Getting the ‘Drille

N.B. Today, our dear friend, the always amusing Miss Cavendish, talks the espadrilles.

I became intrigued by espadrilles when I visited Cuba, a number of years ago.

There to experience the island’s university system, I spent an evening at the Hotel Armadores de Santander, a grand hotel in old Havana.  In the morning, I opened the French doors that led to a pink-tiled deck overlooking the Malecón. 

A previous guest had forgotten—or left behind—her sky-blue espadrilles; they sat contentedly under a table, all sun-and-salt-water bleached beauty.

What was so appealing about this humble mix of cotton canvas and jute?  Exactly that: the simplicity of design, the thoughtful color, and the fact that the espadrilles had been much loved (or much worn, at the least; they were abandoned).

This spring, designers have been in a flurry as they reimagine the classic espadrille, with looks that range from pretty to the truly eccentric. 

Here’s the “Tahiti espadrille pump” from Dior, which seems to be a fancy drink umbrella and shoe all in one;


The “cage” espadrille by Yves Saint Laurent;


Lanvin’s ballet-inspired “French” espadrille, in satin;


Kate Spade’s “Lido,” which conjures happy visions of bathing huts at the beach, or perhaps the stripes on Tadzio’s sweater in Death in Venice;


Tory Burch’s version, with her ubiquitous logo.  If I could coin a portmanteau, I might call it toobiquitous;


Ralph Lauren’s winning platform ankle wrap in a neutral tobacco;


a classic picnic-blanket version from Castaner, the Spanish company that has been making espadrilles since 1927;


the Tamariu tie espadrilles, worn to spectacular effect by Penelope Cruz in Volver (remember the from-the-beneath-the-bed shot?);


and this curious inclusion from Bergdorf Goodman’s website.  Made by Prada, this “espadrille” reflects neither the traditional espadrille materials nor design.  I call it the “ugly ’drille-ing.” (It’s more macaw than swan, though.)


My favorite espadrille remains the classic model, made in either Spain or France, without embellishment—the kind that can be kicked off at the beach or worn in town. 

Which model would gentle readers choose as the winner of their “Espy” award?


Manolo the Columnist: Glint Vanessa Nude Sandal

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

Dear Manolo

I’ve just been told that the upcoming July wedding I’m a bridesmaid in will require me to wear nude instead of silver shoes. As a bridesmaid, I’m not about to complain but I can’t find a cute 2 to 3 inch nude sandal anywhere. All I see are pumps and that just won’t do for a July wedding! The bridesmaid dress was pretty pricey so I’d really like to keep the shoe budget low. Please help!


Manolo says, the Manolo is always happy to hear from someone who understands that the traditional role of the bridesmaid is roughly that of the floral arrangements on the tables. They are window dressing and decoration, or to be more precise, together with the groomsmen, the bridesmaids comprise the sort of framing device for the happy couple, of moderate importance, but by no means strictly necessary.

Too often, the Manolo hears from the bridesmaids who relentlessly complain about the unflattering cut and color of the dress they are asked to wear. “Manolo,” they shout, “the bride has asked us to wear the full-skirted orange dresses that makes us look like the traffic cones!”

To which the Manolo can only reply, “it is not your decision. Make your friend happy and wear them in the best humor you can muster.”

Happily, nude is the color of the seaon for the shoes, and there are many options available. Here is the attractive nude Glint “Vanessa” Sandal available at the Nordstroms for the reasonable price.

Glint Vanessa Nude Sandal


More Men Should Dress Like This

Mick Jagger, Fashion Icon

After stumbling across this mouth watering photo of a young Mick Jagger, l realized just how lucky I am to be a young single girl living in Brooklyn. I am fortunate enough to be in the presence of many fine young males who tap into elegant Muses like Mr. Jagger for their everyday style inspirations. However, being the insatiable young thing that I am, I want more!

Gentlemen, it all has to start with the shoes. The weather is warming slightly, the pavement is rarely wet so there are no excuses. Slip into a fresh pair of oxfords and allow the style to fill your being from bottom to top. Let’s take a look at some examples, shall we?

These sleek Oxford Derby Shoes from Mark Mcnairy are sure to usher in a title wave of feminine attention

Perhaps you are a dirty fellow trying to keep it clean. Try these elegant Walk Over Derby Oxfords in White.

You can even step it up a few extra notches with these luxurious Calfskin Saddle Oxfords from Alden.

I can see it now… walking down the street to the flea market on a warm Spring day, drifting amidst a sea of dapper gentlemen, The Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” playing in my head. Make my dream a reality! Don’t make me beg.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Brian Atwood Maniac Patent Peather Pump

Manolo says, may the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.

And may your St. Patrick’s Day be as fun and as happy-making as the these patent leather pumps from the Brian Atwood!


