Search Results for: label/commuter shoes

Ask Allie: Commuter Shoes for Summer

I have to wear comfortable shoes during my daily commute, as I walk 20+ minutes each way. Okay looking shoes/boots are easy enough to find for the cold winter months but I’m at a loss for summer. Flip flops aren’t an option as I have high arches and can’t stand feeling of something between toes. Gym shoes are too dorky. Any ideas?

I am so glad to find a fellow woman who won’t wear flip flops on her commute. Not only do they not provide arch support and can be deadly on slick sidewalks (and feel weird between the toes), but they are just plain tacky looking with your corporate attire. Keep the flip flops to the backyard barbecues and beaches!

I also am anti-the beaten-down ballet flats; this morning when walking to get coffee, I overheard two women discussing their commuting shoes. A woman said she loved ballet flats from Gap, but admitted she was on her fifth pair in two years because they got, “Super gross, super fast.” I’m glad that she would replace them once they got “gross,” but think it would make more sense to invest in a higher-quality shoe that could survive more than a couple months. There are great quality summer shoes out there with comfort and arch support, here’s a few that have been on my radar:

I like that this pair of Ecco shoes isn’t your typical ballet flat which is free of structure and support. This shoe has a proper sole and a tiny bit of a heel to put your foot in a more comfortable position. Leopard is an unexpected neutral that will go with almost everything in your closet. This shoe also comes in solid colors.

I have a pair of Cole Haan shoes with Nike Air Technology and can attest to the fact that they are really comfortable, wearable for long spans of time, and great for walking. These adorable bow flats from Cole Haan have miles of style and great reviews for comfort when walking. While black is a safe bet, I am partial to the red for a fun pop of color on your commute.

A driving moc or loafer is always a classic choice, and looks fresh with everything from menswear-inspired trousers to flippy sundresses. I love the orange color, which screams summer and would also look smart come the weekend with twill shorts or cropped pants.

When I was pregnant, I had a flat from Naturalizer very similar to these. They were utterly amazing – so supportive, comfortable, and fit right out of the box. These may not be the most chic of flats, but your feet will be happy by time you finish your walk and the color is subtle enough to not destroy the look of your ensemble.

I own these sandals and adore them. They are so comfortable, they have become my sightseeing shoe and even wear them when attending concerts when I know I will be standing the whole time. While they have an ankle strap, once you wear them twice you don’t need to unfasten to get on and off, which makes it easy for commuting. I also like the covered toe, which will keep your feet clean and your pedicure intact when walking down city streets.

Very similar to the Ventura, but with a different heel or sole. I love that this shoe comes in widths so you can ensure a comfortable fit from the get-go.

Great selection of colors, great reviews on comfort and the ability to walk for miles in them. I like the adjustable straps for a custom fit, and love that they are under $100.

Do you have a favorite commuting or walking shoe?  Please share in the comments!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Winter Weather and Commuting: Style Tips

Wind, rain, snow, and sleet can wreak havoc on a morning commute… and your commuting style. When it comes to dressing for inclement weather I learn so much from my fellow DC office workers and commuters. Some is what not to wear, but more often than not it’s tips and tricks on how to stay protected, comfortable and stylish when the weather outside is frightful. This week is cold, rainy, a bit windy and down-right gross in DC; here’s some things I’ve learned on my walks to work:

Go Monochrome. Walking up the escalator from the Metro, I was behind a woman in all shades of blue and green. Teal tweed wool coat that almost hit her knees, dark jeans tucked into seafoam wellies, indigo leather tote, and a navy umbrella. The monochromatic look made each separate look so cohesive, so purposeful, and like a true ensemble. I am not a fan of wellies  (how often does one deal with water over the ankle when walking to the office anyway? And I am not asking those of you in Seattle and similar climates or those in rural areas…)but with her look… it worked. I could imagine flats or booties in that indigo tote ready to be slipped on once she reached her desk.

The other day, I saw a woman in a black belted wool coat, a raspberry chunky infinity scarf, plum knit beanie, and deep purple wellies. None of the colors were the same, but the consistent color story made the ensemble cohesive and downright stylish. If each piece was a different color the chunky knits and shiny boots would have looked childish; the consistent color gave it polish and professionalism.

Have Neutral Commuting Shoes. I was walking behind three women chatting with one another. They were varying sizes, ages, and personal styles but all had one thing in common – black tights or pants and black flats. I could tell that these were their commuter shoes – they didn’t quite match their outfits, they looked well worn, and pretty comfortable. However, by them being the same color as their legs the shoes weren’t on display and didn’t take away from their outfits. I turned the corner and saw two women waiting for the light to change – one had gray tights and red flats, the other had black pants and yellow patent flats. While their shoes were in better condition than the women in black, their shoes looked just as out of place as a pair of white sneakers. While it’s tempting to add “fun” to a pair of shoes you only wear on your commute, it can really detract from your personal style.

Own a Tiny Umbrella. While many companies claim that they sell travel umbrellas, what it essentially means is a non-Mary Poppins style that has a collapsible shaft. However, some brands sell really small umbrellas that are reliable, but take almost no space in your purse or laptop bag. While you want a durable umbrella that can survive strong gusts, having this little bitty umbrella tucked at the bottom of the bag is a lifesaver for unexpected showers or if you accidentally leave your big umbrella on the train.

Have a Spare Pair of Gloves. Same reason as the umbrella. Especially handy when the bus is late, you have to carry large things home, or you need to hold the rail on the train and you don’t want to catch the flu. While I have gloves in my two work coats, I have lost a glove on the commute, have changed coats last minute, and have many times wished I had a pair tucked in the bottom of my purse or laptop bag.  Since I got another pair for Christmas, I have remedied this situation.

Wear a Hat. While you may be more likely to get Hat Head, a hood flies off in the wind, and the weather will already destroy your hairstyle. Having a hat, be it a cloche, beanie, fedora or otherwise will keep your ears warm, your hair in place, and your body far warmer than a bare head. If you loosely tuck your hair in your hat, you’ll be less likely to get dents in your ‘do.

Wedges Rock. While they give a bit of lift, they are far kinder on the foot when standing, walking, and even dashing across the street to make a light. I see many women who seem to have wedge commuter shoes – they don’t have to worry about cuffing their trousers but have more comfort than heels. Wedges have come back en vogue, be they on pump-like professional shoes or a pair of trainers or TOMS.

Own a Water-resistant Winter Coat. When there’s frigid temperatures, there’s often precipitation, and it’s not always fluffy white flakes. A wet wool coat can be a drag; if you purchase a quilted, waxed, or water-resistant fabric coat, you will be far more comfortable on those days that are both cold and wet. Choosing a style with a unique detail (read this post for great examples) will prevent you from looking as though you just came from the slopes.

Have Matching Bags. I regularly see this woman on the train who has a gray leather purse and gray leather tote. The combination is so lovely and she doesn’t look as hunkered down with multiple bags. Today walking to work, I saw a woman with a red leather purse and a red and navy print microfiber tote for her yoga mat and likely workout clothes. If you need to carry more than one bag, having the two bags match or coordinate really does add polish and cohesion to your ensemble. I wrote about work totes here, but this is something I hadn’t before considered and will be thinking about the next time I am purchasing a tote or everyday purse.

You Never Know Who You Will Bump Into. So you’re wearing a power suit and have a pair of sensible pumps tucked into your bag, yet on your commute you’re wearing a knit cap with earflaps and cat ears, have a hot pink sparkly faux fur snood, and sequined boot liners under your polka-dot wellies. And then you bump into your CEO at Starbucks. Sort of defeats the purpose of your power suit. If your job is a career, work doesn’t end when you walk out of that office door, and if you work in a city you are very likely to bump into a colleague on the train or street corner. Consider this when shopping for accessories and outerwear and have them match the professional style you show in the workplace.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

The Commuter Curse

One of the greatest things about my new job is taking public transportation. I know you must think I am crazy to say that, but I love the People Watching (a sport that deserve to be capitalized), and I love the interaction. For years I have lived in my car, alone on my rush hour commute and then alone in my office or cubicle for the majority of the day. Often I would spend a day never speaking to a soul outside of a hello when passing a coworker in the hallway. Now I get to read, listen to music, and be surrounded by my fellow humans. It’s pretty great… until I am assaulted by the hideous fashion of the Woman Commuter.

I too am a female commuter, and I understand why so many fellow women end up getting the Commuter Curse. It is so easy, so comfortable, and you think no one will notice.

Well ladies, though we may pretend that the sweaty mouth-breather may not be pressed up against us on the subway, we are not invisible. Think about your next commuter – try as you may to hide behind your New York Times Bestseller and iPod, you are aware of those around you. If you are aware of them, they are aware of you.

The Commuter Curse is when women (I hardly ever see a man succumb to this curse) begin to let certain elements of style slide. They feel that no one will notice, or justify it based upon cost or comfort. As someone who walks about a mile each day from her car in the commuter lot, through the Washington DC subway system to her place of employment, I too look for that which makes that trek the most comfortable and easy. The thing is, you are able to be a comfortable and organized commuter and not get The Commuter Curse.

Some steps to be cured of The Commuter Curse:

1. Don’t ever think swag is appropriate fashion. This means fleeces embroidered with your company logo, or microfiber messenger bags with silkscreened designs. It seems the higher up the corporate ladder (or the longer you work for a government agency) the more conferences and workshops you attend. With every workshop there seems to be at least one item with a logo on it: a travel mug, a tote bag, a polo shirt. These are great things to wear and use for your company retreat, to wear for your next conference or even to carry your groceries in, but they are not appropriate fashion.

2. If you must have commuter shoes, treat them with respect. I am starting to have knee problems, and realize it is due to me walking down so many stairs in subway stations while wearing heels. My commute home has me walk down five separate escalators, most that are out of service. I am looking into a pair of flat shoes I can tuck in my bag and put on just for my trip home.

This doesn’t mean I will be strutting around the Nation’s Capital in white Reebok Classics with black hose. Modern technology has given us many styles of footwear that are just as comfortable and supportive as a pair of tennies but look far more stylish. Every day I see women in gorgeous coats over stylish suits and outfits and then clunky sneakers ruining the whole look.

Nor will I be wearing a pair of old, scuffed and run-down flats that have been in my closet for a decade. These types of shoes are even more prevalent than the foot marshmallows. Yes, they have been molded to fit your foot perfectly after all these years, but they look disgusting and totally ruin your entire look. This also includes newer yet cheap flats that have lost their shape, been permanently stained or torn. They may be cute little yellow suede ballet flats, but they have a grease stain down the side, the sole is peeling from the shoe and you have walked on the back so much they have morphed from flats to slides.

