Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shoetember Finale: The Meaning of Shoes

I have to say, I never expected this to be hard. Hey, just throw some shoe pictures on the blog, tell some stories about them, instant success! Or something. Anyways, it's been good.

So, why shoes? What is the point, anyway? What's it all about, Pucci?

Shoes are the least cruel branch of fashion. Not in comfort, necessarily, though improvements have been made, but, of all fashion, they are the one thing that anyone, not just fourteen-year-old Bulgarian anorexics can put on and feel as fabulous and fashionable as anybody else. (That and jewelry, I guess, but going around showing off your jewelry is just vulgar. Also, it rarely makes your legs look good.) They are easy too-- the quick way to take a tried-and-true outfit and make it fancy, or casual, or appropriate for hiking*. And of course, they're popular for being popular, like beanie babies, or tech stocks. Fancy shoes have become the established metric for female status, which I should nobly claim that I do not buy into at all, but come on. The truth? Whether it is for good reasons or base ones, for a certain segment of the population, nice shoes make us happy. And there's nothing wrong with a little bit of happiness.

But really, the meaning of shoes is that they keep your feet from being naked.

*Okay, that might be stretching it.

Shoetember: Of Travels Past and Future

Brand: Lulu Guinness
Purchased: Lulu Guinness boutique
Materials: Leather, Crystals
Work Wearability: Nope

Notes: I bought these the first time I went to New York as an adult, before Lisa moved there or Cornelia was nominated for an Edgar Award, at the very charming Lulu Guinness boutique in the West Village. I agonized over the purchase, but I think at this point we all know how that turns out for me.

This is relevant because I'm off, along with Cameron, for an Eastern-US-and-Canada trip, starting with a redeye Thursday night, that will include a stop in New York (along with Montreal, Burlington (Ontario), and Washington (DC)). I may end up in this store again, or I may not. Either way, I have these shoes, and really, shouldn't that be enough for anybody?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shoetember: Two for Tuesday: It's a Death Traps Party, Who Could Ask For More

Brand: Belle by Sigerson Morrison
Purchased: Bloomingdales
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: Good

Brand: Cynthia Vincent
Purchased: Gilt Groupe
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: Not for this job. . .

Notes: I'll say it right up front: This post has far less to do with the shoes than it does with shameless self-promotion. But the shoes do tie in, so it's okay.

As some of you know, some time ago, a short story I wrote, "The Trouble With Death Traps," was published as a podcast. (Warning: Story is severely overwritten. Proceed at your own risk.) And now, several years and one aborted puppet show later, I came up with a sequel, and the same fine people who took on the first have found a home (and a new title: Ghost in the Death Trap, which is much better than the one I had) for the second. It's tentatively scheduled to post in November; you know I'm going to keep you updated.

As for the shoes? Well, I'm not going to say I bought them because they put me in mind of the vaguely-Central-America-ish setting of the stories, but I'm not going to say I didn't.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Patton Oswalt and the Robot Dancing Girls*

In Which I Take a Famous Comedian To Task on Grammatical Matters and Wonder About The Kids Today

Last Saturday** Cameron and I went into the city to see Patton Oswalt do a standup show at the Masonic Auditorium. It was a great show, and his success was made all the more impressive by the fact that, though a lovely place with an amazing view, the Masonic has no bar, making it less than ideal as a comedy venue. I mean, I'm not saying that you have to drink to enjoy the labors of comedic professionals, but it helps.

One of the openers came out on stage with a Stella Artois, and a good half of the audience turned to the other half and said, "Hey, where did he get that?"

But it speaks well to Mr. Oswalt's comedic prowess, that he was able to do so well to an almost totally dry house (except for that one opener). I liked some of his stuff more than the other (Cameron's the big fan), but there was only one bit I really took issue with.

At one point during the set, someone in the audience (as I suspect many people in many audiences have been doing lately) shouted out, "You lie!" This got a good laugh, and Oswalt ran with it. I don't know if it was really off the cuff or a bit he had on hand for when this happened, about how that wasn't even a sentence, it was just stupid caveman talk, which was all well and good, but the problem was, it was totally wrong.

There are a lot of points whatshisname, the shouter (I can't quite bring myself to look it up) can and should be criticized and mocked on, but I'm sorry, grammar just is not one of them. "You lie" is a perfectly functional sentence, with both a subject and a verb, that accurately expresses the point the speaker wished to make. Stupid, pointless and rude? Yes. Grammatically incorrect? Sorry, no.

