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Let’s start off with Lucky Magazine’s Spring Shoe Guide (March 2011) as an intro. They list these shoes to add to your warmer weather wardrobe: wood platforms, jeweled slingbacks, bold loafers (as in bold colors), platform pumps, flat espadrilles, sliver-wedge sandals, pointy-toe slingbacks and cork wedges, followed by 2 strap sandals (on strap around the ankle and one over the toes) as their shoe-of-the-month in the April 2011 issue.

My thoughts: The wood platforms, cork wedges and flat espadrilles are pretty standard, every-spring-they’re-for-sale shoes (although I realize there’s a 70s vibe going around which is making shoe stores a little extra wood heavy). And I’m going to skeptically say I’ll stay on the lookout for someone wearing jeweled slingbacks as daywear in NYC. I also doubt you’ll see many people in bright loafers this spring/summer, especially with wide-leg trousers and maxi skirts trending now (can’t really wear loafers with those). But, I think the pointy-toe slingbacks, sliver-wedge sandals and 2 strap sandals are all spot-on. The sliver-wedge sandals are a nice progression of winter’s version popularized by Loeffler Randall’s sliver-boots. And I think pointy-toes will become more and more plentiful as the year progresses.

But I’ve also spotted a few other (more?) interesting spring shoe trends popping up and they actually all involve espadrilles!

First, I’ve noticed espadrilles with frayed straps. These are definitely more for your casual days but hey, if you already have a pair of strappy canvas wedges, don’t be afraid to dip into D.I.Y and rough them up a bit ;). And if you prefer the new versions, below Steve Madden, Coconuts and others have done the distressing for you.

Second, I’m seeing a lot of espadrille heels that continue up the ankle to form the heel cup; I’m calling them endless espadrilles. These shoes are AMAZING because when they’re on, at first glance you look like you might be wearing impossibly tall heels.  They’re also especially nice because the style could hide a much lower heel like the 2.5 inch (I know!) version by Sam Edelman. And as a side note – yep, that brand in row 5 is Hunter of rainboot fame, apparently making some leather heels now.

Honorable mention goes to espadrilles that do not have covered ankles but instead feature an extra tall side portion or “cut-out” ankle strap that creates a similar illusion. Surprisingly, I found a nice example of these shoes at Old Navy which are a great option if you’re on a budget.

I still have one more trend for you further below, but for now, some picture proof!

FRAYED EDGES

Coconuts Avery

Bettye Muller Saffron

Steve Madden Fraid

ENDLESS ESPADRILLE HEELS

Matisse Asher

BCBGMAXAZRIA Malaga

Sam Edelman Leroy

Enzo Angiolini Ramie

Enzo Angiolini Romario

Hunter Anegada

HONORABLE MENTION

Old Navy Espadrille Wedges

Corso Como Decoy

Boutique 9 Illy

Not Too Coy Lydia

And last I’ve collected some irregular espadrille combos. Brands like Tory Burch and 3.1 Phillip Lim are marrying espadrille soles with a chukka or desert boot upper. This is probably best with a canvas boot and an excellent option when we’ve got those New York days where it’s warm for just a few hours in the afternoon sunshine and then you’ve got to put your jacket back on (like today!).

A few other brands, like Jeffrey Campbell and Prada, decided to add in an espadrille layer to a shoe that normally wouldn’t have it. This might technically shorten the seasonally appropriate lifespan of the shoes, but fashion rules are made to be broken. However, I’m not sure we should even call them espadrilles, and at the same time, I don’t think we can leave that out – it’s pretty distinctive. How about Espamaybelles? (I’ll break that down: espa-maybe-lles…? ok, well, I love it, haha).

Anyway, that’s it for now. Happy shopping all! And if you spot any other crazy espadrille hybrids, let me know.

Tory Burch Desert Bootie Espadrille

3.1 Phillip Lim lace up espadrille

Prada Lace-Up Cutout Wedge

Jeffrey Campbell Mary ESP

Mark & James Magnolia

Chinese Laundry Dragonfly

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For over a decade, Pantone (the self-professed world-renowned authority on color) chooses a single color that they predict will be influential in the coming year. In case you missed it last year, their pick was 15-5519 Turquoise, because, as the official press release declared, “Turquoise transports us to an exciting, tropical paradise while offering a sense of protection and healing in stressful times.” For 2011, Pantone selected 18-2120 Honeysuckle – a medium reddish pink, and  released this statement: “Energizing honeysuckle lifts spirits and imparts confidence to meet life’s ongoing challenges.” Pretty heavy stuff. But if that isn’t a great reason to go shopping for a new pair of shoes, I don’t know what is 😉

So, the official color is Honeysuckle, but I think any pink or coral colored shoe will be in the spirit of things. And designers are knocking out tons of pink shoes for resort and spring collections, so finding a pair right now is easy. If you’re looking for something to start you off early and keep you cozy as the winter slowly ends, I recommend the Koolaburra ugg boots in a soft pink below or an enclosed pink suede pump like the pair pictured by Kelsi Dagger (with the cutest removable elastic bow!).

Pantone says that you can easily pair Honeysuckle with basic colors like black, navy, charcoal or light to mid gray. But, for something more exciting, they suggest mixing in complementary bronze greens or a pinkish Apricot Brandy brown hues into your wardrobe with it. I vote pairing these with a maxi dress or with jeans and a drapey cream-colored blouse. Just remember these shoes are made to be the focal point of a basic outfit.

