Wishing everyone a wonderful 2013, filled with beautiful, confidence-boosting and comfortable footwear.
2013 is set to be an exciting year for The Shoe Consultant.
Watch this space for an announcement about the launch of a new e-book, which is your go-to guide to selecting fabulous shoes and outfits, when you are short of time.
I think I must have been on Father Christmas’s “nice” list this year. It also seems to me that the elves must have really done their research, because I received this beautiful Victorian brass shoe horn for Christmas. What more could a lover of shoes – and someone who hates treading down the backs of beautiful footwear – want?
If you don’t know what a shoe horn is/does, try this YouTube clip from footfitter How to use a Shoe Horn or eHow‘s simple instructions. Essentially, shoe horns help you to put your shoes on without damaging them, and the longer versions enable you to do this without bending down.
You can buy many different varieties of shoe horn on E-Bay, from antique Victorian versions like mine, to simple plastic ones. Amazon also offers a good variety including these long colourful options:
and this neat modern metal one:
Which one are you going for? I’m just off to make a special hook in my hallway where my shoe horn can hang and shine brightly.
When I was growing up, my mother made my siblings and I clean our shoes regularly. When I left home, despite beginning my footwear career, I seldom gave my collection any TLC. This may have been partly because I bought and E-bayed pairs so frequently, and rarely wore any one pair enough times to remove the fresh-from-the-box factory polish. The rest of it was laziness, and an abundance of hangovers.
Since the recession set in, there have been many articles written about shoe repair and maintenance. This one in The Guardian explains the reasons why people are caring for their existing shoe collection. When money is tight, the war-time phrase “Make Do and Mend” is a useful motto to adhere to.
There is a growing trend for YouTube videos and blogs, demonstrating how to get a particular polished look on your shoes. Many of these are aimed towards men, but women would also benefit from taking a little time to nurture their footwear. The Shoe Snob‘s technique takes 2-3 hours to carry out. This one is for the truly dedicated!
Leather is a natural material, and just like the skin on your body, it can dry and crack if not moisturised. Shoe creams and polishes are essentially moisturisers for leather. Using them prolongs the life of your footwear, and makes you look super-smart in the process. It is also possible to customise your footwear using polish of a different colour from the leather, built up over a number of applications.
With the holidays a-coming, perhaps you don’t fancy giving The Gift of Shoesto your loved one. Maybe you want to give him or her a luxurious shoe care kit. There are some very exciting products with adorable packaging on the market this year. Here are some of my favourites:
With the attractive vintage-style “Woly” logo, these essential products and their matching tin have a place in the most stylish of homes.
For gentlemen or ladies with shoes in a variety of colours, this elegant black gift box from the Italian company contains one neutral shoe polish, one black polish, one brown, one dark brown, one maroon, and one navy blue polish.
For those with a larger present-budget, and for the most discerning of recipients, is this example of impeccable craftsmanship in the form of a shoe care kit. Made in Italy by a family of artisans, this hand-stitched leather case contains a cotton cloth, wooden shoe horn, 2 x 30ml polish tins (black and neutral), a medium size brush and a small hard bristle brush.
If your lover loves their Uggs, give them this kit. With a sheepskin water & stain repellent, cleaner & conditioner, freshener, and cleaning brush in a branded display box, this kit is a great deal cheaper than a brand new pair!
A gentleman of a certain calibre will know the name “Loake” as being one of the great Northamptonshire footwear manufacturers. He may also have a certain penchant for dark wood boxes containing all he needs for making his shoes the most magnificently gleaming pair in the board room. Need I say more?
The contents are simple: just a black polish, 2 brushes, and a cleaning cloth, but the tin is so attractive, you’ll want to keep all of your future polish purchases in there too.
When the weather gets cold, and the ground gets muddy, the Hunter wellies come out to play. Keep them in tip-top condition with Hunter’s own cleaning set.
The packaging used for this kit is exquisitely feminine. My tip: go to Leather Love‘s website, and call one of their stockists to see if this product is in stock, or telephone Leather Love themselves for help.
Now, I’m off to clean my shoes. How about you?
