Archive for November, 2006
The great Manolo the Shoeblogger posts about Pucci shoes every once in a while, with the heading, "Pucci makes the smiles!" I bet, however, that he would agree these overly sweet, overly-patterned and overly-saturated heels from Pucci make those smiles to melt tragically into a sugary-vanilla-honey-induced diabetic coma.
Of course, you can always get the approach that these are so tacky they’re truly fabulous and scour the imagination (whatever’s left of it when you recover from that sugar coma) for opportunities to wear them. Here’s one: part of an outfit you wear at the first Antromeda 5-Earth interplanetary reception, so as not to to be outdone by all those wacky alien space
Since I waste no time expressing my rejection of high heels (everything over 2 1/2&quot;) for being, well, painfully crippling, let me clarify that I agree with the commenters on the previous post that flatter-than-Texas shoes are equally uncomfortable.
I know that because I, too, have a ridiculously high arch. A bit of heel (say, between 1&quot; and 2&quot;) gives me much needed support (especially if it’s a somewhat sturdy heel or a wedge). Even better are soles with built-in arch support: the middle section of the shoe is slightly raised just where your arch is, thus providing a comfortable resting place for the entirety of your sole.
For some strange reason, however, only a handful of brands employ this incredibly simple yet life changing technique; and regrettably, of those brands, only a few have also got the looks to make it worth it; and even more regrettably, the price tag attached to any of these brands is higher than your average shoe, and sometimes downright ridiculous.
Taryn Rose is an example of well-made shoe (lightweight materials, arch support, often pretty design); Thierry Rabotin does it even better (no, seriously: although I can’t afford his shoes yet, and they don’t really come on sale, I’ve tried them on and they are HEAVENLY); Icon shoes have good arch support, too, and so do Cole Haan (especially the G-series). Paul Green is also acceptable; I’ve illustrated this post with an example of a well-constructed Paul Green flat: can you see how the sole is slightly raised toward the instep? That’s what I mean by arch support.
Unfortunately, as I said, the price tag for these brands reflects, I presume, the care that was put in their design.
Oh: and a well-made sneaker will come with the obligatory arch support. In fact, if you buy sneakers from a specialized store, they will first measure the height of your arch–make you leave a foot imprint on a surface, decide how raised your arch is, and then recommend the appropriate sneaker for you (they will have sneakers suitable for flat, medium-arch, and high-arched feet). Of course, if you get the wrong type of sneaker, it won’t be as comfortable–duh!
Still, for problem cases like me (plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, remember?), sometimes nothing short of an orthotic support will do–a 3/4-length insert molded after my sole and which can go into any closed shoe. Which is why I can afford to have some flatter-than-pancakes shoes in my collection: the orthotics make them instantly comfortable. Of course, it doesn’t work for really flat sandals, which are really hurting my feet. Open toe and open back shoes can’t accommodate orthotics, and for those I really need a bit of heel and arch support as well.
My orthotics are pretty wonderful in the sense that they not only provide arch support, but properly align my foot bones, thus correcting gait and posture problems (the way you stand and walk has, of course, repercussions on your spine), and preventing the dreaded foot pain (which is why I got them in the first place). Again, the drawback for the orthotics: the price tag (hovers between $350 and $400 for a custom made orthotic, which is also not covered by health insurance), but that’s somewhat alleviated by the fact that they practically last a lifetime and you just need to replace the lining every few years, which isn’t nearly as expensive.
If you want to try a walking life with orthotic support without breaking the bank, I’ve read some research that supports the fact that any well-made ready-to-wear orthotic insert will help–and they will also cost 10 or 20 times less than the custom-made ones. Who knows, you may find your perfect fit right out of a $9.95 box!
So I was wearing these beautiful Claudia Ciuti wedge boots last night and was feeling darn good about myself, you know? I mean, dark brown studded suede, high-ish but comfortable wedge, long skirt, and even a little make-up. The wedges are about 2 1/2 inch high, which isn’t very high, of course, but if they weren’t wedges but itsy-bitsy-skinny heels, I couldn’t wear them at all. The wedge gives me some support–and officially turns me into a 6 ft 1&amp;quot; Amazon (yep, I’m already 5′ 10 1/2").
One of our companions, however, a teeny chain smoker with luscious locks, was wearing these towering heels–4 1/2" platforms, or perhaps even higher. I normally don’t admire high heels, but tend to frown upon them as being, you guessed it, painful and crippling instruments of torture for women. However, these particular heels were so beautiful I couldn’t help but compliment her. Turns out both of us had good taste: they were Prada, caramel-colored brogue-inspired style, with a mile-high heel which my passionate interlocutor said she needed for two reasons: one, she’s only 5’1, two, she gets back problems if she walks around in less than a 4&amp;quot; heel (3" on a bad day).
