Fall Shopping Guide: Platform Loafers

When I was a child, I always got a new pair of shoes for back to school. These were usually penny loafers—I grew up in a very preppy area—and year after year, I would barely wear them. Eventually my mom wised up and started buying me shoes I'd actually wear (like Keds), but over the years, I've found myself pondering loafers and why they never worked out for me. I think I found my answer: the heels weren't high enough! Thankfully, this season the classic loafer has been updated with a sexier shape and a sky-high heel, complete with platform. It looks like I've finally found the penny loafers I'll want to wear.

Opening Ceremony's Laetitia penny loafers take the standard penny loafer shape and elements like pinked edges and two-tone coloration, subtly upgrading the look with a stacked heel and a sturdy lug sole. It's a classic, modernized just enough to be irresistible.

Nicholas Kirkwood is currently the object of my shoe lust, and when you look at the dangerously sexy beauty of these tasseled platform loafers, it seems pretty obvious to me. They look like something a librarian who's secretly a dominatrix would wear (a rich librarian-dominatrix, that is), and isn't that reason enough?

Yves Saint Laurent's Tribute pumps are a classic in their own right; here, they've been married with a tasseled loafer for this quirky yet smart take on the trend. I love the contrast between the spindly heel and the fusty fringe; they're like a grandpa with a hot young wife.

There are so many awesome styles at this price point, it was hard to choose three favorites, but every time I look at Frye's Naiya Kiiltie loafers, I can't help but smile. They're kind of nerdy-cool, and I especially love that they come in navy (as well as three other colors)—a good pair of navy shoes is hard to find.

It's almost hard to believe these Quinn platform loafers are from Banana Republic, but then again, they fit in with the chain's classic, work-friendly vibe. With the hidden platform, they're kind of a platform entree for people who think they're not platform people.

As I've noted many times before, I'm a huge fan of Pour La Victoire shoes, so their Larkin is sure to be a winner. Their shoes are always comfortable and well constructed, and while I'd probably go for the black or brown leather, I love that these come in red patent too.

Speaking of styles that come in an array of colors, Nine West's Abalene is available even in faux exotics, although I prefer the faux croc (pictured here) to the faux snakeskin (kind of cheap looking). With a 4.25" heel and a 1" platform, these are also one of the most sturdy styles pictured here.

For those of you reading this story and thinking platform loafers aren't edgy enough for you (and can't afford the Nicholas Kirkwoods above), meet Buffy from Charles David. It's obviously still a loafer, but studs along the sole add a downtown finish.

With traditional pinked edges, a sturdy heel, and a lug sole, Mia's Nolen loafers are a pretty solid choice for their price ($59), so long as you don't mind the fact that they're synthetic.

Sample Sale of the Week: Adrienne Landau

There may be a more high-profile sample sale happening this week, but my top pick is one that's more of a sure thing: Adrienne Landau's sample sale features fur vests, coats, and accessories for up to 75% off retail. I say it's a sure thing because fur is now pretty much a fall-winter staple, and now that the temperatures are finally dropping, it's the perfect time to stock up. A word to my animal-loving readers: Yes, I'm talking about real fur; if this puts you off, please steer clear of this sale. 10/25-10/27; 10-6; 519 8th Ave. (35th & 36th Sts.), 21st fl.

TheFind Guest Post: These Patent Platform Wedges Have Us Feeling Daytime Disco Fever!

The bad news is: the summer of sexy sky-high wedge sandals is officially over as we embrace chilly fall. The good news is: you don't have to give up your favorite trend just because the weather forecast (and everything you know about seasonal fashion fare) says so! Clunky, chunky, funky wedges are getting a fall update with dark tones, closed toes, and even structural heels that you can rock with your favorite fall trousers, cords, or (if you're daring) even tights! For example, these Robert Clergerie "Olympy" sandals from Barneys have trendy color-blocking and criss-crossing straps for a bad-ass fall look. These Sergio Zelcer "Cata" Wedge Sandals are extra high (and extra fierce!) with a shiny patent finish and cool cut-out details for plenty of visual interest. And don't forget these T-Strap "Maggie" Sandals with a staircase-inspired structural heel, which puts a new spin on the super-high wedge!

