the most beautiful clothing and designer shoes one has ever seen in Italy. I however, became fixated on what style sneakers my Italian amicci where wearing.

I traveled to Milan, Rome, Como and I became obsessed with the shoes. Staring at people’s feet became a hobby on train rides from one Italian city to the next. I matched people’s personality with their Converse as well. The woman who wore the red ones, well she was edgy, feminine and sexy. The guy who wore the red one was however, sporty and perhaps a Red Sox fan?

I even told one girl my age on the train that I liked her “Chucks”. She replied back “HUH”? I told her that in America we sometimes call Converse “Chucks” because they are designed by Chuck Taylor, pointing to the name, between the star on the logo. She giggled and said “ohhh I see, that’s funny”. I had told an Italian something about shoes that she was not aware of and they told me about a trend from America, still going strong in Italian cities everywhere. Although I did not buy Converse in Italy, I did come back and tell everyone how trendy Converse were, along with Levi’s and soccer jerseys.

While shopping for a friend’s birthday in the mall, I saw an ad for Converse in the Gap. I walked in and tried some on, because the proceeds went to AIDS research I bought them. The all-American shoe that I had three pairs of as a child made me miss Italy, and all the shoes.


Rambo Made Me Run

Up until a year ago, I did not consider myself a runner. In fact, I would go so far as to categorize myself as the anti-runner.

“Want to go for a jog on the beach this weekend?” well-meaning friends would ask.

“Ha! Over my dead body,” came my scathing reply. Then I would strap on my highest stilettos and jaunt on over to the mall.

My aversion to running was rather ironic, considering I played soccer competitively for ten years (I reconcile the oxymoronic nature of this to the fact that I played defense and rarely left the goal box). Plus, since then I have grown a tad lazier, filled my life with work and stuck to yoga and the elliptical machine, telling myself that the low impact was better for my joints. My lackadaisical anti-running attitude persisted until one fateful day when along came Rambo.

Rambo was a fictional Boston Terrier my boyfriend and I created in our imaginations and referred to as if he already existed. After imagining him cuddling and playing with us for nearly two years, we took the plunge and bought ourselves an adorable three-month-old Boston Terrier, and named him (what else?) Rambo.

After one peaceful month of cuddling and sleeping, my sugary sweet, blissfully calm little puppy turned into a holy teething terror. He leaped on and off the furniture, he destroyed his toys, he stole my socks and he hid under the bed. People had warned me that Boston Terriers had boundless energy, but it took actual ownership for their warnings to sink in. Desperate to burn some of his energy, I reluctantly dragged myself to the nearby running store, stifled my anti-running sentiments and bought a brand new pair of blue and white Saucony running shoes. Feeling smug and looking good in my new kicks, I took to the streets.

Much to my chagrin, I had to slow to a walk after two blocks. Huffing and puffing I struggled to catch my breath as Rambo bounced and frolicked by my side, begging to run again. And though it was a painful process at first, over the course of two months I built up my stamina and strength to run three miles without stopping. My furry little ball of energy somehow managed to turn this anti-runner into a true run-a-holic, eager to get home from work and lace up my super comfy Sauconys to pound the pavement. For this monumental accomplishment, he can have all the dog treats in the world.


The Perfect Exit

What shoes go well with a pink slip? As my eyes moved down the shoe rack hanging over my closet door, I calmly weighed my options.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t trying to match my shoes to a garment – this pink slip was the kind that sends you reeling into denial, anger and last but not least, the unemployment office. I knew it was coming, I even had the right outfit. I just couldn’t settle on the shoes. Would it be the red vintage-esque Marc Jacobs peep-toes I found on sale last week? No, too new. Perhaps my sassy patent Stuart Weitzman 4-inch stilettos? Too sexy. Something seemed wrong about each pair that my eyes landed on. I needed a pair of warrior shoes, a combat boot of sorts that would carry me through this ordeal with the least amount of battle wounds.

That’s when I spotted them – knee-high, black, immaculately tailored. My take on the world, devil-may-care Jimmy Choo boots that I spent the entire summer of ’06 coveting before throwing down my Visa and giddily embracing a season of debt. I pulled them on, zipped up the back and admired the effect in the mirror. I felt strong, defiant, empowered: a perfect remedy for the pink slip blues. These boots were made for walking out the office door, leaving them with a lasting final impression, and – the ultimate sting – a twinge of regret.
Later that day, severance contract in hand, I slung my purse over my shoulder and walked out that door one last time. As the heavy door shut behind me, I threw my head back haughtily and smiled: mission accomplished.


