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Manolo the Columnist: Donna Italy 2 from Geox

Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo,

What would you recommend for a 32-year-old stay-at-home mother of three preschool boys who doesn’t want to be seen as old before her time? So far, I’ve managed to avoid the mom jeans with the running shoes, although I feel that most of the time my style choices take a back seat to the chaos of kid rearing. Please help me find something casual but smart.

Lisa

Manolo says, sadly it is true, the time races forward with the shocking alacrity. One minute you are floating through the college quadrangle without the care in the world, looking exactly like the more charming but slightly less goofy version of Zooey Deschanel, and the next—ayyyy!— you are the permanent custodian of the three little boys who, after fifteen minutes of contact, would cause the Super Nanny to lock herself into the downstairs bathroom, crying her eyes out and swigging from the jumbo bottle of vanilla extract.

And although this description seems like the horrible trade off, as if you have given up something valuable for something terrible, it does not in the least describe how you actually feel, which is as if the cosmos have handed you the most beautiful, joyous, precious gift (three gifts!) along with the pile of dirty diapers, the broken dishwasher, and the grotesquely overweight Golden Retriever with the shedding problem.

In the other words, life is to be lived as it comes, as the giant tangled mess of joy and work, grief and leisure, filled with beautiful shoes and rambunctious children.

Here is the Donna Italy 2 from the Geox in the hot momma red color that will dispel any rumors that you are not still “with it.”

Donna Italy 2  from Geox

Manolo the Columnist: Jolie from Sam Edelman

Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo,

I will soon attend my granddaughter’s baptism. This church asks that women do not wear dresses above the knee, or trousers. I am short, and longer skirts make me look, well, grandmotherly, unless they are worn with heels. However, the ceremony is long, and the congregation stands for the whole thing, plus of course there is a party afterwards which will probably be too crowded for much sitting. Is there a flat shoe that says “although I am delighted to have a grandchild, and know how to dress appropriately for a religious occasion, nevertheless I am not too old to look superfantastic”?

Ruth

Manolo says, oh how often the Manolo wishes he were the wizard with the long beard and the conical hat with the stars embroidered upon it!

“Good Wizard Manolo,” the Manolo’s hobbity friends would say, “can you please do something to make our feets feel both comfortable and gorgeous while we are on the lengthy quest to observe our religious rites.”

To which the Grand Wizard Manolo would say, “No. The Manolo is only the mage, not the miracle worker. There are some things beyond the power of even magic.”

And then he would wave his wand over the pile of leather and silk causing them to magically turn into the glittery, six-inch-tall, Louboutainish platform sandals that could only be worn by the Elfish super models, who seem to glide along the forest in wispy-gauzy fabric shifts that show their sylph-like figures to good effect.

The non-wizard Manolo would say that if you have the shape for it, the elegant ankle-skimming skirt cut on the bias could look good with the romantic pretty flat such as the Jolie from the the Sam Edelman.

Jolie from Sam Edelman

Holy Grail Ballet Flat

Once upon a time I wrote about a gorgeous pair of Alexander McQueen crocodile pumps that were available for something like 90% off. I’d tried them on at the Barneys mothership in Manhattan when they first came out and had been whispering sweet nothings to them in my mind for about a year and a half.

There was only one pair –my size– and instead of buying them –sensitive readers might want to look away now– I blogged them. Someone bought them, and instead of having my beloved McQueens, I had heartburn for a week.

I only mention that most unfortunate event because, in a rare example of learning from my mistakes, I waited to post about the Lux ballet flat from Bloch London until every color in my size had wended their way to my little cottage by the sea.

They might be, and I say this without hyperbole, the most comfortable ballet flats I’ve ever owned. Most folks, if they know about Bloch at all, know them as manufacturers of dance shoes, so the flats are engineered not just for maximum cuteness, but for flexibility and padding.

