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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Week In Review - Grey

Grey is so easy. Any way you match it -- with black, brown and any color in between -- you can’t help but look put-together. On the color wheel, grey is what happens when opposite colors are mixed with white: blue and orange, red and green, purple and yellow, black and white. The practical application of this is a neutral shoe that transcends color matching issues while retaining the ability to slide between gradations of warmth and coolness.

This versatility makes it not only the must-have color of season, but a workhorse that will serve you well in upcoming seasons. It's present moment, future outfits. From shoes and boots to scarves and sweaters, grey works. To wit, some of our most popular boots below. Is it just a coincidence they come in variations of this versatile hue?

First up, the coolly grey Dakota by Jeffrey Campbell. This everyday boot blends worker details like a buckled rand and reinforced heel with urban-chic suede styling. The delight is in the details: ultra-soft suede upper, brass-buckled harness. The shaft is short and wide -- not quite mid-calf -- with a light natural slouch. We love them pulled over all-purpose skinny jeans and paired with a tailored riff on a workshirt or subtle close check plaid.

Warm up your look with the grey-taupe Legion by Steve Madden. The slouched shaft is cuffed at top for a casually textured look. A decorative cinch with buckle is a popular detail and a perfect way to play off cuffs and bangles. The rounded toe and heel are trimmed with double-stitching, making the foot appear smaller. The three-inch heel gives you enough of a boost to dress up a pair of jeans while keeping you stable enough for a day roaming the city. For a casual evening, pair the Legion with a sweater dress and tights.

The Mazzie by Calvin Klein in grey suede is a happy medium between warm and cool tones. The blueish undertones of its soft suede are reminiscent of Jeffrey Campbell's Dakota. A flat sole and fitted full-length shaft keep you balanced and comfortable (and provide a much-needed respite from this season's sky-high heels); the narrow toe keeps it feminine.

A decorative suede tie cinches the cuffed top, lending a uptown riposte to the Legion's downtown buckle. Wear it cuffed with your skinny jeans or pair with a mid-length skirt or dress and your favorite pair of tights. Want edgier? Uncuff the top for the over-the-knee look of which we can't get enough. Fashion-forward and cozy-warm, the Mazzie's versatility grows with your wardrobe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All Tied Up: The Essential Scarf

For women and men alike there is no single accessory more important in the colder months than a scarf -- no, don't even argue with us, it's true. The scarf, like the ever-handy towel in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ( ... the most "massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have comes in handy in most every situation"), tops off your look, keeps you warm and can be styled so many ways from Sunday they should add another month to the calendar.

A scarf alone can take you from day to night, from city to country chic. Wear it like a necktie, a shawl, a belt or a bandolier. Tie up your hair or tie down the strap of your handbag. They come in silks and wools and cottons, patterns and plain colors, and all varieties of texture.

We recently received a shipment of pashminas that set our little stylist hearts a-flutter. Their tapestried fabrics provide rich color and texture while a 28" width gives plenty of accessorizing latitude. Thus inspired, we present some styling options to make the most of this all-important piece!

The lush textures in this burgundy pashmina activate a simple outfit.
Wear it in generous, thick folds as a neck scarf (right) or tie a simple
overhand knot for an over-the-shoulder casual bolero (left).

The drape of this paisley pashmina makes it a superb layering tool.
Thinner than the tapestry pieces, it has excellent flow and a shimmery finish.
Wear it like a Roman Patrician (left) or bundle-knotted like a kiffeyeh.

Leah Benjamin wool scarves mix complex patterns and colors with lovely sheen.
The wool threads fall straight and flat, letting you style these scarves with the foppish

fling of a Barbary corsair (left) or as a sloppy-chic, once-around choker (right).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Week in Review

With the fall season having set in, we’re seeing Steve Madden once again inspiring us with fashion-forward styles in boots and shoes. The popular Tianna boot (in purple, left) is a day-long companion. Its soft suede upper is lightly scrunched above the ankle and flat sole, playing against the structure of a rounded toe.

This mid-calf boot will take you through the day in jeans and carry you into the night. Pair them with a flirtatious dress and bright tights. Currently available in black, brown, the ever-fashionable grey, and this season’s hottest color -- purple -- the versatile Tianna is a sure favorite. And at $84 ... really, people? C'mon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New York Boot Report

As the responsible and worldly (and frankly awesome) marketing team that we are, we took it upon ourselves to visit New York and make sure the fashionables there were on the up-and-up. Turns out they were and then some. In fact we found the women (and, yes, the men) dressed to their stylish nines. (And that was before we spotted Zac Posen outside Chelsea Markets; we still cover that jacket … but we digress.)

We would never call them fashion victims, but it definitely seemed like most of the populace had taken some shrapnel from the boot bomb that exploded somewhere south of Hell’s Kitchen. Boots, boots, boots were everywhere and every height and everybody couldn’t get enough of looking at each other and hating them for their footwear while saying with a smile, “Great boots!”

Pulled over skinny jeans, worn over tights, worn under sweater dresses and trench coats that would make Burberry jealous, the boot reigns supreme here. Slouchy, hard and polished, destructed, motorcycle, cowboy, roper, riding … the look is definitely here and we love it. A tall, clean boot adds instant grace to a look; distressed, harnessed leathers build up attitude; cowboy boots and your other Western varietals lend a laidback chic.

