Entries Tagged as 'shoes'

Hang to dry and other things your mother taught you


Image: Vogue

The other night, after a delicious, wine-soaked feast at Soffritto in Newtown I stumbled home with a friend. On the walk we discussed life’s many mysteries: why aren’t we staggeringly wealthy, or even just a little bit wealthy, and how should you treat a fancy handbag?

My friend is in the market for a new bag, and a colleague suggested Marc by Marc Jacobs, a perfect choice for a cool, not-out-of-reachedly-priced designer handbag. The catch is she’s trying to replace her work bag that’s right now stuffed with a laptop, a pair of heels, two puppies, and possibly a small child. Being a freelancer, she desk-surfs, so anything she needs for work has to be carried in and out of the city on her shoulder.

I told her a lovely bag should only be filled with small things: a wallet, a phone, keys and lipgloss. Anything else should go in a separate tote. Every night she should empty her lovely bag, restuff it with tissue, put it back in its cotton bag, sing it a lullaby, and store it on its side in an uncluttered part of her closet.

Do you think I spend too much time caring for inanimate objects? Think of it this way: before I had a child to love, I had my handbags.

I get it. You blow $500 on a bag and you expect it to take crazy amounts of abuse. But expensive doesn’t equal indestructible. In most cases expensive does mean that if you treat it nicely, it’ll last long enough that you can tell your future daughters, no, they can’t borrow it.

This long preamble serves to introduce one of my favourite topics: looking after your stuff. Brace yourselves. Things are about to get exciting.

1. Knits

If you wash your jumpers in a washing machine, even if it’s on gentle cycle, please don’t tell me about it. A little part of me dies when I hear stuff like that.

Every month or two, I like to take a morning and handwash all my knits. Crazy, yes? Well, everything I know about handwashing, I learned from the inimitable, crazier-than-I Martha Stewart. I’ll reserve my commentary and hand over to the guru and her ultimate knit-care video.

2. Silk, wool and other things that hate water

If you’re putting silk dresses or wool blazers in the washing machine, see #1. Find a drycleaner and fork over the cash, or make the sad decision to only buy horrible stretch polyester sweats and live alone with lots of cats, knowing that even they think your clothes are ugly.

3. Stains

If you’ve stained something that doesn’t hate water (see #2), the solution depends on the stain:

Ballpoint pens – Spray hairspray on the mark until the fabric’s wet and scrub it gently with a toothbrush. Be careful because sometimes the ink will bleed outward and create a wider stain.

Blood (from all that sword fighting you do) – Put  it in cold water right away and soak it for a couple of days. Then even when you wash it, wash it in cold because hot will set the stain.

Oil – Oil is the worst. I’ve tried a few different techniques for oil. You can sprinkle baking soda or baby powder on the stain, rub it in gently, blow it off and repeat until the oil gets soaked up. You can also try putting a piece of paper towel over the powder and ironing it on low.

My favourite method is to sprinkle powdered laundry detergent on the stain, wet it a bit to get the powder damp, ball up the garment, and leave it for a day or two. Then wash it normally in cold and cross your fingers.

Failing these tricks, go to your friendly neighbourhood drycleaner.

4. Shoes

Nobody wants to go out and spend more money at the cobbler when they’ve just bought new shoes, but if you do, I promise you’ll only need to do it again every couple of years. Also your shoes will last long enough to achieve “vintage” status.

In between cobbler visits, regularly use waterproofingspray and shoe polish. Using some interwebs voodoo, I found 94 colours of polish here.

5. Handbags

Lots of don’ts: don’t load them like they’re pack mules, don’t spill stuff on them, don’t put them on the ground, and as I said before, store them lovingly every night.

I’ll stop now. I may be no less crazy than the cat lady in #2, but if you saw me wandering down the street in a crisply pressed dress and spit-shined brogues, you wouldn’t think crazy, you’d think, “She’s obsessively groomed like someone who watches a lot of Martha Stewart Living.”

A thought

The problem with wearing ankle boots with tightly rolled jeans is that your ankles get cold. Every time you take a step or sit down, a sliver of flesh is revealed and vulnerable to the elements.

