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.
Manolo says, it is Monday, and you are back at your desk doing that thing that you do to make that money that you need to keep the wolves away from the door.
Would that the rampaging wolf packs were your main concern.
Yes, if you live in the Montana, or the Wyoming, the wolf might occasionally, maybe, snatch up the unguarded toy poodle, or the haughty house cat (who probably had it coming), but even there the danger to your nuclear family and home is negligible. Although, certainly, most 21st century husbands, now reduced to the largely supernumerary functions, such as 3,000 mile oil changes and ordering new aluminum siding, would relish the chance to reassert their Viking bona fides by driving off the pack of wolves while armed with nothing more than the large stick and the AR-15.
Ayyy! Such is the stuff of suburban male fantasy! But, thanks to modern high-powered cartridges and infrared scopes, our ancient and noble canine vermin are easily kept at bay.
Unfortunately, modern vermin are not so easily dissuaded from their depredations. Indeed, between the tax collector, the bank, the politician, and the nice man at the gas station who, where this 18th century, would be standing the the side of the road wearing the mask and holding the brace of pistols, you have never been more beset on all sides.
And this says nothing about the various indignities foisted upon you at the place of the work, where your immediate supervisor, Mr. Potiphar, has earned the well deserved reputation as the slave driver.
But, what can you do? When has life not been the struggle? When have the metaphoric wolves not been at the non-metaphoric door?
Look! Beautiful and sophisticated booties!
This is the Diaz Leather Ankle Boot from Maestro Manolo Blahnik, the sort of shoe that heralds the coming winter with style and seriousness.
Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.
I have a trip coming up in November to New York! I will be singing with a number of choirs in the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center and after our performance we have a gala to attend. I am planning on finding a little black dress to wear for the event, but I could really use some advice on some great heels to go with it. Any suggestions!
Manolo says, how do you get to the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center? Practice, practice, practice.
Yes, it is the old joke, but it is funny because being the good chorister is the difficult thing to master, relying as it does upon both the hours and the hours of practice, and the unusual combination of the personal traits.
Firstly, you have to be the good enough singer to qualify to carry the tune. Unless you are exceptional, it is unlikely that your famous rendition of “The Unchained Melody”, in which you hit all of the high notes flawlessly, will sound quite as good when not accompanied by water shooting out of your showerhead.
Secondly, your ego must not be overweening, making you think that every solo should be yours. Indeed, you must be humble enough to recognize that, during certain times of the year, your entire vocal repertoire will consist of the word “Hallelujah” sung repeatedly until you are forever sick of it. (“Curse you George Frideric Handel!”)
Look! Here is the Jodi from Diane von Furstenberg, the suede platform sandal with just the right amount of celebratory gold.
People say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. False. The road to Hell is paved in cobblestones, which means you can’t wear heels. That’s what makes it Hell.
When I first expatriated, I lived in a little village paved with the Devil’s bunions and it was a two mile walk to the restaurant that provided most of my sustenance. I walked eight miles a day that car-less summer. Heels were out of the question. I used bronze Roman sandals instead. After all, a girl must have some glamor.
Even when I had wheels, I still refused to risk a broken ankle –or worse, a scuffed heel– by wearing stilettos unless someone agreed to carry me bodily to my vehicle; a daunting task, especially if you’re not set up with the appropriate winches, pulleys and hydraulic jacks.
As luck would have it, I was the only woman in the village young enough not to know a time when mammoth was a nutritious part of your complete breakfast and I struck up a friendship with an enormous (and enormously smitten) former Golden Gloves boxer who bore a striking resemblance to Zeus, assuming Zeus was Latino and spent most of his life getting punched in the head for money.
Now I know I’m in a committed relationship and all, but seriously, if you’ve never tried Greek God as a mode of transportation, I highly commend it.
However, if you can’t find your own punch-drunk Olympian to haul you around your town like a sack of well-shod potatoes, never fear. The Continental heel is making a slow but steady return to fashion.
So wait, what is a Continental heel?
The Continental heel –pictured above lending its graceful curve to a pair of Robert Clergerie booties– is closely related and thus often confused with the Louis heel. Of course it doesn’t help that half the shoes labeled as a Louis heel are actually Continentals.
They’re both flared heels, that much is true.
However, a Louis heel has a height limit –a true Louis can’t be more than 3″ high.
See, good ol’ King Louis XIV of France was one of those pocket monarchs, so he took to wearing heels to give himself a 3″ boost. Then he forbade anyone to wear heels higher than his, because apparently that’s what you do when you’re king.
A Louis heel also traditionally has a curved breast, meaning the front part of the heel –the part that faces the toe– tapers and flares the echo the back part. Continental heels have the same curved or tapered back, but the breast is flat or nearly so.
I think we’re due for a comeback of a thicker heel.
We had a few seasons where Prada was showing banana heels everywhere but it didn’t last. I’d really like to see a serious return to one of the original sculptural heels. They’re pretty, fresh-looking and –for my purposes anyway– infinitely easier to deploy on cobblestones. Not that I’ll be telling Zeus Golden Gloves that.
Fit Note: Robert Clergerie runs pretty true to size for length, but designs for women with banana feet. If you’ve got narrow feet, you’re in luck. Everyone else, size up and pray.