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Stunning Shoes on Sale: Splurge Edition

It’s that time of year again…summer sale season! Clearance stickers are popping up everywhere in stores, and online prices are dropping like crazy. There are a so many stunning styles out there, and it can be hard to sift through them all. I’ve put together a list of my favorite shoes on sale. And even though I can’t get all the shoes I want, a girl can dream! Here’s a list of my picks of shoes to splurge on:

Tibi Amber (Piperlime)
 
Pura Lopez Studded Sandal (Piperlime)
 
Balmain Rhinestone Sandals (Yoox)

Emilio Pucci Ankle Strap Pump (DSW)

Want to see more fantastic styles? 

Herve Leger Wilet Bootie (DSW)
 
Sigerson Morrison Gillian (Piperlime)
 
Kurt Geiger Black Pumps (Shoescribe
 
Emilio Pucci Strappy Pumps (Yoox)
 
KG Kurt Geiger Studded Slingbacks (Shoescribe)
 
Casadei Studded Pumps (Yoox)
 
Elizabeth and James Ankle Boots (Shoescribe)
 
Alexander Wang Ankle Strap Sandals (Shoescribe)
 
Giuseppe Zanotti Leopard Sandal (DSW)
 
Giuseppe Zanotti Metal Heel Sandal (Shoescribe)
 
Gianvito Rossi Sandals (Yoox)

Sergio Rossi Cap Toe Pump (Shoe Box)
Theory Toscana White and Grey Sandal
 Plomo Katerina (ShopBop)
Aquazzura Cheeta Bombe (ShopBop)
These are just my picks, you can find many more shoes online and in stores! And don’t forget to check my favorite sites for their fabulous end-of-summer blowout sales: Ideeli, RueLaLa, HauteLook, Gilt, and MyHabit
Valentino-Rockstud-Flat

Double-Take: Valentino Rockstud Flats

I think the Rockstud flats are probably the most successful of the studded Valentino styles. They are easily more versatile than the other designs, and definitely amp up the cool factor of an otherwise normal pair of flats. They come in so many great colors as well (pink, yellow, red, and nude)! There are a couple nice double-takes out there of this style.

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Valentino-Rockstud-Peeptoe-Pump

Double-Take: Valentino Rockstud Pumps

Valentino branched out a bit from the t-strap design and also create Rockstud styles that follow more classic shapes, such as peep-toe pumps and flats. I love the neutral palette on the this pump, and it’s also available in red. The shape is very classic, and the studs add just the right amount of edge to an otherwise simple pump. You can find them on FarFetch.

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Steve-Madden-Amity-Sandal

Leather vs. Pleather: Which one is better?

There’s nothing more I love in the summer than running around in a barely-there sandal. But there’s nothing worse than when those barely-there sandal burn blisters onto your feet. And the chances of that happening are much greater if those sandals (or any shoes for that matter) are not made of real leather.

Historically, shoes were made of leather or other natural fibers, such as woven fabrics or plant materials. These materials differed based on the shoe’s function and the wealth of the wearer. Early 19th-century aristocratic women wore thin slippers made of brocade that were too fragile to use outdoors, while maids and manual workers wore sturdy leather boots or wooden clogs. Egyptians molded braided papyrus into soles and attached rawhide straps to keep them on the foot; Africans sewed slip-on sandals from colorful leathers; Spanish made shoes from rope; and Slavic nations fashioned shoes from felt.

Events in modern history, such as shortage of materials during wars and new technological discoveries, changed the shoe landscape by introducing cork and other alternative materials. As the demand for shoes grew in our modern society, it became necessary to provide affordable shoes that were accessible to everyone. And man-made leather became the most popular material for manufacturing cheaper shoes.

Faux leather, or man-made leather, is a material that looks like leather, but is made by combining different chemicals. The two most commonly used are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). The first is made by adding plasticizers to PVC, which make it more flexible. The second is made by coating a fabric (usually cotton or polyester) with a flexible polymer and then treating it to give it a more leather-like appearance. When they were first used in fashion, the terms “pleather” and “faux-leather” implied that the wearer was too poor to buy genuine leather items, but man-made leather has become increasingly more common these days because it’s cheaper than leather, looks very similar, and is extremely versatile.

