Archive for March, 2010

$100 Fabulous

Bought last season, still a first-run style. By the way, I think I officially hate all black shoes. This does it for me.

A completely fantastic outfit. I almost don’t want to tell you what I paid for these. Because it kind of makes me look amazingly wealthy, successful and suave. Does it defeat the purpose if I post on the internet that I paid $40 for these shoes and $60 for the dress? Cheap as in mean or smart as in savvy? 

Maybe I don’t care.  The dress is still $138 on the Donna Ricco website, I’m pretty sure I got it for less than half that last fall when I was pretending to want to go to the opera. 

But darn, the shoes are now listed on sale for $28.99.  Okay, as soon as I return and re-buy.  I will be frugal as in smart-shopping. And fabulous.

Style & Co. from Macy's. I tried on five pairs at price points between $55 and $140 and these were my absolute favorites.

Now I just need jewelry to complete the outfit.  My birthday is coming up, so maybe I’ll get a nice surprise from my amazing and successful husband.  But then he’s been dropping hints about a surprise trip to Florence for our eighth wedding anniversary*. Is it too much to hope for both?

*Just kidding.


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Michael Kors Aubrey, $295

Our Gladiator Sandal Investigative Report has let to a number of important questions.  Today’s is the “KORS Michael Kors Aubrey” question.   “Aubrey” is a thoughtful little shoe. The line is elegant.  The Figure-8 Straps are current and flattering. The black-strap/silver-stud combination, while not a personal favorite, is well balanced. The wood heel is genius.  Wood is casual but wood is hard to craft so prettily, making it expensive-looking.   This would look great with flowing linen pants, a sexy denim skirt, or jeans.  This shoe is what it sets out to be: it has integrity.  It’s a great shoe for so many reasons — but 295 of them?   In a perfect world, would this matter (Or would a “perfect world,” by definition, still challenge us to prioritize our resources?)   

I told Meg Wood (yes, this Meg Wood) I could find her a similar shoe for under $100.  Did I lie? Maybe. Here’s why.   


Nine West Paprika, $80.

Check out “Paprika” by Nine West.  This also comes in black, but I don’t like black, so I wanted to show you this. The leather is snakeskin-textured. The embellishment is jeweled instead of studs.  The t-strap is up high on the ankle which makes it more aggressive.  The  heel is higher, so it’s vampier — overall it is a less versatile shoe, but dramatic and stylish.  


Jessica Simpson Clonise, $71.

Pretend this shoe doesn’t say “Jessica Simpson” for a moment so we can discuss it.  It has nice plunging instep straps (flattering). Wood heels (I like them better with pants).  Chunkier means trendier (and therefore younger).  The straps are thicker and, at least from the picture, don’t look quite as refined — a little cheaper.  The toe seems stodgy to me — is this an 1980’s Resurgence think? I worry that shoes like Krystle Carrington’s would make me look like a Golden Girl or an actual prostitute.   Which I don’t say lightly but seriously. When was the last time you saw a person wearing 25-year-old shoes?  


Nina Evegena, $89.95.

Nina Evegena is an evening shoe, with black satin and a rhinestone buckle.   


Calvin Klein Pallas

Calvin’s Klein Pallas is a “maybe’ as far as wearing witih jeans.   It’s pretty and solid. The heel is too high for me to consider it a versatile shoe.


Steve Madden Tarrgaa, $79

Steve Madden is definitely edgier, trendier, more sexy. This is a leg-stumper as far as gladiators go. I wouldn’t even consider a shoe like this. In fact, I’d be surprised to see it anywhere in the entire Pacific Northwest. Still, if you’re young and artsy and edgy, you might like this. 

Nine West

Nine West Fuschia, $66

Nine West has dozens of styles that are similar to the Aubrey. I like the Fuschia. Funky and hip but a nice, sweeping line.  A little bit of textural interest but still pretty. The heel is high and pretty thin, which I don’t like to do with pants. Maybe you do.   