You'll be glad to know that I made this point at length to Cameron after the show. I think he really appreciated it.

That settled, we toddled over to the Tiki Bar at the Fairmont for some post-show drinking and kitsch. Quite a few other people from the audience had the same idea, including David and Kyros, with some of their friends, who I ran into in the hall when I went to find the bathroom. They decided against, due to the cover charge, and all I can say is, boys, did you ever miss a show.

Though I would have called the place primarily a bar (what with it being in the name and all), it serves food and must be an all-ages place, because there was a group of girls who could not have been out of their teens there celebrating an apparent birthday. They were all dressed essentially identically, in short black dresses and flat sandals, variation apparently only allowed in hairstyles. Which is all well and good, teenage years being when one typically learns that success depends on your ability to conform, but then they started dancing. That's when things got strange.

The band started playing an uptempo number, and it was like someone flicked a switch; suddenly all the girls were lined up in an orderly formation, dancing a perfectly synchronized routine, like they expected Zack Efron to show up with a basketball any minute. I thought it was line-dancing, someone else claimed it was the electric slide. (The bar at this point was heavily tilted towards people who had come from the comedy show, and I would say the general mood of the room was "flummoxed.") And the crazy thing, the truly mind-blowing part, was that they didn't seem to be doing it ironically.

I wonder if our generation used up all of the irony, and today's children are left to march through life with nothing but clear-eyed sincerity? Terrifying thought.

Look, I get that I am not a "young person" any more. I turn thirty-two in a couple of weeks, which is not exactly old-old, but it is definitely reaching the point where the actions of current teenagers confuse and disturb me. But it's not supposed to be like this. They are supposed to be doing things like stapling live skunks to their heads and writhing around on the floor to Ukrainian emo rap-rock, not engaging in activities more commonly used in retirement homes for light exercise.

Honestly. Kids these days.***

*Sold Separately
**Yes, more than a week ago. This shoe thing is taking up a lot of my blogging time.
***Neither of the preceding were complete sentences.

Shoetember: I Am Nothing If Not Sincere in My Flattery

Brand: Ralph Lauren
Purchased: Bloomingdale's
Materials: Fabric, Rubber
Work Wearability: Good

Notes: I admit my shoe inspirations are not always entirely original. I believe I picked up the Sigerson Morrison obsession from Lisa, leading to the somewhat amusing moment when we discovered that we owned the exact same pair of kitten-heel slingbacks (not pictured, yet) and my first great shoe purchase (also as-yet unphotographed) probably wouldn't have been Ferragamos if my grandmother hadn't owned several pairs she bought in Italy. These aren't actually the same thing, but they fall into the general category. They happen to be cheap and colorful knockoffs of the famous Belgian Shoes (with a resemblance so close as to make me wonder if there might be a copyright-infringement lawsuit in here somewhere), known to me because of the pairs owned by Cornelia Read, new resident of New Hampshire, now-corresponding member of my writing group and author extraordinaire, currently suffering from genre issues and the potential of weasel vomit but sure to pull out of it with flying colors. I will admit to a certain amount of jealousy of her writing prowess, but I would dispute the theory that these represent some sort of mystical consuming-the-powers-of-another-by-wearing-similar-shoes thing. To be honest, I just thought they were cool.

Remember: Bad artists copy. Great artists steal. And people who have only ever made $145 dollars* from their art buy cheap knockoffs.

*Got paid for my story today!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shoetember: These Boots Were Made For. . . Well, What Do You Think They Were Made For?

Brand: Timberland
Purchased: Timberland Outlet, Gilroy Outlet Mall
Materials: Fabric, Leather, Rubber
Work Wearability: Why Not?

Notes: You wouldn't know it now, heck, I forget sometimes, but there was a time when the outdoors was a major activity of mine. I am not one hundred percent sure how this happened, but I suspect my parents were involved.

I grew up on the edge of a large regional park (in a geodesic dome, but that's another blog post), the kind with trails and deer and coyotes. They ran a children's program called "Junior Rangers," which I think was mostly supposed to be hiking and camping and instilling a love of nature into citified youth, but sometimes veered off into craft projects and trail maintenance. I remember one notable spring when we spent every Saturday digging up an old WWII-era bench that had gotten sunk in the mud by a pond, and another month devoted to a project of making coracles out of willow branches, black plastic and duct tape.

It turns out that duct tape isn't terribly waterproof.