For the start of warm weather, Manolo Blahnik flip flop sandals are actually an almost-affordable way to enjoy the brand. You should also take a look at jumping on two trends at once by going for a platform style (or a “flatform” – an essentially flat shoe as far as feel goes, with equal or near equally tall platforms front and back) or an espadrille (always a summer favorite). And of course, since I have a special place in my heart for Melissa shoes, I was happy to see they’re also making a few pink shoes this season so that I could feature one here.

You know, maybe there is something to what Pantone said; I already feel my spirits lifting just by imagining walking out of the house with these shoes. I’m sure we can rationalize a pair of two now, especially if our mental health is at stake 😉

Jeffrey Campbell The Turino Shoe

Koolaburra Savanitty

Kelsi Dagger Tiffany

Manolo Blahnik Suede-Flower Thong Sandal

Dolce Vita Strappy Platform Wedge

Prada Cutout Espadrille Wedge

Stella McCartney Raffia Crossover Sandals

Lanvin Ankle-Wrap Platform Wedge

seychelles harlow

Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Anglomania

I’ve just added a review of Koolaburra boots to my Ugg Boot Faceoff! blog post. Click the link below to read the newest review or the complete comprehensive study I did, if you haven’t seen it yet.

Read the Ugg Boot Faceoff! EMU, Whooga, UGG Australia, BEARPAW & More!

Quick Trend Note – So I’ve noticed that rain boots are being updated in awesome ways lately. Do the rain boots currently in your closet have nothing but a quirky pattern? Ditch them! A solid and not too brightly colored boot is the easiest way to update your look this season. And with these new low-key colors, you won’t feel ridiculous wearing your rain boots all day when the weather forecasters turn out to be wrong (again). But to be really on trend, make sure that your rubber boots are spruced up with zippers, wedges, strap details, laces, trompe l’oeil designs or a sole that’s anything but flat! Rain boots can now come out and play even on the sunniest fall and winter days!

See By Chloe Classic

Hunter Boots Regent Savoy

The pocket design and faux quilting above are both fabulous examples of trompe l’oeil designs. Jimmy Choo came out with a great faux crocodile rubber boot that works too. The See by Chloe pair also has another of this season’s great rain boot accessories: laces! Whether they’re half laces up the front, full laces or back laces, everyone is using real strings to adorn their rubber wear right now (see below for more).

Loeffler Randall LR

Hunter Verbier

Kate Spade Randi

Melissa Ashanti

Long gone are the days when rain boots are simply flat and chunky. Today’s rain boots are trim, sleek and have heels in all shapes and heights. You can find rain boots with mini wedges or full 3 inch wedges, tall and low chunky heels, smooth riding boot heels and stilettos. Honestly I can find a reason to “need” one of every type.

Steve Madden Tsunamii

Cougar Regal

Tory Burch buckled rubber

Chooka London Town

I’ve also been seeing tons of motorcycle inspired rain boots with tons of straps and buckles topping rubber styles (KORS Michael Kors has another version). This style looks great with something a girly on top (a floaty, open cardigan sweater? a winter coat with a bit of ruffle?) to balance the toughness.

And below is one random standout – an OTK (over the knee) rainboot by Calvin Klein. If you’ve got long model legs, go for it! But if you’re a shortly like me, sadly it’s best to just pass on these. You’ll have a hard time walking up steps gracefully (and probably doing other common things like sitting) since rubber doesn’t bend as nicely as leather or fabric.

Now go shopping! 😉

Calvin Klein Ava

On a related topic, as I posted on my Facebook and Twitter, I’m wondering about wellie socks. Do they work in all types and brands of rainboots? Look out for a new blog with what I find coming up soon!

This is my second review of Cougar footwear (you can see the first review on a pair of their rain boots here). This time I’m trying out a pair of hard core winter boots. What? They’re too pretty to be serious winter wear with that silvery floral pattern up the leg? I know, I was a little skeptical too. Until I put them on, that is.

The Ravishing style is rated for comfort in temperatures down to negative 22 degrees depending on your level of activity. I’m totally fascinated by this: you can wear these boots outside in temperatures no less than 14 degrees if you’re mostly sitting or standing, down to  negative 11 degrees if you’re in frequent movement but with frequent stops, and down to negative 22 degrees if you’re in constant motion (and if I’m outside in negative 22 degree weather, you can bet the ONLY reason would be because I’m running for my life from a polar bear… so good to know).

