Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in shoes (120)

Wednesday
Dec052018

Snowing for Christmas

Since we were speaking yesterday of gussying up shoes with clips, I thought I’d pull a pair from the archives where I did just that one Christmas. In 2009 I wore these red satin peeptoes festooned with vintage pearl clips to the family Christmas celebrations. Like silver stilettos, there are moments when even red satin heels need a little extra pizzazz. They look delightfully like snowballs, don’t you think?

Tuesday
Dec042018

When Silver Louboutins Are Not Enough

It is seldom indeed that one might declare, “Silver Louboutins are not enough on their own!” But it might be at the height of the silly season, n’est pas?

When this occasion arises once a year, may I propose a pair of vintage 60s silver crystal shoe clips to remedy this untoward situation? Shaped like snowballs, pom-poms or what-you-will, these articulated beaded clips will shake merrily all the way to the party.

I found mine in a thrift store, but there are plenty to be found on Etsy new and old to delight the festive spirit. Start decking out those party feet now!

Friday
Nov022018

Ballet Slippers

Ballet slippers were made for dancing, for water nymphs and fairies and swan maidens, for delicate creatures who float through life on tippy-toe. On the other hand foot, ballet flats are made for rather more down-to-earth women, those who need to run and jump puddles and get things done pronto! But these seemingly antithetical women have one thing in common: they need footwear that won’t hamper them or weigh them down.

A Capsule History

Once upon a time, the ballet slipper was only a shoe worn by professional ballerinas. It was first invented in the mid-eighteenth century, with increasing modifications occurring over the following decades, until the modern dance shoe as we know it was developed by famous dancer Anna Pavlova – with some assistance from the renowned Italian purveyor of ballet shoes, Capezio. (Pavlova also, incidentally, inspired the eponymous Great Australian Dessert.)

Anna Pavlova, 1920A Claire McCardell outfit from the 1940s with matching ballet flatsIn the 1940s, American designer Claire McCardell had an epiphany when she chose to use Capezio’s ballet slippers in her 1941 collection, asking him to add a hard sole. And thus the ballet flat was born! First Brigitte Bardot began sporting them, and the beatniks soon followed suit, until a year later, Audrey Hepburn in her role as a beatnik turned model in Funny Face (1957) made them world famous and popularised them for that new breed of human: teens. Offscreen, she wore flats by Capezio and Ferragamo.

A Personal Journey

Decades later, I myself as a teen tried ballet flats numerous times, but was never able to find a comfortable pair. I came to the firm belief that ballet flats were the most uncomfortable shoes ever invented. And though I loved the idea of them, I gave up on them for another couple of decades until I came upon a pair in a thrift store by chance.

This is not my photo, but these were the beloved Sambag shoes I owned. According to the designer’s Instagram account, the label will be relaunching soon to be sold online only. The ballet flats I spotted were in ballet pink, a colour I had recently come to highly favour, and were by the Australian brand Sambag. I had once tried some on in a retail store, but as they were quite expensive, with my past history of painful ballet flats, I was unwilling to trust they were a good investment. The secondhand shoes I found were still in their original box, the soles so pristine they had surely been worn only once or twice. I gladly handed $30 to the store saleslady.

Brigitte Bardot in ballet flatsThese shoes turned out to be one of the most comfortable flat shoes I have ever owned. It was a miracle! I still wore heels at work, but I wore these ballet flats constantly on the weekends, with the sad but inevitable result that they wore out too quickly. I ought to have taken them to be resoled before it was too late, but couldn’t bear to be parted from them for the requisite few days. … Ever since I have kept my eyes peeled for another pair in thrift stores, and actually spotted some once, but lamentably in a size too big for me.

Audrey Hepburn made ballet flats world famous through her 1957 film ‘Funny Face’A few years later, I discovered the brand Yosi Samra on a sale website selling ‘foldable flats’. These are specifically designed to be stored in tiny little drawstring bags to keep on hand (ahem) when the need to relieve one’s feet from high heels becomes urgent. I bought several pairs, including ballet pink ones that are very reminiscent of my beloved Sambags. The leather is extremely soft and flexible, and they are very comfortable, although they don’t offer a lot of support to the foot – they are not meant to be worn for extended periods of walking.

Full Circle

Finally, not that long ago I came across an actual pair of ballet slippers by Blochs (manufacturing dancewear since 1932) once again in a thrift store! I have the most amazing luck. They were a little bit small, to be honest, but for $6 I decided they would be great indoor shoes. The leather was so soft I was sure they would stretch enough. When I took this comparison photo (top) I was quite amused to see that the Yosi Samra flats on my right foot were extremely similar to the dance slippers on the left. The colour is a perfect match. 