In my opinion, neither is good. The materials are given names like pleather or faux leather to make them seem more like the real thing, but the bottom line is that PVC and PU are plastic materials filled with chemicals, including petroleum and pthalates. Ever wonder why your feet burn, sweat, and feel uncomfortably hot in some shoes and not others? It’s all related to what the shoes are made out of.

The main reason many shoppers choose man-made leather over real leather is the price. Synthetic shoes are often cheaper than a comparable pair of leather shoes. But since man-made materials have become more popular and acceptable (especially since fake-leather has started being referred to as “vegan leather” – seriously?), designers and retailers have been getting away with charging the same or more for fake leather products as they do for real leather products. So when it comes down to price, would you rather buy a pair of real leather sandals for $60 or fake leather for $60? I think I’ll go for the real leather, thank you very much. The simple fact that I feel more comfortable when I know my feet aren’t surrounded by plastic is the main reason I purchase leather shoes. But there are other benefits as well: 

Comfort – Real leather shoes allow the feet to “breathe” more than faux leather shoes. Leather also flexes, stretches and molds to the foot, allowing it to move more naturally. Faux leather will cause your feet to sweat and feel uncomfortable as it does not allow air to flow as easily through the material. It can also cause blisters or rashes to form on the feet from friction and heat because the plastic materials will not soften with time. 

Durability – Leather shoes usually last longer than man-made shoes. A well-made pair of shoes can last many years, especially if taken care of properly. Leather shoes don’t crack or tear as easily and keep their color much longer, so they’re a much better investment. Since classics never go out of style, it’s a good idea to purchase certain styles in leather, such as black pumps, black boots, and a simple pair of flats. 

Appearance – Personally, I think real leather looks nicer than faux leather. It holds up to the elements much better (if taken care of properly) and has a more refined look as it ages. It also doesn’t have the plastic-chemical smell that often accompanies faux leather.

When shopping for leather shoes, always look at the label. Check to make sure that both the upper AND the lining are leather. If the lining is made of PVC or PU, it defeats the purpose of purchasing a leather shoe because it cancels out the breathability and flexibility of the leather outer. However, a fabric lining is often better in boots. I find that a padded fabric lining keeps feet warmer in boots than just a layer of leather.

Of course, everyone looks for different things when shopping for shoes. Some people prefer faux leather over real leather because of their beliefs. Others would rather spend less on shoes, especially if they don’t plan to keep the shoes for very long. It’s important to evaluate each purchase based on the intended use and how long you plan on keeping the shoes.
Calvin-Klein-Vera

Black & White: 10 pairs of spring shoes under $100.

Calvin Klein Collection Vera (Amazon)

Neons, pastels, and florals are fun for spring, but you can never go wrong with a black and white palette. After several seasons of bold colors and busy patterns, simplifying your outfit to a monochrome palette is like a breath of fresh air. There’s something very reassuring about structured and clean black-and-white designs; they’re modern, simple, and bold all at the same time. This season, the black-and-white trend has been applied to both clothing and accessories in traditional ways as well as graphic interpretations using prints, patterns, and color blocking. 

The above pair by Calvin Klein is a bit of a tease because they’re not under $100, but I just had to put them up because I think they’re stunning. Below, you’ll find my 10 picks (all under $100) that are a great buy for this season:

(click to enlarge)
1. Julianne Hough for Sole Society – Danette $64.95 (SoleSociety)
2. ShoeMint – Ciella $79.98 (ShoeMint)
3. Kelsi Dagger – Camryn $90.99 (6pm)
4. New Look Striped Court Shoes $33.92 (Asos)
5. Michael Antonio – July $39.99 (6pm, Piperlime)
6. Zara Flat Sandal $89.90 (Zara)
7. Aldo – Eila on sale for $79.98 (Aldo)
8. Shoecult by Nasty Gal – Faye $68.00 (NastyGal)
9. Zara Black and White Heels $79.90 (Zara)
10. Nine West – Goulding $62.99 (Zappos, 6pm, Amazon)




Louboutin-Pigalle

Before Louboutins, there were Jourdans.

