Monday, May 14, 2007

what i want today: cheap shoes (no, really!)

i'm not sure what's going on, but there's some sort of revolution afoot (no pun intended) among the uber-cheap clothing & shoe retailers of the world. i mean, proenza schouler and isaac mizrahi for target was one thing...but it turns out even the house brands at stores i would normally have turned my nose extremely skyward are actually doing a pretty darn good job!

take some of the shoes below for example. i think they're completely adorable....classic styling, a bit of fun detail, completely user-friendly. um....they're also about $15 at PAYLESS. seriously. now, i think you all know by now that i'm not exactly the biggest fan of, uh, plastic shoes. but in the summer, when all i'm wearing are strappy sandals and flip flops, both of which are going to be destroyed by the number of times i wear them to outdoor parties over the coming months, i can give in a bit to the wonders that are man-made, cheap shoes. (a BIT, i said...)

sure, they still have plenty of gross options at payless for their regulars...i'm just saying i think maybe, considering i could get 2 pairs of shoes i quite like for about $25, maybe i could give them a second chance...just this one time.

keep in mind, though, that the cheap shoe purchase is not for the faint of heart. a few rules of thumb to take with you:

- summer is really the best time of year for this, because you want to be relying on very little leather (er, pleather). you don't want to walk around in obviously plastic shoes. but teensy little straps are much harder to pin down. plus, in some cases, the straps aren't even supposed to be leather - as in the case of these cute little ribbon-strap wedges. patent is also a great choice.

- second, a wedge heel or a flat is your best bet. most traditional heels are going to have the wrong shape to the heel if it's a stiletto, or be too chunky if it's any other style of heel. but everyone seems to get the wedge right. plus, with a wedge, it can be covered in something other than pleather (note these choices have wood and cork heels), adding to the illusion. besides, summer is so not the season for stilettos - they're not exactly beach/garden party friendly.

- third, pick your colors well. white is safe. black is usually safe (but beware cloth, as cheap cloth shoes sometimes skimp on the black dye, rendering them an unfortunate, washed-out tone). metallics are great, and sometimes, bright colors really work too. deep, dark colors in general - browns, navys, dark reds - it just never really work out in cheap shoes.

- fourth, these are shoes you have to see in person. if you must order online, be prepared to send them back. when you're dealing with cheap shoes, what looks gorgeous in a photo can look hideous in person, especially once it's on your foot.

- and last, nothing too fancy - you want shoes that look classy and classic. if you go too far out into a trend, and you do it in cheap shoes, it's going to look like that's exactly what you did. keep it simple, fun, and classic and you're set!