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Get ready for a time warp (remember the CD/video warehouse clubs that used to come in the mail with the huge sheet of colorful stamps?) – the hottest thing in shoes right now is monthly shoe subscription sites.

I’ve noticed 3 major competitors on the scene: ShoeDazzle, JustFabulous and Sole Society. All of these companies will give you some pretty great shoes for very low prices with free shipping. But realistically (well, for all but the most ardent shoe addicts), if you’re going to subscribe to get inexpensive shoes every single month, you probably don’t have a ton of extra cash (or else you’d be stocking up on Manolos instead), so you’ll have to choose just one to try out first. I decided to do the dirty work for you and figure out what really separates these companies from one another. From fashion founders to who has the best pictures, here’s the lowdown:

HOW ALL 3 SITES ARE ALIKE – ShoeDazzle, JustFabulous and Sole Society all offer free shipping and free exchanges within 30 days (items returned for a cash refund are a different story). Each site will also give you personal shoe picks (based on VERY similar “Which shoe/celeb/runway pic do you like better” quizzes) along with additional shoe options on the side that are available to everyone. And if you don’t like the shoes that were chosen for you, each site will happily provide you with new options. You can have shoe selections sent to you to view for free for as long as you want, but once you make your first purchase, you are automatically enrolled in that company’s monthly club. After you’re enrolled, your credit card will be charged, and you get 1 item, every month unless you actively opt out before the 5th of each month (gotta stay up to date on those emails!). But there’s no limit to the number of months you can opt out. Surprisingly, there’s little else that the sites copy one another on.


Sole Society, launched in February 2011 by shopping site Hautelook (which is owned by Nordstrom), is the newest shoe subscription site around. Their team of 6 Fashion Insiders (or Sole Sisters – read more here) includes actress Bree Turner and experienced fashion bloggers, editors, and buyers from all over the web.

COST – $49.95 a month for 1 shoe every month

WHAT YOU GET– At the beginning of every month, Sole Society will send out an email announcing that 6 pairs of shoes picked just for you are available to be viewed in “My Closet.” If you don’t like their picks and request alternate shoes, the original 6 pairs are all put back into their inventory and can no longer be purchased (well, not easily). Sole Society does not ask you for any feedback on what types of shoes you’re looking for instead. Sole Society does encourage you to contact them though, if you see a shoe from one of their Trends page fashion spreads that you’d like to have added to your Closet, so I’m sure the same could go for a shoe from your previous Closet picks. You only have the option to request new shoes once per month.

Your shoe choices are centered around high heels, especially platforms right now, but they also have flat sandals and wedges for April.

Fantasia from Sole Society

VALUE – All the shoes Sole Society offers are from their exclusive Marco Santi collection. They claim Marco Santi is a designer quality label which I believe is supposed to justify the slightly higher monthly membership; but since the brand was created just for them, you kind of have to take their word for it. However, it is significant to add that many of the shoes in your personal selections are genuine leather, unlike the shoes featured on the other sites I’ve reviewed here, which can definitely be worth an extra $10 (Note: there are fabric and faux leather shoes offered on Sole Society too).

SHOPPING EXPERIENCE – Sole Society gave me a cool, in-depth Style Bio after I finished their introductory quiz, which they told me they’d be basing my shoe picks on. Apparently I’m “Fierce, Sexy, Modern – you make a statement wherever you go with your daring and unexpected style. You stamp a hip aesthetic over every look, whether you’re in sweats on the weekend or wearing a show-stopping mini-skirt and heels. You’re all about confidence and individuality, and are able to pull off anything from vibrant print tops to curve-contouring pencil skirts. Your closet is full of sexy items including tailored jackets, faux fur and anything leopard.” Oh yeah! (except for the leopard part – only in moderation ;)). But if, after a while, you think that bio just isn’t getting you the shoes you really lust after, you can easily change it at any time in your My Closet page. ” Daring, Unexpected, Cutting-Edge” instead, maybe?

In My Closet, you are not shown whether other color options are available for the shoes selected for you, though often there are 2 colors to choose from when you click on the shoe to view more details. On the pages describing each individual shoe, each picture has a nice zoom option. Be careful not to miss the extra pictures though; only 4 are displayed initially. You have to press the light gray arrows above or below the picture list to view more. Sole Society also usually includes 2 model outfits that would work with the shoes. However, there is are no links or brand names given to identify the clothing in those pictures. There is also a box with Notes from the Fashion Insiders that often gives an outfit idea or some other comment about the shoes.

