Category Archives: Shoes

Must Have Monday: Smoking Slippers.

Oh Stubbs and Wootton, why must you taunt me so?  Since the onslaught of the “smoking slipper” in recent seasons all I can think about every time I see a new incarnation of the style are the completely lovely offerings from who I would arguably dub as the originator that started it all.  They tread that line between feminine and menswear, with a seriously chic old money kind of vibe that dares you to pair casual and sophisticated in the same sentence.

{ Stubbs & Wooton Slippers: Pearl Skimmer, Fouquet Plum, Cane Red, $400 }

While I’m swooning over the fall offerings of Pearl Skimmers and Fouquet Plum, or the needlepoint classics in Cane Red, let’s be realistic for a second. I’m all for a little indulgence and extravagance…but $400 on a pair of seriously weather and outfit dependent velvet loafers…even I have my limits.

The needlepoint offerings from byPaige might end up being my solution. They still cater to that kitschy pattern concept like the S&Ws, but at a more manageable price tag of $195 (…manageable by relative comparison). I’m a particular fan of the Nautical Knots.

{ Nautical Knot Needlepoint, By Paige, $195 }

As per usual, I’ve found something that fits the bill from Cole Haan as well. Fall’s Sabrina loafers are perfectly on trend both in terms of style and shade. The jewel toned hues with contrast piping look simply divine and might give those metallic loafers a run for their money as the newest Cole Haan addition to my collection.  Granted they do challenge with my love/hate relationship with suede – a highly suitable material for these shoes, yet not particularly practical.

{ Sabrina Loafers, Ultraviolet / Dark Teal / Cobalt, Cole Haan, $198 }

On another note, the ones that are due to be the most likely candidate for my wardrobe come from Joie, in the form of their Day Dreaming Flats. Reasonably priced at $175, neutral in colour (yes, I consider red a neutral), and from a brand that I know to be of excellent quality and wear-ability? Sold…as soon as I manage to track down a pair to try on in person. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to conjure up fabulous outfits for them in my head.  Or alternatively, over on Shopping’s My Cardio, where I really had no choice but to feature them as this week’s detail on Thursday.

{ Day Dreaming Flats, Joie, $175 }

Thoughts?  Are you going to be sliding your way into some slippers anytime soon, and if so…care to share some of your favourites with the class?

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Neons & Neutrals…on the Oxfords of Cole Haan.

Neons and neutrals is nothing new.  Neons and neutrals on footwear…also not the most revolutionary concept.  But neons, neutrals, and an oxford…now that’s a trend I can support.

{Alisa Oxford, ColeHaan}

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Cole Haan footwear.  They are consistently my go-to brand for function, style, and comfort all wrapped into one nice neat little package.  But here’s the thing: most of my shoes from Cole Haan are pretty neutral, and definitely fall into the “standard issue” category.  With the small exception of a gorgeous pair of orange driving loafers that I picked up in Del Mar, CA a couple years ago, my association with the brand exists mainly in the colour range of brown to grey to black and some deep maroon in between.  This is not to say that they don’t make shoes in more daring colours, I’ve just never been particularly attracted to them before.

{Skylar Oxford, Cole Haan}

Well guys & dolls, consider the horses held and the opinions changed.  The next pair of shoes that makes its way into my already overzealous shoe collection may in fact be a pair of the neon and neutral mixed oxfords.  Two versions of this cool combination exist.  The first is the Alisa Oxford.  Boasting my favourite hue mix-match (light cove / chickadee) and pictured at the top of this post…they’re what really drew me in.  The reason why they won’t be waltzing into my wardrobe anytime soon though?  The puddle-centric weather that we’ve been having in my bit of the real world lately, and the fact that the “light cove” portion of this shoe is suede.  The second option is the Skylar Oxford.  A close runner-up for my favourite combination (primarily because I’m going through an uncharacteristic “pink” phase right now) in sequoia / rock candy, these seem to have a touch more practicality in terms of material.  They’re also ever so slightly more subtle in their statement (or as subtle as a fuchsia toe and heel cap can be) and my mind is already planning outfits right from the present moment to well into spring and summer with them.

