Brogues for Broads

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of F.E. Castleberry of Unabashedly Prep

As a lover of undeniably feminine clothing and accessories, I am just as much an admirer of unisex staples. I’ve yet to meet a button down I didn’t wear threadbare. The same holds true for shoes. I adore a curvaceous heel or bow-laden ballet flat, but have a sweet disposition for traditional men’s shoes: oxfords, bucks and Weejuns—a preference likely nurtured during my private school years. With the resurgence of menswear for women over the past several seasons, designers have re-imagined mens’ classics for the fairer sex in tailored, slim versions. I’ve recently stepped into this gorgeous pair of Ralph Lauren Collection Quinton Oxford, made in Italy. They will break in nicely and only get better with age while anchoring my wardrobe’s most feminine ruffles and florals. (I’m a sucker for the juxtaposition of feminine clothing and masculine details) My first pair of oxfords since prep school, and paired with them, my first set of cedar shoe trees (monogrammed, of course). A handcrafted, sartorial investment I fully intend on handing down someday. Of all the shoes I own—and you know there are numerous—only a select few cause me to truly swoon. This is one such pair.

prov⋅e⋅nance

[prov-uh-nuhns, -nahns] –noun; place or source of origin.

Date of Purchase: Fall 2010

Circumstances: There was a large gap between desire and actually owning these shoes. A multitude of brands took a stab at the oxford in one iteration or another. I scouted several different options, purchased a few, returned them (you can read that full store here). The Ralph Lauren Collection Quinton Oxford appeared in my Twitter feed, mentioned by a gent actually. One click and I was smitten. The wingtip detail was perfect, as was the burnished cognac brown. The price, however, was not. I pursued less expensive pairs, occasionally sending photos to my friend F.E. Castleberry who continually preached holding out for the best quality pair possible. I hold that same belief, but I also explore all my options. I hunted the pair down at a local Ralph Lauren and slipped them on. As predicted, one foot in and I knew there was no going back. The difference in quality was obvious. Eventually, they were ordered and on the way, as was a set of monogrammed shoe trees. Purchase the best quality you can, and then take the best care possible. I plan on handing these down one day.

Compliment Meter: 4. Lots of attention, mostly curiosity from the boys, compliments from the girls. Quote of the day (from my boss), “You’re looking very Annie Hall today.” Shoe confidence level: High.

Comfort: As is normal, the leather is a bit stiff on first wear. Over time they will wear in nicely and are still very comfortable. Overall: 9 out of 10.

Worn with: Navy and cream shirt dress, brown leather belt, pearls, Randolph Engineering aviators, vintage Coach bag.

Thoughts: “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” ~Coco Chanel


Fallen Hard

September 9, 2010 § 4 Comments

Fall is on everyone’s minds, lips and hearts these days. Even here in Texas where the temperatures are still hitting 90, a few rainy days and a tornado have us all donning our Hunters and longing for sweater (and boot) weather. All the September issues have been studied and dogeared. Avid shoppers have been snatching up fall and pre-fall items since mid-summer and yours truly is on yet another shoe quest. It’s one I’ve mentioned more than once…but when I get focused on an item, I stay so. My desire is for brogues—I’ve been pondering a pair for almost a year now. In the past 10 months I’ve fallen in love with some, missed out on others, settled, returned and settled and returned again. Here’s a recap of my journey thus far and it’s not over yet…

The story started here with some inspirational images, and this gorgeous pair of Church’s.

Church's traditional brogues

A worthwhile, albeit hefty investment, they cemented my desire for a pair of oxfords. Then J. Crew came out with their own oxfords. The soft colors and simplified design was desirable, but the sole was just too slight and slender for me. Even more affordable were the pair imagined by Steve Madden. I was drawn to the color and how they looked on a coworker, but the overall feel was just not rich enough, and I want to have these shoes for much longer than one season.

J.Crew brogues (L), Steve Madden (R)

Therefore… I waited. Waiting led to a more determined search, where I found and fell in love with a pair by Ralph Lauren Collection…

Ralph Lauren Collection Menna Oxford

…but I lost focus and lost out. Then, I came upon a few on serious sale at Urban Outfitters and pulled the trigger on both pairs. And then I returned them. Sigh. (a well-crafted pair is worth the wait and the full investment as a friend reminded me)

Chelsea Crew Oxford (L), Candela Spectator (R)

And finally, I’ve found a beautiful bench-made pair, once again from the Ralph Lauren Collection. Updated from their previous offering with a more refined wingtip and beautiful burnished toe and heel they made me swoon. I tried them on and they are a truly gorgeous shoe.