Cougar Ravishing folded to different heights

in black

Next, the comfort. These Cougar boots are not heavy or stiff in any way (things I usually associate with waterproof boots) but they’re also not flimsy like they could tear at any moment. And yes, they are waterproof, not just water-resistant! The lower part of the boot is suede though, so you may want to spray them with some suede protector just to keep them looking nice. The boot shaft is a little tight so if you have serious calf muscles, you may want to try these on in stores or order from a website with free returns, but on my legs I felt snug as a bug in a rug (now that I have a baby, this stuff is slipping into my daily speech). The bungees are mostly for show. You can tighten them a bit, but the elastic straps are attached at the loops in the back, so don’t pull too hard. I wore these all day long without even a hint of a blister or ache. They were super super comfy to walk around in from day one.

all the way up

I’m also loving the height of the soles on these. And this story is totally related, I promise: I had a pair of Northface boots that I used a bit last winter. But, for some reason, all the traction and insulation or whatever they put on the boots made the soles have almost a 3 inch platform (I remember bending down to wash my hands before leaving one day and having an eerie parallel universe moment when I realized I was significantly taller than I was a few minutes ago… bending down to wash my hands? what!?). To get to the point, I ended up not wearing the boots much because although I never did slip, I always felt like I could easily fall off the platform and twist my ankle; it just seemed too risky when walking around on ice, which was the reason for the boots (darn you absentee sidewalk shovelers!). Anyway, the fact that Cougar could add all the necessary warmth and traction in an inch sole (1.5 inches in the heel), made me very happy.

It hasn’t snowed yet, so I couldn’t test the traction of these boots in snow and ice, but it has been rainy and chilly here so I can comment that the boots haven’t had a problem at all on wet floors and sidewalks and that my feet have been very warm. I’d been testing out so many uggs lately though that I forgot to put socks on the first time I tried on these Cougar boots; they’re much better with socks  😉

Another thing I really like, as pictured above, is that Cougar did not skimp on the faux fur at all; I was really surprised how deep I could cuff the boots down. It gives you a few different style options all in one boot. Another neat thing is that the underside of the faux fur is a sweater knit. I’m not completely sure that I would wear these out with the boot trim pulled all the way up to my knees, but it’s nice to know that I could without exposing some unfinished underside like I often find on other brands. Plus that sweater lining means extra warmth too.

I got the beige and silver color but the Ravishing style also comes in a black version with a darker faux fur cuff (don’t worry, it still has the silvery leafy print up the leg).  Get them for $169.95 at Endless.com here!

And now that you’ve finished this blog post, please Click Here to complete a very short survey on Cougar Boots and the Matchstick company will donate $2 to the Red Cross for every survey completed.

Thanks again to the people at Matchstick for the shoes.

What do you think of this post? Click Here to complete a short survey on Cougar Boots after you’ve finished reading and the Matchstick company will donate $2 to the Red Cross for every survey completed.

Of course, since I decided to leave my new Cougar rainboots in my office the day they arrived, the next morning it was pouring. But when I got back into Manhattan, I switched out my knee-high standbys for a pair of the Tibet style boots in fire engine red with a cute tube sock inspired sweater cuff. I was a tiny bit annoyed initially that the boot shaft was too tight for me to easily wiggle my jeans inside (which were already rumpled from being stuffed into my other boots), but as soon as I got them on… cue the spotlight shining down from above and the heavenly music – I knew it was love.

My pant legs did get wet when I went out for lunch, but, on the plus side, it got the wrinkles out, and my legs stayed dry anyway so, okay, totally forgiven. Plus I guess a tighter shaft means less water will be able to get inside when I do pair them with leggings or take the time to get my jeans tucked in properly. Also, it made me notice that these boots have a really slim foot form that looks fantastic peeking out from under pants. Since the Cougar Tibet is not at all oversized or clunky, they appear much more expensive than they actually are, but more on that later.

Cougar Tibet

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve always hated that rainboots are usually really heavy! I cross my legs too when I’m sitting and all that weight pulling on one foot would actually cause me pain sometimes. But these boots are different: they’re not just a lighter weight because they are a mid-calf style, you can actually tell they’re just a better quality material – who knew there were different grades of rubber?! So if you think those cheapy $15 rainboots are just as good as any other pair, they’ll probably keep your feet dry (although for how long a duration is probably debatable), but that’s about as far as an equal comparison will go. Surprisingly though, the Cougar Tibet style is actually pretty affordable – only $75! I would have priced these at easily over $100 if I was given them blindly.

Here’s something else that makes them a little bit better than your average every day rainboot: Cougar boots have perforated insoles (anti-sweaty feet), breathable polar fleece insulation rated to as low as -11 degrees F (yep, negative temperatures, depending on your degree of activity) AND they’re guaranteed to be leak proof for at least 6 months of normal wear. Try getting all that from another brand at this price. Pair these with some regular wool socks and you’re looking at boots you can wear comfortably on the worst icy rain days (when I’d usually have to decide between staying dry and staying warm, and my toes would end up being totally numb by the time I was about 2 minutes from the door). I think I’m going to do a happy dance while I toss my old rainboots in my donation pile.

Wait, socks? Ah yes, the sock cuff is just that, a decorative cuff; unfortunately, the way it had to be attached makes it so that you cannot pull the cuff up over your leg, it does need to stay folded for aesthetic reasons. Also, the boots do have a really strong rubber smell when you first get them, but just air them out for a day. Really, I’m just being nitpicky now.

English on the front, french on the back

Can I add one more thing I really love though? As pictured above, the Cougar brand shoebox is intentionally designed to be bagless from the store to your house; “every step counts.” Whenever you’re buying boots, the shoe boxes are huge and whatever bag you’re given to carry them in inevitably ends up being even larger and more annoying – so being able to eliminate that step is a fantastic design idea! (Great job on handle length too – as a short person, I appreciate it). I’ll admit that carrying my Cougars in New York City like this made me feel a bit cooler-than-thou. 😉

Cougar, a Canadian family company, has been making footwear since 1948. Nowadays, they specialize in shoes that are able to withstand the harshest elements and look pretty darn fashionable at the same time. Their slogan: “For the world you walk on. Love what you wear.” How very apt.