So where does that get us? I don’t pay a premium only for a brand name.  And to be clear, none of these are my taste.  But the Michael Kors was hands-down the best I could find of its type.  Sometimes you get what you pay for in materials and design.  Or do you?

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When asked about gladiator sandals, my first thought was, “aren’t those over yet?” Gladiator sandals debuted around 2006 (the earliest reference I’ve found, from the TopShop Fashion-Era site in 2006, is from the U.K.) The first New Gladiator Sandals were fairly literal: brown leather, a high (above the shin bone) “caged” double-T-strap ankle buckle, multiple straps across the instep.  And a high heel.            

When in Rome

Photo: "Roman Military Equipment" second edition, by M.C. Bishop and J.C.N. Coulston, published by Oxbow Books, 2006.

By 2008, gladiators were everywhere even though they were, admittedly, not pretty.  Fabsugar Trend Alert called them “masculine and daring” and  Manolo Shoe Blogs  said they’re the “most muy macho of ancient feetwear.”  They were recommended only to the tiniest of feminine young women in no danger of getting mistaken for an actual gladiator (Gwyneth Paltrow). These sandals went for authentic and ancient, with dark leather, flat soles as if hand-hewned from animal hide on the battlefield, and lots of brass studs and buckles forged by Vulcan himself.  Some 2008 observers said the style was on its way out (act quick and buy cheap!) while others gave up and joined the trend.  Like Shoe Sense at Shoeblog, who said it well:      

I stayed away from gladiators because they tend to “cut” the foot from your leg, often with bulky plates and multiple ankle straps, and disrupt the natural lines and the illusion of “elongated” that I so direly need to create. Which is to say, I’ve often thought that unless you’ve got wispy legs like a runway model, why, those gladiators are likely to turn you into the spitting image of [Gladiators]. And that’s not a good look for me, is all I’m saying.             


Also? Ugly.  But by 2009, Gladiator Sandals were “here to stay,” according to Runway Daily.   The challenge now, according to  experts like allgladiatorsandals.com,   is how to keep them current.  Real Women Wear Heels also capitulated to the style,  with good updates and examples.       

Today, gladiators are no longer a style of shoe.  The Gladiator has been broken down into a set of motifs, integrated over many styles.   A t-strap, ankle strap, multiple straps.  Extra buckles, extra brads.  Gladiators with a flat heel (like a real gladiator) or in a high heel (so edgy! Could a real gladiator do this?) Sandals for everyone, unless you hate this stuff.  Good luck avoiding it. For everyone else, here are Ten Gladiator Examples, 2010.      

 1. The Purist.  Flat, strappy, simple.  This gold sandal by Born incorporates all typical elements (5 straps, 2 buckles).  Gold is good — brown or black (ugh) would be boring and dated.  This one is casual enough for weekends but could dress up with skirts for evening.  I do still worry that flat heel and high ankle would make my legs look stump.  Borns are a great value and comfy:     


Born, $95

2. The Minimalist.  Take a few elements, pare them down until you have the Essence of Gladiator.  These become delicate instead of bulky, primitive by virtue of their spare minimalism.  Does this make them more Greek than Roman? Cole Haan does these .  Perfect for a warm evening date night, or elegant but casual sightseeing.  Art Walk Shoes!  The innovative floating heel, angled instep straps and beautiful braid make them chic and current:    

I want this shoe

Delicate braid straps, floating heel, no thong, diaganol instep. Cole Haan Air Phoebe, $168.

3. Funky Dress-up Shoes.  The Hot Trend of 2010 is Embellishment. I read that somewhere.  This wedge is a gorgeous sea green.  The studs are badass, but they they are flowers, which is awesome.  T-strap + studs + military-style thong = Gladiator!  This is Carlos by Carlos Santana, “the Shoes that Make Me Wish I Were Someone Else.”       

I want to BE Carlos Santana

Wedge with embellished t-strap in teal, Carlos by Carlos Santana, $99

 4. Ugly Boring Faux-Glads. Watch out for this.  Sometimes when a trend is too challenging, we join in half-heartedly. We stay so close to our comfort zone that we end up with lame shoes that don’t know who they are or what they want to be.  These are barely strappy with one depressing stud.  Just give up, shoe.        

