Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Flat shoe flattery - the vamp


When you buy a shoe the first things you probably look for are colour & style.

Style choice involves looking at the heel, the heel height, the back, the toe, the straps & how the whole thing is put together.

When it comes to flat shoes, there is something that can be quite subtle but makes a big difference to the look of the shoe & the flattery factor for you.

That something is the vamp.

What is the vamp?

Every shoe has an upper part that helps hold the shoe onto the foot. This is the vamp. 

In the simplest cases, such as sandals or flip-flops, this may be nothing more than a few straps for holding the sole in place. 

Closed footwear, such as pumps, boots, trainers and most men's shoes, will have a more complex upper. This part is often decorated or is made in a certain style to look attractive. 

Why is the vamp important?

Apart from being central to the style of the shoe, the vamp is what determines whether the shoe looks flattering to your feet, whether it makes your look feminine and whether it looks appealing worn with dresses/skirts or pants.

The easiest way to do this is with examples.

Example #1:

My oldest, most worn flatties, Fossil on the left, Florsheim on the right.

Given my feet roll out, especially at the small toe area, I am better off with the Fossil as the vamp covers that whole area.

In contrast, the Florsheim may have a tongue (see diagram above), but doesnt provide full coverage around the small toe. So the Florsheim looks less appealing from that perspective.

Example #2:

I love JP Tod's.

On the left, Tod's with white stitching and a horizontal piece closer to the tongue. 
On the right, Tod's with navy stitching & plain flat vamp.

The plain Tod's make my foot look longer as there is no breakage of the vertical line of the vamp. Small difference? I didnt notice this when I got the plain ones - and I dont want my feet to look like boats, but if I wear the plain ones with jeans, you dont notice the length.

Example #3:

On the left Tod's in plain navy calf leather & on the right the plain navy patent Tod's.

Two things here.

Firstly a patent will always look bigger as the shine reflects light.

Secondly, the patent Tod's make my foot look longer as there is no breakage of the vertical line of the vamp.

Example #4:

On the left is a Raphael D'Stella moccasin style red shoe.

On the right is the Tod's in plain calf leather.

Notice I have picked 2 shoes with some sort of interest on them & a similar shape.

However the red looks larger as it is a brighter colour. The navy shoe looks smaller - dark colours absorb light - hence look smaller.

Example #5:

On the left a G Porciani in gold tones.

On the right a Nando Muzi (Luisa Shoes)

See how the gold has a much larger vamp and its toe cap (the bright gold) is larger.

Now look at the Nando Muzi - smaller toe cap & a smaller vamp, by at least a centimeter.

The Muzi looks more feminine due to the lesser coverage. It would suit a dress or shorts more than the Porciani. But the Porciani would be OK with pants.

On the other hand if you have big feet or you are really hard on your feet, you may not be best served with the more delicate batter shoe. Maybe you should go for the Portiani or, perhaps, a loafer or moccasin?

Does that make sense?

Example #6:

These two ballet flats are similar in style and cut but different in colour.

Notice how the pink makes the foot look larger - again its that old rule that light colours reflect light and appear larger. In contrast the foot in the darker shoe looks smaller due to the absorption of light.

Example #7:

On the left, a navy ballet flat (same as ex #6)
On the right, a black ballet flat.

These are the same brand, Loriblu - I bought them from the same store, however a season apart. I bought the navy first, then the black. 

I am pretty sure that if you had asked any of the sales assistants whether they were identical, they would have said "yes". I find most sales people just dont notice the details - you have to rely on your own powers of observation and gut feelings.

During that season difference, the store changed its vamp & back then (about 8 years ago), I wasnt savvy enough to notice the difference in the vamp or bring in the navy & compare directly side by side. Silly me.

But can you see how the right shoe has a large vamp? ie: it covers more of my foot. It also has a larger toe cap - ie: the seam is further away from my toes.

Frankly I think the black ones look more blah. I think the navy ones are more flattering. Do you agree?

Luckily - both provide good coverage to my little toes so the roll out feet problem isnt exacerbated.

Example #8:

On the left, a Ralph Lauren mock croc heel.

On the right, an Antonio Barbato navy mocasin style heel (from the same store as the ballet flats in ex #7).

The Ralph shoes are slimmer, pointier & have a smaller vamp. Much more girlie than than the moccasin style, Yes?