But there were more nature-oriented activities too, like creek walks, which is where you go and walk up a creek (now almost certainly illegal, due to creeks' criminal slipperiness) and monthly overnight backpacking trips. So, by the time I left the group in high school, after serving as a participant and an aide, I thought of myself as being at least somewhat outdoorsy. The impression persists, even though I don't hike much anymore, it's been years since I went camping, and longer since I've backpacked anywhere*. But I wouldn't dream of having a shoe wardrobe that did not include a good pair of hiking boots.

*Another story for a different time. This is a good one because it involves my total humiliation, but has a reasonably happy ending.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shoetember: Be Prepared. And Shiny.

Brand: Christian Lacroix
Purchased: DSW, Clearance Basement
Material: Leather (Golden, With Rainbows)
Work Wearability: Eh, Why Not?

Notes: Some people, many people, might question why one would need to have a vast wardrobe of shoes. To which I might respond, "need" is such an interesting word, a word that can mean so many things. Or I might say, but then how would you be sure to have gold heels on hand, just in case?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Shoetember: Title Goes Here

Brand: Aldo
Purchased: Aldo
Materials: Fabric, Plastic
Work Wearability: Quite good

Notes: You know, this is actually starting to get hard. If you had told me I wouldn't be able to sustain thirty days of writing about shoes and myself, two of my very favorite topics, I would have found that unlikely to be true. But here we are, on the twenty-fifth, and I am clearly running out of steam. Worse than that, I am starting to suspect that the world at large was not, in fact, crying out for detailed information on my footwear collection. I know it sounds crazy, but I think it might just be true.

But then, maybe this is just a passing mood, a brief bout of bloggui, and by this time tomorrow the inspiration will be pouring out of me like iodized salt that has been specially treated not to clump in high humidity. It's a dream I have.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shoetember: A Short Post About Short Boots

Brand: Faryl Robin
Purchased: DSW
Materials: Leather, Rubber
Work Wearability: Excellent

Notes: Remember this? I decided.

Still want that necklace, though.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shoetember: Pucci Makes the Psychological Well-Being

Brand: Pucci
Purchased: DSW
Materials: Fabric, Leather
Work Wearability: No, but in a way, yes

Notes: There is a story here that I am not going to tell. Not because it's so shocking (it's not) or personal (sort of, but not really) or because I am ashamed of it (that might actually be part of it, though it really shouldn't be). There are two reasons I'm not telling you the story I am telling you about not telling: one is that it's hard to do without coming off as obnoxiously whiny, and the other has to do with these shoes. But I will explain.

At one time, I was in grad school, in a PhD program in molecular biology. Then I wasn't in grad school anymore, though I did receive a master's as a lovely parting gift. How that came about was the source of some unhappiness, and one tearful rant by the pool in Bali, for me. For some time afterwards I harbored a certain amount of anger, and occasional fantasies of poetic justice (or, frankly, flat-out revenge). And then there were these shoes.

I wanted the shoes. They were beautiful; fun, bright, adorably proportioned and perfectly suited to my style. But they cost more money than I had ever spent on an item of clothing before in my life, even at DSW. So I was torn.

I think the original idea came from Ben, though I don't think he ever anticipated it being taken to the logical extreme. It had to do with making a psychological sacrifice for a physical acquisition, though I think the original example had to do with letting go of a minor annoyance to purchase ice cream at a baseball game*. But, I figured, if ice cream, why not shoes? The payment would have to be much greater, of course. I would have to let go of something bad for me that I was really holding on to, something big.

Which is how it came to be that I exchanged my bitterness at my entire grad school experience for a pair of Pucci heels. It isn't perfect, and I do still catch myself fantasizing about costing my former advisor a job, when he finally loses his tenure and comes crawling to industry, but for the most part I catch myself, and remind myself that I can't do that sort of thing, because I have fabulous shoes.

As The Manolo says, Pucci makes the smiles!

*Go A's! Next year!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shoetember: Two For Tuesday: Boot Edition

Brand: Børn
Purchased: Macy's
Materials: Leather, Rubber
Work Wearability: Good

Brand: Can't find the label
Purchased: Nordstrom's
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: Good

Notes: These are a pair of cheap plastic boots from Old Navy. They were black, largely waterproof, and not terribly comfortable, but attractive enough and I had not angst at all about wearing them, so I wore them until a heel fell off. Which, admittedly, didn't take that long.

So, emboldened by the knowledge that this was something I would get good wear out of, I set out to find myself a higher-quality replacement pair. I narrowed it down to these two, and then I had trouble narrowing it down any more.

