monday musings

eeny meeny miny mo

I’m the kind of person who is often paralyzed by indecision, which when it comes to purchases, can often result in buying two of what it is I am contemplating.

By way of example, I love the Treat by Bettye Muller and own it in two colors. I could easily own it in 15 (please, make it in berry and teal). It’s the perfect heel height for work; the perfect height for fun. I can wear the Treat all day long (even through the marbled halls of Congress) and well into the evening. While like every Sex and the City watching woman I’m tempted by all the Manolos and Louboutins of the world, I can (even at this price point) buy two (if not three) of the Bettyes for the price of one of the others and know that my toes aren’t going to pinch at the end of the day. Or by the end of breakfast. Not to mention I’d never want to ruin that beautiful red sole of the Louboutin by subjecting it to the sidewalks of DC.

I knew I had to add another Treat to my collection from the moment I first saw it with the orange cap toe, which I have to admit I got a preview of when Austin from Simply Soles sent me a photo of the shoe after she and the other “shoe angels” had gone to New York for a Spring 2012 shoe buying expedition. Then I saw my favorite shoe with the black toe. A classic. Perhaps more versatile.

Both are gorgeous.

I’ve created mental outfits for both. So now I play eeny meeny mino mo. Don’t hate me if I end up buying them both.

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

I usually hate pink. Well, hate is too strong of a word, so let me amend and extend my remarks to say I don’t love pink on me. Pink looks lovely on my friend Emily, on Nancy’s daughter Tess, and on the azalea bushes in my yard each spring. But it is not a color I find myself drawn to usually.

When Jack was a toddler, he went through a phase where he was obsessed with the color pink. I indulged his whim by buying him a pink oxford shirt, pink pajamas and even pink socks. I balked at the pink L.L. Bean jacket he wanted because (honestly) I caved to the social pressure that says boys can’t wear a pink jacket. I had a hard enough time explaining to adults why I let him wear pink; I did not want my kid to get teased at day care. I thus convinced him that orange (my true favorite color) was really sort of a dark version of pink. Jack wore orange jackets for the next several winters.

It is with this history of my tepid relationship with pink in mind that I share with you some of my latest obsessions for spring. I am shocked at myself that my eye continues to be drawn to a color that can only be described as resembling chewed bubble gum. When I am perusing J. Crew’s new arrivals, I usually fill my virtual fantasy basket with colors of black, purple and gray. But right now, I am slightly fixated on this pink cardigan and the candy-striped sweater in azalea and orange. The bright dahlia dress would also be a huge departure from my safe usual choice of navy, and may make its way into my closet the next time there is a 25% off everything sale.

Coral has also caught my fancy, thus this Simply Soles exclusive color pairing on my favorite Bettye Muller pump has my feet begging for spring (and a sugar daddy). Likewise the Function in Fuchsia by French Sole (a marriage of pink and orange) has me overlooking my usual hesitation about flats. One thing is clear, I am smitten with the cap toe craze because both these shoes will be on my wish list, along with the similarly hued earrings.

You’d have to be a caveman to not know Valentine’s Day is coming up (I have been methodically unsubscribing from every email that reminds me) but sexy underpinnings are not only for special occasions. I love this raspberry Chantelle set available at Coup de Foudre (the one vendor I will forgive for sending aforementioned V-Day reminders) and I understand from store-owner Valerie that my favorite Marie Jo bra will be coming in a shade of pink this spring too.

Rounding out my color fetish, Kate Spade’s Cobble Hill Leslie in cinnibar (the perfect alternative to the dove gray purse I am using now), a baby pink Love Quotes scarf, and Chanel lipgloss in a color named, I kid not, Chelsea.