Example #9:

On the left, Michel Vivien, mary jane with a very low strap.
On the right, Ferragamo, mary jane with a higher strap.

Two things to notice here.

Firstly, I should never have bought the Viviers due to my small toe are rolling out. The vamp just isnt cut large enough to house that area of my foot well enough. 

In contrast, the Ferragamos have a terrific fit around my foot and enclose my rolling out foot well.

Secondly, the thicker the strap and the closer it is to the narrowest part of your foot (ie: your ankle), the more your foot will be cut horizontally and the more shorter & fatter you will appear. This is REALLY important.

[PS: I am assuming you arent wearing a chunky platform, because in those cases, the straps may well need to be larger - ie: in proportion to the chunkiness of the shoe]

Now look at my photo - on the Vivier, the strap is thin & no where near the ankle. Tick.

On the Ferragamo, the strap is thicker & close to the ankle, but still below it. So it allows the thin ankles to be shown off and doesnt make me look stumpy. Unfortunately for the purposes of this blog (but lucky for me), I dont have any strappy shoes with a horizontal strap at the ankle. But when you are trying on strappy shoes, step back and look at whether the horizontal strap is sitting at the ankle. If it is, take them off & run away. There will be a better shoe for you somewhere else.

I hope you enjoyed this post - any questions - just ask. 

Now I have to go & put 15 pairs of shoes back in their boxes.....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A tale of two sneakers - you get what you pay for


Let it be known that I didnt need red sneakers. Nor did I want red sneakers.

I always seemed to reach for navy ones instead....or my denim ones. They were just as nautical as red sneakers and nautical was the look I always went for.

But strolling through Kmart one day I saw the red pairs of basic sneakers were $6. At that price, I was almost making money!

So I bought a pair, as you do.

I was a happy vegemite. I love a fast fashion bargain!

Yesterday I was at the David Jones warehouse and I happened to see a red Keds pair. 

The original store price was $50, less a standard 30% brought them to a warehouse price of $35 & there was another 40% off, which made them $20.

That's 60% off the original store price.

So, knowing the brand & its quality, I pounced.

Then I went home & compared the Keds with the Kmart ones....

Rubber grip edges: 

From the side they look similar, except the Keds have the grip rubber all the way around. The Kmart version only has the grip around the toes.

The shade of red & the stitching colour is different - that doesnt bother me.

The toe area:

From the front, the Keds have higher toe room, while the Kmart ones are flatter/lower.


The binding:

The binding around the edges of the foot is a thin cotton for the Kmart ones. Its a thick canvas for the Keds. The thin cotton will wear through quite fast IMO.

The soles:

Finally look at the soles - you cant tell from the photo, but the Keds sole is thicker - the Kmart sole is quite thin.

What I have done in the past, to make up for the thin sole is put a layer of sheepskin in the sneaker.

I get these from Coles for $4.20 per pair.

The other thing to notice is that the Keds sole is sewn in while the Kmart sole is glued in.
No guesses which will last longer.

Which sneaker wins?

Considering the differences in the brands, and the price difference of $5 versus $20, I am going to return the Kmart pair - they havent been worn & I have my receipt - even if I only paid $5, there is no point having them hanging around if they arent the best they can be. 

If the Keds pair was still at the original $50, I might have kept the Kmart pair and not bought the Keds. 

Or if I needed the sneakers for exercise (function) rather than fashion (form), then I may have considered keeping the Keds pair, no matter what the price.

The moral of this post:

You get what you pay for (unless you can get something for a sale price).....

The $50 pair is better in many many ways than the $5 pair. If you examine the two pairs carefully (like I did), you will notice the differences. 

Ultimately it comes down to not just your budget, but your needs.

A good quality bargain that is only marginally more expensive than a cheapie will, in most cases last a heck of alot longer & do a much better job for you. 

Longer use will mean that its cost per wear (CPW) will come down to lower than the cheapie.  

This is a one horse race - Keds all the way.

PS: Maintenance

Scotchgard the sneakers (& any fabric shoes) when you buy them, then after every time you wash them.

You can soak the sneakers in a bucket in napi-san to wash out stains & with a bit of a scrub, they should come up pretty good.

Ines de la Fresange - Checked shirt style

Ines de la Fresange  - ex Chanel muse & style icon, now designing for Roger Vivier.

Look at the ensemble she is wearing below - quite simple really.

Checked shirt with a toning oversized clutch
& a contrasting belt.