The advice I got was unequivocal: Mary, Alice and Abigail all agreed that the brown pair was superior, in terms of appearance, wearability and price. Even a random lady in the Macy's shoe department stopped and said she liked them. (Note to guys: women do that. It's a thing.) So I bought them, but the black ones haunted me. What if something happened? What if some black-boot requiring extravaganza came up, and I was unprepared? And had I fully considered the fact that they had rhinestones in their soles?

I would try to stretch out the story here, to build up the suspense a bit more, but considering the above photo, I think we all know how this story turned out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Speaking of Giant Feet. . .

Since we're on the subject, I should say that I did not buy any shoes in Tokyo, though I did make an attempt. I came across a pair that I liked in a store in Harajuku, red patent leather heels with a wide black elastic band across the top. They were sized extra-small to extra-large, so I sought out a salesgirl for help. They must have gotten the question a lot, because she had a chart on the back of her badge that spelled out how the sizes related to various international standards.

An extra-large was a six and a half.

Yeah. Not so much.

Shoetember: Pride Cometh Before the Footbath

Brand: Cole Haan
Purchased: RueLaLa
Materials: Leather, Rubber
Work Wearability: Bad
Travel Wearability: Good

Notes: I'm sure, as readers of this blog, you have been assuming, hoping, even, that I have forgotten about the Japan trip and my assertion that I would continue writing it up until I got to the very end, or at least past the second day. But I haven't. I remember it quite often, largely with feelings of guilt. But if I'm not going to get around to writing the actual blog posts, at the very least I can approach it tangentially.

I bought these sandals with the express purpose of wearing them on the trip. I figured, it being summer in a city known for being somewhat warm and humid, I would need sandals with plenty of breathing room. So I bought these, and had rubber soles added over the leather ones (for traction and a bit of extra padding) and away we went.

I won't say they were not as advertised, comfortable and fashionable, but I will admit, however grudgingly, that I do understand why so many tourists choose the clunky and well-padded over the attractive in travel footwear. By which I mean, by the end of the first day, which involved much walking, I was footsore and cranky, and came close to picking a fight with Cameron over whether or no we were going to go out for dinner. I learned to soak my feet at the end of every day, which improved matters immensely.

All that aside, I wouldn't say I regret my decisions. As a visitor in Japan I already felt like a wrinkled, style-less, spotty giant. If the occasional hot bath was what it took to keep me from adding "marshmallow-footed" to that description, then, well, that's what it took.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shoetember: I Am Not Ashamed

Brand: Naturalizer
Purchased: Macy's
Materials: Leather, Plastic, Fleece
Work Wearability: No, But Yes

Notes: Are you surprised? Did you even think that I owned a pair of grubby indoor-outdoor slippers, or that, if I did, I would be willing to admit it? But of course I would. There are no secrets between us dear Blog Reader/spambot/person who has stumbled across this page looking for dirty-shoe-fetish-porn. And of course I own them. In fact, since we are being so honest here, this is one of the few shoes I have ever purchased in multiples. The first pair, darker in color and now beaten down even further than these resides at my parents', in case of emergencies. These were purchased late in the lifespan of those, when I discovered that Naturalizer was discontinuing the style and Macy's (yes, again) had them on sale for half of what I originally paid.

So I bought two pairs.

The other is still in their box, wait for the day when these are too grody even to haul the recycling down to the dumpster, or stagger to Jamba Juice when I'm down with the flu. Because that day will come, and I will be ready.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shoetember: Huaracha-cha

Brand: Dr. Scholl's
Purchased: No idea. Let's just say Macy's because Alice works there.
Materials: Leather, Wood
Work Wearability: None, but they're good for concerts.

Notes: I think this may have been one of my first Lucky-inspired purchases. I remember putting one of their "Yes" stickers on the page with these shoes, though if I recall correctly it was a while before they actually reached a price point I was comfortable with. What I like about them is the reimagining of the traditional huarache as a platform heel, and the fact that, being from Dr. Scholl's, I can use them to make myself taller at concerts without needing a walker to make it back to the car.

Tall shoes are key to concert enjoyment. That and strong elbows.

Friday, September 18, 2009

United Breaks Guitars: The Sequel!

Wasn't expecting the tubas.

Shoetember: The Brand-Name Gullibility Index

Brand: Sigerson Morrison
Purchased: Macy's
Material: Rubber
Work Wearability: Oddly good

Notes: Loyal readers* of this blog may have gotten the not-unreasonable impression that I have a thing for fancy designer shoe brands. This is not entirely untrue, but even I have my limits. And one of the things outside of these limits is paying more than twenty dollars for anything that has been produced by injection-molding, no matter whose name is on the label.