But I figure the amount you suffer in your clothes is directly correlated with how awesome you look. Wearing fuzzy pjs? You’re probably pretty comfy. You probably don’t look very sharp though. But what about a snugly belted leather bomber, figure-hugging pencil skirt, and insanely high strappy heels? You’re looking mighty fine, my friend. And you’re probably wondering what time you can go home and get into your fuzzy pjs.

Exciting conclusion to the quest for the perfect t-shirt

There I am, at Jim and Jane, said neighbourhood object of my infatuation. I quickly realise that with winter coming, t-shirts are in short supply; they sold out during sunnier months. Sanity goes out the window. I’m desperate to buy a white t-shirt, if for no other reason than writing about it made me obsessed. In a moment of sheer madness, I buy the only white t-shirt in the shop, and I pay $75 for it.

Let’s review the criteria:

  • Super soft? Yes, it’s organic cotton.
  • Pretentious? Yes, it’s organic cotton.
  • Not too sheer and has an open neck? Nope and yup.
  • Twisted seams? If there are, there’ll be hell to pay.
  • Costs more than $10? If the Husband asks, tell him it was on sale. That they practically gave it to me.

In the couple of weeks since I bought my precious white t-shirt, I’ve worn it a lot. It’s refreshingly simple, looks cool with enormous, spangly necklaces, and now that it’s winter, I can wear it under all my really itchy sweaters. I’m not going to throw away my brightly printed tops and dresses and just buy white t-shirts from now on, but it’s nice to have something basic to turn to when nothing seems to go together.

I nearly forgot: remember how I said I was distracted by cool winter footwear? Well. I got me some sweet flat ankle boots by Sol Sana. They’re blackened-chocolate brown, slouchy-perfect and look so cute with cuffed skinny jeans or a mini-dress. They’re so wonderful I want to take them behind the school house and get all romantic with them.

Questionable taste

I’m old enough now that things that were so cool when I was 13 are coming back into fashion. Birkenstocks with hiking socks (worn by people other than hippies), Nirvana t-shirts, and now overalls, or as they are so endearingly called here ‘dungarees.’ Anyone can wear overalls, but to wear dungarees, you have to be a 7-year-old boy with front teeth that look like a pair of Chicklets.

Back to my point: Birkenstocks in Vogue Paris.

And look how cool these ‘dungarees’ are!

It’s easy to get caught up in these new/old trends. It’s easy to get swept off your sensible feet by cool Vogue styling. Sometimes wisdom doesn’t come with age.

If I can’t be wise, I can at least slap a bit of sense into myself. Overalls were unflattering when I was 13 and “The Bodyguard” soundtrack was my first tape. 20 years later they’re still unflattering. If in another 20 years I see a photo of myself wearing overalls, shameful feelings will probably drive me to live out the rest of my days as a hermit wearing a hair shirt.

So the lesson here is that if you say no to overalls today, you’ll avoid being a hair-shirt-wearing hermit tomorrow. Hair is itchy. Being a hermit is lonely. The choice is obvious, even if the overalls are so cute and tempting.

If things never changed…

…we’d all be running around banging pterodactyls over the head with clubs. But judging from Suzy Menkes’ article, “The Circus of Fashion,” it would seem some people miss chasing after flying dinosaurs.

Menkes talks about how fashion should only be for the cool kids, arguing “If fashion is for everybody, is it fashion?” Then a bunch of people get mad. And then Tim Blanks reminisces about the good old days, interestingly linking our hunger for glamour and celebrity to economic bad times:

Lots of people have said lots of things, so I’ll be brief. Isn’t this just another case of people getting mad about things changing?

Change is inevitable. One fine day, uber-brat Justin Bieber will be wiped from the popular consciousness. All the Crocs will be melted down so they’re merely a distant nightmare. In 50 years I’ll probably be shaking my fist at a sky filled with disrespectful whipper snappers zooming around in flying cars. And I’ll be wearing really fantastic shoes when I do it, because some things should never change.

A wee Spanish brogue

I am not a skillful bargain hunter. In fact, I have a useless, if not detrimental talent for looking at a group of fairly similar objects and picking the most expensive one as my favourite. I call it “a great appreciation for the finer things in life.” My dad calls it “being a slave to material possessions.”