Whether I indulge in either is currently absolutely debatable (considering the practical, smart, and sensible bit of me should really be buying said Sorels for winter), but let’s just say that they’ve been put on the list of considerations.  The Alisas retail for $178, and the Skylars $248 according to ColeHaan.com and can be purchased online (US only) or at your local Cole Haan boutique.

Pst…guys…because I know there are a few of you who read this blog as well…the guy’s equivalents of these are the Air Colton Casual Wing Tip Oxford (check out the chestnut/ashley blue), most similar in concept to the Skylars…or the Air Franklin Wing Tip Oxford (which I’m advocating in hibiscus suede), if the Alisa were more your cup of tea.

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Footwear Friday: Baggins Shoes.

{Converse I Love, Product Red, Baggins Shoes}

Now my love affair with boots has been documented on this site already (click here), and while I do have a distinct appreciation for them, when it comes to winter and the practicality of wearing flats becomes null and void I turn specifically to…sneakers.  I LOVE sneakers…trainers…runners…whatever you care to call them…they and I have had a long term relationship that almost culminated in my wearing them to prom.  (Disclaimer: almost, a dear friend of mine at the time probably would have murdered me if I would have shown up in them)  Alas, I never got to wear the sequinned Converse to prom with my cranberry cocktail dress…but I now do take the opportunity to wear them whenever I possibly can.

{Chocolate Leather Converse, 111170, from bagginsshoes.com}

Normally the occasion to wear sneakers is fairly universal, but I always seem to revert back to my collection when the weather turns colder and the streets a tad messy.  As opposed to wrecking my flats, I turn to my leather hi-tops that could go through the wars (and sometimes the wash) and still turn out looking essentially the same.  I would like to point out that when worn with jeans, a rather thick pair of wool socks can also be worn within the hi-tops to allow for extra warmth.  (Or you can go with a flannel or lined pair if you’re in the market for some funky Chucks)

{www.bagginsshoes.com}

Now sneakers in general is a fairly broad category, and while my love is far-reaching the specific focus of my affections will forever be the Converse All-Stars…otherwise known as the Chuck Taylors.  I’m preferential to the high-tops in odd colours and patterns, but that doesn’t mean that my plain black leather low-tops don’t have a special place in my heart.  The first true time a pair of Chucks stole my heart was in the Spring of 2005, when I first walked into a place that should otherwise be known as heaven for Converse fiends:  Baggins Shoes in Victoria BC.  Walls lined with those black and brown cardboard boxes…all shapes, sizes, and styles of Converse, Vans, and the occasional Puma…as a girl who loved sneakers, this was my dream store.  My first (and most prized) purchase was a pair of magenta and teal velour Chucks with teal satin lining and magenta stitched laces.  Now for those of you who seem to be under the impression that these are tacky, I promise you they are not…they are in fact boldly fabulous.

{Corduroy Navy/Brown, Baggins Shoes}

After nearly 6 years, Baggins still remains the only place I will buy my Converse from.  They literally stock nearly any style of Converse you can dream up from nearly every single one of their lines.  Now you might be wondering how on earth I manage to still increase my constant desire for Chucks when my source is in Victoria?  Well my friends…welcome to the magic of the interwebs.  With a very basic and incredibly easy to use and navigate website, Baggins makes its home at www.bagginsshoes.com.  Here you can browse what I’ve been led to believe is the vast majority of their inventory in a simple online setting.  Choose your style (Converse, Vans, hi-tops, low-tops, etc.) and start scrolling.  The pictures are all clear, and very true to colour.  Inventory levels are up-to-date…so all you need to know is your size.  Speaking of sizing, a word of caution (that is re-iterated frequently on the site) all of the sizing for the Chucks is in Men’s sizing.  That means ladies…take your numerical North American sizing and subtract two (ie. I wear an 8-8.5 and I take a Men’s 6).

Prices are really no different from what you would be paying in-store for any of these, just add a nominal charge for shipping and handling.  I ordered my last pair (the rather boring black monochrome leather ones that I’ve managed to squeeze through our work dress-code) on a Sunday and they arrived on my doorstep on Thursday morning with the mail delivery.  Canadian shipping was $10 (which is an absolute steal considering it cost me $25 to courier a letter to BC the other day) bringing the total cost of my shoes to about $95 + PST.

