Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in shoes (125)


Brogues, Pt 1

Brogues with Bows

I have loved brogues for a long time. I don’t know from whence this love affair sprang, but it has mostly to do with the punctured leather they are made from: decoration that belies practicality.

While the word ‘brogue’ derives from the Norse brök (leg covering), the shoe itself has its origins in seventeenth century Scotland and Ireland. They were designed for walking the peat bogs of those countries, the tiny holes perforating the leather allowing water to drain out.

A guide to brogued shoes (illustrations from Toni Rossi)They started out as very rudimentary shoes made from raw hides with the hair inwards, to leather tanned with oak-bark. By the eighteenth century they had evolved into a heavier shoe with hobnailed soles, and in the following century the shoe gained a second layer which was pinked to allow water to drain out, with an inner layer that was not, preserving water resistance.

Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, popularises brogues by wearing them as golfing shoes (image via Pinterest)In the twentieth century, it was Edward, Prince of Wales, who took these traditional shoes out of the countryside and into the city, playing golf in them in the 1930s and thereby making them exceedingly fashionable. Women’s versions soon followed with the addition of a heel. Half-brogues, hybrids of Oxford and brogue, were next, with heels rising higher and higher in the first decade of the twenty-first century, making the most practical walking shoe less so. But they sure look good!

When I purchased this pair of dark taupe brogues by label Urge online from a sale website, I was quite surprised when they arrived sans shoelaces. I decided that I wanted nothing so prosaic as that. I had seen brogues tied with satin ribbons before, and liked the look – there is something storybookish about them. Immediately I seized a ribbon out of my sewing box to test out the look.

The tiny eyelets were a hindrance, but I dealt with that by wrapping the ends of the ribbon with sticky-tape and thread it through. I liked it (though not so much the mauve colour, which inadvertently matched my carpet)!

It is almost impossible to purchase non-polyester ribbon in this paltry town (unless presumably one is a denizen of the fashion industry and has secret sources) so I went shopping on Etsy. A natural fibre would be more flexible and fall more prettily. I found a peach rayon ribbon and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once more I went through the tedious process of threading the eyelets, but I was very pleased with the result.

After all that effort, I must confess that the shoes themselves were not the most comfortable, being a little narrow in the toe. But wear made them give a little and they became more comfortable for commuting to work in, which is what I bought them for. Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles, and after a winter or two of hard wear, I ruthlessly (but sadly) put them in the bin where their holey-ness belonged.

Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles …

I’ve since owned other brogues, and this past winter have been often wearing a pair of dark tan vintage 70s oxfords, with a two-inch stacked heel, that I found in an op shop for around $12. They were in pristine condition and had even been resoled by a previous owner. I have already roughed them up a little on toes and heels, but that’s what shoes are for – and then it will be on to the next pair!

Photos: July 2012
References: Shoes, by Caroline Cox, New Burlington Books, 2012; Shoes, by Linda O’Keefe, Workman Publishing NY, 1996


The Scary Shoes

A few weeks ago I bought a pair of Dalmatian print pony-hair loafers in a thrift store for a song. I don’t recall how much, but they were under $10.  They are actually a size smaller than my usual (but only a little tight), so I have been wearing them at home with a pair of thick socks to stretch them out a little.

That is, until, the day my cat noticed them and was terrified, especially when she saw their ghostly reflections in a glass door. She was persistently jumping up onto the kitchen bench in fear, and trying to cower under the wooden dish rack! She had me completely mystified until I realised what was going on, and as soon as I took the shoes off, she calmed down. She is quite disinterested in them as long as they’re not on my feet.

Photo: July 2017


Ms Fix-It

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: glue is a great gift to budget fashionistas! Why give money to professional shoe and jewellery repairers when you can fix it at home yourself at little or no cost?

Case 1: A pair of plaited leather gladiator sandals

After only a few wears, the outer sole had became detached from the leather upper.

Granted, these sandals were very inexpensive ($22 on sale) purchases online, but still, one does not expect a pair of leather shoes to split in half so quickly. I was very cross. The sandals were punished and cast into the outer darkness (the back of my closet) while I contemplated their fate.

I refused to throw good money after bad by taking them to the shoe repairer, as the upper sole around the toes was also worn – the sandals are so soft and flexible the sole tended to fold back on itself as I walked, so the edges had become quite frayed. This was the first time I had experienced this phenomenon, and I wondered at first if I was dragging my feet – and then I observed (while pounding the pavement and stalking others’ feet) it happened to other women as well. It’s just poor shoe design or manufacture.

I wondered at first if I was dragging my feet …

I had been tempted to throw the sandals straight into the bin to teach them a lesson, but as this would further annoy no one but myself, I decided to attempt a roughshod repair so that at least I could get a few more wears out of them. I smeared on some Araldite (a two-part epoxy glue) between the layers, applied pressure for a few minutes, and that was enough to make them wearable again. Hurrah!