Rest assured pink skeptics, in whatever manner I end up incorporating these happy shades into my wardrobe, I promise not to blind you by wearing them all at once. But on any given day, you will never know if I’m getting in my pink fix with the outfit under the outfit, so to speak.

why I love Lillybee

The shoes that started it all
The shoes that started it all

I remember as clear as day the first time I heard of Lillybee, Simply Soles founder and owner Kassie Rempel’s self-designed shoe line. I was a busy Hill staffer, on my feet all day long, which meant that when I wasn’t focused on policy, I was focused on how my feet felt. (Although on some days, how my feet felt definitely distracted me from focusing on policy.) At the time, I was working full time on one issue (a luxury, even for a Senate staffer) and I worked on that one issue (climate change, if you must know) with an office that could not have been farther located from my boss’s office in the Senate complex. That meant a lot of shuffling (sometimes running) between our respective suites, always clad in three-inch heels.

One night, after such a long day of back-and-forth meetings, home, feet up on the coffee table, catching up with personal emails, I read with interest that week’s Daily Candy Deal: a discount for readers on any pair of Lillybee shoes. I had never heard of Lillybee but immediately clicked on the link to the Simply Soles webiste where there was a small but gorgeous new collection of shoes called Lillybee, designed by Kassie Rempel, a local woman (I call her Goddess) who also owned a shoe store (I call it empire).  I knew I would have to own at least one pair of these shoes. Where had Lillybee been all my life?

After designing mental outfits with each shoe Lillybee had to offer, I bought the Hilary, a vibrant blue patent leather pump with a chunky heel that would help soften the blow as I stomped through the marble halls of Congress. But weeks later, I couldn’t get the Angelina out of my head. A little black dress in shoe form, I just knew that I had to make it part of my collection as well. (I did.) I also coveted the Gwyneth, a silver pointy-toed wedge, but sadly it didn’t come in my size, leading me to a desperate step-sisters of Cinderella moment when I contemplated what measures I was willing to take to squeeze my size 8 feet into the available size 7s. (I now own two pairs of Gwyneths, appropriately sized.) All the shoes in the 2008 collection, the Jessica, the Halle, even the vegan Natalie (Kassie is probably scared that I remember the names of her Lillybees like they are children) would not only have coordinated well in my wardrobe but would have kept my feet stylishly happy.

What sets Lillybee apart for me is not just that the line offers shoes that are unique, affordable, comfortable, and fashion forward, though all those qualities are certainly reason(s) enough to love a brand. I love Lillybee because through this shoe obsession of mine, I grew to know Kassie, who has quickly become a “sole sister” to me.  Today, when I need (or want, which in my book can be the same as need) a new pair of shoes, I immediately consult Kassie. I know that her advice is going to be honest. She has stopped me from buying shoes that she didn’t think looked right. She has introduced me to designers I now can’t live without, including Lillybee. She kept me upbeat during the Beatrix days. Her opinion means the world to me. But mostly, it’s her friendship that I value.

That I might get to help create a new Lillybee is just extra heel on the shoe.

Fall Fashion Finds

Fall Simply Soles Wish ListWho isn’t dreaming of fall? As I have previously established, it’s almost all that I think about. As if the Sweat Ceiling 2011 weren’t enough to send my daydreams in the direction of crisp October afternoons and brilliant foliage, I had to go and get the Simply Soles Fall Preview Catalog. I believe I previously referred to this catalog as “shoe porn” but it’s so much more than that. They sell purses. They have accessories. Jewelry. And I want it all.

I play this game with myself sometimes. I go to a favorite online store, put everything I want in the shopping cart, just to see how much the grand total would be if I could indeed buy everything. (Let’s just say when it comes to outfitting my fall wardrobe, I am in love with more than a mortgage’s worth of precious finds from the latest Simply Soles catalog). The way this game plays out is that I negotiate with myself. After putting together the “dream shopping cart” of everything I want, I go back through and ixnay the items that are too much like something I already own. I think critically about what outfits I could pair with the items in question. I don’t always look for versatility. But if I am making an investment, I want it to fit in my wardrobe without requiring additional purchases. The said good(s) should enhance my “look” and of course, I love something that I know is unique. I don’t want to be in an elevator in the Dirksen building sporting the same something as someone else, unless that someone is Adrienne (whose office is in the Dirksen building and who seems to share my taste in Chie Miharas). Of course, there is the matter of budget too. I have a cap. If I want to exceed the cap, I have to cut elsewhere, and/or go seek additional revenue. Imagine that for a formula?

