Archive for November, 2009


GoodShop & Give Back on Black Friday & Beyond

How would you like to pump up your Black Friday buying power and give back to nonprofits in need at no extra cost to you? Well, if you do click over to GoodShop before you hit over 900 online stores, you can take advantage of stash of coupons. It only takes a few extra seconds and up to 30% of your purchases will be donated to the nonprofit of your choice. (There are over 85,000 charitable organizations registered with the site.)

Trust me, I realize that this sounds suspiciously like a scam but my dance organization, Monkeyhouse,  has worked with this site for three years. Checks really do arrive each fall and somehow they are always slightly larger than we were expecting.  In fact, Monkeyhouse just received another Goodshop donation on Monday.  I am so encouraged by this passive revenue stream that I have personally offered to match all the money that Monkeyhouse earns through GoodShop in November and December.

GoodShop has teamed up with over 180 participating shoe stores, and they have got deals for you whether you are into stilettos, sneakers, or retro roller skates. For instance, if  you got inspired by Shoetube’s recent Tess Tuesday post,

you could cut $10 off a $100 purchase and send 6.5 – 8% to your favorite school, charity, or religious organization with GoodShop.

Or, if Wendy’s romp through nostalgia reminded you to revamp your running shoes, you could save 20% if you rush to GoodShop by 11/29/09. But don’t worry if you miss out on that deal’s deadline, there are several other coupons and they will always kick back 4-8.5%  of your total to a worthy nonprofit.

Even if you have got to get golf shoes after this week’s Quick Fix, you can support your favorite cause by swinging by GoodShop beforehand.

So hop on over to GoodShop and discover how easy it is to give this holiday season.


DIY: Design It Yourself

Here’s a little something for all the Do It Yourselfers out there: Design Your Own Shoes sites. Thanks to blogger Desiree Stimpert, we’ve all been introduced to Shoes of Prey, an online shops that boasts it “creates beautiful bespoke women’s shoes, designed by you.”

My first design attempt at Shoes Of Prey

Here’s how it works, according to the company: “You choose the heel, toe, fabric, color and embellishments. Our expert craftsmen then make your shoes to measure, swaddle them in a soft dust bag and crisp new box, and ship them straight to your waiting feet.”

Reports Stimpert, “I had a lot of fun playing with the design tool, and was surprised at how many combinations were possible. But the biggest — and most pleasant — surprise is the price: most shoes cost about …$215 U.S. dollars, which is an incredible bargain for bespoke shoes.”

While Keds and Converse have been allowing shoppers to customize their kicks with color, print and style choices, self-directed dress shoes and heels have been the sole property of footwear designers. That’s changing.

One style possibility at Dream Heels

According to Luxist, Canadian company Dream Heels is offering novice designers/shoe lovers a chance to custom-create styles. “The designs are shown on the Dream Heels Web site and can be voted on. Each month a winning design is chosen. The creator receives $250 and a $250 Dream Heels gift certificate,” explains Luxist.

So far, all of the Dream Heels styles are the same — a pump — but the designs vary wildly from a rainbow stripe to a peacock print. Currently, 25 designs are in contention.

Finally, Glamour Magazine’s Slave to Fashion blog recently posted that “Online shoe retailer has teamed up with Steve Madden for Sole Search, a design competition that gives aspiring Louboutins a chance to share their towering vision with the world.” Aspiring designers can create a design from scratch or by using a downloadable Steve Madden template.

The Lauper, a popular design in Steve Madden's Sole Search competition

So far over 1800 entries have been submitted and there’s still another month of the competition. Check out the competition, review designs (the Lauper got raves like “These boots r amazing & so cool. I love them! I would love to have a pair!” — in fact, most reviews seem to be supportive) and submit your own ideas.

The grand prize: Steve Madden himself will select one of the three first prize winners’ designs (determined by votes on the Zappos site) to be produced and sold online at There’s also a $500 gift card and a $500 Steve Madden gift card. Nice.


Moving About in Macau

Just hours ago, I returned from a whirlwind week in Macau, China.