I never understand it; many of us walk blocks and blocks passing hundreds of people in such monstrosities, and then get to the office, put on our nice shoes and then hide behind a desk all day, the only person seeing the fancy footwear is the receptionist or the one coworker in the kitchen when you went to grab your morning cup of coffee.

3. Don’t wear your bed linens to work. Yes, it can get quite cold, and it is silly to wear a cute jacket and chance frostbite or illness. However, this does not mean you need to walk around town in a down comforter with sleeves. Don’t get me wrong, I have a black quilted knee-length coat that I wear on blustery days; I am talking about the really puffy coats, the ones that fall to your ankles with a huge hood, fur trim and no shape. I am talking about the thick fleece and wool coats that look like bathrobes.

Again, modern invention have brought us wonderful materials such as Thinsulate, Gore-Tex, and Windstopper that are thin yet keep you warm and dry.

Keep in mind that your coat will be worn more than almost any other item in your wardrobe. It is worth the time and money to find the right style that will flatter and properly fit your figure, compliment your clothing collection and still keep you toasty.

4. Have your pants hemmed to match your shoes. I understand that a commuter shoe is flat and an office shoe may have a heel, however it is never acceptable to peg or cuff your work trousers to keep them from dragging on the street or spend the day in highwaters. If you feel a flat commuter shoe is a necessity, you may have to suck it up like I have and adjust your office heel height. Every day I see beautiful, well-dressed women in pants that are dragging, cuffed awkwardly or above the ankle bones. No point in spending good money on trousers if they make you look like Pee-Wee Herman.

4. Know you are never invisible. Often we women feel we are invisible when we have a less-than-perfect body, average wardrobe or what we deem as ordinary features. We think no one will notice if we go a day without brushing our hair or have our pants too short. We’re not important, right?

Wrong. You are never invisible, and you are important. Think about yourself when heading to work; don’t you notice those around you? Do you ever start daydreaming, and wonder about that person on the seat across from you? What is she reading, what does she do for a profession to warrant her attire? If you do it about another, be sure it is being done in regards to you.

When you feel you aren’t important enough to be noticed, it is as though you have a neon sign blinking above your head saying “LOW SELF ESTEEM!” I am not saying one should dedicate her whole life to looking good to impress others, but give your body the same respect you hopefully give your home or your office. You should be clean, tidy, and look as though you like yourself. You have this body whether you like it or not, make the best of it. As you would jazz up an apartment with new drapes and artwork to make it look less like a sterile white box, so should you decorate yourself. You are noticed, every day whether you realize it or not. Give the right first impression, the one that properly represents the true you!

All About the Summer Shoes

A bit ago, a reader asked me about a pair of shoes I wore in an Instagram photo (I share far more outfits over there than here so come on over and follow!) and I realized I haven’t shared bits of my closet lately, or recent purchases.

This summer has been atypical thanks to this arm situation. A huge portion of my wardrobe is unwearable thanks to the bulk of the cast or my reduced dexterity, and that has affected my choice of footwear (some shoes just DON’T go with everything!). This has caused me to really examine what I buy and more importantly, WHY. I recently shared this post from Momastary on my Facebook page (another place you should follow me because the content there is different from here on the blog) and it really resonated with me, especially this quote:

“I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free. I am not bound to spend my precious days on Earth trying to keep up with the Joneses- because the Joneses are really just a bunch of folks in conference rooms changing “trends” rapidly to create fake monthly emergencies for us.”

As you know from some of my recent more personal posts, I’ve made a concerted effort to see the positive in my arm re-breaking and using this time to craft a more positive and healthy life. While that has included walking, Whole30, and some other new habits, it has also affected my shopping. Am I shopping to try to fill a void? Am I buying to keep up with the Joneses (or bloggers) or to make more compelling blog posts or because there’s something else in my life I need to focus on but am afraid or don’t want to do so? Anyhoo, lots of existential mumbo jumbo when this is supposed to be about SHUZ! But point is, this summer my shoe purchases were made with more thought and care.

I broke my summer/early fall shoe collection into two categories: pretty, and practical:

fall shioe must have collection

My pretty shoes. These are shoes for work, for nights out, and when I want to feel fancy with my simple knit dresses or jeans. Clockwise from top left we have the Halogen ‘Marlie,’ Rockport Seven to 7 Peep Toe Wedge (c/o), Nine West ‘Ugogirl,’ and Nine West ‘Flax.’

halogen marlie calfhair leopard gray pump

I said in my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale post that I wouldn’t buy these shoes because I already have a ton of leopard shoes, but this summer I saw that my leopard semi-flats and leopard pumps got more wear that any other work shoe. All my other leopard calfhair shoes were warm tones and I often wished I had a slightly different version so while they were still on sale I grabbed these. They’re not my first pair of Halogen shoes (or first pair of leopard Halogen shoes) and like my others, I find them comfortable and well-made especially for the reasonable pricepoint. These shoes have been worn with black, blue, denim, white, skirts and pants and jeans.

rockport aqua wedge peep toe seven

It’s so nice when a brand sends me something and it ends up being in regular rotation. These pretty snakeskin wedges from Rockport are just that. I’ve written before about Rockport’s comfort, and I love how they are able to have sneaker-comfy shoes with great style. I love this color with denim, and they look great peeking out from work trousers. While some may rock wedges with skirts, I think they look a bit wonky on me and keep them for pants. But these are my go-to for a day after a pair of painful heels or when I’m wearing a boring outfit and want a punch without a lot of effort. And by the way they look great with a red nail (my summer tootsie color has been OPI’s Big Apple Red).

nine west ugogirl calfhair leopard

My Ivanka Trump Indicon leopard calfhair pumps are comfy but they’re looking a tad worn after two+ years of city life. My cobbler does his best to cover heel nicks but I was looking for a replacement. While I have had a watch on eBay for a year and regularly check places like 6pm for the exact shoe, I was okay with finding a completely different shoe. The ‘Ugogirl’ immediately appealed to me because while it had the pointed toe that I adore, it had a modern thicker heel. They fit like other Nine West shoes, which is good for my chubby in front/skinny in back feet and the wider heel makes them wearable for a longer period of time.

nine west flax

Oh Nine West ‘Flax,’ how I adore you. I have this very shoe in red and black pony hair (an impulse buy I still adore but hardly wear), peacock print (not worn often but SOOO worth it, my absolute favorite statement shoe), silver (haven’t worn recently but get a lot of wear in fall and spring), black, and nude. After several summers, I finally found a nude that matches my skintone and of COURSE it’s in this style! ‘Flax’ can often be found for super cheap on sites like 6pm and Amazon, occasionally on sale at Macy’s and Lord and Taylor but they’re getting harder to find.  I went to a Nine West outlet while at Rehoboth on the hunt for more ‘Flax’ (hopefully a backup pair in nude or black) to no avail. But a non-shiny, single sole pointed nude pump is more of a workhorse in my wardrobe than the same shoe in black. It’s a great way to summarize black and darker outfits, and elongates the leg.

popular summer shoes

And now my practical shoes. These are the true workhorses, and honestly, they look it so no close-up shots of these babies. Clockwise from upper left we have the Vince Camuto ‘Effel,’ Sanuk Yoga Mat Flip Flops (c/o), Softspots ‘Ventura’ (now discontinued so linked to only retailer I could find that still has them), Converse ‘Shoreline,’ Born ‘Myndy,’ Birkenstock ‘Arizona.’

I bought the Vince Camutos back in February in black and this color. Tan was backordered, black arrived, I wore once and found them stiff and they cut my ankles. Returned. The tan arrived and I was ready to return them right away but decided to try on. Completely different experience! The leather is soft, the fit different, and the color far more flattering. I wear these shoes weekly, with dresses (seen here) and jeans (seen here) and pants (seen here) and skirts (seen here). The heel is a wearable height and I don’t hesitate to choose these for long workdays or general admission concerts.

I wear flops far less than I used to, and I think it’s because with this arm I haven’t spent much time at a swimming pool. These hang out at the front door to wear to the mailbox, to take Cindy for a quick walk or Emerson for a quick trip to the playground. They also slip into my bag for pedicures. I don’t condone flip flops as actual shoes, but these are uber comfy and the fabric strap more refined than plastic making them a great choice for the pool, beach, and bumming around.

The Softspots Ventura sandal is my JAM. Almost the same color as my legs, a mini wedge which is more comfortable than completely flat. This is my second pair (found them on eBay unworn in box) because the first pair was destroyed after a few summers of music festivals, concerts, and weekend events. Worn them here, here, and here.

Converse Shorelines are amazing. Far more comfortable than the All Stars, but with the same style. I’ve worn them here, here, and here and wrote about them here and here. Love.

The ‘Myndy’ by Born, I bought these on clearance and immediately regretted it. What the hell Alison, I don’t wear yellow! There’s not a single yellow thing in my wardrobe! They ended up sitting unworn in a box for several months. Then I pulled them out and realized what I was missing. These babies are COMFORTABLE and CUTE and yellow, when this shade and with a cork wedge heel ends up being a neutral! I’ve worn them on the blog here, here, and here. I wear them with jeans, with dresses, and even with shorts. They’re so comfy, I wear them days when I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking but flats won’t look right. Even though I bought these a few years ago, they’re still available each summer in different colors (love the pink) and often found on discount sites.

And my silver Birks. Sorry not sorry, I wear the HECK out of these babies. I can walk miles in them, I can stand on my feet for hours on concrete in a crowded concert pit, I wear them with casual dresses and cutoffs, maxis and boyfriend jeans. I love that they go with my beloved silver cuff, and I don’t care that they’re clunky and overly trendy and played out. I love my Arizonas, and likely will be wearing long after the trend dies.

There you go, the most worn shoes in my wardrobe this summer! What are you favorite shoes in your wardrobe, and what are your must-have footwear workhorses?

Ask Allie: Durable Commuter Bags

I have been finding it a challenge to find a work tote/satchel that can handle all of my work items (iPad, shoes, book, and occasionally lunch) without having the handles break. I am preparing to take my latest two off to the great purse surgeon for some love and repair and am wondering if you can recommend a great tote/satchel for work that can carry all of the above and handle the weight of it all? I’d like to stick to a price tag of no greater than $200.

Some things I think are worth the price – well-crafted tall leather boots, a winter coat, and a work tote. It’s very hard to find a decent tote that can handle wear and tear without looking like crap. Honestly, few bags can carry all that on a regular basis and survive nicely unless you purchase a heavy-duty tote. While I recommend a black tote for business, for your commute a bag like the L.L. Bean Boat and Tote or Lands’ End Canvas Tote is a brilliant choice since it will hold up with a lot of weight, wear, and tear and won’t be worn outside of the commute. The version with elongated straps will fit over your shoulder even if you have on a heavy winter coat, and they have options with open or zip tops and storage compartments. Choosing a darker color will be better for public transportation and city life as these totes can’t be thrown in the washer and do best when spot cleaned.