The story goes that Christian Louboutin incorporated the iconic red sole in 1992 when an assistant with him was painting her nails; he grabbed the nail polish from her and painted the soles of his shoes. But I believe the story goes further back than that.

Louboutin b began sketching shoes in his early teens, and after a year in India, he assembled a portfolio of elaborate designs and brought them to top couture houses, which resulted in employment with Charles Jourdan in 1981.

Charles Jourdan (who died a few years before Louboutin was hired) was a well-known French shoe designer whose lines of women’s shoes prospered after WWI. The shoe brand became connected to haute couture in 1959 with the contract between Jourdan and the house of Christian Dior, and the shoes were distributed world-wide. After Jourdan died, the company continued under the leadership of his sons, and the brand became known for innovative materials and fantastic designs in addition to conservative styles. The company’s reputation was further advanced by avant-garde images in advertising. And in the 70s and early 80s, shoes in his collection had a bright red lining…and a bright red sole.

Did Louboutin use the red sole in his designs for Charles Jourdan before he started his own company? Did he take the red sole with him when he left? Nobody knows because he has never revealed that fact. But I believe his time working there left an impact. You can still find vintage Charles Jourdan shoes from the 70s and 80s with a red sole, which makes them look surprisingly like Louboutins to the unknowing stranger. These were made long before the red sole became synonymous with Louboutins. Unfortunately, Jourdans were not as well known for red bottoms because they did not manufacture all their shoes with the color, whereas all of Louboutins designs have a red sole.

Recently, I have spotted several pairs of Charles Jourdan shoes with a red sole that look strikingly similar to Louboutin’s iconic sole. The only different is a thin gold line and stamped name at the edge of the sole. In my opinion, Jourdan shoes are just as beautiful as Louboutins (and certainly not as wild as some Louboutins can get). Most pairs are made entirely of leather and are much more affordable than a pair of Louboutins. But not all the shoes have a red sole, you’ll have to flip them over to check!

You could get fakes (not a good idea), or you could get a pair by the company that started it all! So what would you go for: Louboutins outrageous and expensive designs or Jourdans more classic and affordable designs? Keep in mind that one of the shoe companies has been around much much longer!

charles-jourdan-vintage-oxford-pumps-copy

You can still find vintage Charles Jourdan shoes on sites like eBay or etsy.

Here are some newer Charles Jourdan shoes with red soles:

Charles-Jourdan-Isha

Charles Jourdan Isha (DSW – on sale!)

Charles-Jourdan-Illana

Charles Jourdan Illana (DSW)

Charles-Jourdan-Ira

Charles Jourdan Ira (DSW – on sale!)

Gucci-Ursula

Ankle strap mania.

How to pull off one of the biggest trends of spring 2013.

Gucci Ursula Purple Ankle Strap Sandal
Gucci Ursula (lower heel version)

Ankle straps are everywhere this spring! A barely-there strappy sandal is something that will never go out fashion. It may disappear from time to time as other trends take over, but it will always have a comeback, just like the pointy-toe pump. Why? In a nutshell, the look is ladylike, minimalistic, and very versatile. It’s also interpreted in many ways by designers and companies, which allows for a huge array of options. But how do you choose which style is right for you?

Because there are so many options, it can be a bit tricky to find the right pair. Not all ankle strap shoes are made the same, and not every ankle looks the same. Just like clothing can flatter or change the way your body looks, shoes can alter, highlight, or hide the way your feet and legs look. Understanding what works for your leg shape will help you find the right pair.

If you have short legs:
Anything that wraps around the ankle visually breaks the length of the leg. Avoid thick straps and dark colors, they make the leg look shorter. Choose a shoe with a thin strap that rests low on the ankle in a color that is light or close to your skin tone, which will elongate the leg. If you have small feet, a pointed toe will add the illusion of length.