Ralph Lauren Collection Quintin Oxford

My brogue journey may come to a close with these beauties…if my patience can hold up. As they say, if it’s worth having it’s worth waiting for, and I’ve always been one for a fairytale ending.

Thoughts: “My shoes are not fashion, they are gestures.” ~Manolo Blahnik

Late Summer Fling

September 23, 2009 § 4 Comments

new summer staples, even a bit late    new summer staples, even a bit late

Truth be told I took a month and a half break from shoe shopping. That’s right, not a pair, and barely even looking…and that’s saying something for me. As you know from my Replacements post I was on the hunt for a pair of summer sandals, casual, nice and high, to be worn with abandon with shorts and skirts. I’m still hunting, rather, stalking,  these from the Ralph Lauren Collection and waiting for them to approach a more realistic price. For some inexplicable reason, they are still being sold for full retail at DSW even though we are three weeks into September.

A few weeks ago, I had been shoe stalking the aforementioned RL’s when I came across the pair above last month on Yoox, also from the RL Collection. Not surprisingly the striped canvas preppyiness was attractive to me, beckoning thoughts of a late summer jaunt to Nantucket. For everyday life, I pictured wearing them with all my shorts and summer skirts. A stripe can be neutral, but a more interesting one. I scooped these up at 85% off  and they became my first pair of replacements, the first post-challenge pair.

I know, buying espadrilles in August seems late as all the new fall shoes have already hit the floor. However, being that I live in hades-hot Texas, our summer continues practically into October. Besides, all savvy shoppers know the best deals can be had at the end of the season. If it’s too late to wear them now, a classic pair can be saved for next spring. And around here, that’s only a few months away.

Thought: “Always buy a good pair of shoes and a good bed, as if you aren’t in one you are in the other.” ~Gloria Hunniford

My first pair of replacements have been purchased. How did I do?

The Replacements

July 22, 2009 § 1 Comment

Getting rid of over 20 pairs of shoes is a big deal. To be fair, owning enough shoes to then get rid of as many, is also a big deal. The reactions I’ve received from people after explaining my blog and how many pairs I went through has been varied and entertaining. Most males look at me as if I have several heads and then ask if I’m kidding. (really, do women ever kid about shoes?) Some women also find it funny, some can completely relate and others are in a bit of shock and awe…not necessarily in the most positive sense. I can’t blame them, it is a fact I own a lot of shoes, even after the purge. I’m still contemplating if there are more shoes that need to be added to the graveyard…and I’ll keep you posted on that.

On to the true subject of this post: the Replacements. You may think I’m nuts for even considering replacing any of the condemned shoes. However, there are holes in my shoe wardrobe that were being filled, albeit in a mediocre way, by several of the pairs that are on their way out. I will be shopping to fill these holes; not necessarily to replace the old shoes, but to find a more perfect and concise fit for what I am, and in many cases have been, looking for.

First up is a summer staple, the summer wedge. Some years it surfaces as an espadrille (the most classic version), some with a cork heel or with a wood wedge. They work in the thick of summer with everything from sundresses to shorts. Easier to walk in and less precious than heels, I usually rely on a pair or 2 each year. Last year it was my gold wedges from Day 62 which have since been banished to the graveyard. Luckily there are the amazing mid-summer sales going on right now so I’ve found several contenders, and here in the south, summer continues all the way through October so I’m sure to get plenty of wear from them. Some I’ve found are clearly out of my price range…they’re just lovely to look at.

Take a look, vote your thoughts…I’ll be making a purchase this week and will post which pair have made it into my smaller and now more selective, closet:

The ‘Dreamy’ pairs are for looks only…clearly out of the budget unless I can find them on insane clearance somewhere. I adore them both, especially the feminine shape and ankle strap on the Ralph Lauren pair and the braided sole on the Stuart Weitzman’s….sigh.

Thoughts: “I think clothing is about expressing how you want to feel or who you are – especially shoes, because women sort of access themselves emotionally through shoes. If you want to feel sexy you can put on some heels. If you want to feel practical you can put on something practical and change your mood instantly.” ~Georgina Goodman, British Shoe Designer

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