The Sexiest Man Alive

Russell Crowe just ate the sexiest man alive

Feast your eyes on this hunk o' beefcake, ladies!

Manolo says, appears to have gotten the whole lot sexier.


Spring/Summer 2011 Below $200

N.B. In today’s episode of the guest blogging, the Manolo’s sharp-as-the-tack, shoe-loving friend Shuzluva provides to us the invaluable service: trendy shoes at the reasonable price.

Spring is about to beat down my front door, and I don’t have a single pair of shoes to greet the sunshine.

Okay, that’s not exactly true, but here is the truth: I haven’t purchased any shoes for the spring/summer 2011 season. I’ve seen plenty of things I love on the runway and in department stores but pricing is prohibitive if I don’t want to live on Ramen noodles. For the sake of my sanity and my health, I’ve taken some time to identify shape and color trends I love and find lower cost alternatives (read: $200 and under) that not only reflect the trends but are fabulous too.

Shapes: Clogs, Kitten Heels and Wedges

The high-heel clog is a spring shape I love, and if you missed it last year it’s back again. Clogs are an easy shape to wear and they make legs look great. These BCBG Broma clogs in Red Berry ($77.00 at are are sexy and adorable at the same time. They’ve got a peep toe to show off that fabulous pedicure, a super-high heel, stud details and a flower. And the color will set off all of your spring neutrals and whites.

BCBGeneration Broma Clogs

After a long hiatus, kitten heels have returned. While I haven’t seen an overwhelming response to this demure style of shoe, it’s perfect for work yet still looks casual and weather appropriate when you step out of an air-conditioned office. The Pipa from AK Anne Klein ($69 at is a lovely example of the trend and one I’d like to have in my closet.

Pipa Peach Floral Kitten Heel from Anne Klein

The wedge is another style that was big last year and is going to be big again this year. The wedge with an espadrille look was a runway favorite, and Tory Burch’s “Contrast” ($165 at has caught my fancy. The Earth Khaki color mixes a great greenish-brown with black, making it easy to wear with so many things (and my wardrobe has plenty of black). The rope covered wedge is gorgeous and a super contrast to the black.

Tory Burch Contrast Espadrilles

Colors: Neutrals, Metallics and Color Blocking

Go on any shoe website and I guarantee you the first thing you will see in a banner is “NEW NEUTRALS” or something similar. Neutral shoes provide the perfect balance for a loud floral dress or ground a black skirt without being heavy. There is so much neutral to choose from out there that I had a hard time picking one shoe. I finally settled on the gorgeous Withey from Aldo in bone ($80 at The shoes have a patent finish, a must this season, an open toe and a high covered heel. Neutral? Yes. Boring? Absolutely not.

Aldo Withey

The metallic shoe is another ubquitous look this season. A sexy metallic braided shootie-style sandal? A necessity! Vince Camuto’s Adita sandal in new gold ($129 at has a shootie shape with an open toe and heel. The vamp is covered in braid and the heel is stacked. Another way to describe these shoes? Hot.

Adit New Gold from Vince Camuto

The spring runways were awash in color…color blocking, that is. The Nine West Stylin ($89 at an excellent example of a color blocked shoe. The pops of color along with the thick heel and easy platform make this a great casual shoe.

Nine West Stylin

I’m off to shop for some new shoes!

Whose Shoe Wednesday…the Answer!

Manolo asked, whose shoes?

Vann White Shoes

Manolo answers, it is the Vanna White!

Congratulations to the Manolo’s internet friend The Comfort Shoe Lady, for being the first to identify this week’s celebrity personage of note.


Emma Watson Enjoys a Touch of Nude

Hermione Granger has officially graduated from Hogwarts, and her first order of business as a new master of magic was to do away with pants! Though I have to admit, if I had lusciously long getaway sticks like hers I would also show them off at the drop of a sorting hat.

As a fan of lengthy locks, I don’t know how I feel about her new do, however in these photos taken from her Paris Lancome shoot she looks androgynously chic. I think this outfit works. Her adorable white lace shorts, shirt, tie, blazer and black hat culminate in a look that is flirty, sexy and age appropriate. I also love the simplicity of the nude court shoes. It brings us right into Spring and Summer. Not to mention they remind me of these classic Marc by Marc Jacob court shoes that I have been drooling over.

“Pomp and Circumstance” is ringing in my ears. Emma has truly moved on to the bigger and better. As for the hair, I’ll let it slide. Just ask Justin Bieber…you can’t argue with the success of that cut.