In Barcelona, my talent was tested when the Husband and I wandered by the window of a beautiful shop called Lotusse. Even through the glare of the afternoon sun on the window, I could spot the buttery soft leather that only graces the dearest of shoes, and I knew I shouldn’t go in. It had been a very extravagant day of shopping (and a few moments of concern that my suitcase would be overweight), and I’d just vowed not to buy any more stuff. But then the shoes sang their siren song; I was rendered helpless. Here are the enchanting, wee Spanish brogues:

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Lotusse has gorgeous shoes, handmade in Spain, and I wish they had an online store, or even just a website, so I could fall in love with more of their shoes and give them more of my money.

The careful hand stitching and lovely craftsmanship makes me imagine an old Spanish shoemaker with a round belly, bent over a long wooden bench in a little village workshop. Most of the day he perches on a stool, working smooth, perfect leather around lasts. Maybe he has a small team of elves to assist, and he passes the shoes off to them to do all the delicate stitching. At lunchtime, when it’s too hot to work, they retire to the cool kitchen of the main house, where the the shoemaker’s wife has laid out a merienda of crusty bread, a rainbow of olives, mild sheep’s milk cheese, a few links of sausage and a hearty red wine. After lunch, they go for siesta, each finding a solitary spot in in the house, and there they nap until the day cools down and it’s time to resume the shoemaking.

Elves and a round-bellied old Spanish man. Those are definitely the people who made my shoes.

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Alas, I can’t claim credit for these very clever photos. They’re the handiwork of my lovely friend Xanthe, who is eternally in my good book for helping me organise my apartment last month and more recently, for showing me that the zoom on my camera is not the same thing as the focus. Go figure.

Hugs for links

We’ve just moved house and I feel like I’ve been cut loose in a vast and lonely ocean, without internet at home for up to eight business days. Eight.

I asked the call centre guy from our internet provider if it was still the stone age, and if his favourite lunch hour pastime was to go hunting with wooden clubs for sabre-toothed tigers. I asked him if he and his colleagues wear fur loincloths, brush their teeth with twigs and worry about pterodactyls stealing their babies. Danger of pterodactyl-related kidnappings. Now that’s a good reason for an eight day delay to hook up internet service. He didn’t laugh. I guess in the stone age they’re not used to people as hilarious as I am.

Anyway, since I can’t upload photos from a phone, here are some cool links, fashion and otherwise, to keep you going until my technological travails are over.

1.

Alber Elbaz. I heart him. His English is impeccable, but I love the poetic, accidental beauty that happens when someone is speaking English as their second language.

2.

Die Antwoord, all up in the interwebs. The characters from Gummo grow up and become freakish South African electronica rappers. Be disturbed. Be amazed. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that I think there’s something catchy about these guys’ music.

3.

Why does everyone (like Jane and Rumi) have Miu Miu satin platforms except me? I think Mrs. Prada should send a pair to me. I like the naked people pattern best, although I’m not sure if it exists in shoe form. I’d definitely say nice things about the shoes, and it wouldn’t even be because I got them for free.

4.

Here’s a lovely little article about Mrs. Prada written by Tim Blanks whom I saw in the flesh at the Anna & Boy fashion show at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week. People, I almost died from the excitement. What amazes me about Mrs. Prada is that in her unrelenting quest to find something new, she always turns out collections that are uniquely and recogniseably Prada.

miu miu, I’ve been waiting for you

Obviously I’m not very savvy because when the Prada collection was shown in Milan, I thought miu miu would follow immediately after, also in Milan. Not so grasshopper.

The miu miu collection in Paris last week raises the age old question: how many bows can be reasonably crammed onto one amazing shoe? Four, apparently:

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Unless of course you add floral spat type things. Then the answer is two:

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Shoes, glorious shoes

I’ve been trying to work out how to update my summer wardrobe on the cheap. I’m not the biggest trend follower: I don’t buy into those diaper-like harem pants, (I imagine if you tried to run in them, the low crotch would make you trip over just like if you tied your shoelaces together), I don’t really dig baggy, torn up boyfriend jeans rolled tightly at the ankle, and the resurgence of floral dresses worn with Doc Martens reminds me way too much of Alicia Silverstone in all those Aerosmith videos. I find a lot of trends are made for the very young and the very tall and thin, and when we the short and normal try to pull them off, we can end up looking kind of dumpy and kind of silly.

