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.
N.B. In honor of the Manolo’s eight years of shoeblogging, here is one of the Manolo’s most favorite posts from the past, from October 20, 2008.
Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back in your office wrestling with the copy machine, and the fax machine, and your computer, and the mail machine, all of which are attempting to sabotage–with persistent paper jams and inexplicable malfunctions–your effort to complete one of the most important projects of your career. .
And now, the stapler on your desk (Swingline, 747 Classic in red) is looking funny at you, and you are wondering “What did I do to deserve this?” And so you call the tech support guys.
Oh, gosh darn it, you got Creepy Greg, the one everybody is wary of, not Nice Greg, the one everyone trusts. But, what can you do? You are desperate and need help right now, and so you tell Creepy Greg about the problems, and he replies with something unexpected.
“You have to propitiate the God of Office Machines.”
“Photocopicus, he demands an offering.”
“Photocopicus, dammit! Photocopicus! He needs a sacrifice. Grab some paperclips and go to the storage closet in the copier room. We’ve got a small altar there. Bow your head, state your desires, and leave the paperclips as an offering.”
“What? Can you have the other Greg call me?”
“He’ll tell you the same thing, dammit. Just do it, alright? Just do it. Trust me it’ll work.” And then he hangs up.
And now you are certain that you are part of the elaborate practical joke, but you are desperate, very, very desperate. And so, even though you are the Methodist, you grab the box of paperclips from your desk drawer and you go to the copier room, and there, in the closet, just as Creepy Greg said, there is the tiny gilded bronze replica of the photocopier, the Canon 330d, with the words “Photocopicus, God of Office Machines” engraved on the base. Around the idol are scattered paper clips, erasers, rollerball pens, and elaborately-folded origami sticky notes, colored in fanciful ways with highlighters.
Following instructions, and feeling more than the little ridiculous, you bow your head and ask Photocopicus to aid you in the completion of your presentation. And then you leave six paperclips, hoping that it is the correct number.
Two hours later, after you have successfully finished your presentation without incident, the phone rings, and it is Nice Greg, the tech guy everyone likes.
“So, did it work?”
“Um, yes, I think so.”
“Good.” And then he hangs up, leaving you feeling like you’re living in the middle of the Charlie Kaufman movie.
You know what you need now to erase that feeling of unheimlichkeit? Shoes, good old dependable, concrete, wonderful, never-let-us-down shoes.
Look, here are the marvelously real, wonderfully pretty Sigerson Morrison suede skimmers.
I am not going to pretend I spend a lot of time worrying whether my feet look big.
I didn’t especially worry about it before, and now that I live in Mexico where the directions to my remote beach cottage involve, “turn left on the dirt road by the big pile of rocks onto the trail that looks like you could probably drive across it and turn right just before you hit sand. If you drive into a dolphin or other surprised marine creature, you’ve gone too far” whether my big feet do, in fact, look big usually gets pushed into the the “Bigger fish to fry” cavity of my sunbleached brain.
That being said, I do notice when a shoe makes my size 41’s look especially petite.
Enter the Viola from Gucci.
A few years ago during one especially torridly hot summer, I found a pair of bottle green silk velvet sandals in just this shape on practically obscene markdown at The Happiest Place on Earth, a.k.a, Neiman Marcus Last Call.
I’m pretty sure they’re Sergio Rossi and not Gucci –I’d check but they’re languishing somewhere in a storage facility stateside– but the moment I strapped them on, they made my Bob Terwilligers look like Tinkerbell toes.
They’re a festive party shoe, giving a bit of visual weight to anchor a cocktail dress without being full-on editorial.
Oh, and if you’re ever looking for a way to perk up your velvet shoes, set them in the steamiest part of your bathroom as you take a hot shower. Then rough up the nap with a shoebrush (an old toothbrush works too), let them cool a bit and brush the nap back into place.
Manolo says, on this day eight years ago, October 16th, 2004, the Manolo began his earthly mission of bringing the beauty and magic of the shoes to the internets.