* Half sizes, size up.

Thanks to the people at Matchstick for the shoes (and the delicious hot cocoa! – I promise the chocolate did not effect my review, although, much like the cheery red color of these boots, it definitely helped put me in a happy state on a really crappy rainy day).

Welcome to the ugg boot faceoff! Want to know the difference between the $200 uggs and the $50 ones? Are there any differences between the two most popular brands? Not sure if you should believe the hype? Just looking for a great ugg boot? You’ve come to the right place. With SO many companies now making ugg boots at SO many different price points (and with conflicting information online and lots of biased testimonials from brand loyalists), I decided it was time to create a complete review.

Intro – Although there is still some disagreement, I believe the term “ugg boot” describes a particular style of boot (almost everyone would draw an identical picture when you mention it) not a specific brand. So for the purposes of this review, the particular brand that started the mainstream ugg boot craze a few years ago will be referred to as UGG Australia, their actual brand name, and any item referred to as an ugg, will mean the common style of the boot.

I discovered in my research that while most of these boot brands use Australian sheepskin, every brand I reviewed makes their shoes in China. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just don’t be surprised when you look on the boot tag. Also, most of the brands will warn you about dye transfer.  You might not think much of this (what does it matter if the inside of your pant leg changes color, right?) until you realize they’re talking about your TOES turning colors, since you’re wearing these babies sans socks. If you really can’t stand the idea of purple-ish black toes lurking inside your boots, don’t get uggs with black shearling interiors. And although sheepskin is water resistant, it is NOT waterproof and you should use weatherproofing spray on your uggs whether you plan on going out in the rain or not – trust me, if my husband had sprayed his sheepskin slippers right away, they would probably not have terrible coffee and baby drool stains on them right now.  😉

Last, I’d like to mention that I was given some of these boots by the manufacturers for the purpose of reviewing them and others I purchased myself. I always strive to write fair and accurate reviews with pros and cons for each item, and I only accept shoes from companies that accept this policy, so you can be sure you’re getting my honest opinions. Now, on with the show!

UGG Australia Classic Tall

UGG Australia Classic Tall

UGG Australia – One of the first and most popular names in ugg boots, UGG Australia was named Footwear News’ “Brand of the Year” in 2003. The brand has now ventured into many non-ugg styles but still keeps their signature ugg alive with things like this season’s collaboration with Jimmy Choo.

The Review – Super soft, obviously, and these were also the lightest weight boot of all those reviewed. But the shaft of these boots tends to be a bit wide which allowed little wisps of cold to get to my legs. This led to me wearing them with socks, clearly an ugg no-no, but it was January. I don’t know if the socks killed the shearling, especially on the inside of the heels, or if it would have compacted the same way after a few months of wear, but I pretty much had to continue wearing them with socks after that, so be warned. Unfortunately, the super flexible outsoles did start thinning noticeably from wear within less than a year, so, although the boots continued to be comfortable til the end, they had a pretty short life. However, I never had a problem with a seam coming undone or any other kind of manufacturing defect; the issues I mentioned were due to normal use, so these boots are clearly well-made. And I should mention that the sheepskin exterior of the UGG boot (the part not touching any part of your foot) was the softest out of all boots reviewed, very buttery. UGG Australia boots have a blown rubber sole like Whooga brand boots, but the pattern they’ve grooved in gives the UGG soles slightly more traction. Although these are on the high end price wise, you’ll feel you’re paying for higher grade materials and not just a hyped-up brand name.

Random – Starting with the Fall 2010 season, UGG Australia will start adding reflective security stickers and labels on their shoes and shoe boxes to help fight counterfeit replication. And I have to give them points for their biodegradable (polythylene) shoe bags.

Price: $180   Fit: runs large – whole sizes order down one size/ half sizes, order down a half size

http://www.uggaustralia.com

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Whooga Classic Tall

Whooga Classic Tall

Whooga –  This is a relatively new brand that specializes in ugg boots. Whooga uses only Australian sheepskin with merino wool and their boots are sewn by hand using Australian manufacturing techniques. They offer 9 color options including 2 cool metallic versions.

The Review – The Whooga boots actually had the thickest shearling out of all the boots I reviewed; it filled the spaces between my toes from the top as well as from the bottom. With other ugg boots I obviously felt the fleece around my entire foot, but after a bit of wear the shearling molded into a little hollow foot igloo. The Whooga boots, with their twin faced fleece, are enveloping, like being swallowed in soft warmth that somehow stays in place. And the shaft of the boot kept the fleece touching my entire leg without being restrictive, which was one problem I had with the UGG Australia brand, as above. These boots keep you super warm without being overly warm – it’s really a try it to believe it kind of thing. You definitely don’t want to ruin the experience by wearing socks or tucking in your pants – so for the winter, give up your skinny jeans for a while and wear something you can pull over the outside of the boots or scrunch at the top.