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Fall Shopping Guide: Bright Pants

Normally fall is the time of year when I wholeheartedly embrace black, gray, and navy, and while those non-colors will still play a prominent part in my wardrobe this season, I'll be pairing them with bright colors. Back in February, the runways were bursting with color—a pretty novel concept for fall, all things considered—and while the obvious, and easy, thing to do would be add a colored top or two to the mix, the freshest way to wear bright color is with a pair of pants. Now, colored jeans were one of summer's biggest trends, so instead I'm focusing on trousers, which are more work-friendly and, if you ask me, generally more flattering. The best part is that you can basically pick your silhouette, from cropped and skinny to super-wide-leg, and choose any color you want, although reds, purples, and blues tend to be the most common.

I have a pair of bright pink pants similar to these from Preen (okay, mine are from Zara), and not only does the color draw appreciative looks, it totally brightens your outlook on life.

I also have a pair of bright red pants, similar to these from Versace, and after getting over my initial Santa Claus phobia, I found them to be very empowering. The cropped length on these is good for wearing with boots.

These 3.1 Phillip Lim trousers have a draped look that's a bit more casual and relaxed, and perfect for those of you who are still somewhat into harem pants.

Alice + Olivia is killing it this season with their pants—name the silhouette, they're doing it well—but the high-waist, wide-leg cut of these trousers looks the freshest to me and works well with the season's strong '70s undercurrent.

Similarly, these What Goes Around Comes Around pants were one of my favorites from the line's very '70s runway show last season; as pictured here, I advise going with a fairly simple top, so as not to look costumey.

J.Crew's cafe capris are already a hit on the personal-style blogs, and considering they come in a veritable rainbow of colors, for a very reasonable $118, you can see why. One of my favorite pairs here, the bright dahlia color is somewhere between pink and purple and is thus totally irresistible.

These slim cropped pants from ASOS also come in a bunch of bright colors, the fit is almost universally flattering, and the price ($66) is right. What's not to like?

After all these years, Zara remains one of my absolute favorite places to shop for on-trend items, and now that you can shop online, it means I can feature beauties like these palazzo pants here. So pretty and fluid, I like how clean and polished these look.

Finally, if you're still on the fence about this trend but want to try it anyway, I present Old Navy's cuffed capris, which, at a mere $15, are like disposable clothing. I only wish they came in more colors, because I'd buy one of each!

In These Shoes: Timberland Earthkeepers Rudston Boots

In this recurring feature, I tend to write about sky-high platforms and the other fashion-forward styles that often tickle my fancy. And while my closet is full of these sorts of shoes, they're not exactly versatile. Or—cue the dirty word—practical, especially for a place like New York where, let's face it, the weather is kind of horrible half the year. And while I've been known to teeter through the rain in wooden platform clogs (my theory being they keep me high enough above the puddles), they're a recipe for disaster in hurricane conditions. Which is why it's important to have a few—here's another one—sensible pairs in your shoe wardrobe. Finding fashionable sensible shoes, however, is a challenge. Thankfully Timberland saved me the trouble by sending me a pair of its Rudston boots, which are part of the eco-friendly Earthkeepers collection. The Rudston has a very clean, classic pull-on look, stylish enough to consider even without its special properties. But what makes these boots really amazing is that they're waterproof. Yes, totally waterproof! I wore them in rain ranging from misty to full-on downpour, and I can report my feet stayed fully warm and dry, and the lug sole provided a sturdy grip in slippery conditions. Having worn rubber boots in the rain for years, wearing a suede pair seemed downright indulgent. But what's really cool about these boots is the lining is made from 100% recycled materials (the rubber sole is 15% recycled), and they're manufactured in an eco-friendly facility, which is important, because leather tanning can be notoriously tough on the environment, especially when done on an industrial level. It should also be noted that the Rudston has a 2.5-inch heel, a height that's—here's another dirty word—comfortable. I wore them during Fashion's Night Out, and even after traipsing all over the Meatpacking District, my feet were comfy and well supported, which is more than I can say for the rest of the shoes I wore during Fashion Week. The Rudston is $220 on Timberland's website, which is currently running an extra 20% off offer, making them a very reasonable investment. After all, considering the weather we've been having, you'll probably end up wearing them more than any other pair in your closet.