Sole Society lets you see the number of people that have liked a shoe on Facebook when you hover over a picture in My Closet, unfortunately when you click on the shoe to view more details, you don’t get anything else review-wise. Sole Society does want you to rate how much you like the shoes visually based on color, style and the heel and you can see your own ratings (not sure how that’s helpful), but there are no statistics shown from other users. Hopefully though, since they’re gathering that information, they will display or do something with it in the future.

Also on the website, Sole Society has a fun Fashion Insider of the Month feature (this month it’s the owners of nail polish brand Ginger + Liz). Unfortunately, you cannot add the polish to your Sole Society cart and there are no links either. The Trends page is similar: outfits are displayed pairing the shoes with fashionable clothing (brand names are given) but there are no links or information on where to purchase the clothes (VERY surprising since the company is owned by Nordstrom!).

RETURNS – Sole Society offers free exchanges within 30 days as mentioned above for all sites. But, they deduct a $7.95 restocking fee and a $9.00 return shipping fee for any items returned for a refund. There is no fee for items returned for an exchange (continental US only). So, basically, sell the shoes to a friend if you don’t want another pair as an exchange.

BONUS – Thanks to Marie Claire magazine, you can get $10 off your first pair of shoes until April 30, 2011 with the code SPRING10. Also, you can earn a free pair of shoes for every 3 friends you refer who also make a purchase.

FINE PRINT – If, for some reason, you forget to check your email for years or just never manage to make that 5th day of the month cut-off, you actually won’t end up paying Sole Society thousands of dollars. Once you accumulate 3 credits (or $150) in your account, you will not be charged a monthly membership fee again until you redeem a credit for shoes. So, if you’re super forgetful (and/or are a chronic amnesic shoe-a-holic), Sole Society’s credit limit will costs you the least out of all the sites reviewed. However, please note that that $150 can be charged to you EVERY YEAR (per their FAQs, credits are only valid for 12 months).

The one year expiration date for credits also means there is the possibility that you will not get shoes you technically paid for – and this is probably one catch that made these subscription sites lucrative in the past: If you forget to skip months and try to use your credits as quickly as possible so they don’t expire, you open yourself up to another monthly membership charge, and if you don’t use the credits, you could be paying $150 for nothing (except looking at pretty pictures).

If you wish to cancel your membership, Sole Society is, by far, the easiest site to work with. You can cancel by calling their customer service (6am – 6pm PST or 9am – 9pm for the East Coast crowd), emailing them or just visiting your My Account page online – there’s a link at the bottom of that page. They also have live chat!!

JustFabulous started in 2010. Founded by Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr (also co-founders of WhoWhatWear, an online fashion magazine), the site also boasts 2 celebrity stylists completing the team. The site promises you access to up-to-the-minute trends without the expensive celebrity price tags.

COST – $39.95 a month for 1 shoe or bag every month

WHAT YOU GET – JustFabulous features shoes and handbags! At the beginning of every month, JustFabulous will send out an email announcing that 6 pairs of shoes and 6 bags picked out for you are available to be viewed in “My Boutique.” If one or more options have sold out, you will also be given some Sold Out Solutions for each unavailable item (JustFabulous recommends that you view your Boutique as soon as possible on the 1st of the month since they do tend to sell out of popular items quickly). And if you’re totally shoe crazy, there’s a link to 3 more bonus options that almost made your Boutique (but are still available for you to purchase). If you don’t like the shoes and/or bags they found for you, you can complete a short questionnaire detailing what you’d prefer instead and select to keep any of the original shoes and bags you liked.

In The Haute List tab at the top of the site, you also can view/buy the top 4 shoes and 4 handbags chosen each month by JustFabulous’ Style Experts. Plus, there are approximately 10-14 more items updated weekly under the Featured Styles tab (for April there are lots of rainboots) which are available to everyone for a limited time. AND you get access to the W3 collection (17 items) with a great Style Guide inspired by the WhoWhatWear website.