The things that make it modern are:

- the oversized clutch
- the belt placement

The things that make it unique to Ines are the jewellery:

- layered necklaces
- bracelet that looks like a stack of gold bangles
- Gucci watch with red accent which picks up the shirt colour
- a couple of small gold rings
- no earrings

Jewellery Style Tip:

If silver is a better metal for your complexion, then dont wear gold near your face. You dont have to mimic Ines piece for piece, just use her as inspiration but tailored for your unique features.

As for the shirt - well, it's seasonless. The belt is also seasonless, but the placement is totally 2012.


I found a very similar shirt at Sportscraft in plum. 


If you feel this is too "Pizza Hut tablecloth", then you can pick any of their other shirts & tone a clutch to it & contrast a belt.

Just keep the shirt style simple, a mens style, no frills, no large patterns, no bells & whistles.

Shirt Style Tip:
You can even do a white shirt - make sure its your best shade of white - starke, off white, cream. 

If you have toned arms, do short sleeves. 

I was in the Sportscraft store at Birkenhead Point, Sydney, yesterday & they had an amazing long sleeve B&W small polka dot cotton shirt which would have looked dynamite!

They actually do a checked shirt every season (I bought a cobalt blue check from them last winter).....


Heaps of these around.....

All these are David Lawrence & could work a treat.....from top left, clockwise.....

red patent, 14mm wide, $40  
blue suede, 11 mm, $50
leopard, 17mm wide, $50
blue, with charm lock, 10 mm wide, $40 
blue, 9 mm wide $40

& this one from Sportscraft,
The style is called Monique, 15 mm width, available in this duck egg blue or a fuchsia or plum.

Waist Style Tip:

If you wanted to reduce attention from your waist, a toning colour belt would be best and that's why I have given you more options than just a contrast colour. If you tone the belt, then go for a contrast clutch for an element of pop.

Oversized Clutch:

Look at the leather of Ines' clutch - softest nappa & super expensive. Its a little tricky finding this on the Aussie high street.....

but maybe this will do....

Its Tilka for $159 - you can remove the strap or leave it as is.

or this one....
which is a Peep Toe called Lady Fantasia, reduced from $249 to $174. make sure you Scotchgard this one!


Go directly to Diva or Lovisa & select a few cheap & cheerful pieces to complete the look.


Denim or pants in white or navy or even a toning colour.

Sleeves Style Tip:

Roll up your sleeves for that effortless cool look & you're ready to go.

Your style:

Finally - this may not be your look. I'd call this almost preppy with a French twist. If you cringe at this look because you may be for example, a bohemian or a grunge or a bombshell style, then this definitely wont appeal. But I hope you have been able to take away a few style tips in any case.


David Jones watrehouse - shoes, shoes, shoes

When the David Jones warehouse first opened, they used to bring in the top flight designer scarves...so I went nuts buying those for about 18 months...the manager was also a scarf nut, so she let me go into the back room reserve & look through the incoming boxes for anything that called out to me.....

Then the good scarves petered out - the manager told me they just weren't selling- people were going there to get bargains but scarf bargains just werent bargain enough.

So I started stalking the designer shoes....at that time they were kept in a separate space to the non designer shoes and they were all the best brands...at silly prices, with weekly red spot extra % off specials.

After about 2 years of the shoes, I discovered the imported lingerie....the brands that fit me best were the Italian brands La Perla (& its little sister Malizia) & Cotton Club - so I stocked up there too. Again, silly prices with
weekly red spot extra % off specials.

I have also bought the odd clothes, hats, bags, swimwear too. But the scarves, lingerie & shoes were the gold mines. 

However, alot of friends who into the warehouse say its a mess and they just cant shop in there and its full of junk.

I agree its a mess and there is some junk, but there is alot of gold - you just have to be prepared to look. Shopping in a warehouse is not a sprint - its a marathon.

So today I pulled out some (high end) shoes which I found in alot of sizes & took some snaps.....

Below from L to R:

Milana, black mock croc with suede sides and heel from AW 2009, warehouse price of $299 to $160 & an additional 40% off.

Milana, black lizard & patent strappy sandal, $145 & an additional 40% off.

Milana, grey suede Mary Jane, store $499, warehouse $349 reduced to $245 & an additional 40% off.

The middle ones are similar to Anna Wintour's preferred Manolo Blahniks.....