{Collage Ox, Black/Neon, Baggins Shoes}

The customer service is also incredibly excellent.  A few years ago I was attempting to track down a limited edition pair of hi-tops from the Spring collection (that were apparently sold-out everywhere) and somehow the magical shoe fairies at Baggins managed to go digging through their collection to find the pair I was looking for.  They’ve also been incredibly helpful in giving descriptions of the shoes over the phone, and always offering their honest opinions when comparing the styles (when solicited of course).  I really have never been more impressed with the combination of an in-store experience, online retail setting, and customer service anywhere else.  They’re also everywhere…FacebookTwitterYouTube…which means that they’re readily accessible and willing to engage.

Now I’ve littered a few of my current kooky favourites that are available online right now…and will leave you with one from the upcoming DC Comics collection (available February 15th…for those of you who are interested).  But in all sincere honesty, make sure to check out Baggins Shoes either the next time you’re in Victoria…or the next time you need to kicks fix online.

 

{Good vs. Evil Justice League, Baggins Shoes}

{Good vs. Evil Justice League, Baggins Shoes}

{Classic Batman Print, Baggins Shoes}

{Classic Batman Print, Baggins Shoes}

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Footwear Friday: Flat boots that fit!

Thank-you again to TheDailyObsession and their small Monday piece on Flat Boots for reminding me how much I want a pair of Coach boots…or just a pair of cute boots in general.  See I find myself in quite the predicament when it comes to attempting to find a pair of the aforementioned cute flat boots, as more than a few years of dance quickly built up some rather muscular calves.

Ah yes…the usual search, undertaken by many a fashionable individual for tall boots for the Autumn and Winter seasons…and the well documented undertaking of those with wide calves.  Sure, there are the boots with the “elasticized panel” that’s supposed to help them widen out, there’s the currently chic ankle boot {which I forewarn those with large calves, these may look a little odd}, and then there’s the “I swear I can get this over my calves!” moment that we all have on the fitting room floor where we attempt to do up the zip or pull up the leather only in advance of the inevitable sigh that comes when we realize that there is no way they’re going to fit.  This does not mean that we are too large everywhere else…it just means that we don’t have “standard issue sized” lower portions of our legs.

But what is that I see in the distance…a glimmer of hope for those with wide calves?  Why by George it is!  Hello brands who make boots with a little extra room up top, or ones that custom fit, or even an entire section on Zappos.com exclusively for wide-calf boots.  And, of course we can’t forget Dear Oprah.  In her current issue, as well as in her online world, has a bit of a Q&A for solutions to said dilemma – courtesy of Creative Director Adam Glassman – although there’s more in the old-school paperback edition than the online tidbit.  The O Magazine article aside, here are a few of my recommendations for where to look.

{Image from DUOBoots.com}

DUO Boots ~ A brand that I discovered in the UK about 5 or 6 years ago, DUO boots is committed to making shoes and boots for every size…the custom fit without actually having to shell out the insane price tags that normally come with a custom boot.  Plug in your shoe size {make sure you’re in the right measurement system!}, as well as your calf measurement and it will narrow down all the boots on the site to the ones that fit your specifications.  Prices range from $200-$400 + shipping and handling…but considering the headache you’re going to save {and the fact that this is what you probably would have paid for good boots anyways}, these seem to be my primary suggestion.  My choice this season is going to be a classic black riding boot…or perhaps something in the varietal of high-heeled taupe suede…granted that chocolate brown over the knee version also makes me a little weak at the knees.

{Image from JCrew.com}

J.Crew ~ Disclaimer – I spend too much time on this site already.  I did not need them to make wide-calfed boots to add to my adoration.  Simply click “extended calf” on a variety of their styles on your selection and you’re off to the races.  The styles offered by J.Crew are primarily leaning towards the casual boot, and offered in some fantastic colours {fossil grey anyone?}.  There is one dressier boot offered by the site that has a great pointed toe and a subtle kitten heel though…and I’m thinking it’s going on my work wishlist.  Extended calf sizes are an additional $20 to the listed price {as noted when you’re choosing sizes, etc.}, but let’s be realistic…we do need the extra leather.