I often carry multiple bags instead of stuffing my work totes to preserve their condition and shape, but it’s still great to have a bag that doesn’t look sloppy and can carry both your Kindle and your bottle of water without bursting at the seams. My two favorite work totes were both purchased on sale and would have been over $200 otherwise.

However, price doesn’t equal a good work tote – you want to look for heavy straps that are sewn into the body of the bag (even better if they wrap around the body of the bag), metal feet to protect the bottom of the bag, and a bit of structure so it keeps it shape over years and random contents. The two bags I have are leather with leather straps, fully lined, and one has a center dividing compartment which keeps the shape and structure of the bag, even when seated on a table or the floor. While a crossbody can seem convenient, I find that if you plan on stuffing a bag, a crossbody can be hard to carry, dig into your shoulder, and put far too much wear on the straps.

The bags I suggest below have not been seen in person and I cannot vouch for their quality and appropriateness; their style and fabrication lead me to believe they would be good choices and are all around $200:

Love the canvas boat bags but yearn for something more polished? Lands’ End has you covered with this brown leather tote with brass feet and organizing interior pockets. Reviews are positive and show owners use it for everything from hauling books back to the library to packing for a trip. Supple leather, classic design, smart styling and less than $200!

No frills, but who needs them when you’re trying to cart your work essentials via mass transit? Plenty of pockets, full grain leather, and a variety of subtle shades make this a great commuting tote. The reviews are positive and seems many use this to lug around heavy 17” laptops with no issue. A classic style and less than $90 makes this bag a great option.

The best thing about this tote are the straps that continue through the body of the bag – this will keep your straps in one piece far longer. Generously sized, and fun yet work-friendly fabrics and colors. Currently on sale for less than $140 and free shipping.

I have a Brahmin and can attest to the fact that they are sturdy, well-made bags. My tote has a thin crossbody strap but easily supports a bag full of heavy things like leftovers and bottled water. Though the straps aren’t sewn deep into the body of the bag, they are wider at the bottom and secured all the way around for a strong foundation. Metal feet, interior organizing pockets, and a variety of conservative and fun colors make this a great work bag. While it is a bit over $200, it’s a classic style that should give you years of wear and is polished enough to use for corporate meetings and conferences and work travel. In fact, if you’re interested in splurging, the larger ‘Melbourne Large Anytime’ tote has a padded compartment inside just for your iPad.

I feel inauthentic recommending a brand I wore strapped above my fanny in the ‘80s, but LeSportsac is known for high-quality, sturdy, and lightweight bags that last forever. The Travel Tote is famous for being the perfect tote you didn’t know you needed. Lightweight, durable, expandable, and not covered with overly visible logos or prints, this is a LeSportsac that can fit with most any personal style and will comfortably carry everything from your gym clothes to your netbook with ease. Less than $100, and many say they are still happily using the same LeSportsace Travel Tote that they purchased over a decade prior.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

My Shoes!

Reader Allyson asked about my shoe collection. She is trying to figure out what she needs versus what she wants. I am probably the worst person to ask about this for I have an affinity for shoes that match nothing in my wardrobe and will probably cause bunions and hammertoes before I am 40. I like them tall, I like them funky, I like the heels to be spindly…

Anyway, looking at the shoes that get a lot of wear in my collection, I see the not-quite-traditional ones get the most use. The classic black shoes are great in a pinch, but I often find an unexpected neutral like a camel, tan, red or a print like leopard (one with black AND brown in it) seems to work with the majority of the wardrobe.

So
here is my collection. You’ll see a few I never wear, and will wonder where some have gone (sold, donated or tossed – recently did some gutting of my closet – hello red patent peeptoes and pilgrim shoes). This is my current collection, all seasons combined:

1. Leopard peeptoe heels from BCBGirls. I actually own two pairs because I adore them so much. One pair is a bit scuffed and smelly; the other ones are reserved for more special of occasions. These are fabric, have a 4” heel and make me feel sexy and powerful. I bought the first pair I think late 2006 and then the second pair on sale in spring of 2007.

2. Brown croco peeptoe heels from BCBGirls. Same exact style as the leopard ones. Bought in spring of 2007

3. Black croco peeptoe heels from BCBGirls. Ditto. If you find a pair of shoes that are comfortable AND fit your style, stock up! I bought them the same day I bought them in brown.

4. Black satin peeptoe heels from Enzo Angiolini. Very similar style to the BCBGirls, but a wider opening at the toe, and evening-appropriate. I got these in summer of 2007 to replace my previous black satin dress heels that broke a heel.

5. Black city boots from Impo. These are actually pleather so they look a bit like patent leather. Side-zip ankle boots with a 1” or shorter kitten heel. I bought these in winter of 2006 to replace my 5-year old city boots that were just DONE.

6. Tan leather calf-height boots from Duo. These are the “Bern” style from their website. Very low heel, comfortable casual style. Got these in the fall of 2007.

7. Brown suede tall boots from Silhouettes. 1” kitten heel, pointed toe, slightly slouched/rouched fabric. I must say a pair in purple are en route to my house via eBay – got them for about $20 on there. Yes, PURPLE! The brown ones I received as a gift this winter.

8. Black low-top “Chucks” Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. I bought these this fall, got them for my husband as well (yes we are the corny couple with matching shoes).

9. Red pointy-toed pumps from Steven. 2” heel, candy apple red and a sale price I couldn’t resist. Have had for a couple of years now, got them at Off Broadway Shoes.

10. Black heeled oxfords from BCBGirls. Super high heel, pointed toe, classic oxford styling. Can go with skirts or pants. Ordered these in the fall but they were backordered and didn’t receive until winter.

11. Black ballet flats from Target. A total waste of money. They have no cushioning, no support, no study sole and are pleather so they make my feet sweat. I keep these for emergencies, but have no clue what emergency it would be as that I haven’t worn them in months. Bought these in late spring of 2007.

12. Black leather flats from Naturalizer. Very simple style, rounded toe, soft leather, arch support and comfort sole. These were bought for comfort, but are nondescript enough that they work okay for style as well. Bought these in… I think late summer 2006.

13. Black open-work pumps from Steve Madden. I have had these for years (I beleive it was 2001). Classic pump style, but peeptoe and the front is a lattice-work of leather. I call them my Carmen Miranda heels.

14. Hot pink studded pointy-toe pumps from NYLA. Hot pink, dark metal studs and a dangerous heel. These are a bit scuffed in front (and where can you find hot pink shoe polish?) but still a blast to wear and get tons of comments and compliments. I think I got these in… 2004. Yes, I got them while trying to find shoes for my wedding. I couldn’t resist – also from Off Broadway Shoes.

15. Hot pink and orange suede peeptoe wedges from J. Crew. Tall wooden wedge, pink suede with orange trim and tiny bow. Super cute, got end of summer season 2007 so haven’t had the chance to wear a lot.

16. Black leather thong-style heels from Target. 1.5” heel, simple. My go-to shoe all summer long. I buy a replacement pair every other year; these were bought in the summer of 2007.

17. Brown stacked flip flops from J. Crew. Have had them since 2004.

18. Black stacked flip flops from J. Crew. Got at the outlet for a song in 2005.

19. Black “Sandy” flip flops from Reef. Replaced my old pair just this summer.

20. Purple Crocs. Only worn in the yard or to as music festival. I promise! I bought them specifically for Bonnaroo this summer.

21. Aqua flip flops from Old Navy. Thin and cheap, but the same color as my bathing suit! I bought them on clearance in 2006.

22. Black crocheted elastic-strap flops from J. Crew. A slightly dressier version of flops, but hardly ever worn because the elastic stretched out and they don’t stay too well on my feet. I bought these also on clearance back in 2004… they went with me on my honeymoon!

23. Black leather pointy-toed heeled mules from Steve Madden. Horribly uncomfortable and super tall heels, but make suite a dramatic look with pants so I keep them. But I haven’t worn them in years, bought them in 2001.

24. Gray and blue hiking shoes from L.L. Bean. Bought these in 2003.

25. Black and green hybrid shoes from Keen. These have Kevlar lacing, mesh so they can be worn in water, but lots of cushioning and support so they can be worn for long walks. I take them on every vacation. I bought them in 2004 for my honeymoon.

26. Gray and orange sneakers from New Balance. Purely for the gym, the sidewalk, activities. Not the style for street wear. I have had them since the winter of 2005.

27. Black round-toe “Henri” pumps from Jessica Simpson. They got a bit stretched out this spring so I don’t wear as often because they aren’t as comfortable as before. However they are perfect for fuller skirts and more retro of styles. I bought them in… I think spring of 2006.

28. Purple satin strappy heels with rosette. 4” heel, delicate straps and a fabric rose on the strap over the toes. Very fun and quirky; I usually wear them with a non-purple dress. I bought these in 2004.

29. Black and silver strappy heels from Nine West. 4” heels, delicate straps and a rhinestone buckle on the strap over the toes. Have had these for about a decade and adore them. Remarkably comfortable as well. I remember buying them at the Nine West store in White Flint when I managed that Express store so we’re talking… 1998?

30. Purple Birkenstocks. Yep, I have a pair. Haven’t been worn since… I guess the early 90s but I hold on to them because I did adore them so and they ARE comfortable!

31. Beige satin strappy heels. 3” heel tiny bow at foot, very delicate. Considered them as wedding shoes (my dress was ivory) but went with hot pink instead (come on, you must expect that from me by now). Very subtle style that works with any color of dress and are great for summer affairs. Have had since early 2004.

As for where I store my shoes – I have a canvas over the door contraption in my office that holds the majority of the heels. On the floor of the office closet are sturdier shoes like my boots, ballet flats and sneakers. Outside on our deck is a large Rubbermaid box. In there are my slip flops and Crocs. In my bedroom closet I have shoe boxes on the floor that hold my strappy heels/evening shoes so they won’t get dusty. The shoes I wear daily (like my Chucks and city boots) end up next to the front door and when they are out of rotation, they go back into the office.

UPDATE: I added the dates I bought these shoes because I wanted you to know I don’t buy a whole new shoe wardrobe each season. Yes, shoes break and get stinky and stretch out and get scuffed, but many can last season after season if they are a more classic cut (or an really unexpected style that doesn’t follow a specific fad). My pink pointy heels garner just as many compliments now as they did three years ago because they are so unexpected. When I buy my city boots, I usually get a half a decade worth of wear with proper care and maintenance because they are a very simple, streamlined style that works well with pants as well as jeans.

Ugly Shoes

So I did it. I can’t believe I did, and if you know me you will be shocked as well. I have rules that I live by, and doing this broke one of the cardinal rules in the world of Allie.