Below from L to R:

Mimco, mock python heels with studs and diamantes, store price $400, warehouse price $280 & an additional 40% off

Robert Robert [Marni inspired] heels with velcro straps and patent trim, leather upper, warehouse price $140 & an additional 40% off.

Milana, python ankle strap sandal, warehouse price $160 & an additional 40% off.

Below from L to R:

Off white sling back round toe pump with black patent trim, warehouse price $290, to $145, & an additional 40% off.

Milana patent blue-grey wedge sandal espadrille, warehouse price $250, reduced to $125 & an additional 40% off.

Milana bronze wedge sandal espadrille, warehouse price $250, reduced to $125 & an additional 40% off.

Below from L to R:

Milana patent taupe wedge sandal espadrille, warehouse price $250, reduced to $125 & an additional 40% off.

Diavolina by Robert Robert, nude mesh platform peep toe pump, $104 & an additional 40% off.

Milana, cream patent cross strap sandal with cream patent wedge, $175 & an additional 40% off

The cream patent strappies are very Anna Wintour - see photo...

Below from L to R:

Steve Madden, mustard lizard print strappy sandal, $170 to $105

Milana, cream brown strappy sandals (ankle strap stored in reserve), $139

Milana, blush pink patent sling back with bow strap, $199, reduced to $139 & an additional 40% off.

Below from L to R:

Milana pink & cream fabric & leather sandal, $199 to $139 & an additional 40% off.

Alexandra Neel, pink patent & suede slingback, store price was $750 to $300 & an additional 40% off.

Dolce & Gabbana, hot pink patent strappy sandal, store price $699, to warehouse price $350 & an additional 40% off. These were a size 41 & the only ones I could find. All the other shoes had multiple sizes unless I state otherwise.

Below from L to R:

Alexandra Neel, baby blue patent & suede slingback, store price was $750 to $300 & an additional 40% off.

Newkid pale blue patent flat sandals, $78 & an additional 40% off. 

Diavolina by Robert Robert, blue elastic thick strappy sandal, $105 & an additional 40% off.

Urge satin blue ballet flat with bow, $80 to $40, & an additional 40% off.

Below from L to R:

Milana lavendar strappy sandal, $165 & an additional 40% off

Walnut purple cotton ballet flat, $20 & an additional 40% off

Ralph Lauren Collection, chocolate suede high heeled pump, store price was $600 reduced to warehouse price $280 & an additional 40% off. I only saw one pair of these in a size 41.

& a couple more piccies......so pretty....

So what do you think of the warehouse?
Worth visiting?

I bought Nina Proudman boots - yipee!

I wasnt looking for boots. In fact I am not a boot girl. 

Out of a very large 3 figure collection of footwear, my boots number three.

Well, after today, they number four.

Thanks to you, all my readers who are Nina Proudman fashion obsessed! 

I was at the shops today & these babies came home with me.....

The statistics of these babies are:

Brand: Sportscraft 
Model: Vickey
Season: AW 2011
Full leather, uppers & soles
Plain outer, no zips 
Country of origin: China

Given I wasnt looking for boots, after I bought them, I sat down for a cuppa and did a check of what I would look for in boots....probably not the most logical thing to do after you buy the boots, but maybe better late than never?

My absolutely necessary requirements for the boots were:

- round toe
- mid level high heel
- solid stacked wood heel (leather heels are too hard to maintain)
- mid tan - not dark b/c its harder to wear
- mid tan - not light b/c its too easy to soil
- minimal buckles/details - if its made in Asia,  these details tend to look cheap
- no suede (too hard to maintain)
- leather upper, leather lining, leather sole 
- distressed leather if made in Asia b/c I can feel that they are too precious & can muck around in them
(distressed leather is not a priority for me for a Aussie brand made in Asia, however, if they were expensive imports - as I would be treating them with TLC their whole life...)

My only preferred but not absolutely necessary requirements for the boots were thick soles (if not thick, I would have to put Topey soles on them, as I do on all my shoes)

These babies ticked everything on my list.

So where did they come from?

The David Jones warehouse in Sydney's Birkenhead Point.
I am always raving about that place...today I am doing an extra rave....

Doing the math - 

Now let's do the math, because the math is important.

When anything comes into the DJs warehouse it is automatically reduced by 30% from the original store price.

Sometimes the item has the original store sticker, sometimes not.

