Spring Shopping Guide: Block Heel Sandals

Between last week's post on overalls and what I'm about to talk about, it's clear I'm not dressing to get laid this spring. So on that note, please join me on my long, slow walk toward 40. The good news is that this season, we'll be wearing comfortable shoes. Stop laughing. Really. I mean it. Now, if you are the type of person who regularly wears true Comfort Shoes (the Danskos and Eccos of this world)--and if you are, really, you read this blog?--these may not seem so comfortable to you, but for the rest of us who've been teetering around on 110 millimeters for the last few years, these will seem like pure ergonomic bliss. The key is a chunky block heel, preferably 2 inches or less; even more important is choosing a pair that doesn't look like it came from the pages of the Walking Company catalog.

Normally when one thinks of Jimmy Choo, one thinks of big-haired, glossy-lipped glamazons stepping precariously out of limousines in shoes clearly not meant for walking. So it must be a pretty important trend if they're forsaking all that for this Merit snakeskin sandal. With a true snakeskin strappy upper resting on a lacquered heel, they're undeniably luxe, but considering the heel is a totally manageable 1-1/4 inches, quite practically so.

Alexander McQueen is another brand I wouldn't peg for selling practical shoes, but thanks to a pretty bare design and strategically placed hardware, this studded-heel sandal comes across as sexy first. There are a lot of ankle-wrap styles out there, but the key to a flattering cut is a strap that's not too thick and not too skinny but rather, like this one, just right.

While no one would likely accuse Marni of being sexy, I find their fringe sandals whimsical and demented and thus, in a roundabout way, kind of hot. With a metallic fringed front, they look like something Carrie Bradshaw would wear to a golf course because she heard it's a good place to pick up men. And you know if I break out a SATC reference for shoes, that's the ultimate compliment.

Out of loyalty to founders Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison, I haven't shopped at Sigerson Morrison since they were ousted from their company. (Adding fuel to the fire, I've found the new designs incredibly painful.) But perhaps proving that time heals all wounds, I am reconsidering, thanks to these Abra block-heel sandals from their lower-priced Belle line. I like all of the buckles and the neutral olive-green suede; I really like the chunky heel and padded footbed.

When I first moved to NYC a very, very long time ago, I treated myself to a pair of Donald J. Pliner mules at Bloomingdale's, and I literally wore them into the ground--after having them resoled at least four times, they are now resting peacefully in my shoe graveyard. It's not a shoe line I've given much thought to since, but I already have these Macha beaded sandals in my shopping cart and it's like everything has come full circle. The beaded front panel is enough to dress up pretty much anything you're wearing, and yet I'm almost certain they're comfortable enough to wear all day and all night.

Madewell is one of those places where I wonder if I'm too old to shop there, but everything is cute, so YOLO. I am particularly enamored with their Warren sandals, a nice neutral blend of silver and tan with a design that looks breezy but is deceptively supportive.

At 75 centimeters, these Zara block-heel sandals are pushing it in terms of comfort, but I saw them in person last week in the store, and they look so minimal and cool, I think I can overlook it (coupled with the fact that in spite of their affordability, Zara's shoes tend to be constructed pretty well). That and they're $80.

You probably don't want to get these polyurethane block-heel sandals from Wallis near an open flame, but that said, I like the unexpected bit of texture that the patterned heel brings to the mix. And of all styles featured here, these look the most work-appropriate to me, which is fairly important.

God Bless Sam Edelman for bringing back their Trina sandals year after year--I have a tan-and-gold pair that people routinely stop me on the street to ask about. The key to their staying power is a cork insole that feels like walking on clouds, but a polished metal heel gives them a little bit of edge; I'd totally buy this pair for outdoor summer wedding season. Or, you know, just summer. Consider them a very wise investment.

Spring Shopping Guide: Overalls

Once upon a time, I was a teenager and it was the '90s. I was in high school right at the peak of the grunge era, so I have a particular sentimentality for plaid flannels, babydoll dresses, and Doc Martens. And while fashion has been flirting with a '90s revival for some time now, so far I've passed on most of it because, let's face it, a woman of my age should not be wearing a bustier top in public. But, one particular item has been popping up on the street style blogs lately, and  I. Cannot. Resist. That item is overalls. Yes, overalls. I had a fantastic pair from the Gap; they were a very lightweight denim with wide legs, and the sides drooped just so. I used to wear them with everything from thermals to, yes, those cropped baby tees, but my favorite thing to do was wear a (relatively) sexy bodysuit underneath. (Side note: remember bodysuits? Those were fantastic. Can we bring them back, please, fashion industry?) Now that I'm feeling rather nostalgic for my 15-year-old self, I will note that today's overalls have been somewhat updated given the denim trends of the last few years, but I have a feeling they will still be straight-up man repellers. Don't let that stop you.