My Grandma wore these in 1988

Bass Margie, $39. Yawn.

5. Ankle cuffs.  Then there’s the style that’s so ridiculous, we all think “it’s a joke, right? They are testing us to see if we are so trendy we’ll pay for something objectively ugly just to prove, by virtue of its ugliness, that we do fashion.” Cynicism, meet Ankle Cuff.  These are shin-protectors just like Playmobil Gladiators.  This will make short legs look shorter.  If any of you are seriously considering these? Remember that this kind of extreme “trend” does not update an old outfit.  It demands a new one. You might want to pass if you are over 20. You also might want to move to Los Angeles.         

Playmobil Chic Ankle cuff faux-thong, flat with open heel. Dessert by Type Z, $76.21


6.  Huarache sandals, too.  how did these sneak in there?  They are Frye, they are green, they are in the current Nordstrom catalogue.  That’s Shoe Cred.  SO: behold. I think they look like the same lame old huaraches I’ve always avoided. The double ankle-strap with two buckles makes you ready for some Lady or The Tiger action.  

Kayla by Frye Kayla by Frye, $148

7. The Figure 8. Like the evolved skeletons of birds*, some gladiator sandals have undergone a fusion: Where there once were parallel straps over the instep, there are now bending, angled twirls. For example, the “Figure-8.” Because of the angle, the ankle strap is lower on the foot and ends in a V — more flattering for short legs. This look was on American Idol, ergo it is cool. If you love this one, let’s go find cheap ones. I just loved the Michael Kors too much to ignore. Such pretty articulation of the studs, great buckle location (even that will make the leg look longer), very cool heel.  

Aubrey Michael Kors Aubrey, $298


8.  Ankle band, Toe Band. In the opposite direction some sandals have only an ankle band and a simple thong (Via Spiga does this in gold, over-the-toe). No straps, no buckles, just simple.  See what’s happening?  It says “ancient” because of the ankle action and the chain embellishment.  But it took the look in an entirely different direction.  Deconstruction!  This is a gorgeous color (did I do too much blue today?) Steve Madden is a go-to brand if you want to dabble in a quick trend. Current, pretty, not too expensive.         

Steven Madden

9.   Simple T-Strap Thongs.   I could wear this.  See how the lower ankle strap makes a V? That draws the eye down, elongates the leg, and softens the otherwise-severe effect of ankle straps.  Instead of pounding us with visual repetition, it’s like a little poem.  A little song about a gladiator.  The t-strap is crazy thin, like a leather necklace that Mark Anthony made for Cleopatra and then she made it into a shoe.  I am so crazy for big funky jewels on my sandals this summer, but honestly?  When they are cheap, they look cheap. When they are hefty, authentic stones, they are not cheap.  Love this.         

I want this one for real

T-strap, double-ankle strap with closed heels and contrast stone embellishment: "Glint" by Charles David. $144.95 at Nordstrom

10. The End. Did I say I’d do ten? Well I’d better quit while I’m ahead, and leave room for Russell Crowe and dinosaurs (see below).    

Shoes? What Shoes?

The contemporary idea of Gladiator sandals comes from "Sword and Sandal" filmes. Starting with Cabiria in 1914 and more recently embodied (above) by Russell Crowe.

*Birds are often considered to be the only vertebrates with a fused collarbone — the wishbone.  The keel of the sternum serves as an attachment site for the muscles used for flight.  Some extinct animals — in particular, theropod dinosaurs — also had wishbones.  Check this out the next time you see a T. rex skeleton!   

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Necklace Gallery

I am not a fancy jewelry person! I promise.  But don’t we all have a few necklaces.  By the time I decided to re-fabulous, I was 35.  I had accumulated some jewelry — some of it I didn’t even like — but I started mixing it in.