Thou Shalt Not Wear Ugly Footwear.

Uggs came out, and that is the sound I made when I saw them worn on the feet of every skinny little teen girl in the mall. Jelly shoes made a comeback and they made me back up with horror. Let’s not even get into the therapy I had to accept the creation of high-heeled hiking boots.

And then Crocs arrived.

They’re comfortable, they’re antimicrobial so even though they are made of plastic they won’t make your feet stink. They don’t cause blisters or sweaty tootsies. Sounds perfect for gardening or standing all day as a nurse or doctor or chef. This does NOT mean they are appropriate for daily wear. No matter how many cute colors they come in, they are UGLY. They can’t be made cute with a denim miniskirt, a pair of leggings or a vintage tee. They are hideous things that look as though they are made by Lego and should be banned except for those who would usually wear orthopedic shoes.

So I am going to a music festival this summer. Four days of camping, tunes, and lots of mud. I am addicted to the internet (um, yeah have four blogs people… it’s a problem!) and have been hitting message boards for this festival, finding out what camping gear I should take, what to wear, how to pack. There are full posts out there about the proper footwear because when it rains at this festival grounds, the place turns into major super duper mud. I have seen photographs of dozens of flip flops lost in mud. They say Tevas cause blisters, sneakers get destroyed, and the cheapest soundest footwear for this event is Crocs. They rinse off, they protect your feet from the sun and being stepped on, they stay in place in a mud pit, they don’t get stinky and you can stand all day and not be in pain.

I was planning on taking my Reef flops and maybe an old pair of tennis, but after testimonial after testimonial about these blasted marshmallow shoes, I figured I should give them a try. It would suck to be stuck in Tennessee mud for a week with the wrong shoes.

My husband works at REI and if any of you are married to retail folks, you know you usually get their discount. I headed to his shop to try on these dreaded Crocs. From the message boards, I heard they ran a bit big; I usually wear a 7.5 but fit comfortably in a 6. In my size I had the choice of red, purple, seafoam green, cadet blue and olive green. I was really hoping for the hot pink and tried on a size 5 but they were a tad too small. My husband came by and said the purple was funky without trying too hard. I decided on the traditional Cayman style, though they had the Mary Jane version. Sorry, if I am going to buy shoes of Styrofoam, I am going to accept the material, and not pretend they are cute or anything like “real” shoes.

So I popped them on and walked around the shoe department. Even though they seem to be made like flip flops with toe covers, they seem to support the foot quite nicely. They aren’t as structured as Birkenstocks on the foot, but comfortable nonetheless. Slingbacks usually slide down on my weird ankles, but these stayed in place. The nubbies on the foot bed weren’t painful as they are in Adidas flops and my very sweaty feet felt dry and comfortable in their marshmallow casing.

Then I looked at my reflection and was horrified. These shoes are HIDEOUS. My wide ankles looked totally nonexistent making my legs look like tree trunks. I am petite, but with these purple puffs I looked as though I should be on Little People, Big World. A reasonable outfit of Bermudas and a tee looked positively slovenly with these Barney-size and color shoes.

I took them off and took them to the register, vowing to never wear them outside of music festivals and my back yard. I could see why they received such great reviews; they are darn comfortable shoes!

The next day I walked to my friend’s house for a yoga session. She lives almost a mile away and I decided to wear the Crocs and see how they handle real walking. I arrived at her house blister free and just as comfortable as if I were wearing Nikes.

That night I was heading into town for a community meeting and got dressed and thought… maybe I should wear the Crocs. They’re comfortable, I will be walking to town, they’ll add a slash of color to my neutral-hue outfit. I put them on, I looked at my reflection in the mirror… and I took them off and replaced them with some stacked flops from J. Crew.

I just couldn’t do it. It was wrong, wrong, wrong.

The Crocs have gone up into the closet with the camping gear, awaiting next month when they can serve their duty in Manchester, Tennessee. I may have succumbed to the Crocs phenomenon, but I haven’t sacrificed my sanity or sense of style in the process!

So ladies, if you are heading into mud, muck and gunk this summer… then go ahead and get the proper footwear. However, this does not give you license to wear them to the grocery store, the gas station, the mall or gosh forbid, work. Have some self-respect and wear only items that flatter you. THIS INCLUDES SHOES. If you need comfortable shoes, companies like Aerosoles, Naturalizer, Easy Spirit, Born and Dansko that offer comfortable shoes in flattering styles. Do not suffer for style, be it with pain or with bad fashion!


Ask Allie: Warm Winter Commuter Coats

I lived in Florida all my life, but am moving to DC for a new job and need to get a winter coat. I will be taking the bus for work and want a coat that looks professional but can survive public transportation and DC weather. Suggestions?

I need a new coat. I have the Squall from Lands’ End and have had a version of this coat for over a decade but want to get something more fashionable for work and stuff. I want it to be water repellant and I want it to have a hood and cover my [behind] when I sit on a bench. Where should I look?

I don’t wear wool but want a coat that looks nice, where can I find one that is stylish but also warm?

DC is a strange place, where it can be 70 degrees in November and 30 degrees in April. It is also quite wet in this area, many days that are cold are also with sleet, rain, or snow. In previous posts I have stated that a wool coat is more versatile and chic than one of a synthetic material, but I’ll admit it’s far more comfortable to deal with public transportation, walking, and commuting in general when you are both warm and dry and not worrying about your dry cleaning bill. Here’s some suggestions for winter coats that will keep your warm yet stylish all winter long.

 

I have a coat from Lands’ End that is very similar in style and made me a synthetic coat convert. The belt on this coat gives you a feminine shape and prevents the Michelin Man look, the faux fur trim on the hood adds a luxe feel, the longer length will keep your rear warm on cold metal benches at bus stops, and the large variety of colors and sizes means there’s a right one for each person. I like buying pieces like coats from Lands’ End because I feel confident that if a zipper breaks or there is some defect, I can easily return or replace it.

 

Quilting doesn’t have to add bulk and destroy your figure; strategic quikting and padding can actually accentuate your curves and emphasize a feminine shape. This coat from Betsey Johnson gets rave reviews even from those in Alaska for it being warm, but the shape, stitching, and belt give it a modern, fashionable, and flattering fit.

 

Wool doesn’t mean cold, on the contrary. If you live in a more mild climate like DC, you can get away with a wool coat for your winter. If the coat is long like this one from DKNY, you’re able to keep your legs cozy as you walk to the office or sit waiting for the train. While this coat doesn’t have a hood, it has a high collar to protect your neck and would look tres chic with anything from a cloche to a knit beanie.

Again, strategic quilting to the rescue! The varied sizes of quilting give this coat shape without sacrificing warmth. While black is a safe choice, the Prussian Blue adds a level of fashion and fun to a traditional long parka.  This coat is not only warm, but also water resistant – perfect for the woman who walks or takes public transportation to work!

 

Fit and flare with single breasted buttons makes this coat slimming, the traffic-stopping collar makes it stylish and extra warm. The cashmere blend will look equally at home with jeans and boots as with cocktail dresses and heels.

Tips for Purchasing a Stylish Warm Coat:

  • Look for a single statement-making detail. Fur-trimmed hood or collar, military-inspired metal buttons, belt, unique color or texture – such details will take a parka from play to professional. Keep such details to a minimum – only one statement needs to be made or it will go from chic to cheap.
  • Flatter the figure. Strategic quilting, a belt, single breasted, curved hem… such details can make the difference and have a coat be warm and chic.
  • Choose sophisticated colors. Some colors like yellow, orange, barn red, and baby blue scream ski slope or shoveling snow. Black, olive, navy, ivory, gray, dark plum, and teal give a more elegant feel to a parka.
  • Read the ingredients. Who cares what a coat looks like if it doesn’t keep you warm? Read the details – many outerwear retailers will state what temperature such a coat was made for. Wool, cashmere, down, Thinsulate – these are all materials that will keep you more warm than most synthetic blends. If you live in a wet climate be sure to find a coat that is also water-resistant or waterproof. If you choose the right textiles you can often achieve equal warmth to a bulkier coat of cheaper materials.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Comfy and Chic Shoes for Spring?

Sometimes it seems as though it’s impossible to find trendy and stylish shoes that are comfortable; luckily this spring’s shoe trends are far kinder to your feet than seasons past. Here’s some shoes I have encountered (and some I own) that are both comfy and chic for spring!

    1. Espadrilles are a classic spring and summer shoe; espadrille fans are in luck this spring because many brands are offering their variation providing a ton of color and style options. I’m loving this one from J. Crew because it’s a classic look in a great variety of prints, and a no-skid rubber sole. $60.00.
    2. I love Chucks, but I find they rub my heels and ankles, and often look boxy on my feet. The Shoreline variation from Converse looks classic, but is a slip-on style with an elasticized back. I find them to be softer and more comfortable (I own this very pair), and a bit more feminine of a cut, looking cute styled with jeans, cropped pants and shorts, as well as casual dresses and skirts. $44.95

 

  • I love buying from a brand with a conscience, but I don’t love being a walking billboard. That’s why I love these printed flat sandals from TOMS. Designed by Jonathan Adler and sporting the comfortable yet trendy detail of an ankle strap, these babies would look adorable peeking out of trousers, paired with last year’s boyfriend jeans, or styled with midi skirts.  $58.95

 

 

  • Caged sandals and boots have been a trend for a couple seasons now, but I have always found them uncomfortable. Be they suffocating my ankles, tearing up my toes, or being so high they make my feet ache as soon as I put them on, I had given up on the trend… until now. These booties from Vince Camuto are soft leather, come in wide width, and have a sturdy heel at a wearable height. I own them in brown and black. $118.95

 

 

  • D’Orsay shoes are another trend that is classic but seeing an increase in popularity this spring. Many may find the open style more comfortable than classic pumps (and cooler come warmer temps). The black leather pumps from Sam Edelman are a wearable height and a classic look that will prove elegant and stylish this season and for many to come.  $99.95

 

 

  • Ankle straps provide security and stability while looking adorable with cropped pants and fuller skirts. The closed-toe flat from Madewell will go with most everything in your wardrobe; the silver adds a bit of fun without being too sparkly to wear to the office. $128.00 (but Madewell regularly has sales, at the time of writing they had a code for 30% off)

 

 

  • When Rosana featured these metallic Vans slip-ons in her guest post, I ran to try them on myself. While they are comfortable and adorable, I chose instead to get the Converse shoes above. However, they looked utterly adorable on my friend wearing boyfriend jeans, and the salesperson told me she wears them with skirts, jeans, and even ivory menswear-inspired trousers. The slip-on sneaker trend is hot this season; save your pennies and show your style smarts by going with the original, these will be chic long after the funky prints and finish versions and the color is more versatile. $60.00

 

 

 

 

  • I love a statement shoe, but many steal the show instead of completing an ensemble. This slingback from Isaac Mizrahi is fun but classic and would look fantastic at the office with pants and skirts of all styles, for weekend weddings and showers paired with candy-colored frocks, and even with dark slim ankle jeans for a night out with the gals. The heel is a wearable height making them great for long workdays or nights on the dance floor.  $134.95

 

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Emerson, Suri Cruise, and Shoes

I remember before I got pregnant, I saw a picture of Suri Cruise wearing heels. A friend shared it on Twitter or Facebook, appalled that her parents would let her wear such shoes. I agreed.