Of course, you roll your eyes at that. "Ooh, is that your big stand?" you say. "Must be nice, only having to skip things that would never come up in this reality."

"That's what you think," I respond, somewhat tartly, because I still have a cold and it's making me cranky. "Well, take a look at this. And this. Not to mention this. Which reminds me, don't even get me started on the flip-flops."

Look, I do believe that, to a certain extent, you get what you pay for. But I am also aware that the markup on items like designer shoes is already extreme (hence my devotion to the discount), and when you throw in cheap materials and manufacturing techniques then you, my friend, are being taken.

All of which is a very roundabout way of saying that I wasn't intending to buy these shoes, despite having seen them somewhere and thought they were cute and kind of amusing, because they very clearly violated my price policy. But then, on one of the group shopping trips to Walnut Creek of bygone days (group consisting of some combination of myself, Mary, Abigail and Alice) (bygone days consisting of before half of everyone moved to the East Coast), I came across them in some combination of sale conditions-- extra sixty-percent off on all sale shoes, I believe-- that put them at somewhere around $19.60. Which means I get to both have the shoes and be smug and self-righteous about them.

*There's at least two, right?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shoetember: Simple Glory

Brand: Giuseppe Zanotti
Purchased: RueLaLa
Materials: Suede, Leather, Crystal
Work Wearability: Not in this lifetime.

Notes: Honestly, is there anything I need to say here? Just look at them. Bathe in their beauty and be healed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shoetember: I Have a Head Cold and I Can't Think of a Clever Title, Sorry

Brand: Delman
Purchased: Gilt Groupe
Materials: Leather, Wood
Work Wearability: See here

Notes: One of the handy/dangerous things about my discovery of the sample sale websites (a name which isn't strictly accurate, but seems to be widespread) is that I have been discovering fine brands that I was not previously well aware of. I had heard of Delman, I think, but it took these showing up on "final sale"* and reminding me of my much-prized black strappy work wedges for me to make a formal introduction. They have ended up being one of my favorite acquisitions, which is good, but I'm really not sure I needed another favorite shoe brand.

Unless, of course, I did.

*Extra discount, but unreturnable, so you had better guess right on your size.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shoetember: The Giant White Sneakers of Learning

Brand: K-Swiss
Purchased: No Idea. Possibly DSW. Possibly somewhere else.
Materials: Leather, Rubber, Shoelaces
Work Wearability: Yes, but no.

Notes: Well, of course I have sneakers. A person can not really be expected to exist in the world without a good pair of giant, grubby, comfortable sneakers. Are they fabulous? Not a bit. But they are good for events like the annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner hike at my Uncle Bruce's place, out to Licorice Rock and back. Of course, for that to work, a person needs to wake up before about noon, if that person happens to be in San Mateo and the dinner, hike and walk happen to be in Willits, as these two places do not happen to be what you would call close together.

But that person would put on her going-for-a-walk shoes and jeans, in the valiant hope that she will make it there by something that vaguely resembles "in time," load the boyfriend who is meeting the extended family for the first time into the car and drive even more like a madwoman than usual. Except for the parts where she gets stuck in traffic.

Long story not exactly short, but leaving out all the self-recriminations, we did make it. Not in time for the hike, though, and not in time to change before the pictures, because the light was going and Mom wanted to get a group shot for the Christmas cards, and there are times when it is best not to oppose her. (This was one of them.) So there I am, right on the edge of the group, with giant white sneaker feet.

Dear reader, I have learned to always set an alarm.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shoetember: A Monday Haiku

Brand: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Purchased: DSW
Materials: Leather, Plastic, Rhinestones
Work Wearability: None

Sometimes you just want
flowers on your feet, you know?
Nothing wrong with that.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Shoetember: Rain And/Or Shine

[Edit: It seems that my power of being wrong about everything extends even to the weather. I wrote this entry on Friday evening; over Friday night, directionally-challenged Tropical Storm Lisa arrived in the Bay Area, apparently having mistaken it for the tropics. However, I am leaving the post as-is because, while not exactly factually accurate, it is still essentially true.]