Every so often we have an experience that we unequivocally know will change us — make us somehow different, maybe even a little better. This often occurs when we remove ourselves from our comfort zone and do something that may feel a little scary for us, but ultimately, makes us feel stronger and more confident.

I think part of what draws me to web-writing is an inherent shyness -it’s easy to be outgoing and confident when you are alone in a room, staring at a screen – but out and about, I’m different. More hesitant, less sure of myself.

So, when I was invited on a press visit to the other side of the world, a location where I knew no one, had never been, and did not speak the language, I was a little nervous. Granted, I go on press visits all the time – but to Asia? Wow. That would be a biggie.

The day I was packing to leave, I got notification that a cold front was to pass through China, and I should pack accordingly. I took the info I had at hand: A great deal of walking, a chic but cozy city and my need for versatile footwear that would work in various settings — it’s the key to avoiding overpacking – and I knew my choice was clear. On my feet during those long walks would be the comfortably cosmopolitan Michael by Michael Kors Derby Boots with shearling trim.

And so, wearing my fabulous boots, I walked the historic sites of Macau: Saw the mystically beautiful Senado Square, with its historic churches, ruins, and well, Starbucks. Visited St. Paul’s ruins. Ate the locally-famous delicious egg tart…a lot. Rode the ferry. Discovered the beauty that is Portuguese-Chinese fusion. And learned Macau is much more than a town of casinos and piers, as nay-sayers will tell you. It’s a beautiful place to visit, with a stunning history needing to be heard.

But most importantly, I learned I could walk through the streets of a city 8,000 miles away – where I didn’t know the language – and not only be okay, but feel amazing. And that, more so than the mysterious black chickens or 1,000-year-old eggs I discovered, will change me forever.


eBay Quick Fix: Classic Golf Shoes

Whenever I’m packing to visit old friends and family, like I am right now, I start channeling Katharine Hepburn as Pat in 1952’s Pat and Mike (he’s Spencer Tracy).

I’m pulling out all my nipped-in pants, blousey tops and and casual cardis. No matter what situation Pat gets into, including playing multiple pro sports, she looks pulled together. Her style is just the way my instincts wander when the potential chaos of a large family gathering is on the horizon.

The perfect shoes to walk me through all this can only be sleek, sturdy vintage golf shoes–possibly featuring a jaunty little kiiltie. No need to get too serious. It’s a celebration after all. Here are the top golfers on eBay.

Preppy brown and white size 6 1/2s from eBay store Sporting Goods USA:

Black and white saddle shoes (size 9 1/2) from eBay boutique fancywhat for $18:

Lady Fairway classic buckle shoes (size 8, $13) from eBay store Recycle, Reuse, Reduce:

And structured, vinatge Kenneth Cole NY golf shoes (size 7, $40) from Philly’s Finest Vinatge:

Sure these are a bit different. But they are also adorable and dignified. And for me fashion, like golf, is a game I take part in just to please myself.


Tess Tuesday: I Know What I Want to Wear

It happens over brunch on Sunday morning, in the locker room after yoga, by drunk-dial at 3am, and via text, causing me to ignore the red hand and walk blindly into traffic: I find out about an upcoming event. It could be a house party, or a dinner party, or a fondue night, or some fabulous gala that requires a gown. Whatever it is, once I get word of it, my mind jumps immediately to what I’m going to wear. Of course, there are endless contributing factors to consider. The most basic are the occasion, its venue and of course, the season. Some of the more minute considerations however, include, who else will attend, if there will be dancing, and whether or not I’ll be drinking red wine. (Its stains have notoriously ruined dresses forever.)

Occasionally, I hear of the event and an outfit that I own and have been meaning to wear pops into my head straightaway. It’s perfect and I’m golden, despite the fact that I’ve almost been hit by a taxi.  More often though, I have to spend a good half hour-who am I kidding? An hour and a half-trying on clothes and shoes and scarves and bracelets to construct the perfect look for the party. Once in a great while, I hear of the event and the perfect outfit simply appears. I know what it looks like and how to accessorize. It will be flattering and flawless. The only problem is that I’ve invented this outfit-it’s merely a product of my imagination. I might own a few pieces of the look, but I certainly don’t own the majority of it.