Zappos ~ As I mentioned, Zappos has an option where you can click “Wide Calf Boots” and it will filter down to all of the boots that are listed as “Wide Calf” on their website.  They offer a wide variety of brands, and are even just a great place to find brands that make these extended calf sizes.  For customers in Canada though, be forewarned that you have to order off the Canadian site…which offers a smaller variety, but is still available.

{Image from EddieBauer.com}

Eddie Bauer ~ Alright, so perhaps not your primary destination when shopping or looking for shoes, but with their classic woodsy vibe they certainly have their fair share of boots in regular stock.  I have a pair of the extended calf boots, and I was pleasantly surprised with the fit.  Although there are a limited number of styles that I would dive into ordering,

If you’re a little wary of ordering online my strong suggestion is to frequent some of the high-end department stores or shoe shops and inquire as to whether or not they have a boot stretcher.  Places such as Holt Renfrew, Ogilvy, Saks, and Arnold Churgin have be known to have boot stretchers in their back rooms which means that they have incremental capacity to make the boots fit around your calves.  It’s all dependent on the boot, the kind of leather, and other such considerations, but more often than not there’s a little room to groove.  I won’t guarantee that they’ll all have boot stretchers, but it’s worth quick phone call or pop by in order to investigate!

As for me?  Considering that a large portion of my boot collection currently needs to be tossed out after more than a few seasons of serious salt damage, my choice destination will have to be J.Crew first…surprise surprise.  But that shopping trip is going to have to wait until the next time a free shipping coupon comes through my inbox.

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High-heeled? How about not.

{DVF Jameson Bootie, Image from Nordstrom.com}

Some shoes were just never meant to be high-heeled, or wedged, or elevated at all for that matter.  The heeled work boot / hiking boot trend that started with the stiletto Timberland a number of years ago, has decided to rear its ugly head again this fall season.

This is awful.  My faith in fashion was just diminished, ever microscopically so.

{Steve Madden Clovurr Ankle Boots, Image from Nordstrom.com

Now I will give it the benefit of the doubt that this is in fact a trend considering it’s not only a single brand jumping on the bandwagon, but a few.  I just don’t grasp where on earth people are getting the idea that these are a good idea.  Perhaps  it’s one of those “only incredibly stylish people can pull these off” or maybe it’s a flirty dress with a leather or denim jacket kind of thing.  Yet the world could do with a few less people rocking this style improperly {as with most trends granted}.

What positively slays me even further though and colossally more, and something that I found alarming enough to cause inspiration to kick in my own two cents on the issue was these high-heeled boat shoes from Joe Jeans featured on September 8th on Talk Shoes.

{Joe Jeans Upbeat Boat Wedges, Image from TalkShoes.com}

NO…NO, NO, NO, NO…NO!

The mildly wedged “girly” ones that were on Sperry were verging on being wrong enough {see here and here}…but this?  This is obscene!  We’re talking about dock shoes, boat shoes, topsiders…whatever you’d like to call them for that matter…shoes that are designed for kicking around in over the summer and more often than not sported by prepsters coast to coast.  These are supposed to acquire their distressed look from obsessive wear and tear and water stains.  These are supposed to end up slightly sloppy and yet utterly broken in and gorgeous in all their worn glory at the end of a summer season.  Things they are not supposed to be?  Pre-distressed, fitted, and HEELED!  I feel these have single-handedly killed summer and reminded me that the season is over and fall is here.

Ugh…thank god for some of the gorgeous fall pieces floating around or general trends of moss green and lady-like designs.  Otherwise I would be required to permanently throw up my hands in utter peril.

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No more cowboy boots!

Alright.  10 days in cowboy boots.  Done.  In all honesty I’m not sure how I feel about the whole experience.  Sure, they were comfortable (with the exception of the two blisters I got from an ill-fitting pair of socks on the last day), but they also drove me running and screaming towards my country roots, and the trip down memory lane sure wasn’t something I had banked on being a bonus feature.

Item #1 – I will never commit to wearing any article of clothing (particularly a pair of shoes or a handbag) for an extended period on a consecutive daily basis again.  While my clothes tend to be repetitive in style, based on my rather large collection of shoes (although dwarfed by many a fashion blogger as I have discovered) makes me feel guilty for side-lining them all for over a week.  That, and when you’re forcing an outfit to revolve around and complement a single article it makes the whole process of getting ready more thought-process inducing than exciting!