They’re also a true turnshoe, meaning they’re made entirely inside out on the last. There are a whole mess of reasons making turned shoes are both highly desirably and highly inconvenient (read about making pointe shoes in the turnshoe style here) but the only one I care about is the fact you can abuse them much more than a regular welted flat without them abusing you right back.

Fit Note: Bloch as a brand tends to run a little small, but the Lux runs true to size if not a half size large. I cracked a fresh pair right out of the box today and walked along uneven pavement for about an hour with just a little heel irritation.

 

Manolo the Columnist: Flatiron from Stuart Weitzman

Manolo says, her this the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo

I am only 44 but was recently diagnosed with arthritis in my knees and was told by my doctor NO high heels. Any time I cheat and wear even a low heel (2 inches) I end up in pain for three days, so I’m back to flats. This summer has been fine because I can get away with ballet flats, and I can wear riding boots with skirts in the winter, but when I need to look really professional for special meetings and presentations, I need to wear skirt suits, and a very professional-looking shoe. Can you help me find a flat, comfortable, but professional-looking shoe?

Beth

Manolo says, ayyyy! It is true, time is cruel!

One minute you are the 22-year-old hottie, who looks amazingly great dressed only in the ill-fitting burlap sack from the Sears, and the next you are twice that age and have just received the personal letters from both the Dolce and the Gabbana asking you to please, please, please stop wearing their clothing. (And, look! Stefano has even enclosed the check and the Talbots catalog!)

And this says nothing about the various infirmities and physical indignities that are brought by the process of aging. Indeed, the Manolo, who is the gentleman of the certain age, has his own trick knee, one which renders him unable to walk without the slight limp, or drink vin ordinaire.

Here is the Flatiron from the Stuart Weitzman, the smashingly smashing dress flat in the rich cognac anilie finsh that will leave the teeny boppers in their burlap dresses gaping with envy.

Flatiron from Stuart Weitzman

Manolo’s Late Night Bargain: Willemberg from Hunter

Willemberg from Hunter

Manolo says, here is the Willemberg from Hunter (the maker of the famous boots), the smart leather flat that would work with your casual knocking about the town wear. And what is this? They are on the sale, reduced nearly 60% off of the regular price!

How to Dress in Umbria?

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends, the Rondi, has asked the Manolo the question.

Happy Sunday to the Manolo!

I have a serious question for you. I have won a scholarship to study in Italy and will be spending time in Umbria in September. Naturally, I would like to avoid looking like a dorky tourist and having Italians mock me. Can you give me some advice on what to pack? I am planning to bring a good deal of black

Umbria

Umbria Bella

(including black ballerina flats) but I also would like to bring my white jeans. Italians celebrate their Labour Day on May 1st, I believe, so I doubt they have a “no white after Labour Day” hang-up as do North Americans. That said, I am concerned they might look down their Roman noses at white jeans in September, or that said white jeans will cause the locals to shun me.
Please advise, both on the matter of the white jeans and in regards what to bring in general.

Your loyal fan and friend from the internets,

Rondi

It has been the while since the Manolo has been in Umbria, so he turned to another of his internet friends, the Judith who lives in Umbria, for help with this question.

Here is her most informative and helpful answer.

Italians wear white everything all year if they please. I do have reservations about the jeans. It is often too hot to wear jeans until Octoberish. In addition, jeans take forever to dry and of course white jeans would need a lot of washing.

My younger friends will be wearing light dresses with added cardigans for evening and the ballet flats would look terrific with that, but may not protect your feet adequately from the relentless stone and cobble pavements. You can be sure that many Italian girls will be wearing ludicrously high heels and walking along the stone like little donkeys. It’s genetic. Those of us with a little more maturity on our bones will be wearing light weight linen pants, often black in autumn, sometimes with drawstring waists. Heat and pasta do require a bit of flexibility at least in attitude and sometimes in waist bands. Those of a lower rung on the ladder of aspirations may very well be wearing polyester knit trousers, but you won’t notice that much unless they are too tight, which is a reach in this land of the painted-on pant.