On the other hand, the exterior sheepskin (the part not touching you) feels starchy to the touch and the outsoles are a little more stiff than other brands; but those details are hardly worth the extra $60 that separates these from UGGS and EMUs. The blown rubber sole was a little slippery right out of the box on smooth linoleum surfaces, but they seemed to have a more normal grip after about an hour of wear. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, I didn’t notice the Whooga boots on my feet after I wore them over a long 10 hour day. All of the sudden I was like, wait a second, I’m supposed to be thinking about these boots for a review! Now that’s the sign of a good shoe: when you’ve got such happy feet, you totally forget you even have them on.

Random – I LOVE Whooga’s packaging. The shoe box has a ribbon and bow attached to it so that every time you take your shoes out, it’s like opening a present. Great idea!

Price: $122 Fit: slightly big/half sizes visit the website for a fit guide

http://www.whooga-eu.co.uk/

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EMU Australia Stinger Hi

EMU Stinger Hi

EMU -Founded in 1994,  EMU Australia uses a Border Lester/Merino cross sheepskin from the Western District of Victoria, Australia. They actually have two versions of their classic ugg boot, the Stinger and the lower priced Bronte. But there’s no mixing up the two options, they even have different shoebox designs.

The Stinger Review – The EMU Stinger style has two great features the other brands lack: a removable insole and arch support. Those features are pretty cool, but for those who have been unable to wear the ugg style due to flat feet, injury, or the need for orthotics, I’m sure it seals the deal. Also these boots did have the most grippy, traction-y rubber outsoles. Even the slipper style, which I would assume most people would keep for indoor use, has a great sole. However, the fleece in these EMU boots, while warm, was not as soft or thick as it’s similarly priced competitors and the outer sheepskin was also a little less soft. Unlike Whooga and UGG Australia which have interior shearling that appears to be brushed, the EMU shearling is a little nubby and rough.

The Bronte Review – The less expensive EMU Bronte style shares few of its big sister’s perks. It does not have the removable insole, no arch support, and only the boot exterior is sheepskin; the interior is lined with EMU’s micron 20 100% merino wool which they say has the same insulation properties as sheepskin. It feels like the stuffing fiber used for toys and pillows: a little scratchy but it is still warm. The wool also appears to be thicker than the Stingers lining initially, but it’s very airy (think cotton candy) and smooshes down flat pretty fast. You can tell these are a better quality than the Payless Airwalk boots, but I would rate them lower than BEARPAW – the BEARPAW boots are less expensive and much nicer; you’re just paying for the EMU name here. One big plus though is that the EMU Bronte has what appears to be same great outsole as the Stingers, except that its labeled as being made of TPR (Thermo Plastic Rubber) instead of just plain rubber.

The Stinger style features a contrasting leather EMU logo sewn onto the outside of the heel of the boots. The Bronte has a tonal logo that peeks out from a hole in the heel. Other online reviews say these boots do stretch with wear but my toe was uncomfortably right up against the front of the shoe when I sized down (I am usually a half size) so I recommend ordering true to size and half sizes, order up. But if you’re willing to be a little uncomfortable for a week or two while the boots stretch, it might be worth sizing down instead if you’re between sizes.

Random – The slight curve at the heel of the soles of these shoes identifies this brand from farther away than you could read the heel tag.

Stinger Price: $179   Fit: true/half size, order up (see review for more details)

Bronte Price: $99   Fit: true/half size, order up

http://www.emuaustralia.com

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BEARSKIN Emma Tall

BEARPAW – BEARPAW, founded in 2001, makes their boots with sueded cow leather exteriors, but they are lined with the same Australian sheepskin wool as their competitors. BEARPAW claims that the leather helps their boots last longer and are a little more water resistant than their full sheepskin counterparts (you should still treat with waterproofing spray though).

The Review – I really wanted to try BEARPAW boots as a mid-price ugg option. When I first picked them up, the shearling felt nice, comparable to the EMU Stingers actually. But when I slid my bare foot inside, I was completely surprised – I think they saved the nicest shearling for the footbed! It definitely seemed extra soft and cushy there. I was also surprised that the (comparably) slightly thinner shearling around the boot leg didn’t lessen the warmth of the boot, maybe because of that extra layer created by attaching the sheep wool interior to the cow leather exterior; if anything these boots are extra warm. BEARPAW boots have a stiffer heel cup than other brands initially, but after wearing them for a few hours, it softened right up. These boots also seem to have a slightly wider calf than EMUs and Whoogas, but that does make it a little easier to tuck your pant legs into them.

What really impressed me about the BEARPAWs though, is that they’re soft on the outside but they held their shape way better than the other full sheepskin brands which tend to get toe creases and look slouchy in the leg after a few days wear. So the cow leather actually makes these boots appear newer longer and look more expensive than they cost (plus that leather smell, yum!). All in all, BEARPAW certainly exceeded my expectations!

Random – Interestingly, when pulling the boots on and off I noticed that the sheepskin was separated a little at the seams on the interior matching where the boots were stitched on the outside. This did not effect comfort at all but, curious, I went back to check this on the other brands and I could feel the same seams and separation in the interior fleece on of them, it just wasn’t as noticeable to the eye).