And now, I am the mother of a three-year-old who wears heels.

This past week, my mom bought Emerson a “princess kit” from Toys R Us which had a ball skirt, tiara, earrings, necklace, bracelet, scepter.. and a pair of heels. Yeah, they’re clear plastic mules with pink heels and Emerson LOVES them. She wears them EVERYWHERE and is so skilled, she can run in them, and walk up and down steep hills without issue.

So what do you do when you’re Suri Cruz’s mom and she wants to wear heels? Do you fight against it? Do you feel like a hypocrite when you tell your child no but slip on your own stilettos? What excuse do you give as to why the heels are bad? Is it a health issue? Societal issue? Feminist issue? Do you really worry about a pair of plastic heels when you’re dealing with things like hitting, potty training, eating a balanced meal, reading, being a decent human being in this world?

Do you fight it… or do you choose to just pick better battles?

I didn’t like the shoes, but she walks well in them, and knows she can’t wear them in the rain or to the playground or to bed. She doesn’t wear them every day so there’s no issue of shortening tendons or anything health-related. The only problem I can see is the issue with everyone else. The people like me three years ago who didn’t really factor in all the reasons as to why a child may be dressed the way in which she or he is.

Saturday we had no decent food in the house. My husband went to help out a friend – the husband just got out of the hospital and K went to mow their lawn and do some yard work. I decided to take Emerson to the grocery store. So we get to my car and I realize the carseat isn’t installed because E had an accident in it earlier that week and we had to wash the cover. So I put the cover back on and try desperately to get the carseat back in. Emerson is crawling all over the front seat of the car, pressing every button imaginable telling me she’s hungry, she’s thirsty, can we go to the store NOW? Can we go NOW? How about NOW? Then she gets out of the car and is tugging on my shorts while I’m bent over into the backseat and she says, uh oh Mommy I went pee pee and I turn around and there she is soaking wet. So I lock the doors and carry Emerson back to the house where I wash her down and replace her shorts and underwear. And she’s all upset, apologizing, asking me if I am happy and if I still love her. And of COURSE I still love her so I slow down and let her talk and I let her know it’s okay, we all have accidents and I was sorry for ignoring her while dealing with the car seat. And she asks if she can wear her “princess shoes” to the store. Girlfriend just busied herself for 15 minutes while I wrestled with a carseat and peed all over herself on the sidewalk… who am I to deny her princess shoes?

Emerson gets all gussied up and feels so much better. I give up on the carseat and we decide to walk to the local market. We get to the store, and Emerson wants to be a big girl and pull the basket, so I let her. I am proud of her, getting past the accident, putting the groceries carefully in the basket, navigating it through the aisles. I look at the other patrons and realize they don’t think she’s cute and smart and strong. They are looking at her with disdain and giving me THAT LOOK. That same look that Katie Holmes must have received when Suri was sauntering around town in heels. The look that the parent is projecting her superficial materialistic man-getting ways on her poor innocent child. I catch myself apologizing to the woman next to me at the deli, blaming my mother for the princess kit that Emerson won’t take off. She smiles, but she judges.

We head home. Emerson gets in the stroller for about a block, but then wants to walk. We walk down a steep hill and up another. My husband calls my cell. I am pushing the empty stroller, telling him my ETA at the house, and we walk past a yard where a woman looks at us, gives me THE LOOK, looks at Emerson and clucks. I tell K I need to get off the phone and right at that moment Emerson is so busy saying hello to the woman that she walks right into a wheel of the stroller and falls down. I put the phone in my pocket and pick her up. “She wouldn’t have fallen if she was wearing proper shoes,” the woman says.

“Fuck you, you judgmental bitch!” I say.

Yeah, I didn’t say that. I wanted to, but instead I picked up my kid who didn’t even have a scratch but was in need of a nap and crying, dropped her shoes in the stroller and pushed it home with one hand, the other holding her on my hip. I didn’t say a word, and I didn’t look at that woman again.

The crazy thing is I was embarrassed. I was angry, but I felt as though I was at fault because I did let my child wear heels. That she was sauntering around town in a flower headband, two necklaces, clip-on earrings, a satin purse and a pair of Lucite slides. That I was a bad parent.

It’s funny, if we saw a little boy decked out a Rambo headband, a gun holster for his water gun, a pair of cowboy boots and a camo tee shirt we would think, “Boys will be boys.” But a girl dressed up like Emerson, and people think she’s a little superficial princess or a slut in the making. Boys can dress up like adult men, but girls have to dress up like an animal or cartoon character.

I don’t tell Emerson what to wear. As long as she’s wearing shoes and pants, I really don’t care. If she wants to wear rainboots on a dry day, fine with me. If she wants to wear two tee shirts and a dress and leggings and a tutu and two different shoes, fine with me. And if she wants to wear princess shoes, fine with me. Others can judge and make assumptions, but now I know just as Katie Homes knows… there’s some battles that aren’t worth picking, especially if it’s to appease complete strangers.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Can Your Shoes Do This?

Last week I attended an early showing of the Last Call Studio. I am a weird size, not plus size, but not a single digit so I knew there would be limited clothing there that would fit and flatter my frame. As that I was given some spending money, I headed straight to the accessories. Hey, maybe I could get a pair of designer sunglasses or a fab bag.

I took a look around the shoe department – I don’t usually spend a ton on shoes – my personal pricepot is no more than $80 for a standard shoe (like pumps, sandals, etc.), no more than $120 for city boots (the sort of boots I wear to DEATH with trousers and jeans all fall and winter), no more than $220 for tall boots (and dag, they better be comfy and durable and beautiful). I have wanted to try a pair of ankle booties to wear with skirts and dresses as well as jeans, but most are out of my price range, look stupid on my feet, or are incredibly uncomfortable.

Image via Last Call

There were a few cute booties in the shoe department, but most looked as though they wouldn’t fit my lifestyle – sky-high suede wedge slingbacks from L.A.M.B., ones covered with spikes or made out of lace. Then I saw these beauts from Miss Sixty. Man, they were tall, and I didn’t think I wanted a peeptoe, but I figured I would try them.

Once I tried them on, everyone there told me I HAD to buy them. I was still wary – they were 30% off the already discounted price so after my complimentary gift card I was spending less than $5 on them, but I wondered if I would regret them. Would they be worn once and then collect dust in my closet because they are so uncomfortable? What the heck was I doing buying a 4” spike heel when I work and walk in a city full of cobblestone, marble blocks, and other uneven pavement?

I succumbed to peer pressure; instead of being my usual frugal self and using the gift card for something “useful,” I got the booties. I even put them on and wore them out of the store.

I wore them shopping elsewhere, and then for lunch with my family. They were starting to irritate my left pinky toe a bit. I got home and took them off… and realized a piece of cardboard was slide in the shoe were the irritation was taking place. I slid it out and wore them to work the next day – this time sans hosiery. I walked about six blocks that day, and worked an 8.5 hour day. I came home and hardly wanted to remove my shoes – they were so comfortable! My foot didn’t slide through the peeptoe, I didn’t get any blisters, no hot spots. I found it very easy to walk in those high heels, and had a very easy stride in them.

Yesterday I wore these shoes again to work. I left the house at 7:30am and didn’t come home until after 11:00pm. I walked about six blocks during my work commute. After work I headed to a different part of the city for dinner with colleagues and walked another ten or so blocks in total. I was walking with a few men who are taller than I, which means they walked far faster and I practically had to run to keep up. That is a long day for any shoes, any pair of feet.

I got home and my feet were in great shape – not at all tired, not sore.

Why am I writing this post? Did I get paid by Miss Sixty or something? Nope, they don’t even know I own shoes from them. I am writing it because these shoes are proof that quality is worth it, and quality can be found in the most unlikely places.

When I think of the brand Miss Sixty, I think jeans, and young skinny chicks with disheveled blonde hair in California. I think their target customer is my complete opposite. I would usually not even look at that brand, because I don’t think it fits who I am as a person. But I was mistaken.

These shoes originally retail for $200, totally not in my price range for what I consider to be a novelty item. I don’t see black leather peeptoe stiletto booties to be a classic, and doubt they will be on trend in a couple of years. However, these boots are worth the money because of how well they are structured, how well they are made. The location and shape of the heel absorbs a lot of the pressure, the hidden platform makes the heel not feel as tall. The angle of the shoe evenly distributes weight so I don’t slide and smush to the front. The soft leather wraps around the foot, instead of fighting against it. The rubber sole gives great traction, and I can walk around without going CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP in a marble office lobby.

Stop and think about your shoe wardrobe. How many shoes do you wear on a regular basis, and how many are collecting dust? How many shoes do you have that require inserts, moleskin, Band Aids, and a pair of flip flops stashed in your laptop bag?

It’s so easy to pick up a pair of cute leopard-print flats from Target or some patent platform heels from Payless. The pricepoint is great and it’s a way to add current trends to your wardrobe for much less than the designers who inspired that shoe. However you are just throwing away money if those shoes hurt your feet.

Image Courtesy XOXO Parisky

It is considered a sign of fashion and wealth to have an extensive shoe collection. Many women with hard to fit bodies covet shoes because they are one thing that they know will fit and be stylish (think the book and movie, “In Her Shoes”). But who cares what shoes are in your wardrobe if you can wear them and stand tall and glide into a room? If you hobble, slip, teeter, and shuffle in your fab footwear, nothing about you is very fab. It is far more stylish to have a small shoe collection that is full of pairs that fit, support, and offer comfort as well as some style.

I really learned that few shoes are necessary the year after my daughter was born. The week after she was born, I bought a pair of black city boots out of desperation. My feet swelled to scary proportions during my last trimester, and after delivery my feet were a size and a half and far more wide than they were pre-pregnancy. It was tempting to buy cheap as that I figured my feet would shrink down a bit (they did), but I bought a brand that is known for comfort and quality. I wore those shoes almost every single day for two months straight. Never had foot pain, and those shoes worked with almost every item in my wardrobe.