In the past year I’ve bought a few strings of cheap beads, one nice set of freshwater pearls, and some great hammered-metal.  I was oppositional about jewelry (you can’t make me be That Fancy Kind of Girl!) for years.  But honestly?  If you aren’t already thrilled with the beautiful woman you see in the mirror, a necklace is a great place to start.  Everyone’s neck is beautiful (believe me!) Draing attention to the face is flattering. Necklaces are easy snap-on and go accessories. They don’t care if you have a bad hair day (or if your new pair of pants mysteriously “shrunk.” Necklaces are lovely, forgiving, and beguiling. If you don’t want to get too fancy: plastic, wood or metal can add interesting shape and texture without being all dressy gemstone-girl:

Top Row, L to R: Etsy craft antique brooch necklace with fabulous friends, 2009; Nordstrom square metal beads, 2002; Craft store blue stone pendant on stainless chain, 2003

Second Row: Turquoise medallion, hand-me-down from mother-in-law, 1970’s; Great-grandmother’s Black hills Gold cross on gold chain, 1930’s; String of freshwater pearls (wedding gift from husband), 2002

Third Row: String of colored freshwater pearls (Macy’s sale), 2009.; Tiny daisy pendant, birthday gift from boyfriend, 1999; Discount shoe-store plastic beads, 2008;

Fourth Row: hammered-metal ring necklace, Nordstrom 2009; Long gold-plate chain, bought for Aki’s wedding reception, 2006; Etsy craft antique brooch necklace (I love wearing this with a sweater!)

Damn we look good

JvA, raisarobin, stephaniedoll.wordpress.com

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Hugh Jackman News

Breaking News: Hugh Jackman to star in Lipton Tea Commercial!


Pepsi Lipton International is a joint created in February by Britvic (PepsiCo) and Unilever. The cold variety of the beverage is now distributed by the new affiliate, while Unilever handles the Hot Tea portfolio in the UK.

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Braid thong wedge in gunmetal, $34.50 at Ann Taylor Loft


Did anyone else get an ATL coupon in the mail? It’s a hidden treasure!  It advertises “20% off any full-price items instore” OR “20% of a minimum of $100 full-price items online.”  

I went online and filled my virtual Shopping Bag with a variety of items:  the $78 Ruched Jersey Dress, $34.50 sandals (see right), and a few cute t-shirts that were already 30% off. 

So $112 in full-price items and about $60 in sale items.  It applied the discount to all of it! Apparently once I met the $100 minimum in full-price merchandise, the coupon code kicked in and discounted my entire cart at 20% all.  So the t-shirts came out to 50% off. Woot. 

Notice that this answers the Question: On a limited budget, do I want one pair of gorgeous  Cole Haan peep-toe pumps? Or do I want to expand my entire wardrobe?  Answer: I have twelve days in court over the next two months, including a jury trial.  You do not wear reflective peep-toe shoes in front of a jury.  You wear conservative suits with comfy but pretty cotton shirts underneath them. 

Also these will be cute with shorts for watching little league (we are graduating from T-ball to Coach Pitch this spring!) And with sweet cotton skirts for hot business casual.  And with my Gap jean skirt, which I rocked all winter with tights and boots, and will hopefully work with those silver sandals (above). The $34.50 ones, not the $198 ones. 

Check it out: 


Silk pleated trim neck tees $14.75; Knot Embroidered Tee, $18.25

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Come for the Hugh Jackman, stay for the fashion

Okay. You win.

This is a fashion blog.  Where 30-something  ladies come for a little outfit inspiration, style tips and customized wardrobe advice. On a good day, anyway. Aki’s computer is broken and mine’s missing the H key. We both have little kids. It’s hard to keep up with you all sometimes.

We also like Hugh Jackman. I don’t even remember how this started, except now we get upwards of 100 hits per day from people searching for dear Hugh.  I always feel bad that WGD doesn’t have more to offer for our Hugh fanbase. So starting today he gets his own Hugh Jackman News Updates Page  and his own tab (above).  I will updated as much as I can with news and information about ol’ Hugh. Did you know he was on Jay Leno this week? I didn’t, until I looked it up and posted it here.

On your own new Hugh Jackman websource. 

Meanwhile, help Robin find a class reunion dress!
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