Price: $72   Fit: true/half size, order down.

http://shop.bearpawshoes.com/

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Airwalk Regan Flat Boot

Airwalk Regan

Airwalk – Airwalk was founded in 1986 and continues to operate as an independent brand deep in the alternative sport and music scene, however, through a take-over in 2007, a line of Airwalk shoes are also sold in sister store, Payless Shoe Source.

The Review – Surprisingly, these were the heaviest boots I reviewed in terms of weight, so I would recommend the lower ankle/mid-calf version just for that reason (ever cross your legs for a long period of time with really heavy boots on?). But maybe the super thick soles will last longer; that full inch of height will certainly help keep you out of puddles. The shoes are made of all synthetic materials and the faux shearling lining is really on the skimpy side, but they are still pretty warm considering. I would definitely wear these with boots with socks though – only real fleece will give you the air circulation that regulates your body temperature and keeps your feet from sweating. Overall they’re a pretty great option under $50!

Random – These Airwalk boots come in half sizes (all the other brands I reviewed only offer whole sizes) so you can be more certain of a perfect fit when ordering online.

Price: $39.99   Fit: true/half sizes available

http://www.payless.com

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Koolaburra Lexie

Koolaburra – This brand does make the same flat uggs that I have been reviewing so far, but Koolaburra pressed me to try one of their slightly different styles as those are really what separates them from the other ugg brands. Koolaburra’s twists on the basic ugg include some awesome accessories attached to their boots like studded belts draped around the shaft, leather rosettes pinned down the sides, wisps of feathers & beads, and varieties of fringe. They also have some interesting new soles: a sporty sneaker bottom (on the Modern Classic collection) and wedges!! I think they said it best themselves: “Koolaburra is perfect mix, juxtaposing the ethos of rocker chic daring with boho sensibility.”

The Review -I have to say that I was more than a little excited to try one of Koolaburra’s ugg wedges. I choose the Lexie style, which has about a 2.25 inch wedge heel and a working lace up shaft (also a key trend in boots this season). UGG Australia has been doing a wedge boot for a while, but their version looks like a normal boot, they just lined it with their sheep shearling. Koolaburra is the first brand I’ve seen to keep the traditional ugg style, swapping only the flat sole with a wedge. If you’re addicted to your uggs, these wedges are a great way to keep the comfort but make your style a little sharper. The leather laces up the front of the Lexie allow you to adjust the fit of the boot AND makes tucking in your jeans or leggings beyond easy if you want to show off these babies. Or, if you just love the sheepskin peeking out but don’t really need the boot to open on occasion, you can knot the laces in the perfect place and put them on like normal uggs.

I was completely amazed that these boots, even with the mid heel height, were equally as comfortable throughout the day as any of the flat ugg versions I tried (and I did a lot of walking in these). I bounced through the door after a long day at work and didn’t pull these off til I crawled into bed. These boots have a natural crepe rubber outsole with an EVA wedge midsole, and they have replaceable sheepskin lined insoles like EMU does. These Koolaburra boots are very warm and have very soft, brushed sheep shearling- I wasn’t able to tell the difference between Koolaburra and UGG Australia when I did my own blind touch test of the inside of each boot. Koolaburra is a high-end boot brand, but I say well worth the price, especially when you consider that you’re getting a new style the rest of the world doesn’t already own.

Random – This Lexie style has a 7.5 inch mid-calf shaft height but Koolaburra also made an identical knee-high version called Shasta and lots of other wedge styles which I highly recommend you check out!

Price: $285      Fit: True to Size, half sizes order up.

http://www.koolaburra.com

Become one of 6,883 people who Like Koolaburra on Facebook

*****I’m hoping to still add reviews on uggs from SHOO Republic, Australia Luxe Collective and Mou to really turn this into the most comprehensive ugg review on the planet, so stay tuned for more. And if you come across another brand you want to see added to the running, definitely let me know! You can comment here or email us at info@nyshoespy.com.

avatarWoodstock, The original Woodstock music festival, happened 40 years ago this weekend, from Aug. 15 to 17, 1969!  But that gathering was about a lot more than just some great bands, man – even the famous event poster (below) proclaimed the festival was to be three days of peace (first) and then music – there were political motivations, social and rock & roll history being made, inspiration for the reuse and recycling we see today, and there was definitely some great fashion: peasant blouses, tie-dye, bell bottom jeans, beads, patchwork, vests, maxi dresses, fringe, etc.

The original Woodstock event poster

The original Woodstock event poster

Interestingly, the town of Bethel (where the festival was actually held), has been so against another Woodstock happening that, according to the Times Herald-Record,  the owners of the land “many still consider hallowed ground were spreading chicken manure on that fertile soil to keep the pilgrims and plain curious from visiting.”  However, according  in 1989, 20,000 people gathered anyway for an impromptu 20th anniversary celebration and this weekend might be even bigger. Visit the Times Herald-Record live coverage!

Anyway, enjoy the fun shoes below and the spirit of the time.  And here’s something great to remember whenever you’re getting dressed in the morning that Jimi Hendrix is attributed to have said:

“You have to forget about what other people say, when you’re supposed to die, or when you’re supposed to be loving. You have to forget about all these things. You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.”

A little bit arts & craft, a lot bit cool

All Black – a little bit arts & craft, a lot bit cool

Ecote -  Flower Power!

Ecote – flower power!