At this point I should say, “Well, that would be nice.  Too bad it doesn’t exist.” Instead, I start taking a mental inventory of all the stores in the area, who carries and what, and hours of operation. The quest begins: building the nonexistent look. If it’s made of separates, the task is easier, but the journey is long. If I’ve designed a dress in my head, the mission is in serious risk of ending in failure, through no fault of my own. I’ll take a second to brag here.  If it exists, I will find it. E-mail me!

I find that when I’m going crazy to build a look, the thing I am most thankful for is my shoe wardrobe. A shoe wardrobe full of staples will never let you down. Here are some I think every girl should own so when she’s built the perfect outfit, she can rush home from the stores, just in time to get ready in a hurry, and the shoes will be waiting in her closet to complete the ensemble.

The Black Patent Flat (All Black for Barefoot Tess Banded Flat)

The Corso Como Rachel II

The Accent Flat (Barefoot Tess Edie)

The Metallic Party Shoe (Gwyneth Princess Heel)

Speak up! What are your favorite staples?

And speaking of dreaming up styles, are there any that you’d like BFT to carry? Tell me what’s missing!


Breaking the Black

I like boots.  This should come as no surprise given the outrage I felt last week when my cat sprayed five pairs last week, effectively destroying them.

Still, I have always been a pretty conservative boot buyer.  Even though I had a variety of styles, they were all either a shade of brown or good old black.  Because they are usually an expensive wardrobe addition, I always thought this just made good sense.

Last week, my husband approved a little boot mini-spree for me given the tragic state of the boots Melvin (the fat cat) ruined.  I headed to Nordstrom where I found a pair of Via Spiga, six-inch spiked heel black boots and a more practical wedge from Steven by Steven Madden

At first I tried both boots in black, as is my custom and while the Via Spiga ones were hot, hot, hot (and totally impractical for a mom who never gets out), the Steven ones were very cute, comfortable and perfect for both park and playdate.

I hemmed and hawed for about 20 minutes, debating the merits of spending $400, but since both boots were on sale and it would have been $600 normally, I decided to seize the day.  Boots be mine!

At checkout I made an even crazier decision.  I have a casual pair of black boots.  Why not try the grey?  I know I missed the boat on the super trend (that was last fall), but I do not have a pair of grey boots.  And neither did Nordstrom.  They special ordered them for me and yesterday, these arrived:

To say I love them would be an understatement.  They are just to the knees, a little slouchy, super comfortable and also kind of hot.  In short, they are perfect.

Last season or not, I am rocking the grey boots and feeling pretty good about it, to boot.  Thanks Melvin.  Your inability to control pee has blessed me in the strangest way.





Reebok Pump on the Rise

Reebok threw a kickin party to celebrate 20 years of the pump last week. While it was easy to be wooed by the towering pro athlete presence of hosts Emmitt Smith and Dominique Wilkins, as well as the open bar and mini Pop Burgers, I’m all about the Pump.

To start, one of the new limited edition Pump X styles, designed by Boston sneaker retailer, Bodega, was sold via lottery this week to keep collectors from camping out in front of the store.

Reebok, whose entire staff was decked out in new retro versions of the custom fit shoe at the party, made sure to decorate the place in 90’s Pump posters that reminded me; the pump wasn’t just a basketball shoe. It was a tennis trainer, worn by great Michael Chang. It was also a running shoe, an aerobics shoe, a football shoe, the list goes on.

And now it’s a limited edition. Here are a few of my favorite designs from it’s exclusive 20th anniversary partnerships.

These work boot style sneakers are from Saint Alfred in Chicago.

The aforementioned Outback from Bodega.

A sleek, dark color combo from Huf in San Francisco.

A few more, displayed behind glass at the party, but not including the Parisian boutique, Colette’s design, covered by our trendspotter Alli, last week.

And the definitive Michael Chang poster. Just because I love the 90’s-ness of it.

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November 2009