The shoe options are heavy on the towering heels, especially platforms right now, but they also have flat sandals, wedges, ankle booties, chunky heels, ballet flats and knee boots. The bags range from clutches and hobos to totes and cross-body styles.

JustFabulous is also carrying a full line of Fab Soles, from the makers of Foot Petals. Since they’re from Foot Petals and are priced identically, they appear to be exactly the same (just less petal-y in shape).

Jackson from the W3 Collection at JustFabulous

VALUE – I noticed that many of the handbags JustFabulous sells (for $39.95 each) are from the Vieta brand and can be purchased online at the company’s site ranging from about $60-$100. For an example, check out JustFabulous’ Dusk barrel bag on The Haute List, which is also here on the Vieta site. I think Vieta’s prices are really inflated for man-made/PVC bags, but if you don’t agree, you can say you’re getting a great deal! I do think JustFabulous has priced the bags pretty accurately though – you’d usually pay about $40 for a similar bag in New York City’s Chinatown, for example.  So for people without the desire to hunt or who don’t live anywhere near NYC or another major metropolis where I’m sure similar stores exist, JustFabulous’ bags could be a great low cost option. All their shoes are also made from man-made materials or fabric (no leather); so think Payless quality (side note: Payless has given me a few of my favorite shoes of all time, so I’m not knocking it!).

SHOPPING EXPERIENCE – JustFabulous gets tons of points for their videos of someone walking in every pair of shoes (surprisingly useful), their Reviews section and their styling ideas. JustFabulous is the ONLY site that lets customers post full written reviews for any item. They also display a handy Member Fit Survey, an Overall Summary rating, and tell you what percentage of members who purchased this style would recommend it – all in case you just want a quick overview. And, proving that the site is run by experienced style watchers, JustFabulous features 2 really amazing style boards with complete outfit options underneath each shoe (with different shoe colors). The best part about the style boards is that they actually link to the other sites where you can purchase the clothing from like TopShop and ModCloth! A+

Things that need improvement mainly involve the handbag section: bad partial interior shots, bad partial descriptions (how many interior pockets?), no video (which would be cool to see the bag opening and closing or how much can fit inside), no style boards, and no photos of the bag on a person or mannequin to scale the dimensions (measurements are in the details). However, the Haute List does have a video posted for ideas on wearing those featured bags.

RETURNS – JustFabulous offers free exchanges within 30 days as mentioned above for all sites. But they deduct a $5.95 restocking fee for any items returned for a refund. There is no fee for items returned for an exchange.

BONUS- Get 1/2 off one pair of shoes on the day you join. You can also earn a free item when you refer 2 friends who make a purchase and another free item every time you reach 100 points (20 points earned per shoe or bag bought, so every 6th item is free). Plus, right now you can get free shipping if you add a pair of Fab Soles to your order along with a pair of shoes or a handbag.

FINE PRINT – If, for some reason, you forget to check your email for years or just never manage to make that 5th day of the month cut-off, you actually won’t end up paying JustFabulous thousands of dollars. Once you accumulate 5 credits in your account, you won’t be charged again until you use one. So your maximum debt at one time is capped at a little under $200. Their FAQs do not state that credits here will expire – the only site that doesn’t.

To cancel your membership, you must call customer service (which means you have to reach them during their business hours, 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM PST or 10 AM to 7 PM for us East Coasters). But JustFabulous does also have Live Chat available during those same business hours.

According to co-founder, Kim Kardashian’s Showroom bio, ShoeDazzle began in March 2009. She, along with Anya Sarre of ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and ‘The Insider’, and 8 other fashion stylists with extensive resumes make up the team which promise an intimate shopping experience customized to make you feel beautiful and pampered.

COST – $39.95 a month for 1 shoe, bag or jewelry set every month

WHAT YOU GET – ShoeDazzle features shoes, handbags and jewelry, plus a chance to score some clothing and random fun stuff too! At the beginning of very month, ShoeDazzle will send out an email announcing that 5 pairs of shoes, 5 bags and 5 jewelry sets picked out for you are available to be viewed in “My Showroom.” You can also see 14 or 15 more shoes that almost made the cut. Plus, if you don’t love your personal section of the first 5 shoes, you can request alternates be chosen for you once per month by completing a short survey about what you’d like to see instead (and you’ll still be able to view and purchase the items from the original picks – so I suggest ALWAYS requesting alternates for more shopping fun!)