Italian girls accessorize, so doing layers works for the look and for the awkward difference between Hades at noon and Scotland at night. Scarves, gauzey sweaters, netted vests, all help disguise the fact that years of financial crisis have made cheap clothes common and necessary. When the right girls get them on and adjusted and knotted just right, they look splendid.

Cowboy boots have not died the death they deserved as summer shoes. They do look cute with summer dresses but whew!

More than anything, a confidence, a swish and an eye for the dramatic really work here. Carrie Bradshaw learned everything she knew from Italian girls.

And now you must go visit the Judith’s website, she will teach you how to cook like the real Italian

As for the shoes, the Manolo is at the moment partial to the Maria Sharipova’s Bacara Ballet Flats from the Cole Haan.

Maria Sharipova Air Bacara Ballet Flats for Cole Haan

They are available in six colors, and are reportedly comfortable for the walking, practical, and sufficiently good looking so as to satisfy the Rondi’s Umbrian needs.

The Season of the Loafer

Manolo says, O Fortuna, Queen of Fortune, all praise to you whose spinning wheel has delivered to us this happy moment, when some of the most comfortable shoes are also some of the most trendy.

In the other words, it is the Season of the Loafer!

How wonderful to see these wearable and practical shoes brought back from the dust bin of fashion history, to become this season’s most distinctive trend.


Eula Loafer from Charles Philip Shanghai

Celebrate this unusual alignment of the planets (comfortable shoes are in!) with Olympian gold courtesy of the euphonious Eula from the Charles Philip Shanghai. To paraphrase that noted fashion sage, Gordon Gekko, “Gold is good, gold is right. Gold clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the super fantastic spirit.”


Alvin Loafer from Sam Edelman

Or, if the metallic finish is not to your taste, perhaps the bold patterns of the mighty jungle cat, as interpreted by the pedestrianly named Alvin from the Sam Edelman, is more your style. Boldly bold and savagely fashionable, and yet will not leave you crippled with the pain in your toes. (Pro Tip: The Manolo approves of the judiciously exuberant use of the animal prints. )


Martini Loafer from Jeffrey Campbell

If neither of the previous two shoes are right, perhaps combining the flat loafer trend with the metallic stud trend will satisfy your edgy soul. In such the case, here is the Martini from the Jeffrey Campbell for all of your avant-garde flat-shoe needs.

The good news is that the flat loafers are never really out of the style, so when the trendy girls have moved on to something different, you will still be wearing these attractive shoes of great practicality and versatility.

Manolo the Columnist: Angelina from Ivanka Trump

Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

****

Dear Manolo,

I’m dating a guy who’s a couple inches shorter than I am (I’m 5’11”). If I wear heels when we’re out in public together, I feel very self-conscious about this difference in height, like I’m towering over him. I often find myself slouching in these cases. Can you please recommend some flats?

Amber

Manolo says, the Manolo gives the same advice to the tall girls that he gives to the girls of all sizes and shapes: never slouch, always stand erect, throw back the shoulders, and stride purposefully into any room.

Few things are more appealing than good posture and self-confidence, and the tall girl who carries herself well is nigh unto the force of the nature. And to the mind of the Manolo, the phrase “carrying oneself well” means being unafraid to wear the high heels.

Do not let your fears of being seen as freakishly taller than your man prevent you from exercising one of the privileges of womanhood: wearing beautiful shoes.

As for others, the shorter man who is secure in himself is not bothered by your height, indeed, in most cases it is part of what attracted him to you, and the wider public cares little about such matters and will be more impressed by your carriage and style.

If, after this Manolo lecture, you still prefer the flats, here is the Angelina, the pointed-toe flat in the leopard finish from Ivanka Trump, who is the famously tall girl (5’11”) with the super-abundance of self-confidence and style. This is the sort of bold shoe that imparts positive qualities to its wearer.