As my feet kept changing, I added few pairs to my shoe collection. I found a pair of retro-inspired T-strap sandals in black patent. They were incredibly comfortable yet still stylish. Instead of venturing out, I just bought the same shoes in red patent and a very similar style in brown croco. These four pairs of shoes kept my feet dressed for an entire year, and I still wear those three pairs of sandals. Each pair cost over $100 – not in my comfort zone, but they still look great, feel great, and work with my personal sense of style.

Per my Wardrobe Staples, I believe every woman should have a pair of black leather pumps, black leather city boots, and a pair of sexy shoes you can dance in all night. Add to this collection a pair of more casual shoes and one or two other pairs of seasonally-appropriate footwear in your personal style and you have more than enough to get through the year, and most any event that life throws your way. Instead of wasting money on novelty pieces or shoes that fit your budget but not necessarily your foot, wait and save up for a pair that loves you as much as you love them. Be they classic black leather pumps, or a pair of peeptoe stiletto booties, if they are well made, they will be far more worth the money in the long run.

Ask Allie – Weekend Shoes

Reader Laurie asks:

When I wear jeans, I quite often reach for the athletic shoes simply because they are so comfortable. I know this is not the most stylish choice, but I’m not quite sure what to substitute. My standby ankle high boots look great with the jeans, but are really not comfortable enough for me. Any shoe suggestions (need to be comfortable enough for walking) for a casual jeans/sweater outing?

Hey Laurie:
For years I have gotten by with my black ankle boots for this situation, but lately (especially with this extra baby weight on my knees and feet) I desire an alternative. Like you, I need what I call a “weekend shoe”, footwear that is more stylish than sneakers, but can be worn all day.

Flats seem like a likely choice, but are often more uncomfortable than heels. Flats force your foot into an unnatural position – a foot will be most comfortable with arch support and a tiny bit of lift at the heel. To have comfort while walking, it’s nice to have decent structure around the foot and padding on the foot bed. Flats rarely have all of this.

Flats like this one from Privo take athletic styling and support and add it to the trendy silhouette of a flat. The perforated leather keeps your foot comfortable all day, and this styling could be worn with “no-see-um” socks, trousers socks or with bare feet and still look polished. I love the purple color – it is an unexpected neutral that can go with denim, neutrals, warm as well as cool tones. Pair with pumpkin, green, red or teal for a beautiful contrast. $84.95 at Nordstrom.

A loafer-style shoe is great with jeans and cords – easy to slip on and off, more refined than a sneaker but often just as comfortable. Having a wedge or athletic-inspired sole will make it far more wearable for long days than one that has a separate heel.

This loafer from Naturalizer has been rated often as being comfortable for walking and standing all day. The contrast stitching and athletic sole makes it a bit funky and artsy, and the blue color is another one of those unexpected neutrals. $59.98 at Macy’s.

A boot is far more comfortable if it has a wedge heel. The wedge helps disperse the weight, and if the wedge is of rubber you have extra cushioning and shock absorption.

This ankle boot by Rockport is sleek, stylish but far kinder to your tootsies than a classic ankle boot. Rockport has been creating innovative and comfortable footwear for men and women since 1971 and I have always had luck finding great walking shoes from this brand. $119.95 from Endless.

Hope that helps!

Wednesday Update – New Shoes

I was IMing with my friend, telling her how bored and irritated at work I was. “Did you go to lunch?” She asked. No I didn’t. I was being frugal and brought a salad. I looked outside, the sun was peeking out of the clouds. “Meet me at the mall” she suggested and so I did.

As you know from previous posts I need new foundation. I felt that I could justify this trip, stop by the MAC store and then if no success, Sephora. I told my friend I would meet her in Nordstrom. While I waited for her, I moseyed around the shoe department.

BAD DECISION DILLY!

There are too many cute shoes out this season! I went first to the sale racks, but found nothing appealing. Then I looked at the little tables and next thing I know I have four shoes in my hands and am flagging down a salesperson. Green snakeskin, peeptoes, pointy toes, adorable bows, sexy wedges… so dangerous! I narrowed it down to these soft fabric heels from BCBGirls and the green snakeskin peeptoe platform pumps from Jessica Simpson. I felt these were more worth their pricetag and decided to look for a Jess-equivalent at somewhere like DSW or Off Broadway.

I wore these shoes out the door, tucking my old trusty Mossimo sandals in the new box. I received compliments on my shoes in three locations.

Oh, and did get new foundation (MAC’s MoistureBlend, which totally disappeared on my skin yet covered the ruddiness quite nicely!). Will let you know how it looks on tomorrow!

Gotta Wear the New Shoes!

The new blue merino v-neck from J. Crew. I have a piece of blown Murano glass I got in Italy. It’s a little smaller than a hockey puck, and much thinner. I hand it from an 18″ white gold chain. It’s almost the same color as my new suede wedges.

I have a light gray suiting fabic skirt from Banana Republic. Decided to wear that. No hose – hose is for interviews and little children. Plenty of Botter Butter to look moisturized.

Hair yesterday was washed and allowed to air dry. Today I took the straightening iron to it, and used a huge barrel curling iron to lip the ends a bit, curve in the bangs and feather out the sides a smidge. A bit of molding paste flicked in for cool definition.

Been really into the black liquid liner look, so sporting that today as well.

My Must-Have Shoes for Fall and Winter

In the warmer months I get creative with my shoes. Yellow wedge sandals? Why not? Silver Birkenstocks? An unexpected staple! But come fall and winter, my shoe collection gets far simpler and more utilitarian. This is my current cold weather shoe wardrobe for 2014/2015:

 

must have shoes fall winter

1. Sneakers. Now that I’m walking almost every morning, my sneakers have become some of my favorite shoes. These aren’t the exact ones I have but a similar style and price to my discontinued and nicely discounted New Balances via 6pm. New Balance fits my chubby feet and short toes.

2. Brown Riding Boots. Pictured are the DUO Santanas, the very boots I have (seen here and here). As a petite woman, I love how these boots are a bit shorter, elongating my leg and ending at a comfortable height. As a woman with large calves, shins, and ankles I love how these boots fit comfortably (you order DUO boots by the centimeter so they’re a great choice for narrow, average, or wide calves and the customer reviews help you narrow down the styles best for your specific leg shape). I wear these over skinny jeans or with tights and skirts or dresses.

3. Black Heeled Booties. For many years I have worn the Cole Haan Air Talia bootie (discontinued, very similar and cheaper option) and while I still have and love (in fact just got back from the cobbler for a reheeling), the round toe looked weird with fuller trousers. I just picked up the ‘Coolen’ from Jessica Simpson and love the pointed toe, sleek heel, and the wider top that is more comfortable with my thicker ankles and shins. I wear under jeans and trousers, but also over skinny jeans and with tights and dresses.

4. Statement Heels. Last winter I picked up a pair of silver pumps from Nine West (no longer available, similar concept) and was surprised by how much wear I got with them. They add some fun to dark jeans, jazz up an LBD, and look cool peeking out of black trousers for an evening out. The closed toe is more comfortable on frigid nights but the pointed toe, high heel, and silver color makes them dressy enough for most affairs on my social calendar.

5. Wedges. A wedge is far easier to wear for long periods of time; these are my go-to when I know I’ll be on my feet but still want a bit of lift. The booties I have are the Nine West ‘Lottie’ which are discontinued (and not as tall as the one pictured), but this one from Anne Klein is similar in style. I wear with black tights and dresses, but have also worn under fuller trousers where the wedge isn’t as prominently on display.

6. Leopard Pumps. I have more than one pair of leopard pumps, but the ones featured are the Nine West ‘Ugogirl’ which are my newest leopard purchase and my current fave. A leopard shoe is extremely versatile and adds interest to an outfit of neutrals (which I often wear in the winter; hello black with more black and maybe a splash of denim). I like that these have a chunkier heel giving me more support, but a pointed toe which elongates my short frame.

7. Stylish Waterproof Boots. SOREL sent me these boots in September (review here) and they’re a great option for folks like me who have all her pants hemmed for heels. These can tuck under trousers or be laced up over skinny jeans and the grippy sole makes me feel more secure on slick DC sidewalks.

8. Casual Winter Boots. I picked these Treton boots up last winter on clearance at 6pm and they’re one of the best winter purchases I have made. Lined with shearling, the boots are super cozy and comfy. The wide opening makes them easy to slip on over thick socks and when still half-asleep letting Cindy out in the morning. I keep these at the backdoor to go to the compost and let out Cindy; slip leggings inside them and my track or snow pants over them for snow shoveling or sledding, and often slip them over skinny jeans to walk Cindy or a quick run to the grocery store or Starbucks. Previously I had a pair of duck boots (RIP), and even earlier (and likely somewhere in my attic or at the bottom of my office closet) I wore Tims.  Winter happens and function trumps fashion when it comes to weather.

9. Classic Black Pumps. I wear these almost year-round with skirts, dresses, and trousers. Come the coldest months I switch out to booties, but these still hold a place in my closet for the occasional client meeting or day wedding.  My personal favorites are MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Flex’ and Nine West ‘Flax’.

10. Tall Black Boots I actually have two pairs; a black flat riding boot I bought two years ago from DUO Boots (very similar, same retailer), and a sleeker heeled boot with an almond toe that I got at Wide Widths almost a decade ago (same style, same retailer).  I wear riding boots over jeggings, leggings, skinny jeans several days a week come winter.  I use a protective spray on them so they keep me dry and salt doesn’t eat away the finish.  Tall boots are warmer than trousers alone; I usually add warmth with a pair of knee-high wool or cashmere socks (and sometimes a sock liner for extra tootsie insulation).  Heeled boots are worn with tights to make dresses bearable past Thanksgiving.

11. Slippers with a Rubber Sole. My shearling mocs from Lands’ End are what I put on as soon as I get home from work, have at the side of my bed when I go to sleep, and the first thing I put on when I wake. I like having a rubber sole so I can step out to the recycling bin or mailbox but also to not slip and slide on our hardwood floors and stairs. To keep down utility bills, I wear a cap and these slippers all winter long when indoors and these are uber comfortable.

What are your must-have shoes for fall and winter?

Flat Work Shoes for Fall and Winter

A big request that comes in my mailbag is suggestions for work-appropriate flats. I’m glad to see such requests, because not every flat is created equal. I hate to burst your bubble, but standard issue ballet flats and the patent elastic-backed flats do not give an air of professionalism, no matter the brand name. Not only that, such shoes offer so little support they aren’t very comfortable or healthy for your arches. Luckily, flats have come back en vogue the past few seasons and there’s a wonderful assortment of stylish, chic, and supportive heel-free shoes available that will give you an air of professionalism. A few styles I am loving this fall:


The Oxford
I wrote about the oxford or brogues trend last fall/winter, but this trend is still quite hot. With the second season, there’s more variety and style available. From animal-print calfhair to metallics to more classic wingtips, there’s an oxford shoe that works with most any personal style. A plus to the oxford is it is a style of flat that looks quite chic with hosiery.