The shoe options here are mainly crazy tall heels, especially with platforms, as on the other sites, but they also have flat sandals, wedges, ankle booties, ballet flats and knee boots.

Scroll down further in your Showroom, to browse a frequently changing (but often sold out) assortment of monthly Featured items. Here ShoeDazzle has listed shoes that were styled into their Featurettes (fun fashion photo shoots that appear on the homepage and across the top of My Showroom) as well as items like their multi-pack of Foot Petals brand foot cushions (at ShoeDazzle’s $39.95 price it’s actually cheaper than retail) and their current Casual Chic shoe collection of 14 sneakers (the first of these websites to offer sneakers!).

ShoeDazzle really dazzles when you connect your Facebook account. When you link up, you can use ShoeDazzle’s Friends’ Showroom feature to view the Showrooms for stylists Kim Kardashian, Anya Sarre and Heather Zweigel as well as any of your Facebook friends’ who have joined. This means you can buy the stylists’ and any of your friends’ 15 Showroom items (as long as they’re not already sold out) for tons of extra options.

And there’s more: ShoeDazzle is taking a cue from other limited time only sale sites and sending Dazzle Deals every Tuesday and Thursday via email. The Deals start at 9 a.m. (PST) and go until 9 p.m. (PST) the following day or when the item has sold out, whichever comes first. Recent Dazzle Deals have displayed dresses, beachwear and a Proliss curling iron set all for the same $39.95 per item membership price.

Unfortunately, ShoeDazzle does NOT give you more options if some of your handbags or jewelry selections have sold out and you cannot request alternates either if you don’t like the options they gave you (you’re only allowed to choose alternates for shoes). But you can add yourself to a Waitlist for any item to be notified via email if more are re-ordered.

Nellie from ShoeDazzle

VALUE – While most of the heels are marked as ShoeDazzle brand on the insoles, the sneakers in their Casual Chic feature are all brand name items like Chinese Laundry Wash, Skechers Sport, Pony, Mia and Converse. I also spotted a few brand name handbags like Melie Bianco and Nila Anthony (usual range $50-$99). But, please note that all the bags and most of the shoes are made from man-made/synthetic materials, not leather. The only exceptions I found were the Casual Chic collection of brand name shoes.

SHOPPING EXPERIENCE – I liked that ShoeDazzle tells you what they’re basing your selections on; when you complete their Style Quiz, they give you a style category along with your matches for designers, colors and patterns. Mine said I was artistic, whimsical and free-spirited – I think so! But if you think they’re totally off, make sure you don’t leave that area until you’re satisfied. There is a link to re-take the quiz on that final results page, but no way to do it again after you leave.

ShoeDazzle only allows shoppers to rate an item on a scale of 1 to 5 stars and they let anyone rate, not just people who have purchased the item. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem (I like being able to rate things without being required to buy them first), but without any written reviews or fit information available (except what’s listed in the About the Style section where most every shoe is “true to size”), the rating becomes almost worthless. You can’t tell whether the ratings are mostly based on the look of the shoe or important things like fit and comfort. The exception is when you connect with Facebook. When you have your Facebook account linked with ShoeDazzle you can post shoes you like to your own wall and get comments from your own friends (could be helpful if you just want opinions on looks or choosing between 2 styles). Facebook connecting also gets you access to the Stylists’ Showrooms, where you can view and reply to random peoples’ comments on those picks (and vice versa) – so at least for some shoes, you might be able to give and share info about fit.

When you click on an item to see more information, ShoeDazzle lists detailed photos including a shot of someone wearing the item (including wearing the bags! Extra points!), a zoom feature and, for most styles, a complete outfit. The model’s outfit specifics (like brand and price) are not provided, but if you’ve connected to Facebook, the stylist that picked that item will give you another idea in a sentence or two about how to wear the item. Another functionality comment though – since you can see that alternate colors are available for an item in My Showroom, I wish you could click those boxes to change the color of the picture there instead of having to open the item description page each time to see those other color choices.

