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-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

Brogues Abound

February 3, 2010 § 6 Comments

I previously posted my relatively new affinity for brogues, the menswear-inspired oxfords seen practically everywhere. I originally had my heart set on a pair from Church’s, gorgeous leather, handmade in England, the whole nine. Then I found out about another British outfitter, Selve, offering custom brogues, with occasional fittings in the states. (You can see the fabulous pair style blogger Liberty London Girl bought here) I mean, really, it doesn’t get much more perfect than a custom shoe, designed by the wearer? Well it does if said custom shoe is actually affordable. Unfortunately, it is not. As my desire for brogues has not, and honestly, will not abate, I’m still moderately stalking a Ralph Lauren pair and continue to scour Yoox, finding a few tempting pairs but nothing that has prompted me to pull the trigger. I am a persistent but thoroughly patient shopper.

J.Crew's latest brogue offering


Then, I received the latest spring J. Crew catalog and a new pair hit the radar: the Camden leather brogues.  I will have to inspect them in person, naturally, as the sole, roundness of the toe and the height of the vamp are extremely important when it comes to oxfords. If the toe is too pointed, the vamp too low and the sole too dainty it becomes more of a jazz shoe. I lean more towards the rounded almond toe and construction of a true mens oxford; classic and a bit tomboyish. On the model, deftly styled with shorts and skirts, they become more tempting. Offered with wingtip details in waxed napa and nubuck in black, nutmeg and a neutral called light ginger, they’re begging for a closer look. Count on a report soon.

Thoughts: “A woman carries her clothes, but it’s a shoe that carries a woman.” ~Christian Louboutin

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