Brand: Aerosoles
Purchased: Aerosoles
Materials: Plastic
Work Wearability: Good, In Appropriate Weather

Notes: Sometimes, you learn about the value of a shoe from what happens to it. I bought these on sale, as a kind of fun "whatever" purchase, worth the thirty dollars they cost. But they have gotten a surprising amount of use, thanks to a good level of comfort and the fact that what at first passed as patent leather to my then-undiscerning eye turned out to be waterproof plastic, useful for the three months in California when it rains (January, February, March). (Sometimes November, and everyone gets very excited and forgets how to drive.) But they really proved their worth last year on the Stuttgart/Strasbourg trip, when I needed a shoe to prove I was not the stereotypical white-sneaker American, but still keep my feet reasonably warm and dry.

They worked just fine, though at some point they seemed to get noisier, and my traction wasn't that good. Late in the trip I happened to take a look at the soles and discovered the reason why: I had lost the tip off one heel and was walking on the bare plastic. So I packed them up, brought them home and took them to my favorite cobbler and had them fixed up, good as new.

I'm not going to make the Germany trip this year (I tell you, it is an absolute injustice that I do not get at least four weeks of vacation), and the hills here are still golden*, but when the time comes, the boots will be ready.

*The only acceptable description for the California summer landscape.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Shoetember: Hollywould, If She Could

Brand: Hollywould for Target
Purchased: Target
Materials: Fabric, Plastic
Work Wearability: Not Unless I Change My Line of Work

Notes: Ah, for the glory days of Target and their designer collaborations. They still do them, but they don't seem to be as frequent, or as good. These were from one of the early ones; a shoe line that I had eyed longingly on Zappos, but never gotten up the urge to buy becoming suddenly attainable. Are they of the highest quality, beautiful works of the shoemaker's art? Of course not, they retailed for twenty-four dollars. But they are cute, and bright, and they have bows on their heels so really, what more do you want?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beauty How-To: The Smudgy Eye

Step 1: In the morning, apply a thick line of Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Zero (black). Apply mascara, if you remember.

Step 2: At lunchtime, go to the gym and run four miles on the treadmill. Sweat like a skillet full of finely diced onions on medium heat.

Step 3: Take a shower in the gym locker room, wash your face with the soap from the dispenser, which is exactly the same color as the shampoo, dry yourself roughly with one of the provided towels.

Et Voila!:

Bonus Tip: If at all possible, try not to get more than five hours of sleep a night for the preceding week.

Shoetember: I Am Just Asking, Yellow

Brand: Cole Haan
Purchased: Bloomingdales
Materials: Plastic, Leather
Work Wearability: Surprisingly Good

Notes: Why did it take so long for someone to figure out that you could put athletic-type soles on non-athletic shoes and not end up having them look like this (shudder)? They had athletic soles; they had nice shoes. Is it really that hard? Anyway, these are cute, and they're comfortable, so I guess I should just be grateful to live in a more enlightened era.

They do kind of rub on the weird bony protuberances that stick out from the backs of my ankles, but that really is more my problem.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shoetember: My Shoes Are Made of Fish!

Brand: Cynthia Vincent
Purchased: Gilt Groupe
Materials: Leather, Eel skin
Work Wearability: Surprisingly Good

Notes: They're lovely professional/dressy shoes, of a comfortable height, and the nude (for me) color is flattering (I have it on good authority it makes your legs look longer) and I got them for an excellent price. But lets not kid ourselves; I did not buy these for any practical reason.

I bought them because they're made of eels!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


(In rear; Darcy's the camera hog.)

RIP, little buddy.

Must Have

I want every last item on this page, particularly this one and this one. But most of all, this one:

Nod to Lucky for making the find.

Shoetember: I See By Your Outfit That You Own Cowboy Boots

Brand: Durango
Purchased: At K&K Boots on my way out of El Paso
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: Theoretically good, if I had the nerve

Notes: Way back when, when the title of this blog made some sort of sense*, I drove across the country in my brother's car. It was after I had ungracefully left grad school, and before I started working, and I just kind of figured, when am I going to have a chance to do this again? So away I went.

It was a fantastic time, if occasionally tedious, especially across Texas, which did not end up being my all-time favorite state. But I did stop in El Paso and buy myself some real cowboy boots (which, I hasten to add, I have worn to ride a real horse), so it wasn't all bad.