Angelina from Ivanka Trump

Manolo the Columnist: 6614B from Belle by Sigerson Morrison

Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo,

The advice you gave last week to the lady who wanted sandals for the end of summer struck a note with me, in that it started me thinking about the fall and what sort of shoes I should be wearing when it arrives. Can you recommend something both casual and somewhat on-trend for when the summer ends?

Viki

Manolo says, it is only natural, that we should all be desiring the end to this interminable summer of suffering, that we should be anticipating the arrival of more tolerable weather, which will bring with it the new season of clothing.

As for the major trends of this new season, the Manolo has been delighted by the rise of the lounge loafers (a.k.a the Belgian slippers) to stylishness.

How wonderful it is to see these ultra-comfortable shoes having their moment in the fashion spotlight, especially as we have recently been in the era of the 6-inch stiletto-heeled, ultra-narrow, high-fashion torture shoes.

It is as if all the smart girls got together, placed their Birkin bags on the sacrificial fire, and cried out, “Ouch! We implore you, fashion gods, please give us something that will not mutilate our toes.”

And from their aerie on Mount Louboutin, the fashion gods looked down upon their votaries and thundered, “So shall it be written. Bring back the lounge loafers.”

And the fashion girls shouted, “Huzzah!”

Here is the 6614B from the Belle by Sigerson Morrison, the lounge loafer with the kilim carpet pattern that makes it exactly exotic enough to impress your friends.

6114B  Flat Slipper from Belle by Sigerson Morrison

Manolo the Columnist: Gracie from Sam Edelman

Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo,

Gaah, the summer is already half over and I need a pair of flat sandals for the home stretch, something not too expensive, because in a few weeks I’ll have to be back in real shoes. Suggest something cool.

Meredith

Manolo says, ayyy! Old time is still a-flying, and that same summer that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying!

One minute (60 second ago) we were complaining about how super-oppressive-humid-nasty hot it was, and the next we are planning for the imminent end of the summer season and our return to the cooler weather, and shorter days of the fall. As the Manolo always counsels, if you do not like weather today, wait several months and it will be different (unless you live in the Hawaii, in which case, carry on.)

In the meantime, while we wait for the end of the Summer-mageddon 2012, featuring the unexpected delights of “The Derecho”, we will require sandals in which to walk around in, so that our toes may frolic in the open air, as they did in the Garden of Eden. (Yes, it is true, the saddest day of all, was when the teeny Maniolo learned that angels wear no shoes; they do not need them, floating about barefeeted, exactly as Adam and Eve were before they ate the apple. To which the little Manolo could only say, hooray for sin!)

Here is the Gracie from the Sam Edelman, the reasonably priced, fun sandal that will look good on your feets, and not leave you bankrupted and living under the bridge in Bethesda. The Manolo is partial to the nude leopard finish, but the shoe is also available in seven other colors, one of which will suit your fickle fancy.

Gracie from Sam Edelman in Nude Leopard

Unobtanium: Hoss Intropia Laser Cut Ballet Slippers

Hoss Laser Cut Ballet SlipperHoss Laser Cut Ballet Slipper

Manolo says, ou sont les Hoss Laser Cut Ballet Slippers d’antan?

Some of the saddest words known to the human tongues are “sold out”, and such is the case with this utterly charming, delicately wrought flats from the Hoss Intropia, which arrived last year and somehow were missed by the Manolo. They are now, as far as the Manolo can tell, unavailable anywhere.

And, thus, we are taught the important lesson about human desire

Gaugain from Sigerson Morrison

Gaugain Flat Sandal by Sigerson_MorrisonGaugain Flat Sandal by Sigerson_Morrison

Manolo says, here is the Guagain from Sigerson Morrison, the snappy flat sandal that would undoubtedly make the rest of July more bearable. And look! They are on sale!

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