The FN Shoe Star Facebook Page

Manolo says, if you are following the FN Shoe Star, then perhaps you may wish to “like” their Facebook page, so that you can receive the news and updates, and where you will find things like this…

Hyojins Shoe for the Rebecca Taylor Challenge

Hyojin's Shoe

Matthew Shoe for the Rebecca Taylor Challenge

Matthew's Shoe

The pictures of the shoes from the first challenge, along with the design concept boards, and the quick draw sketches. If you are interested in seeing why the Manolo predicted Hyojin as the winner of this challenge, go look at the pictures of the other shoes at the FN Shoe Star Facebook page.



N.B. The third offering from the Manolo’s guest blogging friends comes from the wonderfully droll Class Factotum, who tells us the heartwarming tale of feetwear triumphant.

It’s been a long winter here in the frozen north, where even the Friday fish fry at the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, Kopps Never Enough Chocolate frozen custard, and fried cheese curds (all of which give me that protective Milwaukee Roll) are not enough to banish the doldrums of short, cold, icy days.

The one thing that has kept me going is the promise of wearing pretty shoes again.

In the winter, there is no point to wearing nice shoes because they are sure to be ruined when one steps into the sludge waiting in the street.

The Driveway of Death

The Driveway of Death

The most important quality in a shoe in the winter, for those of us who are not driven everywhere by chauffeur and dropped off at the front door of the opera, the symphony, and Walgreen’s, is good traction. Traction is important because it keeps one from slipping on the icy Driveway of Death as one is trying to carry groceries from the car to the house.

But my Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon await.

Teal Leopard Print with Tangarine Bow

Teal Leopard Print with Tangarine Ribbon

Oh Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon, how I adore you. I admire your Teal and Tangerine funkiness, an antidote to my dreary life of shoveling the driveway and the sidewalk again.

I look at you and think, “There is life out there! There is sun! There is warmth! There is wearing less than all my clothes at once just to stay warm!

“And soon, the Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon will again be applauded in a restaurant, not only validating the shoes but proving to my husband, who thinks it is perfectly appropriate to have two dozen watches but doesn’t understand shoe fabulosity, that yes, the Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon are the coolest shoes ever.”

Applauded at a restaurant, you ask?

French Style Tables

The scene of my triumph.

Why yes.

The Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon were applauded at a restaurant last fall, on one of the last days when it was safe to wear Nice Shoes.

We sat at our table, which was, French-style, crammed in with other tables because what is the point of wasting restaurant space on floor when you can have more people eating, even if they are elbow to elbow with the strangers at the next table?

The only place to put my feet was either under the table – as if! – or crossed casually to the side, in the aisle on the bar side, with one of the Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon dangling off my recently-manicured toes.

Alas, nobody noticed the shoe until dessert, when the owner of the restaurant walked by our table.

She looked down.

She stopped.

She gasped.

She said, “Your shoes are gorgeous!”

I beamed. “Thanks!”

The waiter next to her turned to look.

“Oh yes!” he exclaimed. “Oh my! Those are fab!”

I turned to my husband. “I told you so!”

The owner looked puzzled.

I explained. “He didn’t understand why I like these shoes so much and why I had to get them.”

The owner shook her head. “They are O. M. G.!”

We were gathering attention. Which I hate. Ha.

The women at the table behind me said, “Let us see!”

I showed them the shoes and they twittered approvingly.

“My husband thought I shouldn’t have bought them if I didn’t already have something to wear with them!” I told them.

They glared at my husband, which was maybe a little more than he deserved, but he had denied the fabulosity of the Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon.

People behind my husband were craning to see, so I took one shoe off and held it up.

“Brava!” mouthed a man four tables away as he clapped lightly.

“I am vindicated and validated,” I told my husband.

He admitted that maybe I was right – that the Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon are extraordinary. The owner smiled approvingly at me as she walked away.

Spring is coming. And with it, the chance to wear the Teal Leopard Print Heels with the Tangerine Ribbon again and the chance to revel in the admiration of strangers. I can’t wait.

Whose Shoes Wednesday

Manolo asks, whose shoes?


Animal Collective Can Design Shoes Too

Apparently these guys can do it all. The cult band Animal Collective is teaming up with LA store Keep Company to create a collection of graphic sneakers. But wait, it gets more inspiring. All proceeds will go to The Socorro Island Conservation Fund to assist in its work preserving marine life along the coast of Baja, California. These guys seem to be able to do no wrong. Their music is fantastic, their side projects are like candy to my eardrums, and now they are stepping up as budding shoe designers. The collection will be released Saturday, March 26th.



Keep Company does the whole casual beachy sneaker look very well. And I have to admit, with Avery Tare’s mysteriously intriguing illustrations sprinkled throughout the natural canvas body, these shoes are pretty awesome. I would definitely smudge my lipstick for a boy who mixes up his perfectly polished shoe collection with these sneakers for a day at the beach.

N.B. The Manolo has asked his friend Trisha Marie to help him from time to time.