Unfortunately, there was one other thing I was not happy with on the ShoeDazzle site. After you’ve signed into your free account and start shopping, ShoeDazzle will allow you to add items to your Shopping Bag but they will not let you view or edit your Shopping Bag until you’ve provided them with your credit card information – although they do still promise not to charge you until you’ve actually made your first purchase. I found this unnecessary and annoying since I add, compare and delete items from my Shopping Bag constantly – but maybe that’s just my strange habit and this won’t bother most of you. (Let me know your thoughts on this, readers. I’m curious to see how your online shopping habits compare.)

Luckily, ShoeDazzle does have a pretty fantastic YouTube channel with news, tips and behind the scenes fun, so that leveled the scales again.

RETURNS – ShoeDazzle offers free exchanges within 30 days as mentioned above for all sites. They also deduct a $5.95 restocking fee for any items returned for a refund. There is no fee for items returned for an exchange.

BONUS– Get 20& off your first item. You can also earn a free item every time you reach 1000 Style Points which can be amassed through referring friends who make a purchase (200 points for each friend) and buying items yourself (100 points for each item purchased, so excluding friend referrals, every 11th item is free).

FINE PRINT – If, for some reason, you forget to check your email for years or just never manage to make that 5th day of the month cut-off, you won’t end up paying ShoeDazzle thousands of dollars. Like JustFabulous, once you accumulate 5 credits in your account, you won’t be charged again until you use one. However, please note that that $200 can be charged to you EVERY YEAR (per their FAQs, credits are only valid for 12 months). Their one year expiration date also means that if you don’t use your credits, you could be paying ShoeDazzle up to $200 for nothing.

If you wish to cancel your membership, you can ONLY do so by calling customer service (which means you have to reach them during their business hours, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Pacific time. That’s 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for those on New York time). ShoeDazzle specifically states accounts cannot be closed via email.

And that’s it. I hope you can find the right site for you and may your closets be filled with shoes.

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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

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 noticed these shoes popping up here and there and I believe they’ll become a full fledged trend pretty soon. Recessed platforms or island platforms look like a chunk of platform was glued onto the bottom of an otherwise complete shoe at the last minute. That’s not the case, of course, as anyone with a broken heel who thought, “hey, maybe these can be flats”, will attest; the pitch of the heel must incorporate the extra height of the platform front. But that trick of the eye, especially when paired with a platform that is made in a totally contrasting color or material from the rest of the shoe, makes this style really stand out (and makes it my new favorite). Note: a true recessed platform will not reach all the way to the toe of the shoe and will stop abruptly in the back without any continuation beyond the area at the ball of the foot.

As I mentioned above, recessed platforms elevate (ha) platform styles into the double-take realm (just wear and watch!). And what’s even better is that this style can be found in stores now by new “it” designers like Charlotte Olympia for $895 all the way down to department store brands for $39.99!

Whether they have a sliver or a serious chunk of platform, these shoes clearly look best with ridiculously high heels. But if your feet scream in anything over 3 inches, don’t count these out – with the platform height added in, often the height the shoes feel like stays in that manageable 3 inch range (although you’ll look like you’re wearing closer to 4).

A few of my favorites in every price range are below, and as always, happy shopping!

L.A.M.B Charon

Elizabeth and James Mason

Isabel Toledo for Payless

Pour La Victoire Atman

Charlotte Olympia Dolly

Camilla Skovgaard

Olsen Haus Freedom

Worthington Atessa

Opening Ceremony Chantal

Jessica Simpson Colie

Traditionally, the vast majority of couples in the US have their weddings in June, the first month of summer. But this June was super rainy (I think record-breaking) and I’ve noticed more late summer weddings planned for this year and next. But regardless of when exactly it happens, you can bet that at some point in your life you will be invited to a summer wedding, maybe even your own! (I’m realizing now that I actually crashed my own wedding, since I technically never got an invite ;)) Anyway, I think that’s a good reason to have a blog strictly about Summer wedding shoes! (P.S. if you’re still undecided, see my Winter wedding shoe blog too).

So, you may think anything goes when pairing shoes with summer toes, but you’d be wrong! Well, ok, maybe not wrong, but some shoe styles are far superior to others depending on the location of your ceremony:

1. All Outdoor Weddings – If you’re having a summer wedding, its safe to say you’ll probably be having your ceremony outdoors to enjoy the nice, warm weather. First of all, do yourself a favor and avoid cooping your feet up inside hot closed toe pumps (ew, foot sweat!). If temps top 90 where you are, even gladiator style sandals may start to rub and feel not-so-good, so just cross all those shoes off your list now.