Such a shoe looks amazing with trousers, be you channeling Katharine Hepburn with a wide-leg menswear style, or a trim ankle-length cut. I also like oxfords with boyfriend and ankle-length straight jeans. I have seen many women carry off oxfords with fuller skirts of every length from mid-thigh to ankle, but you need to have a very defined personal style and understanding office to carry off that look.

The Smoking Slipper
Another flat trend that has carried over from last year, the smoking slipper, is easy, comfortable, elegant, and work appropriate. Such a shoe looks great with trousers of any leg width, and with all the prints and fabrics available, can add a personal touch to a more traditional suit.

The Loafer
The loafer has returned, and in all styles and heel heights. The flat loafer is a classic and looks excellent with jeans and trousers, as well as pleated skirts and kilts. The collegiate look is trending this fall, and a tassel or penny loafer fits the bill perfectly and comfortably. Like oxfords, this style of flat looks chic with a sock or other form of hosiery.

If your style is more eclectic, consider a loafer with a pointed toe, an unusual fabric or finish, or unexpected hardware. I love the juxtaposition of a tough leather moto jacket, jeans, and then a classic penny loafer.

The Pointed Toe Flat
While a pointed toe may seem like torture for a heel, a pointed toe is more of an accessory on a flat shoe. Without the angle, the toes aren’t shoved into the narrow front, but sit comfortably in the normal-width body of the shoe.

As a petite woman, I love the pointed toe flat because it extends the look of the leg. It looks fantastic peeking out of trousers, as well as being paired with cropped and narrow pants. I also find it more flattering with skirts than rounded-toe ballet flats.


Flat Booties
This season, two popular flat ankle-height boot styles are the Chelsea boot (more of a riding boot style with elastic gussets on the side) and the Beatle boot (very sleek, slim profile with an elongated pointed toe). Both styles are far more professional looking than the chunky bulbous ankle boot styles that are also available in stores this season. Like the oxford and loafer, this form of flat begs to be worn with socks to keep you warm this winter.

Both styles of bootie are extremely versatile and lend to the season’s pant trends. They can peek out of classic or wide-leg trousers, but also look very on trend with narrow, cropped, and pleated styles. Both also look quite modern with skirts, from a pencil to a pleated midi. A black flat bootie with black tights is a wonderful winter base for dresses and skirts.

How to Determine if a Flat is Work Appropriate:

  • Fabric.  Canvas, denim, metallic twill, jelly, rubber, cartoon prints… if you’re looking for flats for Corporate America you should likely steer clear from these fabrics.  Leather, patent, haircalf, matte velvet, suede, croco-embossed, snakeskin… choose a more traditional fabric for a more traditional and professional feel.
  • Details.  While I find the stud trend to be quite fun, it may not be appropriate for the office.  With the return of the flat has come some very wacky details – rhinestone-encrusted toes, plastic heart shoe clips, 1″ long spikes, clear vinyl cutouts… if it’s not appropriate to be worn to work on your torso it likely isn’t the best choice for your feet.  Also look for details that make shoes too casual – lug or gum soles, visible stitching, visible logos, industrial-style lacing.
  • Trim.  The quickest way to make a shoe look casual is the trim around the opening.  A lovely leather flat, and then a polka-dot grosgrain trim.  Sleek patent shoe, and then an elasticized opening.  A work shoe should be more polished, and an easy way to achieve that is having the shoe be consistent from top to sole.
  • Structure.  If one can see the shape of your toes through the shoe, they’re not structured enough for the office.  If your foot is spilling over the sole onto the ground, they’re not structured enough for the office.  If you look as though you don’t have feet under your trouser legs, they’re not structured enough for the office (ballet flats are infamous for such a travesty). 
  • Condition.  Color worn from the toe, sole peeling away from the shoe, scuffed, the back bent up from wearing as slides… your place of work is why you can buy shoes in the first place so show it a bit of respect.  Keep those shoes for the commute to the office and change once you arrive; this way your work shoes last longer and stay looking crisp.

My list is not all-inclusive.  There are many styles that are out there right now, and fashion is so accepting this day and age, you don’t have to stick to just the current hot trends.  The goal is to look polished, structured, and professional, and you can achieve this no matter the height of your heel!

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Ask Allie: All About Shoes

Oh shoes… one of my favorite subjects!

Flats are a puzzle to me. It seems ballet flats are “the” flat shoe if you want to look fashionable, but I rarely find a pair I think look nice on me. I’m needing a flat shoe that’s versatile, comfy, and looks good. What should I be looking for?

Ballet flats look like crap on me. I have big calves, thick ankles, and fat short feet so ballet flats make it look as though someone lopped off my toes. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t wear any flats. The pointed flat has made a return which makes me AND my non-lopped off tootsies happy. They elongate the leg but still keep your heels close to the ground. I also like the almost-flat (as seen in my leopard flats in this post). A very very low heel or wedge gives a touch of lift which flatters the leg yet is still wearable all day long. Finally, this season has so many flat shoes to choose from that aren’t a typical ballet flat – check out a slipper-inspired flat or a pair of brogues for low-heel comfort but high-octane style!

I’ve always thought you can’t wear ballet flats with socks or pantyhose. For some reason, I feel so dumb when you can see my socks/pantyhose between my shoes and my pants. Are there rules here?

I don’t love the look, but I also don’t love frostbite or hypothermia. Many choose sheer trouser socks for such a situation but I find they don’t offer much more warmth than a bare leg. However, a black textured or patterned sheer hose is a great choice, as is an opaque hose that blends in with the pant and shoe. Steer clear of traditional socks of cotton for they aren’t refined enough, and everyone just accept that we can see your “peds” so either wear a full sock or go sockless, the little beige exposed band just ruins the look of the shoe all together.

I see a lot of open-toed shoes, even now in fall. I’m up in Canada, and obviously, it’s completely ridiculous to think I can go barefoot all winter long! Is it okay to actually wear open-toed shoes in winter with hose of some sort?

Yep, rules have been broken all over the place the past few years. I regularly wear open-toed shoes with opaque hosiery. I either wear the same color hose as the shoe, or else go for a very extreme purposeful contrast.

I purchased black suede high wedge heeled ankle boots from Lands End Canvas that I just love! The wedge heel is a tan rubber material giving it a more casual look, I think. I want to wear them often this fall, but the only way I know how to wear them is with skinny jeans. I see other people wear ankle boots with skirts and dresses and would love some tips on styling the boots. Thank you!

Such a boot would look adorable with black tights, a pleated or fuller short skirt, and most anything on top. Channel 1990s Winona Ryder with such shoes, just put a 2012 spin on it. Floral dresses, denim and leather jackets, even winter shorts with tights would look fantastic with such booties!

Hi Allie, I have a question about wearing black with brown. I have a great pair of brown tall boots and would like to wear them with some black pieces I have but I’ve heard for so long that it’s a fashion no-no to mix the two. Is this a fashion myth or can these two colors be worn together?

I wrote about mixing black and brown here, but for the record I am all for it as long as you do it in a purposeful fashion. Brown boots with black hose and a black dress is quite chic, but brown boots, red tights, black skirt, and blue sweater could make you look as though you dressed in the dark. Using prints to connect the black and brown is an easy way to make the combination look purposeful – I find a leopard print belt, scarf or base layer is a great choice as the print has both black and brown in it!

Hi Allie, I’m a commuter so I like to wear flats or low heeled shoes on my walk to the Metro and then change shoes when I get to work. I typically wear trouser style pants. The problem is that my pants are hemmed to be worn with heels and drag on the ground when I put on flats. Because the pants have wide legs, I can’t roll up the cuffs like I would with skinny jeans. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Get yourself a pair of Style Snaps. I know many women who swear by them I have also heard good things about Zakkerz from other bloggers.

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Ask Allie: Vegan Shoes with Style

I don’t wear leather and would love to find cute shoes that are cruelty-free.

Allie, would you please do a piece on vegan shoes? I don’t wear or use animal products and have a hard time finding shoes that are stylish and vegan. Do you know where I should look?

Have you considered a ‘Going Green’ post on cruelty-free fashion? I’d particularly be interested in footwear, thank you.

You ask, I answer! While I do wear leather, I know not everyone does and I respect that. I also am thrilled to see that over the years there are more brands who provide shoes that are not only cruelty-free, but are also quite stylish! Here’s a few companies I have found recently that offer fun, fashionable, and vegan footwear:

Click here for details on the shoes in the image


Moo Shoes
Moo Shoes is a vegan-owned business that sells an assortment of cruelty-free footwear, bags, tees, and other accessories. While they have an online boutique, they also have a shop in New York City. Moo Shoes carries everything from the vegan versions of Doc Martens to cruelty-free running shoes, to sexy high-heeled boots and heels. I love the nail head detail on ‘Jordan’ pump from Novacas, the ‘Angela’ strappy heel or the ‘Cassandra’ peeptoe (both from Klub Nico) would be perfect for every wedding and holiday party on your calendar, and the ‘Expoze’ wedge from Madden Girl is hot hot hot (you know I am partial to the leopard print version)!

LuLu’s
While LuLu’s is not a cruelty-free retailer, they do have a surprisingly large and stylish selection of vegan shoes on their site. If you want the craziest and most popular footwear trends made from vegan products, this is your site. Wedges, platforms, booties, stilettos and more! The Qupid Luxe ‘Spirite’ heels are utterly awesome and I want them in my closet right away, the City Classified ‘Kodey’ flats let you have your cake and eat it too with an adorable Dalmatian print in cruelty-free materials, and the Mixx ‘Laura’ pump is begging for a night out on the town (or a fabulous New Years’ Eve bash).

Olsenhaus
Olsenhaus was founded by Elizabeth Olsen; her mission was to merge passions for design, fashion, function and being a voice for animals, the environment, transparent business practices and unwavering values in ethical and social responsibilities.  Her shoes are cruelty-free and utterly gorgeous.  I love the ‘Tahiti’ which is a blend of bootie and sandal, a neutral base with a pop of color that is unexpectedly versatile.  Get your boot fix with the ‘Beauty’ over-the-knee style which comes in a delicious indigo microfiber made from recycled TV screens. ‘Andromeda’ is a perfect bootie for fall, with the hidden wedge and clean lines it’s on trend and versatile enough to look great with pants and skirts.

