If the summer shoe fits, wear it
After running into some financial trouble due to a footwear obsession, a wise woman once said: “I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes, and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoe.” Oh, Carrie Bradshaw. Although we can’t count on the fictional columnist for monetary advice, she’s always good for a laugh. After all, any real recessionista knows that for every dollar you spend on shoes, you put one away for a rainy day. Or a pair of Hunter galoshes.
That being said, listen up, shoe fetishists: Summer is pretty much the only time of year when it’s acceptable to plan an entire outfit around a pair of shoes. Not to mention that it’s much easier to find great deals on hot weather footwear due to the large variety of trends that are out this time of year.
Detailing: Most everything is fair game when the base of the shoe is, well, basic. Leather thongs are more grown up when ruffles, fringe, jewels or buttons are added. Note, it’s an either/or situation. Don’t choose all of the above.
Ties and straps: Although summer is the perfect time to show off feet, nothing juxtaposes better with a light summer dress than a pair of strappy gladiator platforms. Nude colors will elongate legs and look light, while black heels can also look fresh. Think ruffled, floral mini-dress, big earrings, cropped jacket and a pair of sky-high stilettos with criss-crossing straps for a hot night out.
Color: When playing with color, most anything goes this summer. Skip colors found in nature and gravitate toward any color that popsicles come in.
Comfort: Once upon a time, a certain columnist thought the San Diego County Fair was the place to show off brand-new slide-on heels. One Ferris wheel, a missing shoe and a dirty foot later, she realized that county fairs and unstable shoes do not make for a good night. When heading to the fair (or any outdoor activity), don’t sacrifice style for practicality because many designers showed chic, comfortable shoes this season. Ballet flats work fine, but to take advantage of summer heat, pick up a pair of “sling-back” flats. Unlike flip-flop types, these sandals offer the bare-minimum of coverage in the front but stay on feet due to the strap in the back and can be found in all styles.
Trends: Instead of breaking the bank on styles that may only be around for another season or two, head to stores such as Nine West and Steve Madden for cheaper shoes that still provide great quality. For trends that are completely disposable or will only be worn a couple of times, try H&M and Forever 21, which aren’t just for teeny-boppers anymore. These chains pick up on high-fashion trends immediately and get new inventory every week, featuring shoes less than $20 most of the time. For great designer bargains, try DSW Shoe Warehouse in La Jolla.
Be an insider: Pick up on the latest in footwear crazes and order a pair of summer sandals by Marais USA. Designers Catherine Chen and Haley Boyd aim to provide chic, affordable shoes for girls who don’t want to spend $500 on shoes each season. The classic, comfortable sandals come in colors such as cobalt blue and cherry red, and can be worn anywhere. “We design shoes that allow us to walk around New York all day and night,” Chen and Boyd said. “For outdoor events, we suggest the minimal-chic Mott T-strap sandal in emerald or black. This sandal is the new flip-flop. We put a spin on them by making them in both kid suede and patent.” Shoes range in price from $49 to $65 for flats; order at www.maraisusa.com or www.urbanoutfitters.com.
I loathe the person who came up with the term “mandals.” The word evokes images of tourists wearing oversized Hawaiian shirts and chunky brown hiking sandals. Skip those, as well as plastic flip-flops, which look messy and break easily, and try streamlined leather versions of the old standbys. The best bet is a pair of Rainbows, which are sturdy, simple and comfortable slide-ons that come in neutral colors. The shoes retail for less than $50 and can be bought at most surf shops and www.rainbowsandals.com.
One last rule of thumb (or toe in this case):
A beautiful pair of sandals can only be tarnished by two things: a wayward condiment and unsightly toenails. Pedicures don’t have to be expensive, or frequent, to look great. If time and money are an issue, skip the polish and get buffed once every five weeks or so, or stick to a pale color that won’t chip noticeably. Try Essie’s Mademoiselle, a sheer seashell pink that, according to pedicurist Susan Sattler at SK Sanctuary Day Spa in La Jolla, is the perfect color to paint nails with year-round.
Nothing looks prettier than coral polish in hot weather, though, so invest in an at-home kit and OPI’s Conga-Line Coral if trips to the salon aren’t your thing. As for men, skip the clear polish, trim the nails, and if it looks like Sasquatch is taking a nap on top of your big toe, gently trim with nail scissors.
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