Now, I’d never heard of this, especially when coupled with the assertion that sneakers kill her back (really???), and even though I suspected a tiny hint of histrionics in the story (about 5 foot 1 inch of histrionics, to be precise), I chose to believe her; after all–who am I to tell people what they should fell comfortable in?
But, as I was walking home in my modest 2 1/2 wedges, which were still about 1 inch higher than the highest heels I’ve sported of late, oh, irony of ironies! Just as I was starting to wonder whether higher heels were maybe good for me after all–my back started to kill me.
Let’s take the flats in the image here (I’m starting with flats because, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I can’t really wear high heels). They’re just a pair of flats, a little over-embellished and gaudy and in general not to my taste, but perhaps for others they may look fabulously stylish–and that’s fine, others can probably pull it off.
That’s not however, the reason I will never buy these shoes. The real reason is that they’re a brand I dislike in general, and whose founder I have blah-to-zero feelings for: Baby Phat, by Kimora Lee Simmons.
There are other so-called brands that are instant deal-breakers for me. Anything Paris Hilton, for example: I’m afraid that wearing anything her skankiferous gaze has rested upon (I have no illusion that she’s actually laboring at the drawing board for whatever bags or perfume she’s trying to sell) will instantly pulverize me. Or anything Jessica Simpson: even though some of her shoes look decent in that &amp;quot;I stole this design from those really expensive shoes I’m otherwise wearing&amp;quot; way, I can’t escape the feeling that they’re branded with those collagen lips and the blonde vacant stare. And it’s all coming for someone who’s famous for being famous (seriously, why else is she famous?). I’m also staying away from anything J Lo–simply because my retina was permanently damaged after seeing her lingerie collection. Oh, and the only one of her perfumes I had the curiosity to smell was over-the-top sweet.
I guess I can’t bring myself to let women I could in no way take as role models in general be style arbiters for any aspect of my fashion persona. And besides, it always puzzles me that none of these people actually seem to wear their own brands–what, are they ashamed to be seen in shoes that only cost $70 instead of $700, or wearing anything else but the latest &amp;quot;it&amp;quot; bag from Chloe or Prada? What kind of message does that send to their customer base? But I digress.
Now, of course, there are exceptions. I don’t hate all celebrity labels. I simply loved Isabella Rossellini’s &amp;quot;Manifesto&amp;quot; perfume. I approached with caution Sarah Jessica Parker’s &amp;quot;Lovely&amp;quot; fragrance, but I became hooked–it suits me so well, I’m now at my second 3-oz bottle. That’s partly because these women did, in fact, have something to say, and in general are damn good actresses with a great sense of style. And a sophisticated sense of smell, if I may add.&nbsp;
Unlike the Britney Spears fragrances, which really left me cold. Oh, and although I like and admire Beyonce, it will be a cold day in hell before I buy her lavishly embellished stilettos.&nbsp; I’m the stiletto’s natural enemy, in fact: crippling, uncomfortable, restrictive, prone to cause all sorts of foot deformities and ankle and knee problems. No, thanks.
I’m also staying away from certain brands which, although not celebrity-endorsed, still offend my fashion sensibilities in some way. For example, Mephisto or Dansko or Clarks. I abhor Crocs. And any shoe made of all man-made materials is out, too. &nbsp;
I realize I may come across and prejudiced and biased and whatnot–but you know what? That’s fashion. We all have our secret prejudices. And that’s ok, imho. That’s why fashion is fun and diverse and exciting: we all see something different in it.&nbsp;
How about you? What, or who, are your deal breakers when it comes to designer or celebrity brands?
In case you haven’t seen it already, Neiman Marcus online has a sale going on for the week, which means taking 30-40% off even clearance items. That means rock-bottom prices, which is basically the one time a year when I get really, really interested in NM wares. For example, these adorable Delman skimmers are only $62, down from $175.
Lots of other apparel discounts await the fashion-for-less enthusiast. The catch? A limited range of sizes, of course, and even those few selections are dwindling by the hour. So hurry up and grab something by Sunday–I’m sure there’s something in there for everyone. I, for one, have my heart set on a preppy grey cotton ensemble that seems to me perfect for indoor holiday wear; and yes, you read correctly, for once, I’m not going to buy shoes.