*You see, it was all about getting there.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shoetember: Two For Tuesday

Brand: Geox
Purchased: Bloomingdales (?)
Materials: Suede, Plastic, Metal
Work Wearability: Not Likely

Brand: Børn
Purchased: Macys
Materials: Leather, Cork
Work Wearability: I Wish

Notes: I could claim all sorts of things as my favorite shoe discoveries of the past few years, but if we're basing it on use, the winner would have to be the comfort wedge. I am, at 5'6'', not exactly short, but not really what you would call tall either, and I like a bit of height from my casual footwear (also, I'm too lazy to get my pants hemmed). And, though you might not guess it from the bulk of my collection, when you come right down to it I do like a shoe I can wear without suffering.

The wedge satisfies those requirements, with the added bonus of being more stable than the average heel, which is always a good thing when we're talking about me (we are).

As far as the brands go, both are ones I have had good luck with, though, as is the nature of comfort brands you have to choose carefully from their styles so that you don't end up looking like you've strapped leather cement blocks to your feet-- another victim of the comfort-shoe mafia. So there's that to consider, plus I've never actually been sure how you're supposed to pronounce "Børn." Do you gargle the "ø"? Make it nasal? Assume it's some sort of Commie (Cømmie?) plot and just pronounce it like an honest American "o"? Do you treat it like it has a j in front of it, as in "Peter Bjorn and John?" Can I use that as an excuse to embed this video, because I like the whistling?

I think I can.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Shoetember: To the Earth From Whence They Sprung

Brand: Prada
Purchased: Neiman Marcus
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: None

Notes: I was going to tell you about the fantastic deal I got on these (this last year has been amazing for shoe deals, if less so for other investments), but honestly, that's going to get pretty old pretty fast. So it's a good thing I wore these to my cousin Beth's wedding on Saturday.

The wedding (which was lovely) was held at a winery in Livermore (surprisingly lovely), just down the street from Lawrence Livermore National Lab (not known for its loveliness, but not relevant to the topic at hand). The ceremony took place on a lawn near the vineyards, with a grand view over the valley, marred only slightly by the wheeling turkey vultures. But, like the lab, the carrion birds are not part of this story; the lawn is. Because, being grass on sod, it was somewhat soft, and despite my focused attempts to keep my weight on the balls of my feet, when we stood up to cheer the bride and groom on their way back down the aisle, I could feel the slow, inevitable sinking of my heels into the sod. And I managed to catch myself before I tipped over backwards onto my folding chair, but the damage was done: my lovely shoes were, for the moment, Prada lawn ornaments. Which wouldn't have been quite the problem if I hadn't been sitting in the second row, and the ceremony was over, and the guests were following the (quite proper) tradition of leaving in the order of seating. Which meant that everyone behind me had to wait until I had yanked my shoes out of the turf and reapplied them to my feet before they could proceed to the reception and its very generous bartenders. So that was less than ideal.

On the other hand, I'm just glad I didn't go for my alternate choice in footwear. I'd probably still be there.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Shoetember: Deja Shoe

Brand: Sigerson Morrison
Purchased from: RueLaLa
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: Good

Notes: Pointy-toe flat. Purchased at online discount retailer. Semi-inappropriate for work, but worn there regularly. Shiny and flat. Made by Sigerson Morrison.

Why do I feel like I've heard this song before?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Shoetember: I Love it When a Shoe Comes Together

Brand: Belle By Sigerson Morrison
Purchased at: NYC Bloomingdales
Materials: Leather, Metal
Work Wearability: Technically yes, but no

Notes: Sometimes, a thing is simply meant to be. At least, that's my excuse. These shoes were the crown jewel of the extended shopping trip I called "visiting Lisa in New York" last year. I saw them in orange in the Belle by Sigerson Morrison store (conveniently located directly below the apartment of Lisa's then-boyfriend-now-husband) and loved the shape, but couldn't quite bring myself to spend quite that much on orange shoes. I loved their proportions, the sleek but low heel, the just-pointy-enough-but-not-too-pointy toe, and the gathered detail, but the risk of looking like a duck was just too great. While we were in the store, I noticed that they had a similar style of flats in silver, and commented that I would be a lot more tempted if the heels came in that color.

Fast forward to another day of shopping (What? It's what I do.) After an intensely girly lunch at Snaks at Saks we proceeded to tour the retail options of that great city, at one point ending up, as one must, in the shoe department of Bloomingdales. Where they had the same shoes. In the silver, at a discount. Plus an extra discount for "friends and family," which we received because honestly, who could be friendlier than us?