Vegan Chic
Vegan Chic offers just what their name states – chic shoes, bags, and accessories that are vegan. They carry many popular vegan brands, including the previously mentioned Olsenhaus.  I love the ‘Oracle’ from Olsenhaus which is sleek, modern, and terribly chic, the Mary Jane from Pavilion is the perfect pair for the collegiate chic trends this fall, and the Spring Vegan Bootie takes a style that is very popular right now but offers it in a cruelty-free fabric.

Neuaura
Every shoe Neuaura sells is 100% vegan.  Neuaura never sells items with leather, fur, silk, wool, shell, or pearls, no animal by-products are ever used during manufacturing and/or finishing processes.  Not only that, they have a great selection of very chic and elegant footwear.  I love the ‘Aster’ oxford, which is unique with it’s variety of colors and cut-outs, but right on trend for this fall.  The ELM’ pump is the perfect classic pumps for everything from interviews to cocktail parties and has a fabulous pointed toe to elongate the leg.  And I love the rock and roll vibe of the ‘Ibis’ Mary Jane, which would look smashing with everything from a little black dress to distressed boyfriend jeans.

And now I ask you readers, do you look for vegan shoes and accessories? Where have you found fashionable cruelty-free footwear?

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

Ask Allie – Peeptoe Shoes and Legwear?

Hi Allie, What do you think about pantyhose or opaque tights with peep toe heels? Are both absolute no-no’s? I can’t stand Sarah Palin, but thanks to her I’ve now discovered the world of Naughty Monkey shoes. I live in Baltimore and am considering going bare-legged while wearing peep toe shoes. Thoughts? (apologies if you’re a Palin fan) :) Amy

Hey Amy:
Well hope this doesn’t offend any other readers, but I can’t stand her either!  However Naughty Monkey DOES have some utterly adorable shoes!

tights peeptoe heels

As for your question:

Pantyhose with peeptoes – bad
Tights with peeptoes – doable

… as long as you keep a contrast – like black tights and red shoes, red tights and black shoes, texture tights and solid heels, etc. If you make it look purposeful, it works. It’s hip, it’s funky, it’s fun.

When I used to drive to work, I often wore peeptoes with trousers in the dead of Maryland winter. Now that I have to walk more than two aisles of a parking lot, I wouldn’t dare. However all over the city I see women rocking peeptoes in winter. Those wearing them with bare legs look insane (unless it is dashing from car to evening gala), those with sheer hose look as though they haven’t picked up a fashion mag in the past decade (sorry, it just looks dated – if you must wear hose keep them with more simple or period-style of shoes so you don’t look like a Rockette), those who do it with good contrast and sense of humor look the most pulled together.  Hope that helps!

UPDATE: It seems that in the UK tights and pantyhose are synonymous; I believe this is causing some confusion. :)  When I state tights, I mean opaque legwear, as seen in the images in this post. When I mention pantyhose, I am writing about sheer legwear, sometimes that comes in a color but is most regularly seen as attempting to match the color of the wearer’s skin.

The difference is in denier; most stockings are around a denier of 5; the higher the number the more opaque (up to around 80). Usually, retailers will note on the packaging if what you are purchasing is considered tights or pantyhose. Often you can find the denier on the back of the package.

Pantyhose used to be a given with most skirts and tights but have become quite dated in the past few years. Yes, you will occasionally see celebs and socialites wear them, but they run a fine line between looking stylish and tacky. I find they are best worn for conservative environments or by True Fashionistas.

A reinforced toes is NEVER acceptable in an open toe shoe, no matter the type of legwear.

Ask Allie: Comfy and Stylish Shoes

I have previously written about comfortable and stylish shoes, but each season new styles come out and readers come to be with new needs.

Dear Allie: I am at a loss w/ regards to finding cute but comfy everyday shoes- I am not a tennis shoe person. Most cute flats really aren’t supportive enough to walk around in while carrying a baby, etc. I am ashamed that I love my Crocs- but now that I am no longer pregnant and my daughter is not a newborn I feel there is no excuse for me to wear them anywhere than around the house, in the rain, etc… What are cute, supportive yet somewhat attractive shoes I can wear all of the time?

Dear Allie: I’m sorry, but I just can’t wear pumps. I am a BBW and I love to look stylish for work, but anything over a 2” heel is murder on my feet, my knees, my hips. Also my workplace is the government and pretty conservative. However I don’t want to wear granny shoes and I agree with you – us BBW look stupid and top-heavy in ballet flats (not like they have support any way). Where can I find comfortable work shoes that will work all day?

Dear Allie: You rarely mention animal-friendly or eco-friendly options for footwear. I believe you are a vegetarian so this surprises me. Would you let your readers know about some shoes that are vegan and kind to the earth? There are many comfortable and fashionable styles available.

Allie – I was hoping I might ask you a question about shoes for wide feet? My feet are wider than most womens across the toes and I really struggle to find quality shoes that are also comfortable and don’t leave my poor toes screaming for mercy by the end of the day. Do you happen to know of any good brands of shoes for girls with wide feet??

Hope these options will assist many of you in finding comfortable, well-made shoes that will care for your feet and your personal needs. I usually try to find low-cost options for my suggestions; many of these are over my standard $100 price point. The reason is your feet are the hardest working part of your body, and it’s near impossible to find comfortable, supportive, well-made shoes at bargain bin prices. I am all for checking out outlets for these brands, but I do stand behind my belief that shoes are something you should spend money on. A couple pairs that are good to you will last you for years and be very worth your money.

Eco-Conscious
It really is possibly to find shoes that are friendly to animals and the environment while being comfortable and cute.

Simple is a brand that marries all of these with some terrific footwear. Their Women’s Jumper Certified Leather Mary Jane is made for walking with a technologically-advanced foot bed, plenty of arch support, and a cushy sole that will deflect hard and bumpy surfaces. The classic style will work with skirts, shorts and pants easily and can be worn through most any season. In brown, black and merlot red.

Earth carries many vegan shoes that are comfortable and cute. The Inhale is a casual flat with breathable microfibers and mesh uppers that will keep your feet cool and comfortable. They have included Negative Heel ™ technology which helps keep your body properly aligned, and it contains an anatomic shock-absorbing foot bed. In black.

Corporate-Conscious
You may have to walk many city blocks or fight public transportation for your commute, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear clunky clogs or corny Crocs to keep your feet happy. There are many shoes out there that are sleek, professional, suit-worthy and still kind to your tootsies.

ECCO is a company that makes well-made, supportive shoes in classic styles. The silhouettes are feminine and elegant while still considering foot health. Podiatrists often say a bit of a heel is actually healthier for the foot arch than a completely flat shoe. The Durango pump by ECCO has a wedge heel which distributes weight, eliminating hot spots on the bottom of the foot. Rounded toe gives plenty of room, and the subtle details make it elegant and a great choice with skirts or trousers. Available in black or whiskey.

Aerosoles is a great company that offers comfortable styles, many widths and sizes, yet has professional and stylish choices. The Ballistic slip-on is a classic office style with a low wedge heel, elegant hardware detail, and a nice range of colors that will add pizzazz to any conservative office attire. In black, tan, gray or dark red.

The Princess suede pump from Perlina is stylish, feminine, in fun colors and so nice to your feet. Shock absorbing outsole, leather sock lining wicks away moisture and allows the shoe to mold to the natural contours of the foot, and cushioned, leather-lined foot bed features latex foam padding for extended wear. In black, blue, brown, graphite, burgundy and pistachio suede.

Style-Conscious
Looking for a way to merge current trends and happy feet? There are many brands out there that slightly modify the trends so that they can be a podiatrist’s fave.

Dansko is known for having comfortable, well-made shoes that last for years. They also have really brought on some hip styles over the past few seasons. The Delilah Boot takes the current riding boot trend and makes it comfortable and supportive. Podiatrist-friendly heel height, flexible sole and removable leather foot bed adds to comfort. Available in black or chocolate.

Get on the Mad Men trend with these lady-like pumps with vintage styling from Sofft. The Kensington pump has a healthy heel height, rounded toe for tootsie freedom, and a cushioned foot bed. Available in black, brown, caramel and a gorgeous blue.

Booties and heeled oxfords continue to be the rage this season; Aerosoles has created their version of this trend with an extra cushioned foot bed and flexible rubber sole. Available in green, black, dark red and light brown.

Multi-tasking-Conscious
You need a shoe that can work with jeans, with pants, for the office or the market. Every day is different, and you just don’t have the time or the budget to have a footwear collection that is equally as varied. No problem, there are some wonderful styles out there that will work with all sorts of attire, lifestyles and seasons.

ECCO has created a perennial favorite with their Bouillon Mary Jane. Feminine styling, yet having a rugged and flexible sole that can take miles of walking. The classic look works with jeans, capris, shorts, skirts and more. Always available in black leather, each season they offer more creative of choices such as silver, black patent or red.

I cannot stress the benefits of having a simple city boot in your wardrobe. They are easy to pull on with any pants or jeans, you don’t have to worry about what hosiery to wear, they keep your foot protected from the elements, are easy to polish up or re-heel to look fresh each year, and a simple cut will be stylish for years to come. The Blind Sight boot from Aerosoles fits the bill with sleek styling, a square toe to give toes room to move, foot-friendly heel height and width, and extra cushioned foot bed. In brown or black.

Width-Conscious
As a woman with wide feet, I can relate to this problem. As styles get more pointy, high, and snubbed, feet often get squashed. Here’s some great styles and companies that pamper the wider foot.

DUO, a company I adore for custom-width boots also has an extensive line of shoes in wider widths. I adore the Nicole – a wide-fitting low profile pump that comes in black suede or a flirty animal print. Cushioned insole and low heel makes this style chic yet utterly wearable all day. Check out their other styles, there are many to choose from that have wider widths than most brands. Unsure about your size? Contact their customer service to ensure you are getting exactly what you and your tootsies need.

Naturalizer comes in Narrow, Regular, Wide and Double Wide widths for their shoes. Looking at a size 8, I found 12 styles available in WW, one being the Creston Flat. This is a shoe I personally own and adore because it is wide, comfortable, flexible and low-profile. I wear these when assisting my husband on long photo shoots and when day tripping through city streets and museums. Available in red, camelot (camel) and tootsie roll (dark brown).

Ruby & Bloom is a company that offers current styles in Narrow, Regular and Wide widths. The Corrina pump has perforated contrast trim that gives a stylish spectator style, a stacked heel helps with weight distribution, and its height is all-day wearable. In black/dark brown, black/merlot, and black/gray.

Fitzwell is a company known for their extensive sizes (goes up to 12) and roomy wide width. Dozens of their styles are available on Zappos, but I really like the Rayna II wedge. A comfortable height of 2.5″, a wedge heel that helps distribute weight better, and a feminine silhouette. Available in black or brown leather, black, wine, or grey suede.

You may also wish to visit:
The Commuter Curse
Comfort and Style CAN Live Together in Harmony