Next, even if you opt for a location that can reserve an indoor area in case of rain, remember that you’ll have to have your shoes picked out long before you’ll know Mother Nature’s decision. Any shoe will work indoors, but not every shoe will work outside. So, the main thing to consider when choosing your summer wedding shoes is the ground you’ll be walking on: sand, grassy lawn, packed dirt path (garden), flagstones, loose gravel, etc.

2. Beach Weddings – Trust me when I tell you that you will get sand in your shoes. And I’ve had even those most comfy shoes turn evil at the beach. So now the question is, do you want to have to take your shoes off every 5 seconds to dump them out? Or will you stay strapped into your shoes all day to suffer while a few misplaced grains rub your foot raw? If your answer is “yikes!”, then when trying out shoes, think first about how easy they are to get on and off. Unfastening ankle straps, for example, can require some pretty awkward movements if you’re in, say, a long, straight, low-cut dress. But if your shoes are open to let the sand in and out freely, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about removing them. Here’s a good beach shoe philosophy: don’t fight the sand, go with it.

Also, thin heels are not going to work so well if you plan on walking in sand, so I’d take those out of consideration now too. Even if you could manage the walk, I’m sure you don’t want to have to focus all your attention all day on not falling. If you really have to have a heel, you could try a shoe with a wide sole like a wedge. But honestly, I suggest you embrace the beachy vibe and go for flat sandals! There are lots of dressy options now:

Flats are the best way to go

Guiseppe Zanotti – just beautiful, and in buttery soft leather

Rampage

Rampage – the jeweled flower on the toe is so cute!

Stuart Weitzman - gorgeous jewel detail, click to see larger

Stuart Weitzman – minimalistic glamour with just 2 tiny jewels and a snake chain

Office (UK)

Office (UK) – your shoe could be your something blue!

Colin Stuart

Colin Stuart – perfect for bridesmaids too

Nine West

Nine West – wear with your wedding gown now and all summer!

3. Lawn or Garden Wedding – Let’s say the weather has been super rainy (not a far stretch of the imagination if you’ve been on the east coast the last few weeks), but just as you’re beginning to panic, the forecaster says it will all end right before your wedding is scheduled, phew! – the clouds part and the sun shines beautifully down just in time. But when you get to the botanical garden you reserved years in advance, you find that all that rain left a lot of mud that couldn’t possibly dry out fast enough! No problem, right? Right! Because you read this blog and you were prepared ;).

Ok, if mud is a possibility (and it probably will be in any garden or lawn location), thin stiletto heels could sink or get stuck and cause you to fall. But, you can avoid all that trouble by choosing a wide heel like a wedge (I’ve got some great picks for you below). Also, if you hate having your wet toes slide around after coming in contact with dewy grass (it’s one of my silly pet peeves) or if there’s a possibility for loose rocks to get into your shoes, you may also want a platform front style to keep those tootsies out of the danger zone. Last, don’t forget about the possibility of grass or mud stains (especially if you’re trying out your footwear during the rehearsal) – it’s a great impetus to try a metallic or colored shoe!

Jill Stuart

Jill Stuart – sweet wedges for a fairy tale wedding

matiko - nude shoes look great with white dresses

Matiko – nude shoes look great with white dresses

Alexandra Anouket - yes, you can do suede in the summer, when it's like this!

Alexandra Anouket – a delicate shade of summer suede

Nine West - classic, elegant and on sale for $30 as of 8/1!!