Timberland® Go out and be youClick here to shop now!

FTC disclosure: Timberland sent me these boots for review purposes via Glam.com, a Cheryl Shops sponsor, although all opinions disclosed here—yes, including raving about footwear that is both practical and comfortable—are solely my own.

Sample Sale of the Week: Elie Tahari

From what I can tell from my site metrics, I have readers who work for banks, law firms, architecture firms, and various other white-collar endeavors, which means a lot of you need to dress professionally for work. So this one's for the office workers out there: Elie Tahari's polished lines for men & women are up to 70% off. For the ladies, dresses are $99-$129, blouses are $59, and shoes are $79-$129; for guys, button-downs are $49, cashmere-wool sportcoats are $199, and ties are $29. You go, working girl (or guy)! 10/18-10/22; 8:30-7:30, 10-5 S; 501 5th Ave. (at 42nd St.), 2nd fl.

MasstigeWatch: Jason Wu for Target, Versace for H&M and more collabs!

After the Missoni collection, which was, by all accounts, a galloping disaster, Target announced that MObama favorite Jason Wu is their next designer collaboration. The line hits stores February 5 and will retail for $19.99-$59.99. According to Nitrolicious, who attended the super-top-secret press preview, the collection's muse is a black cat named Milu. Okay.

If February is a bit too far away for you, Target has three accessory collaborations hitting stores before then, October 30th to be exact. The first is a line of 14 hats by Albertus Swanepoel, all for just $19.99. This is particularly noteworthy because Swanepoel is a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund recipient, and a similar hat to the one pictured here is on sale at J.Crew for $178, nearly 10 times the price of Target's version! Also in stores that date: Dana Kellin's jewelry ($9.99-$49.99) and Asian-themed lingerie by Josie Natori for $9.99-$34.99.

Finally, if you're excited about the upcoming Versace for H&M line, you can...get more excited with the campaign images, which have been slowly trickling out to the interwebs. Fashionista has 'em; Mert & Marcus shot 'em; and Versace supes Daphne Groeneveld, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Lindsey Wixson, and Sasha Pivovarova feature prominently. The collection hits stores November 17th—think it's worth waiting in line for?

Lazy shopping: evil eye bracelets

On my recent trip to Greece, I picked up quite a few evil eye bracelets. It's kind of hard not to--nearly every tourist shop sells them in one form or another, and they are quite affordable, especially in Athens. Having some cash to blow on my last day there, I picked up a bunch of delicate silver ones in a veritable rainbow of colors, and I've been wearing them religiously since. Like my tan, they kind of broadcast the fact that I was recently on vacation in Greece, but the good news is that there's no shortage of evil eye bracelets stateside. All the styles below are available for under $50 at the excellent Max & Chloe—a bit more than the 4 Euros each I spent, but definitely a bargain compared to the cost of a flight to Athens!
evil eye bracelets

Bee Charming Eye Love Bracelet
$50 - maxandchloe.com

Blu Bijoux Evil Eye charm Bracelet
$18 - maxandchloe.com

Evil Eye Fish Bracelet
$36 - maxandchloe.com

Hamsa Sloane Silver Bracelet
$45 - maxandchloe.com

Red String Evil Eye Bracelet
$46 - maxandchloe.com

Blee Inara Minis Bracelet
$30 - maxandchloe.com

Sample Sale of the Week: Delicate Raymond

I am of two minds when it comes to jewelry. One one hand, I like big, dramatic, subversive statement pieces. On the other, I like simple, delicate, classic pieces piled on to excess. Delicate Raymond is great for the latter--they take classic elements like chain links and charms, which look great when you wear them in multiple. Scoring such pieces is now easier than ever at Delicate Raymond's sample sale this week in NYC, but if you can't make it, you can also use NYSS50 for 50% off their already reasonable sale prices online. Remember, the more, the merrier. Through 10/14; 10-6; 470 7th Ave. (35th & 36th Sts.), ste. 402.