Which makes it all the more exciting that shearling is cropping up in greater numbers as the temperatures drop up in the northern hemisphere. Sam Edelman, Ugg, Manas and La Canadienne are just some examples of labels that are adding woolly details to high boots. We find the effect charming, a kind of Northern Chic that adds a rustic verve to the sophistication of the long boot.

Take up the call and do more of the same, we say. Buy some tall boots (knee or higher, please) and wear over jeans or cashmere leggings and be sure to mind the Gap: they have a pretty nice trench that plays into the menswear trend and works beautifully against a boot. We’re looking for sophistication here. Tailoring. Polish. Decorum. Dressing like we care how the world sees us, and, more importantly, how we see ourselves. This is the focus of fall in 2008. We saw it coming and stocked up; we’re glad New York has followed our lead.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taming of the Shoe

Yesterday was a real "ooh" and "ahh" day for us. Coveting the Pour La Victoire Iva ("ooh") is a very Ectasy-of-Saint-Theresa moment, but ... how on earth would we accessorize pale gold patent leather menswear wingtips? Then it hit us ("aah!"): maybe we're not the only ones with such dilemmas.

Sometimes we feel these shoes are so fabulous we couldn't possibly add an outfit to them without slighting their magnificence. And since we can't walk around in them naked (well, legally speaking), we find ourselves in a quandary. But these shoes are often easier to wear than they look, becoming a foundation that transforms your whole look into something memorable. We've chosen an apparently difficult shoe and a demanding boot to show you how we would accessorize them to take advantage of their forward styling.

What to Give the Everything Shoe: Pour La Victoire's Iva
A quick run-down of the Iva's attributes makes for an intimidating list: pale gold leather, captoe, wingtip detailing, laceless vamp, menswear ... So how to bring it into the realm of the wearable? Start with the sole.

The pale gold leather is a red herring. The color is so pale as to vacillate between yellowish golds and silvery pewters, and its reflectiveness means, like skin tones, it will take on qualities of the colors around it. The factor that isn't so malleable is the deep brown sole. Black bags are out. The Iva is ultimately a warmer shoe; black bags will look flatter and colder paired with it.

Picking up the color of the sole, we're adding HUE's diamond texture knee-highs in opaque brown under a knee-length pencil skirt and dressy blouse. The brown bridges the shoe and skirt while the low-texture diamond pattern adds more kick and femininity.

Finally, a bag. We wanted a big expanse of brown, very clean, to bring the color up from the floor. The menswear look of the Iva suggested something more structured. We love Tano's Getting Warmer in Truffle. The structured hobo look is versatile and the slight crackle in the finish keeps it from being just plain. The nickel hardware tempers the shoes' yellow tendency.

Pour La Victoire's Iva with Tano bag and HUE tights.

Controlling the Crocodile: Vic Matie's 8222 Knee Boot
The 8222 takes the sophistication of an equestrian knee-high -- clean, tall upper, low riding heel, narrow rounded toe -- and makes it a stand-out with a bold, patent crocodile finish. It's a great boot, but it's a lot of boot. Here, we want to play up the confidence with more of the same.

We see these tucked into tight, dark-washed jeans under a very tailored blazer with minimal details. The calf-hugging shaft is slimming and sexy. Let embellishment come from layered chains by A.V. Max, David Aubrey and Peter M. The jewelry will also pick up the chain bit hardware at the top of the boot. Add a final pop of color and retro style with a one-of-a-kind ring made from vintage estate-sale buttons (available in-store).

Vic Matie's 8222 with layered chains by A.V. Max and Peter M. and vintage ring

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rather Natty in Fringe

Taking a tour through the site lately we're not sure if we're shopping for shoes or if Google hyperlinked us smack dab in the middle of the costume trailer for "The Searchers." While we certainly wouldn't have minded the chance to see Natalie Wood sporting rawhide ponytails, we decidedly loved the reality: fringe is a prominent feature on fall's boots, bags and scarves.

This isn't your '60s hippie beads-and-fringe, neo-Haight-Asbury rerun (and in this post post-Colonial world we're going to refrain from the easy "ethnic"), but a harkening back to something simpler than computers and mortgage-backed securites -- a pioneer leaning that would have brought a tear to the eye of James Fennimore Cooper.

Fringe today is a rustic touch dressing up modern boots that have clean silhouettes and quality, distressed leathers. It's the lost colonists of Roanoke 10 years later; proper English attire gone native; country manor with a bit more buckskin. Rustico.

Sam Edelman
gets it. His knee-high Utah and the drool-worthy buckaroo Uri come in a camel suede with raked tiers of fringe. The orthagonal lines of the fringe give it a contemporary feel and a narrow toe keeps them dressy. We see these with skinny, deep-wash denim or a miniskirt -- anything clean and simple that lets the fringe do its thing. Bowie knife optional.

Jeffrey Campbell's slouch dally boots in fawn suede sport a single pane of fringe along their short shaft. A buckled cinch along the back controls the scrunch factor and the kemptness of the fringe. Our favorite feature here is the scuffed heel and toe, adding personality and a dark sheen to the soft suede.

For those of you unconvinced by our pithy references to American literature to sell you fringed suede, we can only say ... have you seen the handbag? Suay's Suede Fringe Shoulder Bag is day bag by way of the Pony Express, though we doubt Buffalo Bill's had intricate laser cutouts backed with an interior gold foil layer. Or a hip brass ring-tie. (He most assuredly had the fringe covered.)

For larger sizes, visit Barefoot Tess Barefoot Tess for larger sizes.