Item #2 – Memory lane should be closed.  Stampede always makes me nostalgic, but when coupled with wearing western-oriented gear it started to become a place where I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable.  It forces you to realize how much you’ve changed as a person since the acquisition of the related memories – and it doesn’t always sit right in one’s immediate conscious.

Item #3 – I don’t like country music.  Sure I dove in and listened to it for the entirety of the 10 days (I felt compelled given the boots and the general Stampede vibe), but wow, what an acquired taste.  Sure there are some songs that I enjoy, but it certainly did make me realize what music I prefer.  Now I’m on a steady diet of quasi-indie, easy listening, summery jazzy tunes.  It got to a point over Stampede where I was either going to start loving country or it making my ears bleed…and we definitely leaned towards the latter.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it for what it is, but it’s interesting to re-define and re-affirm what you actually love based on something that doesn’t quite sit right.

Item #4 – I love Calgary.  Sometimes you try and ignore something that isn’t in your life in order to appreciate what is (ie. going to school in a different province and having to leave your hometown), but man almighty do I love this city.  Sure, it’s not a booming cultural metropolis (in some books), but there’s something down-home feel-good community about it that makes it feel like the easiest place in the world to be.  Granted I could probably do with just doing Stampede about every 3 years or so…no more country-western overdose again in my near future.

Item #5 – I truly do appreciate my cowboy boots.  Comfortable, relaxed, easy to wear – all appropriate catchphrases for these fantastically crafted pieces of leather.  They will forever remain a mainstay in my wardrobe, no matter the style or current fashion obsession.  Some things you just can’t get rid of, and these I swear never will be.  That, and after having to style them creatively for 10 days, I certainly know how to work them in without being too cowgirl-inspired.

For those of you who were curious, they’re from Alberta Boot Company – handcrafted in Calgary.  There are no substitutes for these, just ask anyone who owns a pair.

So now as I return to my regular programming of flats and the odd pair of heels, I bid a temporary adieu to my boots.  They probably need as much of a rest as I do.

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Project 10…days…of cowboy boots?

Today (July 9th) marks the beginning of 10 days of good old fashioned country-western fun for this fair city.

Photo credit - Flickr / Google Images

Why?  Well because it is the annual event that Calgarians (such as myself) simultaneously celebrate, passionately love and defend, and absolutely loathe…all to various extents and combinations.  That would be the greatest outdoor show on earth.

Credit - U of C Activities Around Calgary

Now I personally haven’t done Stampede properly since I was about 17, when I went to just about a show every night at the Coca-Cola Stage (2010 lineup is here) with a group of my friends.  Since then I’ve either been out of town or working for the entirety of these 10 days and haven’t been quite able to participate.  Well, participate in person that is.

You see, having grown up in Calgary you innately experience Stampede every summer for 10 days whether you like it or not.  The whole city turns into a tribute to our roots, and…well…it’s a great excuse to bust out the cowboy boots, denim (hello 10 days of jeans to work…actually!), and all things country.  Which leads me to the purpose of said post, a bit of a simultaneous challenge and I’m sure to some extent punishment or stretch of my creative capacity:  the only shoes I am allowing myself to wear for the next 10 days are my cowboy boots.

The boots that started it all.

Dear Kate – Newsflash, that’s not a challenge, you wear your boots pretty well at least once a month. – Love, Your readers.

Yes, I’m aware that the above statement is true, but the key here is to actually be able to style these so that they are the right mix of country with a dash of style.  Tough – especially when you can get away with being a complete pretend cowboy/girl for 10 days in this city without being mocked during Stampede.  I try all year to attempt to just intertwine my cowboy boots into the odd outfit, but when you can finally be a little flamboyant with the whole thing and strut my boots during this period in Calgary…why not?!  The challenge bit though is that I’m the kind of girl who changes out her handbag and shoes on a daily basis…so having to centre a full 10 days of outfits around these boots may actually prove difficult.

The Mission: 10 days of wearing the same boots.

The Rules: 1) No outfit repeats.  2) No outlandishly mocking of the cowboy aesthetic in outfit form.  3)  No exceptions.

…wish me good luck?

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