Posts Tagged ‘Michael Kors’

What Black is Not

Is this really the best this kind of shoe can look?

Before you can get defensive, I’m not telling you not to wear black.  I’m not saying I don’t like you or your clothes.  I’m just saying: let’s think about this.

Black is not automatically the best shoe color. If you wear black shoes because it’s just your feet, what does this say about how you think about your feet? Why not wear a color you like there?  If you have lots of black shoes, and you limit what else you buy (black-only neutrals or black-affinity colors) to match your old black things, you are in a rut. Non-black neutral shoes are awesome.  Colorful sandals for summer are super-awesome.

Black is not always easy.  Without color you have less visual interest.  Your outfit is reduced to shape and form.  This can be marvelous — if you are wearing a well fitting, nicely styled piece like a perfect Little Black Dress.  But schlumpy, ill-fitting or out-of-date clothes just look worse in black.  A halfway-there dress is not forgiven its faults because it’s black.

Black is not compensation for bad accessories.  A black outfit diverts attention to whatever accessories you wear. So you can let your pretty, funky jewelry really sing. But: any “clunker” accessories (including a worn-out purse or shoes) clunk loudly against the “silence” of a black outfit. Wearing one black piece demands more of all the other pieces you wear.


Michael Kors. Silver shoes are versatile, energizing neutrals. Black with a cork heel doesn't make sense to me.

Black is not everyone’s best color. Black is a cold, severe color.  Most people look better wearing warm tones.  If you’re concerned that your face shows wrinkles in the wrong light, black tops make it worse — they cast shadows right where you don’t need them. (If you aren’t concerned? Just you wait.) Black sucks the shine out of hair and skin.  And if you have dandruff issues? I don’t need to tell you. You already know.

Black isn’t timeless.  Yes, a classic black dress will be stylish for more seasons than one in 2009’s mimosa yellow.  But in 2010, with so many other great dark neutrals to choose from, all-black looks about 10 years out of style.  Frugal is good (keep wearing what works!) but stuck in a rut (keep buying what you’ve always bought) is not.  Also: black cotton does not wash-and-wear forever without getting faded and pilled. And black leather shoes need to be shiny, rich and deep to look their best.  Black is not forgiving.

Black is not invisible.  Black reflects less light than pale colors. It does not absorb all light from surrounding galaxies: a black coat is not a black hole.  Baggy black clothes do not obscure the outline of your figure.  They just make you an big old blob, but darker.  Black is a color, it is not anti-matter. We can still see you. 

Black does not match everything. I think black looks good when mixed with other dark neutrals (gray, brown, navy, olive).  Black can be hard to wear with bright colors without looking cartoonish.  White/light colors with black create a lot of contrast — “pale top / black skirt” (or vice-versa) draws attention to the “fault line” where the colors meet — usually across your middle. 

Black isn’t Youthful. When Coco Chanel made short, sexy dresses out of black fabric, it was revolutionary — because black was, until then, a mourning color.  The original Little Black Dresses were edgy for their time —  like punk-edgy.  Coco Chanel is an amazing fashion icon — but if she were alive today she’d be 127 years old.  You will not look youthful if you dress like Coco Chanel.

Black is not the Sexiest. I really don’t think. When I was young, black seemed dangerous.  Adult, in a forbidden way — young girls didn’t wear it; Mommies and Grandmas didn’t wear it.  Sexy black strappy undergarments were for sexy-time only.  Sexy like Debra Winger in Black Widow (I know nothing about that movie, I’m sure I’m just misremembering pictures out of my family’s HBO guide). Black may be a symbolic color of S&M-whatever bad-girl bondage stuff, but why? Isn’t black leather just dyed, fake leather? What story are we telling about ourselves when we reach for that as our idea of “sexy?”

Black leather is sexy like Fonzie is sexy. Is that really what we aspire to?

Is one of these color combinations less-awful than the other? If so, why?

All Blacks

If any of the New Zealand "All Blacks" Rugby team are reading this? You look great, guys. I'm not talking about you.

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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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