Remember two years ago when we were all wearing leather leggings? Apparently the fashion world has moved on, because now there are these roomy Chagall leather overalls from Acne, arbiter of all that is hip. The shape actually recalls that of my old Gap faves--wide-legged and androgynous--but the thought of wearing these makes me want to sweat. Well, that and the $2200 price tag.

These Milly overalls are also leather, but at half the price of the Acne pair and, in white with the classic buckle straps, somewhat more traditional looking. I also like the Helmut Newtony way they're styled here with just a bra underneath (although this might also be a good time to break out that bustier top).

I love the straight-up '70s look of these Philosophy overalls, and with the flared shape of the leg, elongating seams, and high waist, they might be the most flattering of the bunch here. Which isn't saying much, but you know.

My 15-year-old self would have loved these Levi's Bib & Brace overalls, and my current-day self does too. They're so androgynous and perfectly aged, and they look like they're straight out of Madonna's "Express Yourself" video, so bonus!

Current Elliott's Ranch Hand overalls are arguably the pair that inspired this entire post; anecdotally speaking, I'd say they're the ones that turn up the most on the aforementioned street style blogs. They're streamlined, with a straight leg that's relaxed but relatively flattering. They're slouchy, but not sloppy.

These Citizens of Humanity overalls are an equally solid choice, with a more traditional front patch pocket at the bib. I like the faded wash and the subtly slimmer leg. With a cute top and the right shoes, they might even qualify as sexy. Might.

These Big Star overalls sound promising, thanks to a lightweight cotton-linen blend (also making them summer-friendly), and the crisscross back makes them kind of hot. Also a good leg shape--a nice balance between slim and relaxed.

Of course Nasty Gal has overalls. (In case you were wondering, it also has crop tops, plaid, and so on.) I like this pair's light wash, and the fact that they're unapologetically man-repelling. Hello, weekends.

And I don't know why these Forever 21 patchwork overalls are so cheap, but they look a lot more expensive (um, hello Levi's) than they are. My thrift-shopping inner teenager approves.

Lazy Shopping: Birthday Presents, Part 2

Last week I posted the dream birthday gifts I would have asked for if I had my act together. And now, here are the gifts I actually received.

From left to right:

I always treat myself to something classic that I've been wanting for awhile; last year it was a pair of Christian Louboutin 85s; this year, a pair of Isabel Marant Dicker boots. I am trying to limit myself to wearing them only once a week because I love them so much, I don't want to get tired of them ever.

The middle gift was from my parents, and while it's hard to see in this slightly blurry iPhone photo, it's a badass Eddie Borgo pyramid stud bracelet. (Okay, my parents actually got me a giftcard to Neiman Marcus, but this is what I bought with it.) It will say "Don't eff with me" while I walk around my, um, not so dangerous neighborhood of Lower Pacific Heights.

You might recognize the gift at right from this post; it's the Clare Vivier duffle petit and, yep, those are my initials on it. MW claims I'm the hardest person to shop for, at which point I usually say, "I write a blog about shopping. Read it." Hence this gift, which I adore and which, like myself, hopefully gets even better with age.

Lazy Shopping: Dream Birthday Gifts

My birthday was last week; everyone kept asking me what I wanted, and for the first time in what seemed like years, I had a hard time coming up with ideas. I am trying to--and, I think, succeeding at--buy fewer, albeit nicer things; for the time being, I'm also living in a smaller apartment, which I'm trying to keep as uncluttered as possible. (Ha, good luck.) So while I ended up with some great gifts--more on those in an upcoming post--here's my belated dream birthday shopping spree.

1. I have recently become addicted to Stella McCartney's not-totally-unaffordable lingerie line, and while this silk chemise is pushing things a bit in terms of price, I'd probably spend a proportionately large amount of time in it: in bed, asleep. 

2. I've been looking for a non-trashy pair of red pumps forever; I've also been wanting to buy a pair of iconic Ferragamo flats but I'm not exactly a flats person. How convenient, then, that this lovely pump manages to elegantly combine the two.

3. Bloggers love Vita Fede's jewelry, so, you know, here we are. I feel like these are a younger, cooler version of David Yurman bangles: sleeker, sexier, a little more dangerous.

4. In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm obsessed with body lotion, the richer the better. This Acqua di Parma cream is luxe to the point of near-ridiculousness, but isn't the point of a present being something you'd never actually buy for yourself?

5. I recently did a bit of leopard purging from my closet (I own a slightly alarming amount), but there's always room for one tiny clutch, right? 

6. The last thing my kitchen needs is more dishes--and these wouldn't match anything else in my apartment--but I'm obsessed with Scalamandre's classic designs, and I feel like eating my avocado toast on one of these every morning would be even more exciting.