Case 2: A striped Indian brass bangle

The inlaid resin or plastic squares had lost their adherence to the brass base.

I could easily have thrown out this $5 bangle that I bought in an Indian boutique years ago, but I decided to attempt a repair. I love stripes, and it has a matching bangle in red and white, so I thought it was worth a shot. Possibly the original glue had become petrified with age, but it was a very easy fix. Good as new!

Case 3: Amazonite stone set in sterling silver

The stone broke in half and fell out of the setting.

This earring was a casualty of my evil ceramic tiles that are laid throughout my apartment. I had dropped it on the bathroom floor, and the green rectangular stone had actually snapped in half! This was a disastrous break, and not as simple a matter as for a jeweller to apply some solder and repair metal.

I decided I had nothing to lose by attempting to glue the stone back together, and then gluing it within the silver setting. Originally there would have been no glue – the jeweller would have manually set the stone by pressing the metal inwards to fit its shape. However, I painstakingly applied the same glue the stone, and then waited for that to set before I glued it into its frame. Then I removed all the glue from my fingers.

After curing, the joint is supposed to be impervious to boiling water …

The glue has held it all together successfully, even after, to my horror, it fell again on the bathroom floor just the other day!

Araldite, a synthetic resin, was first invented in 1945, in Switzerland. I use a version that comes in a double syringe, with the resin and hardener kept apart until equal parts of each are mixed together. After curing, the joint is supposed to be impervious to boiling water and all common organic solvents, although I have not tested this theory.

However, let us all raise a glass to the Swiss – first they give us chocolate, and now glue … what’s next?

Photos: March 2016


What Would Coco Think?

These astonishingly ugly shoes by Chanel are so hideous they belong on the fat feet of Cinderella’s sisters. Particularly the clunky, clumsy hessian bag mules with the abomination of a cheap token flower nailed on the side. I’ll go one further and say these monstrosities belong on the hooves of Shrek’s troll wife. Or is that being unfair to Princess Fiona?

The other pair is almost as frightful. From the heel they are solid, staid cream Mary-Jane hybrids that unexpectedly finish in a delicate thong. Why, why? The balance is all wrong! When would you sport such odious footwear?

Clearly the original owner did not sport them anywhere, as they remain in pristine condition straight from the bandbox. She chose instead to donate them to a Salvos op shop – a charity thrift store – and just look at what they had the temerity to charge for them!

These astonishingly ugly shoes by Chanel are so hideous they belong on the fat feet of Cinderella’s sisters.

I take issue with the staff of charity stores who show zero discernment when pricing items. Cheap high street stores such as Zara are often racked with ‘designer’ items, while actual designer items are either priced ridiculously highly if they are well-known, or at a pittance if they are obscure (although I shouldn’t complain about the latter). The quality of the design and materials is often ill-considered.

I actually mentioned these shoes in the comment section of one of Salvos Stores’ Instagram images, and I was pleased that one of their marketing team contacted me about them within an hour. They clearly were not happy that these shoes had been priced so high and intended to send an area manager to the store in question – which is certainly maintaining good PR.

My sister Star spotted these shoes and sent the snaps to me last September. I did search online for them, wondering if the hideous mules were genuine, but it seems they were. Unfortunately I’ve lost the urls, but I recall one blogger reviewer who was scathing of them, anda second who fell in love with them and bought them, finding it difficult to choose between colours.

I must admit I am not a big fan of Lagerfeld’s Chanel, finding a lot of his output horribly frou-frou and twee (not, ahem, tweed). Considering her oft-quoted maxim of taking one thing off before she left the house, I often wonder what would Coco think of it?


New Year’s Shoe Lessons

Oh my, look at this! It’s a brand-spanking new year, and a bright sparkling new day. It’s all shiny and lustrous, no spots or scuffs upon it, just like these silver Christian Louboutins I’m flying high in. I found these beauties in a thrift store for the princessly sum of $4 a couple of months ago. (That is at least one lovely thing that came out of 2016 for me.)

I have made some New Year’s resolutions. Some of them are serious, but there’s no need to make everything hard for oneself, so I threw in some that’ll be a shoe-in. One of these fun ones is Wear More Cool Shoes. Also, Never Resist the Opportunity to Make a Pun.

Another resolution is to Read More Poetry, and with this in mind, this line above is from one of my most favourite quotations of all time, by George Gordon Byron, from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

On with the dance! let joy be unconfin’d;
No sleep til morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
to chase the Glowing Hours with Flying Feet.

Isn’t it beautiful? And no more apt quotation for New Year’s Eve could be found surely.

I hope you had a fantastic evening of celebration and you’re ready to launch yourself into the new year!

Photo: Today

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