Audrey Hepburn’s ballet flats worn at home (1960–70), auctioned off by Christie’s earlier this year. “[Audrey Hepburn’s] training as a ballerina probably contributed to the elegance and poise that we associate with her. She had quite a number of these flats in her possession [because] they were her slippers when she was casual at home, [but] these were the only pink ones. She liked to be casual; she was very much a human being.”Ironically, in 2009 another celebrity – this time from the music world, Amy Winehouse – began wearing actual ballet slippers by Gandolfi in place of regular flats. So ballet slippers danced a full circle, and have gone in and out of fashion several times. But as the second decade of this century draws to a close, they have become firmly established in their status as iconic shoes, and I don’t believe they will ever go away.

One day I’ll go back to that Sambag retail store and invest in a new pair, or three. The pink is my favourite, for the same reason ballerinas first wore them: they seem to disappear on the foot, creating the illusion that one is floating just above the earth, lightly and quickly – for I have always daydreamed of having wings. 

Photos: September 2018

Thursday
Sep272018

The Fatal Allure of Red

The colour red has all my life exerted a fascination over me. I have always been attracted to it while shopping, especially in accessories such as shoes and bags. It holds a siren-like allure for me, by which I mean those wickedly bewitching singing creatures of the sea – but it is fatally easy to forget that red is also the colour of danger, and alarm sirens are usually flashing red light.

So when a few months ago I came upon a pair of funky red leather shoes in a thrift store, I was easy prey. Since I also firmly believe one cannot own too many red shoes, and these ones fit me perfectly, I bought them.

[red] holds a siren-like allure for me … but it is fatally easy to forget that red is also the colour of danger

When I plonked them down on the counter, another customer admired them and said, “Oooo, you’ll get a lot of wear out of those!” I was quite sure she was correct.

WRONG.

One evening walking home from work I felt something strange afoot … an indescribable sensation of … a sole detaching from the bottom of my shoe! With every step, the sole flapped about and rolled under itself, making it completely impossible to walk at a reasonable pace. I was forced to reduce my customary speedy stride to a slow schlep, and hobbled home the last leg of my journey.

I was quite aggravated by the time I arrived at my abode. It’s remarkable how a seemingly small thing can become a major irritant. I had only worn the shoes a handful of times, too. The other sole was not in quite as bad a state, but I could see it wasn’t far off. It was not worth getting them repaired, as other parts of the shoe were already too worn; it would have been throwing good money after bad, I decided crossly.

That would teach me to be tempted by the siren-like beckoning of red shoes! One of the first rules of shopping is caveat emptor, or, in English, ‘buyer beware’. That is doubly true when shopping in thrift stores. Into the bin with these! Maybe the next ones will be better …

Photos: September 2018

Tuesday
Sep252018

What I Actually Wore #0142

Serial #: 0142
Date:
28/08/2013
Weather:
22.5°C / 72.5°F
Time Allowed:
10 minutes

Argh! My favourite raspberry red shoes! I am delighted to say that I still have these and wear them as often as possible, although their toe tips have been repaired once already, and are starting to look hacked again. This is one pair of shoes I wish I had bought two of! In fact, I once saw another pair in a thrift store at a very good price, barely worn, but lamentably they were one or two sizes too big.

In fact, I still own all these items but the socks, which have worn out, although the 50s cardigan is in storage somewhere and I had forgotten about it what with the plethora of winter cardigans I own. I do like it though! It has always reminded me of Wedgwood. According to my notes, apparently I had bought this in a vintage boutique in Belgrave, a township at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne. However, I have absolutely no recollection of the purchase. 

The linen/rayon skirt I do remember buying, in a Salvos thrift store, and I was particularly pleased at the time because I had a virtually identical vintage 40s wool knit skirt in my Etsy wishlist that was much more expensive. Mine I think is 1960s or 70s going by the design of the label. The plain grey t-shirt under the cardigan was from Kookaï, and was a good basic until it wore out.

My hat is vintage 50s, and I bought that years ago on Etsy when I was on a headband shopping kick. The feathers are shaped to look like a bird perched on the head, a charming notion. The jewellery is a mixed bag, with a chalcedony pendant bought from jewellery store Portobello Lane, and my charm necklace – the charms are collected from many places. The earrings are also chalcedony, and I made them myself, while the turquoise ring is a souvenir from Barcelona.

For this sunny springlike day, I put this outfit together purely based on a monochromatic colour scheme, although I added the raspberry pops in the accessories. At the time, the skirt was new to me (ergo, it had to be worn), but funnily, even this year I have been wearing variations of this outfit, using the skirt as a base. Robin’s egg blue is one of my favourite colours, so when you’re onto a good thing – stick to it I say!

Items:

Tee: Kookaï
Cardigan:
vintage 1950s
Skirt:
La Gonda, vintage 60s
Socks:
ASOS
Headband:
Jospeh Horne Co, vintage 50s
Necklaces:
Portobello Lane, souvenir/vintage
Ring:
souvenir
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Shoes:
Wittner

Photos: October 2013