The All Night Thigh-High Offensive

This is a tale of a somewhat misguided, hopefully charming young teenager, my not so former former self – and her discovery of the infamous man-killing thigh high boot!

Ever felt completely naked while fully dressed walking around in public? Slap on a pair of skin tight thigh highs outside of any kind of fashion forward environment and you will! If ever there was a pair of shoes that were the pure embodiment of hot and bothered, can’t control myself, lusty, sweaty, tractor-beam powered sexuality, these are them! But of course, at the age of 19, I didn’t entirely understand the implications of that….

It was sometime in September. I had recently discovered my legs (late bloomer) and suspected that a pair of black zip-up 3 inch heeled thigh highs might look good with my new outfit. I was aiming for chic, classic Italian man-eater (a la La Dolce Vita). And to be fair, I knew somewhere in my head that they might elicit comparisons to Julia Roberts’ brand of hooker heels. But knowing myself to be demure, I felt there was no question that my personality and look alone could tone them down-scale. So I put my hair up and got ready to sashay on downtown to see my buddy’s band play at a local dive.

I get to the club and the first thing that happens is a solicitation (of course). And he’s not looking at my face, but my boots as he says it. It’s not the usual ‘Hey baby, do you believe in love at first sight’ kind of line. It was a full on verbal sexual assault that left me blushing head to toe (I can’t say, don’t ask) and hiding in the bathroom. To make matters worse, I got the date wrong, and none of my friends were there. I resurface 10 min later and this guy is still out there. I keep saying no thanks, but he follows me around for the next 20 minutes, and I’m getting freaked out. Now he won’t leave me alone, saying that if his advances aren’t enough, his absent partner who would be arriving shortly would definitely ‘want in’ too (you don’t want to know). By the end of that line, I’m out the door, running down the street, screaming for a taxi. Panicking, I’m trying desperately to call someone, hoping I’ve lost him. Waiting there by the road, dialling numbers, I get a tap on the shoulder, and it’s him. I jump cuz I’m 2 blocks away and where the hell did he come from? I’m telling him to leave me alone and dialling away, then all of a sudden a drunken teenager appears from around the corner and I’m thinking – oh boy, here we go. He spots my boots, and now he’s staggering on towards us to join in.

The new guy asks me out, I say that he’ll have to get this other guy to leave me alone first and then ‘sure, I’ll consider it’ – and they start to fight, when finally a cab arrives! They’re so busy fighting, that I get in unnoticed. The driver turns around, peeps my boots and is about to make a comment – but just then I slam myself down in the seat, peel those damn boots off, pull the door closed, and tell him to just drive.

So on the way home I think to myself that this was a lesson and I should learn something from it. Something about womanhood and men and clothes and how they all work together… and I did! But a week later, I’m walking those man-killers out the door to double check.


Clearance Conquistador

Since I can remember, I have had a craving for quality, but a budget that can’t uphold the weighty price tags attached to a lot of shoes. During the time when my eye was just starting to crave heels and boots, the secrets of womanhood were passed from one generation to the next. In a store, my mother held two pairs of calf-length, leather boots, both high-class, and trendy.

She asked, “Which boots do you like best?”

I have a quick eye, “ I like them both.”

She smiled, “But one catches your eye the most. The question is, which one will you buy?”

I held a questioning glare.

She replied, “You will look at the price. And you will choose. In the event that your shoe isn’t the right price, you wait. You come back for it, and you wait for the sale. This is how you get the right shoe, with the right look, at the right price.”

So this is how it is. Shoes have to have a few factors that make them, “buy-able.”

The style (has the “you- betta- take- me- home- now!” look)

The materials (if it looks leather is most definitely is, satin or cloth)

The price (reasonable and quality NEVER suffers)

Since that time, there has been one excellent find after another. Within a short span, I have so many stories to pass on to the next influx of young, shoe aficionados. Recently, I’ve had a bit of a loafer/moccasin streak; all of the classy styles made me want take a brief heel hiatus. Rummaging through a local shoe sale, I found a pair of Ralph Lauren, metallic gold, kid suede loafers.

Brand new, they have a preppy, chic look to them.

All the beauty, and quality, for a whopping $20.00. These loafers, which are very hard to find, could easily sell for $150.00, plus, I absolutely adore!

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January 2008
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