While a picture is worth a thousand words (and all my favorite items look so pretty when pictured together) I do have to briefly expound upon each of my new true loves. First, the footwear. The Bettye Muller Treat in Platino might be my new favorite child. I actually own this pump in buff (the palest pink) and when I bought it, in my on-line review I wrote that I wanted a pair in every color. Two is a good start. As for the Frye boot, it is the perfect shade of distressed gray. I have been cruising for a tall gray riding boot, but nothing struck me as quite right until I saw this beauty. And I know a Frye boot will last forever, which immediately gives this item frontrunner status. The orange Dana Davis is the wildcard here. You know me and my pop of orange. I want to wear it with jeans, a structured blazer, and a great scarf.

Speaking of, does anything say fall more than the perfect scarf? While I usually opt for solids, this Orla Kiely acorn print in my favorite neutral hues has definitely caught my attention. And the Fornash necklace would work with just about every item in my fall wardrobe. (I have already tried it on mentally with everything hanging in my guest room closet where off season clothes wait to be worn.)

But really, the crown jewel of my list of needful things is the Isabella Fiore satchel. This bag screams autumn. It is busier than my usual handbag choices (I can see those of you who have seen my neon orange Kate Spade Scout rolling your eyes) but this bag has both the structure I like and the space I need.

While negotiators hole up in their partisan hovels, taking our economy to the brink, I am going to be playing my own budget game, but with less severe worldwide consequences. And if I reach a stalemate with myself, I might even resort to eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

love’s labour’s lost

https://i1.wp.com/www.shoeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/madonna-chanel-gun-shoes.jpgSome people work hard and play hard. I work hard and shoe hard. As if you hadn’t figured it out by now, I have a slight shoe obsession. The number of shoes in my closet does not reach three digits; I am choosy. I like unique shoes that work for my professional lifestyle and budget. I don’t buy crazy impossible-to-walk-in styles that I will only wear once (like the pictured Chanel gun shoes that I would have bought if money were no object). I like designers that can construct a shoe that will really be comfortable, a shoe I won’t look at next year and say “what was I thinking” and most importantly, a shoe that can withstand the horrible DC sidewalks designed by men and the marble halls of Congress. That doesn’t mean that I don’t buy shoes with a stiletto heel, it just means I don’t wear them if I know I’m going to be walking on perilous ground.

So if you have been reading my musings, you also know by now that I am a big fan of Simply Soles. I found a “soul mate” in founder and owner, Kassie Rempel, and there are days that number in the too many to count that I wish I could be her.

One day last summer, she and I were meeting for drinks, but as she had just opened a new store in Georgetown, I wanted to come by and see the new digs. She had just received the fall shipment and boxes were everywhere (in the back of the store, of course). Now, I had already memorized the fall catalog and had my eye on a pair of shoes that in person, just didn’t pan out for me. But then Kassie showed me the latest Chie Mihara’s. (Disclaimer: if you are passionate about funky but functional shoes and don’t have a pair of Chie’s in your closet, I cannot be held accountable for any purchases this post inspires you to go out and make.) The Fabiola was (is) my perfect shoe. The camel-butterscotch shade is the perfect neutral hue that works for literally all seasons. The origami detail on the toe of the shoe makes it interesting. I had a store credit. I had “sole savers” points. The purchase was a no-brainer, and I never looked back.