TheFind Guest Post: Poppy Handbags For a Burst of Bright Color!

As much as I love browsing the handbag department of any store -- perusing, picking them up, trying them on and sauntering in front of the store mirrors -- it's rare that I'll actually buy a purse (crazy, I know)! It's not that I'm thrifty (ha!), it's just that unless I'm on a spree at bargain-friendly accessories giant H&M, bags are a big investment purchase... and I'm sort of a handbag commitment-phobe! As a result, I normally stick to versatile, neutral-colored bags I can use for basically anything and everything, and while my collection is undoubtedly practical, it can be a bit of a snooze-fest. That's why I'm attempting to branch out with this season's biggest color trend, poppy! It's bright and it's festive, but at the same time, it isn't too loud! Think of it as the new neutral -- sure, it doesn't go with everything, but it's easy to coordinate with and pops with a pretty vibrance against a more muted wardrobe! More sophisticated than pink, more flattering than orange, and significantly more autumn-friendly than hot coral, a poppy-hued bag will be your favorite new accessory for transitioning from summer into fall!

Pictured above: Eric Javits Patent Round Wristlet, Cole Haan Jitney Ali Crossbody, Gorjana Hudson Quilted Shoulder Bag, Tory Burch Saffiano Tote, and Foley + Corinna Jet Set Tote.

- Alex Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.

Buy it: Giftly

Dear readers, let me share with you my ultimate tale of gift card woe. A few years ago, I somehow won a $1,000 gift card to the Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf-Astoria. Yes, you read correctly, a $1,000 gift card. And while that would buy like eight massages at a typical spa, I figured it would translate to a facial, a massage, and a mineral bath at Guerlain, which, at the time, was the most expensive spa in NYC. Pampering of such epic proportions would require a full day off of work (what, you expected me to go on the weekends with the hoi polloi?), so I waited until what I thought was the perfect time to book an appointment: during my post-Christmas staycation last year*. However, a few months earlier, the company that operated the spa went bankrupt and thus the Guerlain Spa closed, rendering my gift card absolutely worthless. That's right, my $1,000 gift card. (Thus the cardinal rule of gift cards: Spend them immediately!) I fired off a strongly worded email to Spa Chakra Inc., which promptly bounced back to me via MAILER-DAEMON; I stomped around my apartment; I was so stressed out, I had to book another massage just to relieve the tension.

Which brings me to my love-hate relationship with gift cards. (Love is probably too strong a word; maybe mild tolerance would be better.) Yes, gift cards are generally quick and convenient, and when you have to get a gift for someone you don't know very well, hey, everyone loves a Starbucks card! But the downsides tend to outweigh the positives: They're impersonal, they often languish in your wallet, they expire, and if the company goes out of business, you're, to put it bluntly, SOL.

Which is why Giftly just might be the perfect solution to the gift card conundrum. A brand-new site, Giftly lets you create your own virtual gift card for whatever you want—stores, restaurants, bars, ahem, spas, etc. You send it to the recipient via email or Facebook, they register with Giftly and then to redeem it, check in at the location (you can pick up to three) on their smartphone. The recipient pays normally, and then Giftly credits the amount to the recipient's credit card, debit card, or Paypal account. This is awesome because it eliminates the hassle of tracking down separate gift cards for multiple businesses, and you can basically create a gift card for companies that don't even offer them! Added bonus: Even if you don't spend the entire Giftly at each location, you still get credited the full amount, so you don't get stuck carrying around, say, a Pottery Barn gift card with $4.08 left on it. You're also covered if you lose the original email or if the merchant goes out of business (take that, Spa Chakra!). But the best part of sending a Giftly is that you get to create a unique, personal experience for your recipient, evoking that whole "tis better to give than receive" ethos and resulting in what Giftly calls double happiness—joy experienced by both the gifter and the giftee.

And because Giftly is super-duper awesome, they are offering Cheryl Shops readers $5 off your first purchase—you can use this link or use promo code GIFTLYCHERYL. (Side note: Creating a Giftly for $20 or under is free, but fees otherwise range from $2 to 5% of the price, if over $120—regardless, a small sacrifice to the gift-card gods.) Double happiness indeed!