Working in the fashion industry, I come across people who have developed a rather extreme personal style. Often, these clothing-obsessives switch from one extreme to another, so for example they will wear nothing but 1960s “Mod” looks for 2 years, and then only 1950s pin-up-style outfits for the next 18 months. I cannot help but admire the slavish way they adhere to their selected style and its restrictions, but my question is: don’t they have days when they just want to blend in or be comfortable?
I was recently on holiday in North Africa, and became very aware of the way myself, and other tourists were dressed. I had read in my guidebook how revealing large amounts of flesh would attract long stares from local men, as they are used to women covering their bodies. I dressed accordingly, in linen trousers and thin cotton shirts with T-shirts underneath, and felt cool and comfortable. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I actually found myself staring at foreigners with cleavage or too much leg showing, as they really did stand out amongst the modestly-dressed majority. It was important to me in that situation not to offend anyone’s religious beliefs, or make myself look immodest. Luckily pretty sandals are the norm, so I didn’t have to compromise on my footwear selection.
Tattoos are having a fashion moment, with some London creatives now becoming serial tattooees, but will their tattoos complement the years of style choices they have ahead of them in life? “Psychobilly”-styled brides are becoming more commonplace, but would you let tattoos on your arms, back or chest dictate the style and cut of your ultimate dress? As a lover of shoes, and someone who delights in trying new styles of footwear, I would be cautious of having a tattoo on my foot or ankle, in case it did not complement a sandal I badly wanted to wear at some point in the future.
Having spent the early part of this year landscaping my garden, I appreciate the need for having a set of old clothes you really don’t care about. We should not feel pressurised to always be style-queens. It’s acceptable to let your standards slip when you pop out for a pint of milk, or are on your way somewhere, where you know you’re going to get really dirty!
I was thinking that sometimes I don’t make enough of an effort with my style. My workplace dress-code is casual, and although I dress up anyway, there is no pressure to do so. I was reassured that my style does make an impact, by a friend of mine who commented on my chosen outfit for attending greyhound racing. She was surprised to see me wearing jeans. I realised that evening that I would have been over-dressed in anything else: I had made the right decision as a style chameleon.
Dressing appropriately will help you to feel comfortable in any situation. I am not saying that I never want to stand out, but why be the most unusually-dressed person in the room, when you could dress like your elegant/fashionable/sophisticated/comfortable/beautiful self?
Are you a style chameleon? Let me know what you think by commenting here, or tweeting me @ShoeConsultant
Last month I analysed the colours of the shoes in my collection.
With the weather about to get colder, I just looked at the boots I own this time.
What proportion are ankle-height (an inch or two above the ankle bone), shoe-boots (just on the ankle bone), and how many are knee-high styles (just below the knee)?
These percentages seem about right for my life, style, and the English weather.
What about the heel-height of these boots?
I’m not kidding. I really do have exactly equal amounts of flat and heeled boots. Many of the heeled boots are perfect for every day, as I always choose high heels or wedges which I know will be comfortable. If you want to know how to choose the perfect high heel, check out my article here.
Does your shoe collection match your lifestyle requirements?
I was speaking to my friend whose footwear for occasional use (parties, weddings e.t.c.) is neatly stored in the original shoe-boxes at the top of her wardrobe. Her every-day shoes are in an easily-accessible cupboard. This woman made a database of the stored shoes with images, so she can easily pick out a pair, and know where to locate them.
I recently acquired my own shoe room, and my shoes are now all in the same place (something that hasn’t occurred in years). Having been inspired by my friend, and being an organised person, I wanted to catalogue my shoes. I would really like to work out the statistics of the wearability of each pair in my collection.
Magazines often talk about pounds per wear, i.e. the amount of money spent on an item divided by the number of times you wear it. In this series of posts, I want to see how well each pair in my shoe wardrobe is earning its place there.
As my first step towards this full analysis, I documented the number of pairs I own in each colour family, as illustrated from this pie-chart:
One of my conclusions from this chart is that I badly need some red shoes. I adore red shoes so much, that I wear them out quickly, and then struggle to find the perfect pair to replace them. So the hunt begins!