So all the lamenting unflattering clothes aside, I’ve decided that shoes are the perfect way to update my wardrobe without doing a complete overhaul. Shoes are always good to us women. No matter how much weight we lose or gain, our shoes always fit. Trying on a pair of shoes will never make you regret the Big Mac you ate for lunch, or make the change room mirrors reflect back at you in that devastatingly hideous way.

If the shapes in your wardrobe are fairly classic, then the best way to update is with an edgy pair of shoes. A good pair of shoes can make a dress that’s a bit too pretty look chic and fashion forward. Equally, a bad pair of shoes can make an amazing designer dress look rubbish. Sorry Sandra Bullock, but you need to fire your stylist. (I originally had the actual photo posted, but it offended me so much every time I opened the blog that I had to replace it with a link) As we see from the Sandra Bullock exhibit, a bad pair of shoes can destroy an outfit. Bad hair doesn’t help either.

Recently I was a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding. Our dresses were sleeveless, high-waisted chocolate brown chiffon that fell below the knee. When discussing footwear options by email, someone suggested a practical black, closed toe shoe. We all owned a pair, after all. It was all so illegal my head almost exploded. I had to shut my laptop and walk away, otherwise I would have been shouting in all caps about how we might as well wear those black lace up sneakers they sell at the chemist that are extra wide to accommodate diabetes-related foot swelling. BLASPHEMY. In the end, the bride won and we all wore pale gold.

Thankfully I can put that episode behind me and focus my efforts on important things. Like trawling the collections for good shoes to post on my blog.

For the last few seasons, shoes seem to have been becoming more and more avant-garde. Many are downright weird. There is the ankle boot, and the strappy, sometimes bondage-esque platform shoe, there are strange interpretations of the heel (or in Antonio Berardi’s case, the heel is removed altogether and replaced with…air), eccentric embellishments and the always practical boot with the toe missing, (which, by the way, I LOVE).

Anyway, here are some of my favourite shoes from the Spring collections:

Booties

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Photo: Nina Ricci

Way to ruin a perfectly good photo of beautiful shoes with your creepy claw toes, model.

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Photo: Miu Miu

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Photo: Alexander Wang

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Photo: 3.1 Phillip Lim

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Photo: 3.1 Phillip Lim

I love the first Phillip Lim pair, but they don’t seem very Spring to me. I can imagine them with opaque tights, a ridiculously short skirt and a fluffy fur, real or faux.

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Photo: Alexander McQueen

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Photo: Alexander McQueen

Am I crazy? I die for these mechanical robot-looking booties from Alexander McQueen. They’re so unique, and as long as your outfit was fairly toned down, I don’t think they’d look that weird. (According to the Boyfriend, the style of these booties is based on a fiction genre called Steampunk)

Strappy

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Photo: Burberry

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Photo: Burberry

I also die for these shoes from Burberry, especially the knotted pair with the black platform soles. Not everyone does the socks and heels thing, but I think they really suit the knotted and tangled look that Christopher Bailey has going on at Burberry this season.

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Photo: Yves St. Laurent

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Photo: Yves St. Laurent

Elegant Confections

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Photo: Valentino

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Photo: Valentino

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Photo: Valentino

I love the new young point of view at Valentino now that Maria Grazie Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli (doubt I’ll ever be able to remember those names) have taken the helm.

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Photo: Dries Van Noten

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Photo: Nina Ricci

Crazy Go Nuts

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Photo: Alexander McQueen

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Photo: Alexander McQueen

These shoes from Alexander McQueen look like they have a brain and could control the wearer telepathically.

Hooray for international shipping!

I just ordered these kick ass brogues from Topshop online:

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Photo: www.topshop.com

Shipping to Australia (read: the ends of the earth) was completely reasonable at only about $15.

I can't wait to go prancing around town in these sweet little shoes. Now I'll be as cool as those cool cats at the Governor's Island Jazz Lawn Party that The Sartorialist seems to frequent.