Posts Tagged ‘ballet flats


Tess Tuesday: A Scarring Memory From My Childhood

I was invited to my very first wedding at the age of seven, that of a distant cousin whom I had no recollection of meeting but I knew, from the wedding invitation, that he existed. Upon learning of my cousin’s existence and his imminent nuptials, I began dreaming of a beautiful gold dress, with ruffles and taffeta, lace and brocade paired with a tasteful tiara and black patent leather ballet flats. (I was seven, living in New Jersey, and it was the early nineties—there’s no accounting for taste.) I related my pageant-worthy costume choice to my mother, but only got as far as the taffeta before her face fell into an “I feel sort of bad for you, but you’re ridiculous” grimace. “Laura,” she said, somewhat gently, “This is a daytime wedding.” What that had to do with anything, I hadn’t a clue, but the point was that my dress was not appropriate. “You’ll wear a suit.”

She whisked me away from my cartoons the following Saturday morning to shop at Saks for this ill-fated suit. I sat in the back seat, pouting all the way for the loss of my delusions of grandeur, and maybe a little because I wasn’t allowed to sit in the front. We were greeted at Saks, with offensive enthusiasm by Carol, who had gone ahead and picked out a bunch of suits for me. As we walked through the beautiful party dresses in a parade of crushed dreams, I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone else didn’t find it preposterous that a child would wear a suit. At seven, I looked up at two grown adult women and thought, “You want a child to wear a suit. And I’m the ridiculous one? ” But sure enough I began trying on suits. We finally go to one that had a nice top (a cream vest lined with black satin) but I was wearing pants with it and worked up the nerve to put my foot down. “I saw a skirt out there that goes with this. Can I please wear the skirt?” My mother agreed and I handed her the pants.

“Carol,” she called. “Would you mind bringing the skirt for this top?”

“And which top is that?” Carol called back.

“Oh, come in and see it,” my mother answered without a second’s hesitation.”

“What? Mom, no!” I pleaded. I was in my underwear. Carol was not allowed to see my underwear. First these women were robbing me of a beautiful party dress and now my dignity? Absolutely not! But in Carol came. I stood there awkwardly feeling my face getting hot and trying desperately to pull the vest down to cover myself—in vain. Carol acted like the sight of my underwear wasn’t no thing, but the damage had been done. I got that “my throat is hurting because I’m trying not to cry” feeling. My mother paid for the suit and a sensible headband and off we went to Stride Rite.

paulmayerbingoblack012I still had hope for the black patent leather ballet flat, which I fondly referred to as ‘big-girl shoes.’ (My favorite shoe to this day is the black patent ballet flat.) I made my wish known to my mother, who agreed, assuring me they would definitely have those. I spotted them the second we walked into the store. Perfect. I sat on the bench shaken by the panties incident, but thankful that at least I wasn’t afraid of the metal foot measurer. The salesgirl came over, measured, looked down at my dream shoe, then up at my mother. “She has a very broad foot,” she stated. “These aren’t going to work, but those will.” She pointed to a Mary Jane. My heart sank. “But what about another size?” I asked. “What about something you have in the back?” I was grasping. “PLEASE!”

I couldn’t believe it. My last chance for some semblance of elegance and they were sticking my stupid broad foot in a Mary Jane? A Mary Jane is the opposite of a big-girl shoe! It’s a little-girl shoe! “Sorry,” the salesgirl said—still no sympathy, and in fact, maybe a taking some sick pleasure in all of this. “These are all we have.” My mother agreed and she bought the Mary Janes. I was so depressed I didn’t even want to stop at Mrs. Fields. I hated the mall, I hated my life, and I hated my fat fat fatty fat foot.

This feeling, being denied the shoe you want because of the size of your foot: avoid it. Shop Barefoot Tess.

Now, you know I want your traumatizing childhood stories. Let’s hear ‘em. And mind the contest ($50 to our commenter of the week)!


Poste Mistress London . . .

Imagine an old-fashioned sweet emporium – all candy-striped paper bags, Stepford Wives’ smiles and a surge of childish pleasure washing over you -and substitute the jars brimming with pink sugar mice, bonbons and shiny red gobstoppers with displays of gorgeously kitsch footwear and boudoir-inspired decor and you’ve got POSTE MISTRESS.

Poste Mistress London

Poste Mistress London

Owned by British high street shoe giant ‘Office‘ and sibling to its big brother ‘Poste the hugely successful shoe shop for boys launched by ‘Office’ in 2000; Poste Mistress is a thriving community for its own shoes, housed heel-to-toe with some of the world’s most iconic and eclectic labels such as Miu Miu, Cacharel, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Fiorentini + Baker and Converse.

pmistressShoesBLocated in Covent Garden’s Monmouth Street, home to many of London’s most stylish and quirkiest shops, Poste Mistress’ lush velvet furnishings, laid-back posh powder room vibe and delightful (despite the smiles, unlike the Stepford Wives in every way) staff all help to make it one of the most covetable shoe-shopping experiences you can find in the metropolis. Think Doris Day meets Amy Winehouse . . . and you’ll get the picture.
Poste Mistress doesn’t yet have its own online presence for shoes, but you can view a very limited range at Office.


Commuter Shoes: good, bad, or just heinously ugly?

dress-sneakersWhether you’re rushing down escalator stairs to catch a train, or scurrying 10 blocks to your next meeting, there comes a time when the dreaded “commuter shoes” are a necessary evil.