Nine West – classic and elegant

Oh! Deer - the delicate scalloping offset the chunky wedge heel

Oh Deer! – light scalloping offsets the chunky wedge heel

Mark Fisher - amazing with a yellow sunflower or tulip bouquet

Mark Fisher – these platforms would look amazing with a yellow bouquet

Unfortunately, I’ve found that most wedges are designed as casual shoes (who knows why!), so if you can’t find a pair that work for you, try searching for a chunky heel instead – the wider the base of the heel (where it touches the ground), the less likely it’ll sink in wet soil. But, if you’ve already found your dream shoe and they happen to be a stiletto, don’t worry! SoleMates could be your solution. I got a pair at a wedding expo in NYC last year and they’re pretty fantastic. Basically, the SoleMates High Heeler (in black and clear) slides onto most thin heels to make the base of the heel wider (and as above, that’s key for not sinking). They also don’t damage your heels at all and are totally reusable so, besides maneuvering muddy obstacles, you may find yourself using them all the time to walk fearlessly over sidewalk grates and cracks too.

expert sand walkers only

Christian Louboutin – totally risk worthy

L.A.M.B - muted enough to not steal the spotlight... unless you want them too

L.A.M.B – muted enough to not steal the spotlight… unless you want them too

Pollini - I did python with my creamy vintage dress last summer

Pollini – I did python with my creamy vintage dress last summer

Cole Haan Air -

Cole Haan Air – a romantic style for the traditionalists

A Few Words on Color – If you’ve read my other wedding blogs and as you can see from above, I am not a traditionalist that believes you can only wear white shoes with your wedding dress. But, I admit there is something about the crispness of the color white and the heat of summer that just seem to match. Maybe it’s also because summer shoes are less solid, and their openness is both warranted for the heat and breaks up the color.

But, I will say quickly that there are some nice benefits to not going with white shoes. Since many of today’s wedding dresses have colored accents or, at the very least, silver or gold detailing, you can bring some of those colors to your shoes to compliment to your whole outfit. Also, cute metallic shoes (and colorful shoes in general) are much easier to find in a wide variety of styles than plain white shoes are (In my experience, pretty much all “bridal shoes” look the same). And, since most of my picks are not technically “wedding shoes,” the prices are often much lower!

The End! – For one last side note, remember that it’s all the better for you if you’re a last minute shopper (or a super early one), because starting in July and through August, all the summer shoes go on sale! Happy shopping!

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’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking in this blog. You’re seriously not going to believe it, but every single pair of the shoes below are made entirely out of some sort of rubber or plastic!!! (with the exception of the occasional tassel, buckle or laces).

I haven’t seen this trend covered much in the mainstream media yet, but when old, well-established houses like Tods, Givenchy and Gucci dabble in molded PVC for their Spring collections and so do designers prone to the avant-garde like Marc Jacobs and Vivienne Westwood AND contemporary brands like Tory Burch, Melissa and See by Chloe… well, I would call that a full blown trend.

The best part is that most of these styles are totally affordable; even with all the designer names I’ve stacked up for you, not one shoe is over $200!

See for yourself 😉

Melissa Joy + Ah Jelly Oxfords Melissa Three-Strap Ballerina Gladiator
Givenchy flat tie-up plastic shoe Tods jelly thong sandals
Gucci Etretat Rubber Flats Melissa Strappy Fetish Sandals
Cesare Paciotti Jelly Plateau See by Chloe ankle-strap sandals
Tory Burch Jelly Reva parrot pink

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

avatarHow did you procrastinate this long, it’s already Halloween!?  Now don’t expect me to tell you how to become Marie Antoinette out of toilet paper; your costume will probably have to be fairly basic unless you’re super lucky – most costume stores will be picked bare by the time you get out of work), but never fear, you can work with what you already have and I’ll show you how to get inspiration from your shoes (of course!). You won’t have to dress up with a “My Name Is…” sticker on my watch! (side woot to The Office).

Do you own a pair of mary-janes? Or do you have time to run to Payless to scoop these up? If you do, you’ve got an instant school-girl costume. Add knee high socks or tights, a short skirt (pleated is better but not necessary), button a white button down shirt half way from the top and tie the ends in a knot (or tuck it in but I’m going to just assume that most people aren’t going for modest), then add a neck tie. Put your hair in pig-tails for a Britney Spears twist. Add fake blood if you want to be a zombie schoolgirl (ooh or vampire fangs; more people should be scary).

 

Any platform shoes hiding in your closet? Seriously, why are you worried about a costume when you have an instant hippie outfit waiting to go? Add some jean shorts or wide leg or bell-bottom jeans, a brightly colored t-shirt (or something covered in a floral print, or tie-die… seriously, if you have a tie-die t-shirt you better wear it!). If you have none of these shirt options but you do have a vest, go with a white tee and the vest instead (if you’re really ambitious, make fringe out of a piece of plain paper or brown construction paper and duct tape it onto the inside edges of the vest). Wear your hair down or recycle any long wig front last year, tie a piece of string around your forehead, draw a heart or peace sign on your cheek in lipstick, and hold your fingers up in a piece sign.