Needless to say, I not only wore these shoes to Lisa's wedding, I built my outfit around them.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Shoetember: Flat, But Shiny

Brand: Indigo by Clarks
Purchased: Clarks store (I think)
Material: Leather
Work Wearability: None

Notes: This whole taking pictures of my feet thing is a little more revealing (not like that) than I expected. For example, I could have sworn these were cute sandals, but it appears that they make my feet look like gold pancakes. With toes. This may require a rethink.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Shoetember: Strapped In

Brand: Faryl Robin
Purchased: DSW
Materials: Leather, rubber (sole)
Work Wearability: Umm. . .

Notes: Faryl Robin has been one of my favorite brand discoveries of the last couple of years (a fact which will be made abundantly clear as we proceed). They make fashionable shoes that are shockingly comfortable, with the only downside being that the wear does show after a while. But I do wear them a lot; probably more than I really should.

You see, working in a lab gives you a lot of latitude in how you dress, but there are certain safety-oriented guidelines, one of which is "closed-toe, closed heel shoes." Which, since I work with nothing much more dangerous than the occasional heavy bottle, I interpret to mean "no very open-toed shoes, and socks count."

I would probably wear these even more often if I didn't have such a hard time holding on to black socks. Honestly, with the number of pairs I've bought, you'd think I'd have reached saturation by now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Highly Ritualized Traditional Activities in Tokyo

A Wedding at the Meiji Jingu Shrine:

Dressing Up in Costumes and Posing For Tourists To Take Pictures:

Also: Making Bad Choices in Hair Color

That's a popular one.

Shoetember: Now That's More Like It

Brand: Oscar De La Renta
Purchased from: Gilt Groupe
Materials: Crocodile, Leather, Wood
Work Wearability: Poor

Notes: Sure, the historical context and insights into my psyche are fine and all, but whatever, this is about shoes. And these are Shoes. The only ones I own that are made out of crocodile, which is something right there. (And no worries, the crocodile harvesting is done all sustainably and stuff. I saw it on an episode of Dirty Jobs.) They had a retail price that would blow your mind, if I could remember exactly what it was, but don't worry, mom, I didn't pay anywhere near that. I bought them in the additional clearance sale at one of my favorite discount sites, an occasional event that plays out like an electronic feeding frenzy, with bargain-mad shoppers frantically adding things to their carts and speed-clicking "refresh" and wishing this whole mess could be solved with a good old fashioned elbow to the face. It's fun, though hurried shopping can lead to failures in judgement, which may or may not have something to do with why I now own a sequined gold belt.

But that's not the point. The shoes are the point, and the point is, the shoes are fabulous.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Shoetember: A Modest Beginning

Brand: Old Navy
Purchased at: Old Navy
Materials: Fabric, Plastic
Work Wearability: Good

Notes: I know, not exactly the flashy kickoff (ha!) you were expecting. But I'm doing all my shoes, from the you-paid-how-much designer heels down to plastic flats from Old Navy, and this seemed like as good a place to start as any.
Some of my shoes are going to have more interesting selection stories, but the one for these is simple: I saw them in Lucky, and I went out and bought them. Which I realize makes me sound like a brainless little shopper bee, but hear me out. I have my reasons.
You see, I am not a naturally stylish person (for conclusive proof of this fact, see here). And four years at Caltech, while excellent for learning organic chemistry, thermodynamics, and how to sleep through most of math class and wake up just for the proofs, provided exactly zero guidance in how to dress like a sane adult. So it was that I was well into my twenties and in the process of being kicked out of grad school (more on that later) that it began to occur to me that there could be more to clothing than jeans and t-shirts and Salt Water sandals, but I knew I was never going to get there on my own. So I decided to seek expert advice.

Of the myriad options, I settled on Lucky, because I liked its straightforward approach (Here are some products. Perhaps you would like to buy them.) and What Not To Wear, because it featured people who looked even worse than me. Which brings me back to the shoes (I knew we'd get here eventually). I saw these featured on a page of very similar pairs and since they a) were the only ones that cost less than fifty dollars and b) fit the WNTW edict of "pointy toes make your legs look longer," I made my way down to Emeryville and bought them (for about $9, I think, the discount-happy folks at Old Navy having already marked them down). I bought another, similar pair in a houndstooth print at the same time, which I may get to eventually.

I'll admit, they're not the world's greatest shoes. There's no padding to speak of, the plastic aspect means my feet can get sweaty and too much walking can make the edges rub (you can actually see that a bit in the photo-- I had just worn them to Kinkos and back to get the posterboard). But they're still kind of cute, and work-allowable (I'll get back to this too), so they still see a certain amount of use, mostly with skirts.

Because, you know, they make my legs look longer.