When I first moved to D.C., I would shudder when I saw women out and about in suits with their tootsies clad in big ‘ole white tennis shoes–ugh, gross. Could dress shoes really be that painful? I just didn’t get it.

Next thing you know, I started my new job complete with a six block hike to the metro, several escalators, and some killer marble stairs. Needless to say, I was eating my words on “commuter shoes” as fast as the sidewalks were eating my Jimmy Choos.  Was I destined to a life of bulky tennies? After doing some research on the metro (I find metro rides a good time to check out shoes, because there’s seriously no where to look but down),  I noticed that not everyone had bad commuter shoes: some were actually really cute. From ballet flats to flip flops to Ugg boots–a girl does have options!   

Five years and three jobs later, I find I rarely leave home without my commuter shoes. And for the record, it’s not a comfort issue, it’s for the sake of your soles!


Holiday Shopping Survival Secrets

There’s nothing like a few good shoes to get you through the frantic shopping madness that ensues after Turkey Day, and when you’re committed to tackling for the latest Louboutin handbag or snagging your fair share of treats from the Neiman Marcus beauty counter, it’s the shoes that will make or break you on that trip.

Holiday season. The time to indulge in the festivities, roundup that wishlist and hit the aisles like it’s nobody’s business as soon as the Thanksgiving clock hits midnight. There’s nothing like a few good shoes to get you through the frantic shopping madness that ensues after Turkey Day, and when you’re committed to tackling for the latest Louboutin handbag or snagging your fair share of treats from the Neiman Marcus beauty counter, it’s the shoes that will make or break you on that trip.

Wherever your gift list may lead, you’ll need a reliable pair of shoes to travel through mall territory and win this year’s holiday roundup challenge.

Kick off those heels for the day and set your sights on this festive pair of ballet flats from Elie Tahari. The Janine Driver is your golden ticket to fast-tracking your way to the shopping mall at the wee hours of early-bird sale hour, your secret weapon for criss-crossing the gift section of the department store in true catwoman-like spirit.

Made with soft leather lining and a shiny patent finish, you’ll be in the holiday spirit the moment you step into these ultra-chic yet versatile shoes. Not only does this glistening pair give you a few shopping super-powers, but they’re also the perfect pair for juggling holiday errands and turning into a queen-of-baking for the season.

Map out your plan, head off on that shopping conquest –

– and come home with your haul without a single pinched toe or sore calves. Guaranteed.


When Your Niece Is More Adorable Than You

All right, I am not going to name names or anything but the following sound bite was snatched out of a conversation with a family member:

Anonymous Blood Relative: Oh, that’s great. A shoe blog. You can write about your niece. She just loves her “shuz” as she calls them.

k: Oh yeah, she will certainly make it in sometime but I have got a few ideas…

ABR: [interrupting] Little Bits would be great to write about. She is so cute.

k: I’ll be writing about all my stories with…

ABR: [interrupting again] This doesn’t have to be about high fashion shoes does it?

k: It doesn’t have to be. Some of them will be on dance shoes or my…

ABR: Because Little Bits has some new, pink, sparkly shoes….

It is official. Little Bits, whom I adore and really am planning to feature, is not even 24 months old yet and is already much more fascinating that I could ever hope to be.

All my life it has been abundantly clear that I am the dullest member of my nuclear family.

You don’t trust me?

My parents started their life together by acquiring 24 snapping turtles, a snake, some kind of bird and a pink alligator.

Yes, a pink alligator.

Sorry to tease you but this was the real thing with teeth.

No, not a pair of pumps.

The short version is that my dad bought it from a bunch of boys who had found it in the sewer. Now do you understand what I am up against?

Don’t even get me started on my brothers. I never stood a chance with them around but I was hoping that a head start of a few decades might give me a leg up on the next generation.

But the thing that really frosts my cookies is that we just bought Little Bits Smart Fit’s pink leopard print ballet flats.
Even with their adorable little arch support cushions, they probably aren’t as thrilling as the aforementioned pair she just acquired. As a woman who was over a half an hour late to her own wedding and, according to the doctors, a couple weeks overdue for her own birth, is it any wonder that I can’t keep up?


Audrey Hepburn Never Did This

Ballet Flats—yes, I know it’s a trend, but I mean the real thing… the ones ballerinas wear!

Like the Capezio Sculpture, a deal at $32 at

I have a long-standing love affair with ballet flats and all ballet flat-related shoes. That Audrey Hepburn look of black skinny capri pants and black flats is a classic for a reason.

It looks fabulous and wonderfully comfortable. For Halloween 2006 I was in New York for a party at a club thrown by my friend and her boy friend. I decided to go as a ballet flat-wearing corseted vampire in black pants, and my ballet flats were, indeed, actual pink ballet flats. My friend was dressed as a cloaked witch with black platform boots, a la Stevie Nicks, and informed me we would be taking the subway, or rather subways, to the party. But, my ballet flats! How could they survive concrete and subways?

Wouldn’t they be in shreds by the time I got to the party?

Because the party was taking place a few days after Halloween, people stared at my friend and me in our witch and vampire costumes as we ran from train to train.

I leaped over puddles, ran down subway stairs and somehow made it to the club, ballet flats intact. So, what is the lesson here?

What has this Shoe Experience taught me?

I can successfully wear ballet flats outdoors, but best do it occasionally.

And I should try to avoid wearing them when, say, rock climbing.

Or doing anything that involves water.

Or mud. Or extreme weather of any kind.

Best stick to wearing ballet flats when running for subways… breakfastingt at Tiffany’s… or attending after-Halloween parties!

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July 2020