Minnetonka - comes with detachable feathers and beaded tassle

Minnetonka – comes with detachable feathers and a beaded tassle

Rocket Dog Sheriff

Rocket Dog – perfectly slouchy and lived in from the first wear

Collection Fifty Nine - why yes, I (could have) whipstiched these together myself

Collection Fifty Nine – why yes, I (could have) whipstitched these together myself

Guess - Even some hippies wore heels

Guess – even some hippies wore heels

Come on – Rebel, man!  This is Woodstock for the new millennium. Here are some ideas to incorporate that peace and love style into your everyday for the end of the summer and into fall 2009.

Just a smidge of tassle on a luxe suede bootie

Madison Harding – Just a smidge of tassle on a luxe suede bootie

Cocobelle - grab those gladiators before summer's over

Cocobelle – grab those gladiators before summer’s over

Frye - classic style in an unexpected color

Frye – classic style in an unexpected color

TOMS- it doesn't have to be tie-dye to be groovy

TOMS- it doesn’t have to be tie-dye to be groovy

Georgina Goodman - the new flower power

Georgina Goodman – the new flower power

Simple - get in the spirit with recycled, eco-friendly materials!

Simple – get in the spirit with recycled, eco-friendly materials!

avatarIf you’re waiting til the last minute to do your Spring shoe shopping since it’s probably the best way to get the lowest sale prices (I’m with you), you might also be looking for a refresher course in Spring trends to keep an eye out for. I sure was, (it’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re watching Fall 09 previews)… so I made a list to share! It’s also interesting to see what trends are in full swing and which (predicted by winter writers) are already in fizzle mode. Let’s begin, there’s lots to see!

First I’ll go to Lucky Magazine, who I find to be an excellent authority on all (wearable) trendy business. Their Spring Shoe Guide in the March 09 issue listed espadrille wedges, fringe sandals, wood platforms, round toe pumps, open-toe flats, sliver-wedge sandals, spring boots (these have a “lower, leg flashing shape”) and platform sandals as the trendiest of the trends.  The April and May issues also added canvas tennis shoes and rope sandals, respectively.

Topshop Lattice caged platforms

Love the Off-White Base of these Caged Platforms

Sam Edelman Bell Boot

These Lilac Perforated Suede Boots are Obviously Not for Winter

Keep Ray Potes Homer sneakers

Cute Acid Wash Canvas Tennies

The espadrille wedges were a safe bet for spring (I don’t know when they have not been an essential spring/summer shoe) as were the round toe pumps (pointy toes are generally a winter style since they look best with long pants). The wood platforms and platform sandals were also fairly basic picks considering the boho feeling wafting around, a feeling which was only enhanced by the recession (damn the man, man). But don’t let that underscore the fact that platforms were mentioned twice! Make yourself taller, get a pair! I’ve also noticed that many stores are only stocking one or two fringy styles in their whole inventory, so don’t settle unless you really love them, and the rope sandals were in last year’s lists too – dig through your closet for any lost pairs you forgot about.

As for the rest of Lucky’s picks, I’m especially taking notice of the spring boots (these are number one on my list!), the sliver wedge sandals (a predictable continuation from the same heel featured on many boots this winter – iconically the Loeffler Randall mini wedge knee boots) and the canvas lace-up shoes (noticeably around this past fall in leather versions).

Keds Champion 2k white

The Original Basic Canvas Sneakers

I love this great color in slouchy pull-on boots

A Great Color for Slouchy Pull-On Frye's

Brian Atwood Ontorio tie dye boots

Tie-dyed Soft Suede Boots

Next on the list of fashion experts is Style.com who I love for including actual runway shots for support. Style.com has listed their top Spring 2009 trends as catchy headlines (and they’re referring to clothing trends too), so I’ll interpret them as relating to shoes for you (click the previous link to look for yourself). The Depression Chic trend means looking to the past for inspiration- the eras designers picked from ranged broadly, so take your pick. Your Geometry Lesson is to look for big shapes and 3D effects like pleated ruffles (take a look at these heels too for less!). Goddess Worship, unsurprisingly, means you’ll see wrap sandals, open platforms and gladiators, perfect for the omnipotent. And Marrakech Express (think Moroccan influences) leans towards beading detail and strappy sandals that look great with silk jumpsuits and caftans. Style.com also added Sporting Goods to their list but they certainly did not mean basic trainers; designers were pairing sporty styles on top with fierce platforms and heels, at the very least a high heel sneaker pump. Last, the Trash and Vaudeville trend means you should be thinking a little bit 80s. Look for peeps of neon color, studs, deconstruction and those warm-weather boots.

These remind me of a neon fanny pack I once loved

These remind me of a neon fanny pack I once loved

Report Chanya wrap sandals

Moroccan beaded wrap sandals

Nanette Lepore Savage Lover sandal

See the pink snakeskin and teal on the heel!?

All the rest of the sources I consulted agree with the above trends with a few exceptions. Many, including Dannielle Kyrillos from Daily Candy, had COLOR in their lists of spring essentials (not restricted to colors just for the 80s effect) and Glamour Magazine also added zipper accents which I give them a virtual high-five for! (and my examples of which are all… black… listen people, I gave you enough color above ;)). Happy shopping!