Sam Edelman Abbott Gold Strappy Sandal
Sam Edelman Abbott (Nordstrom, ShopBop)

If you have long legs:
Feel free to experiment! You have more leg to show and you don’t run the risk of making your legs look short. Try wearing shoes with thicker ankle straps, embellishments, and wrap-around styles. Remember to balance out thicker straps and details with more leg exposure by wearing shorter skirts and shorts.

Michael Kors Josephine Flat Sandal
Michael Kors Josephine (Macys)

If you have large calves or legs:
Choose a strappy shoe that has a thicker straight heel to balance out a heavier leg. Avoid very delicate shoes and thin heels because they make the leg look off-balance, but don’t immediately reach for wedges because they can add extra volume. If you want the ankle strap look, choose a looser medium-width strap that sits at the narrowest part of your leg. Thicker ankle straps will look too bulky. More skin means your leg will look leaner!

Plenty by Tracy Reese Destiny
Plenty by Tracy Reese Destiny (DSW, Amazon)

If you have thick ankles:
Too much coverage will make the ankle look heavier, so opt for thinner straps that are loose and rest at the smallest part of your leg. Make sure the strap is not too tight because this will emphasize thickness. A pointy toe will also elongate the leg and create the illusion of a skinnier ankle. 

Calvin Klein Val Patent Black Sandal
Calvin Klein Val (Zappos)

If you have thin ankles:
Avoid chunky and loose ankle straps because they can give the appearance that your shoes are too big. Look for shoes with delicate ankle straps in a light color, or try a shoe with a t-strap design.

Fergie Roxane Ankle Strap Sandal
Fergie Roxane (Zappos, Macys)

If you have small feet:
Pointed toes and an ankle strap that sits higher above the ankle will give the illusion that your foot is longer. Fewer straps across the shoe look better. Minimal strappy sandals in lighter colors that show more skin help your legs look more balanced. A pair of wedges also adds volume to small feet and can add to the overall proportion of your legs.

KORS by Michael Kors Adrielle
KORS by Michael Kors Adrielle (Piperlime)

If you have big feet:
Rounded toes and horizontal straps create the illusion of a shorter foot. A shoe that covers more of the foot will also help shorten the appearance of a big foot. Try a t-strap design, and avoid pointy-toed shoes.

Pour la Victoire Sierra Black Strappy Sandal
Pour la Victoire Sierra (Amazon, Victoria’s Secret, Zappos)

Of course, not everyone’s legs fits into the same mold. Try on many styles before you make a decision, because you might be surprised with a pair that flatters your foot!

Schutz-Albertinye

Schutz love affair.

Schutz Albertinye Strappy Sandal
 Schutz Albertinye (Zappos)

I’m not completely loyal to any particular brand or designer, but I do have a few that consistently rate pretty high on my list of favorites. Usually I like a style or two from a designer or brand, and then move on. But occasionally, I keep coming back to see what’s new because I end up liking it so much. This is how my love affair with Schutz started.

I discovered Schutz last summer at Last Call by Neiman Marcus. At the time, there was a really great selection of summer wedges and pumps made of leather. I bought a pair in white. I discovered that they’re extremely comfortable, durable, and high quality shoes, which is how I ended up with three pairs of Schutz shoes within the next few months.

It’s a bit tricky to figure out your Schutz size in the beginning. They’re made in Brazil, and the size conversions are a bit off, especially because they don’t normally have half sizes. But I found that using the EU size printed on the shoe is the best way to find your fit. I’m a EU 37, which in Schutz is converted to a US 6. When I tried on a few size 6 shoes, I found it to be very consistent.

The retail price of Schutz shoes is not cheap, so I always wait for them to go on sale. Schutz currently has only one store location in the US (655 Madison Avenue, New York), but it’s becoming relatively easier to find their shoes online and at off-price retailers (they will occasionally pop up at Marshalls or TJ Maxx). As of right now, Zappos seems to have the most extensive selection. You can also find Schutz on Gilt, Last Call, ShopBop, Amazon, and Piperlime. They have a lot of beautiful designs for this season! Check out my picks below:

Schutz Angelica Metallic Sandal
Schutz Angelica (Piperlime, Amazon)

With the ankle-strap trend going on this season, it makes sense to have a flat version!