 

Last but not least, the I’ve-got-nothing-but-I-have-to-wear-something-better-than-just-a-fake-mustache-or-they-won’t-let-me-into-the-party costume. If you have a pair of shoes that are a solid color (easy enough) but I suggest not black or white, you can work this costume. The brighter the color the better and if they’re patent leather or glossy, that’s even even (yes, double the even) better. Now get a long shirt and some black tights or tights in that same color. Next, make yourself a cone out of matching colored paper and wear it like a party hat (or find an actual solid colored party hat). Then… ready? Draw or use tape to spell out the Crayola logo on the front of the shirt!! Yay you’re a crayon!! This is an excellent group idea too if you have friends also stranded in the costume quagmire.  If you want to see some girls pull it off in a super cute way, click here.

Happy Scare Day / Pumpkin Day / All Hallows Eve / Candy Day / Halloween!

avatarI know Spring only officially began a few days ago, but I’m not talking about forgoing warm weather spending! Here’s your expert arsenal to keep your Spring/Summer purchases au courant for Fall. 

Heard of Isabella Fiore? Well, Jerome Chouinard-Rousseau, formerly the brand’s footwear design director, has started his own line of shoes! In an interview with the World Shoe Association trade magazine, he predicts that ankle boots are going to continue to be a key trend for Fall ’08, along with the reptile prints and color blocking we’re seeing for Spring right now. That’s good news for any shopper being hit even a little by the country’s economic situation right now; I love when trendy purchases don’t fade quickly! 

Via Spiga Anna Sui Steve Madden Survey

Perfect pastel color blocking by Via Spiga, the trompe l’oeil gladiator pieces on these booties by Anna Sui let you pretend you’re wearing sandals!, and these reptile embossed booties by Steve Madden are hot enough to keep in my closet until September (although you might be able to pull these off in the spring with the right pair of pants).

Fashion Institute of Technology professor Sara Petitt echoes that short boots will continue to be a big trend, even suggesting they’ll soon take over the place long held by tall boots in the fashion world. She suggests that oxfords and contrasting heels will match well with tailored Fall fashions that almost demand a well-played, statement-making shoe.

Rafe burnt orange oxfords Sigerson Morrison Chie Mihara Dublie

Preppy-dorky-cool oxfords by Rafe (I saw shoes almost identical to the style of these in a recent Nylon magazine fashion spread), fun orange rubber, pointy-toe flats by Sigerson Morrison, and Chie Mihara peep toes with a contrasting heel. Don’t worry, this isn’t out of left field- you’ll see more about orange below!

For Fall colors, the go-to guy is Tod Schulman, president of Pantone (pretty much the global authority on color). He forecasts white in high use with yellow, pink and gray undertones. And, Nathalie Fausty, consultant for PromoStyl, an international trend research office, adds orange and a deep wine color to the mix. She tells WSAToday magazine, “Warm orange is perfect for footwear. It won’t be seen all over the shoe, but rather as piping or detail. Orange for me is the introduction of neon again, the counter-reaction to the green movement.”

Botkier Jill Stuart Jemma Naturalizer Tyrell

Above are some yellow-white ankle-strap, snake embossed heels by Botkier (wear now as is and with tights for Fall), pink-white platforms by Jill Stuart (a classy day to night shoe – these would look amazing with a crisp gray blazer), and glossy gray-white heels by Naturalizer (will match easily with both full spring skirts and skinny jeans when temperatures fall again).


I couldn’t leave without putting some wine-colored shoes in here! These are almost straight for fall though, I can’t really see any shoe in this color working too well for spring, but my props to you if you try. Let me know your ideas or how you pulled it off if you do!

Nina Madeira Coach Valentina BRAND

Nina brocade heels with an amazing design on the heel that looks like it was carved out, suede loafer pumps by Coach in a deep plum color, and if you want to combine color blocking, reptile prints and an aubergine color, these Gracious Me pumps are a great way to do it.

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