Pour La Victoire Ella

Betseyville Peach Peep-Toe Flat L.A.M.B. Selene

nyshoespyI know this short bit is going to sound like a plug, but it’s a true story! I ran into a woman at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop the other day (p.s. try the coconut version!) who was shopping for her wedding. Having been walking in snow all day, our conversation snapped me into the reality that some people do actually choose to have their weddings in the winter (you can probably tell I’m not a big fan of the cold).

But I will admit that (in theory) I can see the appeal: rosey cheeks, romantic snow pictures (imagine the bride’s white dress, in the snow, with a colorful bouquet of flowers and ruby red lips – wow), roaring fires, white being symbolic of purity, those cute mittens built for hand-holding, maybe ice skating together instead of a first dance, and escaping to somewhere warm for your honeymoon!

Being shoe blog-minded though, I got to thinking too that the strappy heels I looked at before I got married would sure make for some blue toes in a winter wedding. So, I sought out to find the perfect shoes for a bride to wear when shivering her “I Do”s (come on, I’m sure some crazy romantics opt for outdoor winter weddings too ;)).

Carlos Santana Bond wedding bouquet of roses Christian Louboutin mirrored platform pump

From my research, I noticed that most shoe store’s “evening” sections only include strappy heels with maybe the occasional peep-toe. I don’t have to imagine how frustrating it must be to not be able to look at “evening shoes” when you’re shopping for your wedding of all things! On top of that, most bridal magazines seem convinced that all winter weddings will either be indoors, holiday themed, or they avoid the topic altogether (I’m not going to link to bad advice, but if you don’t believe me, search for “winter wedding shoes” online). So where do you go from there?! Well, since the rules for shoes are pretty much the same for all indoor weddings regardless of what’s going on outside, I’m going to focus on shoes for the couples that will at least be outside for pictures – I’ll assume you chose this season to embrace it!

I think an obvious first thought for a winter wedding is white boots. If you’re going with white though, I prefer them to be a not-quite-white color to avoid being super matchy (which is almost impossible anyway given all the different versions of “white” that wedding dresses come in now – don’t worry, I’m done with that rant). So, I love the bluish, slightly distressed (but not messy!) look of the ankle boots below by Tashkent by Cheyenne and the alabaster of the platform booties by ASOS (see the flash of yellow below the ankle?!).

Tashkent by Cheyenne wedding bouquet dusty rose ASOS stiletto boots_

However, you could also go with boots in your accent color, like the Carlos by Carlos Santana boots at the top of this blog paired with a red rose bouquet. P.S. I had to add the Christian Louboutin hot pink mirrored heels up there too because a red sole, if you can afford it in this economy, might be worth freezing off a toe… plus that platform will totally keep your feet out of the snow, right?

Remember that although many winter boots are chunky, padded and not so cute, you can often find streamlined and polished styles like the gold Marc Jacobs beauties below or this champagne colored wedge boot by Kenneth Cole Reaction. One easy checkpoint is to just stay away from chunky rubber soles to keep the look more refined than rugged (if you’re worried about slipping, try sticking these on your shoes). For another fine example, I’m completely obsessed with the United Nude booties below that, believe it or not, I’m pretty sure were thought up way before Marc Jacob’s version. Definitely a wedding shoe you’ll want to keep wearing long after the ceremony.

Marc Jacobs ankle boot wedding bouquet gold United Nude Eamz Booty

But if wearing boots just doesn’t spell Cinderella for you, there are many closed toe pumps that are just as dressy as traditional evening sandal heels but will protect your feet a little more. I love the pyramid studs and yellow heel on the light gray (not exactly white!) Marc by Marc Jacobs shoes below which could bring a nice bright note to a usually dreary season (in which case I strongly suggest yellow tulips in your bouquet). Or to add a bit of a glam to your fairy tale, you might like the 4.5″ platform on the mary-janes by Davis by Ruthie Davis in my third spot.

marc by marc jacobs heels yellow tulips Davis by Ruthie Davis palisades pump

Last, a metallic pump will reflect all the wrappings and sparkle of the winter and be an amazing formal wedding shoe. Try to look for a shoe with a subtle detail like the pleating on the this one below by BCBGMaxAzria or just an inspired lace-up design (paired with a flash of silver at the heel and a hidden platform) like these very modern Barbara Bui heels. Sequins or rhinestones added on top of a full metallic pump can look like total overkill (unlike some strappy styles where there isn’t enough metallic fabric or leather on the shoe to really compete).

BCBGmaxazria Courtney wedding bouquet blue Barbara Bui platform bootie

As a final final note, I thought I should add two practical snow tromping options, just in case. I know there are some women who will want to wear flats for their wedding, but it’s pretty hard to keep snow and water out of anything resembling a ballet flat. Since I also know more than a few women who have an unquenchable love for flat sheepskin & shearling boots, I decided to first add these new rubber rainboot UGGs. At least they’re a dressy gold color (and you’ll be warmer than everyone else). And in my second spot (and a unisex option -guys!), are these awesome 8-eye Dr. Martens (which come in a pull-on Chelsea boot version too). Something about the entire shoe, including sole and stitching, being perfectly white just makes them look so cool… and, of course, perfect for a wedding.

Good luck out there you crazy kids! And I wish you all a long and happy marriage.

UGG gold rainboot Dr. Martens tall white

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