And now, nearly the decade later, the world has changed, and beautiful shoes are everywhere, all over of the internets, the shops, the runways, and the streets. Shoes have been finally and universally recognized as the greatest and bestest fashion accessory of all time.
To put it more plainly: We are living in the Golden Ages of Shoes.
What joy it gives the Manolo to know that he has done his small, tiny part in helping bring to about this apotheosis.
Most of all, however, on this happy day, the anniversary of the shoeblogging, what joy it gives the Manolo to know that he has made so many dear internet friends over the years, friends who have provided him with their attention and affection and support.
The Manolo, who could never fully express the deep gratitude he feels, can only say, dear readers, you are indeed most super fantastic!
Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.
Can you recommend a shoe that’s comfortable enough for my half-hour metro ride and fifteen minute walk to work, but still classy enough to wear in the office?
Manolo says, ayyy! It is the eternal working girl question: the shoes in which you will strut around the place of employment in your semi-offical role as the Office Fashion Plate are not comfortable enough for the commuting back and forth from your home on the public transportation.
It is ture, that for as long as the women have gone to the place of work outside the home, this problem has been with us.
Indeed, the Melanie Griffith’s hit movie Working Girl, which appeared more than 25 years ago, prominently featured scenes of our heroine commuting back and forth from the Staten Island in tennis shoes, with socks wore over her pantyhose.
But, the Manolo actually suspects that if one looked into the ancient fashion records one would find that the 1920s secretaries complained about not finding shoes that were suitable for both riding on the omnibus and taking stenography from that young Victrola salesman who looked like Rudy Valleé.
Happily, the Manolo can report that shoe technology seems to have advanced moderately from the days of the Thoroughly Modern Millie. Here is the Moscow, the attractive stacked heel pump from Ecco, the company that specializes in making comfortable shoes that do not look as if they were meant for Thoroughly Ancient Millie.
Ah midheels, after a decade of skyscraper stilettos, the humble midheel is not only a sensible choice, but a surprisingly fresh one.
The mustard suede Salvatore Ferragamo Dalia has an elegantly balanced Louis heel and is on serious sale for an investment shoe.
The Maris from Paul Green is an easy schlepping around town heel, when one wants a bit of style to go with the schlep.
Although they’ve moved their manufacturing to China, Frye still offers great American classics like the Regina Pump. Wouldn’t it be nice if they still made them in the USA?
King of the fabric shoes Badgley Mischka offers the Monika. Remember, formal events, especially in the evening, require fabric, not leather shoes, and these fit the bill without being too bridal party.
Manolo says, the Manolo’s smarty-smart friend the Virginia Postrel has posted at her Deep Glamour blog the interview the Manolo did with her the few months back, talking about the transformative magic inherent in the shoes.
Here is the excerpt to whet your appetite.
Q: Why are people so interested in shoes?
Because shoes have magic in them. Our fairy tales are filled with stories of fantasy shoes: glass slippers, hundred league boots, ruby slippers, shoes in which old women reside, boots for sword fighting cats, shoes made by elvish cobblers at night, red ballet shoes which cause the wearer to dance incessantly, and on, and on.
Every child knows that shoes are magic. It is one of the first things you learn. Shoes are magic.
To be barefeeted in literature and in life is to be the pitiable creature. To have the shoes, even the most humble, is to be the person of some substance. When you put on the pair of the beautiful, well-made shoes that fit, you are filled with satisfaction and contentment; you look better, you stand taller, and you are more confident. Thus shoes work transformative magic. We all know this to be true, because we have all experienced it ourselves.
Even our modern shoes, in which the magic is usually latent, can be frequently beautiful. And when we buy beautiful shoes we believe we can imbue ourselves with some of this beauty. Pants are pants. Dresses are dresses. But it is only with the shoes on our feet that we are fully dressed. The ball gown, no matter how beautiful, is not complete until the dancing shoes have been put on.
Manolo says, it is not the ball gown, no matter how beautiful, nor the pumpkin coach that makes Cinderella the princess, it is the magic shoes.
Shoes are magic.
But, now you must go read the whole interview.