In this case the math (& stickers on the sole) indicate:

Original store price = $339.95 
Less:  30% warehouse discount of $101.99
Equals warehouse starting price = $237.96 

Those of you who follow my rants know that 30% isnt enough for me. I would never have bought these at $237.96.

But today, the DJs warehouse had an extra 40% off all clothing, shoes & something else which I have forgotten about.

So 40% of $237.96 = $95.18.
Subtract $95.18 from $237.96 & you get a final price of $142.78.

I noticed a small mark on one of the boots & I asked for an extra discount....so they took an extra 10% off their original price...to get to a final price for Valerie of......drum roll.....ta da....$118.98.  

That means 65% off the original store price of $339.95.
Another woo-hoo!

Now that's what I call a sale price!

I will post more photos tomorrow in daylight, but I am so happy to have these!

Other stores - 

The other thing I did after I got the boots was totter around other high street shoe stores looking for a similar boot - just to see if there was anything else out there worth reporting on.  I was very surprised to find nothing else remotely similar. Anything "similar" was either a chocolate or a taupe suede. Very strange.

Diana Ferrari has made a current boot that is similar, but I dont like the detail at the top....and its heaps more expensive than my boot...hehehe


Even though Nina's bohemian style is definitely not my thing, I am only incorporating the boots into my life. No way I am incorporating her clothes. No way. In any case I hate replicating someone's whole look - but bits & pieces here & there are OK.

Nina Proudman & her boots
The 70s look - Charlie's Angels

Weird co-incidence, I was just watching old episodes of the original Charlie's Angels.....Season 1, episode 17, The Vegas Connection & I noticed Jill Munroe (Farrah Fawcett-Majors) wearing something similar (not the same, but similar).

Boots like these are definitely a 70s look.

Farrah Fawcett in the foreground with Jacklyn Smith in the background

But its amazing how some things come round again - although most of the time you need to wear them in a different way to avoid looking retro!

The moral of this post - 

I dont think you can go out & find what you want in an instant - that's why last minute occasion shopping is fraught with danger....instead, keep a list of what you're looking for & refer to it as you window shop.....it will take some time to build up a workable wardrobe, probably at least 2-4 seasons. 

Dont believe anyone who says that they can do one shopping trip with you and provide you with a new wardrobe. Its not as simple nor as fast as that.

So keep your eyes & ears open - you never know what you'll find.....


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Woman of style - gorgeous mix of colour

Today I met another woman of style.
I was in the city and walking behind her.
I knew I'd regret it if I didnt tap her on the shoulder.

Her name was Youna.


She was wearing:

- a camel double faced coat
- grey stretch mini with gold zipped front skirt
- black coated leggins
- a black long scarf
- a tan tote
- grape-y/purple dessert boots

She looked fantastic.

I loved her use of colour - her basics of grey/black/soft camel were popped by tan & purple

Seriously, I have never seen desert boots look this good! Even the laces are a complementing shade of purple & help to give the look pop!

& the brighter tan of the tote worked beautifully against the neutrals. I am so glad she didnt match the softer coat colour to the tote colour.


Look at the coat - it has a cape over it.....

The cape is a great idea to broaden shoulders especially if you are a pear shape. Youna wasnt a pear, so in her case its just a terrific fashion feature as well as providing extra warmth around the shoulder area.

& it was double faced....what does this mean?

Well, double faced wool/cashmere is two layers of the fabric with a stretchable yarn

which serves as an intermediate to interlock 

between the stitches of the two layers of 

fabric. If that sounds clear as mud, here is a picture (showing a cross section of the fabric) which may help give you an idea of the fusion....

The edges of the fabric are folded in and there are no exposed raw edges. Garments with double faced fabric is extremely time consuming (& costly) to alter. Double faced wool/cashmere isnt usually lined. Double faced fabric can be used to create different effects on either side, or in Youna's case, to create a fabric that is identical inside & out.

I find its only the best garments that use fabric with this technique. Frankly, to have a fabric that is the same inside & out with no raw edges is lovely, clean & well, just yummy.

Leggins as pants

There (always) seems to be alot of debate about the use of leggins as pants. As far as I am concerned if you have legs like Youna's you can get away with alot more than a "normal" person. In any case, she is wearing the short mini over it. I think she rocks the look. What do you think?

So what more can I say?

She's gorgeous & she works a look to perfection.