Metallics and Greys are certainly the new neutrals, and can be easier to co-ordinate with outfits than classic Blacks, Tans, Browns & Creams. They can also be just as flattering to many skin-tones.
I wonder whether I play it too safe with my footwear colour choices. I mean, where are the Hot Pinks and Oranges I used to own in my early-twenties? I tend to dress from the shoes upwards, so perhaps I should be a little more experimental in my purchases for a while.
Have you thought about what your footwear colour pie chart would look like?
I recently discovered a number of websites which function as online shoe museums, archives or exhibitions.
These sites contain great resources for designers, and some seriously desirable shoes for footwear obsessives.
Virtual Shoe Museum is an archive of intriguing footwear from recent years. It was founded by Liza Snook in 2005, and the database of styles has increased year-on-year.
You can search for shoes within this site by a number of fields, including Colour, Designer, Material (including Edible!) and Style. The “Favourites” tool allows you to add and store any 50 shoes, and then e-mail them to yourself.
The blog makes for good reading, highlighting new footwear designers’ collections, and providing up-to-date footwear news.
Recommended for: Design inspiration and shoe exhibition listings
Collection highlight: Shoe Earrings High Heels by Sarah Burchill (image courtesy of virtualshoemuseum.com):
Shoe Icons contains magnificent imagery of footwear from as far back as the 18th century. It also houses numerous printed footwear catalogues, brochures and adverts.
Although this resource is Russian-produced, the images and materials in the archive are from many countries around the globe.
The “index” function allows you to select one or more of a number of search fields, so you can look for shoes specifically from a particular time period, country and designer or brand e.g. footwear by Vivienne Westwood, from Great Britain in the 1980s.
Recommended for: Historical research and design resource
Collection highlight: Bound feet shoes and anklet. China, Hubei Province. 19th century:
All About Shoes
The All About Shoes website provides virtual versions of the exhibitions that have been on display at Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.
These exhibitions provide the sociological context for footwear, as well as information about the shoes themselves. Footwear made and worn by native tribes of the North American continent is an area of expertise.
Videos and teachers resources complement the informative text and imagery provided.
Recommended for: Ethnic hand-crafted footwear and the sociological context of shoes
Collection highlight: “Crow (laced) boots, Slavey, c. 1970”:
Images © 2012 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada
Northampton Shoe Museum
Online access to a portion of Northampton Shoe Museum‘s rich archives is available via the Northampton Borough Council website.
The Museum Collections page allows access to “The history of shoes” – the story of footwear from “Early Shoes” to the present day, presented with photographs and brief descriptions.
Also available are nine “Highlights from our collection” with descriptions and photographs. These include boots made for Tom Thumb: “a famous Victorian midget”, and a boot made for an elephant. The “Shoes from around the world” section features twelve fascinating historical pieces of footwear from around the globe, including a style from Mesopotamia (now Iraq) with an over-sized blue tassel.
Recommended for: Footwear history summarised and curios with interesting stories
Collection highlight: “Queen Victoria’s Shoes” – her satin bridal shoes (image courtesy of The Shoe Collection, Northampton Museums & Art Gallery):
High Heel Shoe Museum
The High Heel Shoe Museum is a website-sized tribute to the sexiest of all shoes. This marvelous online resource was started by Bruce Gray: a shoe-sculptor, to exhibit his work.
This site now contains photographs of footwear from numerous big-name & niche designers: all high-heeled. There are links to e-commerce sites for many of these shoe styles, so you can click through & buy the style you most desire.
Other features of the High Heel Shoe Museum include shoe-themed art, gifts and magazines, and I love the informative video tutorials about how to walk in high heels.
Recommended for: Shoe obsessives and discovering new footwear designers
Collection highlight: “Shoe Fetish 1” sculpture by Bruce Gray:
I was browsing a website dedicated to high heels, when I suddenly remembered this image of a stiletto stubbing out a cigarette.
My sister had a postcard of this on her wall when we were teenagers, and I remember being transfixed by the glamour it portrays.
Courtesy of: http://www.stilettoclubs.co.uk/