POSTSCRIPT: While researching this story, I discovered that the Guerlain Spa has since reopened at the Waldorf-Astoria under new management. Of course, I threw away my—all together now—$1,000 gift card months ago, not that the spa would necessarily still honor it. Which further proves my point that traditional gift cards are purely bogus!

*Coincidentally, I wouldn't have made it to the appointment anyway, since I got stuck in Chicago during the ol' Snowpocalypse of 2010 and ended up driving back to NY, three days late. Fate, I tell you.

In These Shoes: Theyskens' Theory Stil Platform Pumps

When I left for Greece 10 days ago, it still felt like summer, but now I'm back and all of a sudden fall is in full swing. This unpredictable-weather period is my favorite time of year, but it always poses a dressing challenge: tights or bare legs? Sandals with pants? Skirts with boots? As much as it pains me to put my sandals away for the season, I find wearing peep-toe or closed-toe pumps a nice transition before going into full-on boots-and-tights mode. And while there's something so practical about black pumps, these Theyskens' Theory Stil platform pumps are anything but boring. I love how angular they are, from the pointy toe to the blocky platform--the jagged line between it and the arch gives them a slightly dangerous look. There's also the matter of their height--nearly 5 inches, with a 1-3/4-inch platform, which means they're like wearing a (practically) comfortable 3-inch heel, but with an extra 2-inch boost. And the fact that these are black pumps means you can truly wear them with anything—skirts, dresses, trousers (great with the new wide legs), even jeans—although I would capitalize on their leg-lengthening properties and wear them with black opaque tights. If your closet has already reached its black-pumps quota, there's also a boot version, although with their higher shaft, I find them a little less versatile (in other words, I wouldn't wear the boot with a skirt). Two minor drawbacks: They're suede, which is a bit harder to care for than regular leather, and they're $325, which is not horrible in the grand scheme of things, but definitely veering into the investment zone. Then again, how can you go wrong with a pair of black pumps, especially a pair like this that elevates a basic—literally and figuratively?

Sample Sale of the Week: Fifi Chachnil

One could argue against the superiority of French cuisine, wine, or fashion, but when it comes to lingerie, truly nobody does it better. French lingerie is almost always sexy, yes, but what really appeals to me is that it celebrates the body more than American lingerie does--for example, bras with seamed cups instead of molded ones. (I, for one, feel sexier in lingerie that makes me look like a woman, not a blow-up doll.) If you feel the same way, and even if you don't, I suggest hitting the Fifi Chachnil private sale at Bond 07; try on one of their balconette bras and you'll forget why you even wore a nude seamless style. No word on pricing, but since this line is incredibly hard to find in the U.S., it's well worth the trip. 10/7-10/8; 11-7; 7 Bond St. (Broadway & Lafayette St.).

TheFind Guest Post: Stop Traffic in a One-Shouldered Red Cocktail Dress

You may not have the unstoppable confidence of Sofia Vergara on the red carpet -- or any of her awe-inspiring "assets" for that matter -- but that doesn't mean you can't rock the color trend that took the Emmy Awards by storm: one-shouldered red dresses. Apparently clashing with the red carpet itself is no longer a concern for Hollywood's elite; red gowns made waves back in February at the Oscars, but the updated fall interpretation of crimson show a little extra shoulder a show-stopping sexy effect. You may not have an excuse to go shopping for a full-on gown (unless you have your own benefit, gallery opening, or awards show to attend to!), but you can never have too many chic cocktail dresses, especially considering the holidays will be here before you know it! A red cocktail dress oozes sex appeal and confidence while still looking elegant and glamorous, while the asymmetrical neckline keeps the look interesting and on-trend. Be inspired by Old Hollywood glamour with a 2011-12 update with this ruched Halston Heritage dress, or go for a more relaxed, floaty look courtesy of this Lipsy Chiffon Dress. If you're a fan of constructed details, this BCBGMAXAZRIA draped dress makes a unique statement, while this Tadashi Shoji dress proves that a little texture goes a long way!

- Alex Gambardella

Content provided by TheFind in partnership with Cheryl Shops.