The Traveling Shoes

We celebrated our dear friend Jim's 60th birthday recently, at a convivial cocktail party attended by friends from at least four decades.

Jim's partner, the sublime Christine, wore jaw-dropping black silk heeled sandals, with long straps twining across the vamp to her slim ankles. She paired them with an ecru silk skirt banded in black lace and a black low-vee necked sweater.

She told me the shoes were loaned by her friend Jan, who had worn them for her wedding 13 years before.

The ebullient Jan appeared at that moment to receive my ardent admiration and reminisce about her wedding.
Her shoes looked as if they had been bought that morning!

Several observations:

1. Well-designed evening shoes seem to have a
longer in-style life than day shoes. That being said, some shapes date and women tend–because they are not worn often– to forget checking them against the current crop.

2. Is it necessary to spend
tippy-top dollar for evening shoes? We tend to think, Why spend hundreds when I'm wearing them for just a few occasions?

Jan's were expensive at the time, but if you're standing at a party, you need the balance and support of a well-made pair. In this shot, you can see that the shoes look delicate but the heel is more substantial than a stiletto and the entire shoe is well-balanced.

It's lovely to have a friend with the same size feet, who will lend you a pair. Christine has many shoes– she's known for them–but isn't it fun to borrow a girlfriend's on occasion? (I would lend shoes or jewelry, but not a dress, after several disasters.)

If you can find a low-priced pair that you can dance in without blisters, grab them, but most revelry-ready shoes are pricey. (Shown, Marni suede and leather sandals; price, $675 from Net-a-porter.)

Jan said that the black pair would be beyond her budget today, three children later. She wondered where to shop for reasonably-priced dressy shoes for herself and her twelve-year-old daughter, who graduates middle school this month.

I suggested Aldo, and perhaps Nine West, who often knock off runway styles. (Shown, the sexy Aldo "Sherles" for Jan; the only 12-year-old I'd let near these is a Scotch.)

3. Evening shoes are the missing link in so many wardrobes. Jim and Christine's loft was full of smartly-dressed guests, but I spotted one or two pairs of officey shoes below an otherwise after-five ensemble.

An elegant cocktail suit deflates when worn with Easy Spirit work heels, even if they are beige.

Replace with these Guiseppe Zanotti leopard-print peep toes, $595 from Net-a-porter and a Negroni.

In summer, let's wear our
low-cut pumps, ballerinas in a dressy material, wispy sandals high or low: anything but the sensible career shoe. And bare our softly curved heels, delectable polished toes–or both.

Nine West's Maribella in off-white and gold satin (and also in black/grey combo), a champagne cocktail of a shoe. (Price, $79 from Nine West.)

You can wear a flat for evening–thank god– if the details are 'evening' enough, like these Elie Tahari beaded and jeweled thong sandals; price, $298 from Neiman Marcus.

Some day sandals are chic enough to glide into casual drinks parties or dinner on a patio. Robert Clergerie's beaded "Macha" sandal, cherry red and black patent, is one; price, $324 on sale at Nordstrom.

I wore flat black evening sandals with leaf-green ponyskin straps from Specchio, one of Christine's favourite shoe haunts.

They are nearly a decade old. Don't tell anyone!


Thank goodness for Tahari...and those are gems.
Nothing worse than looking tipsy because of heels instead of cocktails!
Frugal Scholar said…
There are lots of jeweled sandals at all price points of late. Would a sequined ballet flat--and you can get these at Target--work, do you think? I can't wear heels, even low ones.
mette said…
I like to keep party shoes separate. Until last fall I had some oldies, I only used for special occasions, but when I r e a l l y took a look at them, I realized that they were not worth keeping any longer. But- I have the Bruno Magli beauties from the late 1970´s in perfect condition, which still look chic. I could wear them. I have, however, decided to let my younger daughter have them, if she wants them. As it probably has become clear, I have a minimalist wardrobe, shoes and handbags included. I like clothes, but I´m not in love with them.
Ok with the pearl mixup, but I won´t comment a second time on that post.
Duchesse said…
Frugal: Yes. Sequins and beads will fall off, more so on lower-priced ballerinas, which are often glued instead of sewn. You can either buy more to repair or accept that their brilliant life is short. Missing beads look tacky unless you're aiming for the Courtney Love effect which I don't think is 'you'.
Duchesse said…
metscan; What lucky daughters to receive the bounty of your vintage shoes. I think young women can wear vintage far more easily than those of us over 50 or 60.
Susan B said…
I agree that good dressy evening shoes seem to be the most elusive, especially for spring/summer. We have so few dressy occasions to attend anymore, I've neglected this area of my shoe wardrobe.
LPC said…
Are those Aldos knocking off the Valentinos that made the rounds? Feathers/lace etc? My daughter also scores my old shoes - when I buy them too big that is. I gave her a black, beaded pair of Rene Caovillas....
I second the endorsement of Nine West. I have had very good luck, comfort-, wear- and beauty-wise with Nine West without breaking the bank.
Belle de Ville said…
I would definitely wear those shoes...and that skirt with the lace on the hem. Lovely.
Duchesse said…
Pseu: Hard to believe you have neglected any aspect :)

LPC: The shoe store that sold Valentinos went bankrupt, which tells us something. My sons only want my iPod.

Dorky Medievalist: IMO they wear well, too.

Belle: She's the one with the divine charm bracelet. Christine has great taste.
Anonymous said…
I want my shoes back! Alas, if only they would still fit.
Duchesse said…
Jan: I thought they were a loan! Hope you found shoes for the graduation.

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