Schutz Sarafina Studded Mint Sandal
Schutz Sarafina (Piperlime)

Last season they had a similar black and tan version (Zara also had their version) but I really like the mint color of these.

Schutz Inaya Colorblock Sandal
Schutz Inaya (Zappos, Piperlime)

A great pair of black and white ankle-strap pumps, accented with gold. I think this shoe is stunning, and I only hope it will still be around in my size when/if the price goes down!

My shoes have secrets.

Make your shoes fit: the little details that keep your feet happy!

It’s always tricky to find “the perfect shoe.” Sometimes one tiny detail is the deal breaker. For me, that detail is overall comfort. Not every shoe is made perfectly, not even expensive designer shoes. It’s always good to have some tricks up your sleeve!

If your foot slides forward:
Foot Petals (or ball-of-foot cushions) are wonderful for keeping your foot in it’s place. They prevent your foot from sliding forward into the toe box, and add a little cushion (especially in single-sole shoes). They’re also great for taking up a little extra space if the front of your shoe has stretched out. Avoid getting gel cushions, because the quality deteriorates with time and they don’t let your foot breathe.

If your shoe slips off your heel:

Some shoes slip off your heel despite spending time spent finding the perfect fit. Back of Heel liners are perfect to add a little extra grip. They also prevent friction blisters and take up space if your shoes are just a tad bit too big.

If your soles are slippery:
Stability is important, and if you find that your shoes are slipping around on the floor, you might want to look into non-slip sole grips.

If your heel hurts:
High heels don’t absorb any shock, so heel cushions help relieve the pressure on your heels, particularly if you’re standing or walking a lot during the day. 

You can combine any of the products above to create an ideal fit. Keep in mind that anything you put inside your shoe for comfort will take up space. If your shoe already fits tightly, adding anything might make them even more uncomfortable. In this case, you’ll have to get them stretched. Always take your shoes to a cobbler for any adjustments that actually change the shape or structure of your shoe.

Size matters.

Finding the perfect fit for your shoes.

Comfort and fit is a huge factor when I buy shoes. You don’t want to have a whole bunch of painful-to-wear shoes just sitting in your closet looking pretty because you can’t stand to wear them. 

A big pet peeve of mine is when I see a girl wearing heels with a big gap between her foot and the back of the shoe. Clearly the shoes are too big. Buying heels that are the same size as flat shoes or sneakers is a common mistake many women make. Ladies, you are not the same size in every type of shoe! This is due to a variety of reasons: the shoe style, function, structure, and brand. My numerous shoes range between three different sizes, 6 (36.5), 6.5 (37), and 7 (37.5). The key to finding a perfect fit is to understand how your feet feel in different kinds of shoes. Spend a couple hours (or a whole day!) just trying on shoes to get a little more familiar with your feet and their relationship with shoes.


Important factors for the right fit:
  • Know your general size, but don’t be afraid to try on smaller and larger shoes. It might just work out!
  • If you plan on wearing heels without socks, a general rule is to size down about half a size from your normal flat-shoe size. This half-size makes a huge difference. You want your heels to hug your foot comfortably, as if they’re in love. 
  • Strappy heels are tricky; you don’t want them to be too tight because they’ll cut off your circulation, but they also can’t be too loose because your feet will be sliding all over the place. Sometimes you might need to size up a 1/2 size, and sometimes you might need to size down a half or whole size.
  • When wearing pumps, you don’t want to look like a little girl walking around in mommy’s shoes (a.k.a. the dreaded heel gap). Pumps need to be small enough that they don’t slip off your heel, but large enough that your toes aren’t jammed into the front of the shoe.
  • If you’re worried about stability, look for shoes with ankle straps or other adjustable features.
  • If you’re familiar with a brand’s fit and already have a lot of their shoes in the same size, chances are you will be that size in almost all their shoes. However, some brands/designers are notorious for having fluctuating sizes.
  • Keep in mind that if a shoe doesn’t fit or feel right, don’t try to force it. Not every shoe is made to work with every foot.
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