Vamping Up A Storm

Can there be any grace in being a vamp?

The answer is yes, of course, provided that vamp is an extension of a gorgeous shoe.

I've talked about my obsession with shoes before, and I know that I'm not alone in my weakness for beautiful footwear. Who can resist a slinky strapped sandal, a revealing d'orsay pump, or a scandalous vamp that exposes tons of toe cleavage? Who hasn't teetered on a heel too high, stuffed themselves into a shoe too narrow, or wobbled on a poorly constructed stiletto?

sandal

dorsay

stiletto

Guilty, guilty, and guilty.

A beautiful shoe renders me momentarily incapable of rational thought. It is in those moments of weakness, impulse, or stubbornness that I have made most of my regrettable shoe purchases. I used to think if I really loved a pair of shoes I would somehow make them work on my wide, palsied feet. I carried on with this delusion for most of my life, until one day I caught myself looking for a pair of shoes to wear, nixing one after the other because of fit or comfort issues. I had a closet full of beautiful shoes I didn't want to wear.

The solution was obvious. I had to let go of my outdated thinking about shoes and replace it with a practical, elegant philosophy that would truly serve me. I donated all of the absolute "unwearables" at once.

The most delicate kitten heels that made my ankles turn with a single misstep.

kittenheel

The slingbacks that perpetually slipped off.

slingback

The flats with such a low vamp they couldn't conceal my foot curling up.

lowvamp

Anything too tight or uncomfortable to endure for more than an hour. They all left my closet, but I was by no means done.

Since then I've really paid attention to what works for me as well as what doesn't. Oxfords and brogues work well and they're de rigueur right now so I'm snatching them up as fast as I can. Styles range from ultra-feminine to uber eccentric and I love most of them.

oxfords

oxforcutout

agencyoxheel

Anything with a high, wide vamp like certain espadrilles works, too. So do Mary Janes and T-straps. I'd kill for the perfect pair of T-Strap shoes; they're my very favorite style!

tstrap

Boots must have a wide calf or laces for adjustment. When I'm on crutches heels for walking may not exceed 1.5", but if I'm in my chair I can double that number.

laceboot

I was actually told by a Physical Therapist that it's good for your foot to vary your heel heights within reason.

One pair at a time I replaced shoes that were "okay" looking or fit "so-so" with shoes that were beautiful and comfortable - because I refuse to wear ugly shoes unless I'm exercising or there's a zombie apocalypse. Actually, I can probably scare up some attractive boots if there's a zombie apocalypse.

zombieboot

I can certainly pull it together better than the ladies on "The Walking Dead". Never have so many needed a bath and a makeover so badly. But I digress.

Although this post is autobiographical I must tell you that this is a clarion call for all of you lovely ladies reading it. Some of you are already experiencing some form of physical disability that requires you to be creative with your footwear. I'm here to tell you that nowadays even supportive shoes are available in attractive styles, and if you are unable to wear shoes you can certainly find some stylish socks or embellish some slippers with Sworovski crystals. Whatever you can manage, own it, rock it, make it yours!

slipred

For the rest of you I'm here to give you a reality check. Sooner or later you'll have to abandon the towering and torturous footwear you have for a wider variety. The padding on the ball and heel of your foot begins to diminish as you approach 40 and the delicate bones in your feet become more malleable with age. This leaves you with increasing discomfort in those shoes that pinch and push your foot forward and at increased risk for permanent deformities such as hammer toes. I'm never anxious to welcome anyone else into the crippled community, especially a self-inflicted disability. Start putting some less extreme, but still stylish,  footwear into your rotation, please.

Okay, I confess; I still consider myself to be a bigger vamp than any of my shoes can contain.  So much for the "sensible shoe"!

All images courtesy of Pinterest

That Cinderella Moment

Every Spashionista wants to have that Cinderella moment, the one where the handsome prince places the glass slipper on her foot and it's a perfect fit. I've had that moment, complete with handsome prince, every time I visit my friend Matthew Bretherick's shoe store. As you can see from the photo I'm a frequent visitor. Everything you see below has served me better than a coach and footman ever could - and these definitely did not turn into a pumpkin and mice after midnight.

Matty is currently the manager of a Shi by Journeys store at the Galleria Mall in Franklin, Tn, but we met several years ago while he was managing the Shi at the Opry Mills Mall. In an outlet mall filled with bargain shoe stores how do you get customers to bypass them and buy from you? How do you see to it that your store is always busy and your profits up? How do you go from managing an outlet mall store to managing the one Nashville's upper-crust and their stylists frequent?

The answer is deceptively simple. Treat your customers as if they are the most important person on the planet, because if you're in sales they are. Of course, Matty is not just a terrific salesman, he is also one of the most generous, open-hearted people I know. It doesn't matter to him that I'm old enough to be his mother and in a wheelchair, we are thick as thieves.

The ritual is always the same. We hug and catch up on life for a few minutes then Matty disappears into the back. He returns carrying many shoeboxes filled with styles he thinks I will like and can wear.  After my third or so visit not only does he remember my shoe size and favorite color, he knows my left foot is wider so it's the one I favor when trying on shoes to check for good fit. He also understands my feet don't work well in barely-there flats and I can't wear sandals or impossibly high heels - but those grey ankle boots pictured above are a dream to wear. If he doesn't have my size in a color I want he'll check for fit with a different color and have the ones I want shipped to my house. The red Frye boots are an example, and that's important to me because I find it especially difficult to find boots that fit properly. I paid full price for those boots four years ago and have never regretted it. I'd say the photo represents a  near 50-50 split of full-priced and sale-priced footwear.

There's the infamous white oxfords from Fashion Friday: American and Proud! and Red, White and Blue.

So what's the big deal? If you're a Spashionista and are lucky enough to find a Matty to help you find shoes that are not only stylish but fit you properly you are investing in clothing that works well and goes a long way towards making you look great with very little effort. If you live anywhere near Franklin, Tn it's worth you while to go see the real Matty (but, be warned, only I get to call him "Matty". You have to call him Matthew. If you call him "Matt" his Mother will not be pleased!). If not, let me know if you've found someone in your life that has proven to be your fashion angel.

Fashion Friday: Cuba Libre

Last Friday we went to France. This week I'll tap into my Cuban roots to bring you an outfit cool enough for the soaring summer temps yet hot enough to make you look like a million bucks.

Remember to keep it referential, not literal. The eyelet dress can look matronly if you don't pair it with fresh, modern accessories like the bangles and the fedora. If you're unable or unwilling to pull off a strapless dress pair it with a white 3/4 sleeve lightweight bolero or shrug - belt it if it won't stay put. The sandals here, very reminiscent of tropical resort trendiness, sport a modest heel and a secure side buckle. Can't do a heel or a sandal? A T-strap ballet flat would work just as nicely here.

You can also check out this outfit and others I've created on my Polyvore page.

Please give me your feedback. Is this something you'd wear? What is it lacking to make it work for you?