But lately, they were showing the effects of my love. A slight denim stain on the back heel led me to take them to the cobbler. I just wanted them cleaned. I didn’t expect the entire denim stain to come out, but figured they would come back looking a little fresher. And I asked them to replace the heel pads to boot. Well, on Monday when I went to pick them up, somehow they were dirtier… like they had lived in a bin with some shoes recently polished brown. I complained that the shoes looked worse than when I had dropped them off. They asked for one more day. At COB today, as instructed, I went to pick up my babies. They still looked bad, like they hadn’t touched them at all. They asked me to come back tomorrow. No-can-do. On my way to San Francisco in the morning, and the shoes are integral to my plans to pack lightly. So they asked me to give them two hours. Fine. I had a lot of loose ends to tie up at the office before leaving town, so I gave them 2.5 hours. But when I went to pick them up, they did not hand me MY shoes, my beautiful camel shoes. No, they handed me a pair of shoes that they had dyed a color they call “sandalwood” but which I call “high gloss ugly.”

I started to cry.

Me: “I won’t wear these.”

Them: “We want to make you happy. We will give you credit for a future repair.”

Me: “I am never fucking bringing another pair of shoes to you again.” (Okay, I didn’t say that, but I thought it and rejected their credit offer.)

In the end, I asked them to dye them black. But I am sad. I have struggled with these feelings, which seem so indulgent. There are a lot of problems in the world. I know because I work on some of them. But I loved these shoes and when I wore them, it gave me the confidence to do my job a little better.

Given my mood, I guess it is appropriate that I’m getting them in black.

I wish I was wearing…

green with envy

green with envy by chelseahenderson featuring a linen shawl

We all have those days where we wish we had worn something else. And for me, today my something else is an outfit that I don’t actually own. While today’s heat and humidity prompted me to opt for a hot pink sheath with a suede white and mustard belt and beige patent leather wedges, my color scheme today does not match my mood.

As I finish up two memos that I need to get done by COB, my mind keeps wandering to this other outfit that I mentally created for myself. This look is effortless, yet perfectly put together, would work for the type of schedule I have today, and would transition well to drinks on a patio in the early evening. I’ve been hot for the green Stefania wedge by Butter for months, and may have to bump them to the top of my shoe wish list. But for now, I’m stuck at my desk in a pink dress. Luckily I don’t have drink plans tonight on a patio, where I would just wilt in this weather anyway.

What do you wish you were wearing?

Buy This!

Buy This! Color EditionIf you buy one thing this week, be sure it comes in color. After all, bright colors are the new black. That’s why today’s feature is actually going to highlight three items (because I believe in options) that will add a splash of color to even the most cynical northeasterner’s wardrobe.

My first recommendation is the Coral Bib Necklace by ZAD, available at Simply Soles for under $50. I would wear this necklace with a white tee shirt and jeans or a navy sheath dress. Or a chambray button down and white jeans, shorts or pencil skirt. This necklace would make an excellent addition to any wardrobe and given the many styling opportunities, the cost-per-wear ratio definitely warrants your adding it to your collection.

If you don’t have the huge orange crush that I do, the necklace also comes in turquoise, a color which I find stunning with black.

My second recommended item is also available at Simply Soles. (How’s that for promoting multi-tasking?) Having just been on an over-air-conditioned airplane without even a scarf (I was trying to pack light) all I could think of is how I wish I had this great Eternity Loop I saw in Kassie’s National Harbor store when I was there a few weeks ago. While I highlight the green one because it is my personal favorite, I find all the colors to be beautiful and vibrant. Wear this to the office for when you lose the battle over the thermostat or use it to ward against a breezy night that doesn’t quite call for a sweater. Don’t be afraid to pair this shade of green with orange.

And last, but not least, what outfit is complete without a colorful shoe? While I have been leaning more toward a neutral-hued shoe these days because as many of you have seen (you can’t miss it) my Kate Spade Essex Scout purse is neon orange, who can resist the Band Over Band Heels in Tiffany blue from Anthropologie? These heels, even though they are stacked and have a slight platform, are not for the faint of heart, but the color is spectacular, and they would make a great outfit component for color blocking.

But if you want a suggestion for how to incorporate them into an outfit, you have to present me with a Style This! challenge. Let me just warn you now that my pairing is likely to involve orange.