Guest Shoe Post(s) of The Week – Alexander MacQueen Foot Candy

It is quite hard for me to write this introduction without the green monster of envy taking over the keyboard. The author of this post and I  used to work together. During that time  my clothing and shoe spend increased ferociously.  She is a gorgeous young lady with long legs, incredible hair and one of the most covetable shoe collections that I have encountered in recent times. You can find her on Twitter as @princessnowhere but follow her at your peril – she regular tweets about Christian Laboutin,  evil shoe temptress that she is.

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These absolutely lust-worthy pieces of foot-candy came to me courtesy of eBay. Friends can never understand how I get decent shoes – and to fit perfectly – online, but I’ve never once gone wrong. All my favourites come from there, from the most deliciously outrageous hot pink Barbie stilettos, to my super-comfy black flat boots, to my sadly decommissioned pairs of RMK peep-toes.

DSC01924I must admit I’m a little smitten with the coloured sole. Designer treads as these [rrp$800+] sport them often.My cream Peep Toe Shoes have blood-red undersides that flash almost indecently with every step, there is no better way to offset a black dress…any black dress.

I have recently, under duress from a magazine journalist, surveyed my annual expenditure. There are some areas I’m sure the financial adviser will advise I trim… I mean I spend about $600 per annum on coffees! And over $5,000pa on clothes and shoes. Let’s be honest, I don’t buy a lot of clothes, at 175cm and size 16 fashion is not my friend. So I fear he will probably go after the shoes. Frankly, I’m terrified. I know I can’t go on justifying my at-least-monthly purchases when I’m trying to save for South America, UK and Middle East travel.

$50 per week for groceries sounds do-able, right?

Guest Shoe(s) of The Week – Thea aka @mumto2angels

Picture 092My favourite shoes?  What a question for someone with a size 5 foot.  Yep, that’s kiddy size.

My wedding shoes?  The most gorgeous pair of shoes I’ve ever seen.  I eyed them off for weeks in the shop window.  I finally entered the store to find they came in sizes 6+, but by some amazing stroke of luck, or divine intervention, they fitted perfectly.  Oh yes, I did feel like Cinderella!

My Doc Martens?  They got me through two European holidays.  They are so comfy, but more importantly, they make me feel cool!

My sheepskin slippers?  I long for cold Winter nights just so I can wear them.  Add to that my flannie pj’s and soft pink robe and I’m in heaven!

My favourites???  Lucky I don’t have three feet or I may just wear one of each…at the same time!

Day 6 – Andrea & Joen Black Kitten Heeled Sandals

For at least six months of year, the  Sydney weather dictates the wearing of sandals. In Glasgow you would be lucky to be wearing sandals for six weeks of the year. The brevity of the UK sandal season is the only reason that I  have ever been able to come up with for the hilarious national disgrace that is the British Man Wearing Socks & Sandals.

Recently the Noisy Boy insisted being seen in public, at a birthday party, with his school friends dressed thus:

DSCN0849Via the magic of Facebook, when I posted this photograph my cousin sent me a picture of my Uncle Billy not long after he emigrated from Paisley to California in the 1960s. He was wearing the  dreaded socks n sandals combo.

Sock N Sandals

I have long believed that men have an unhealthy relationship with their socks. Now I believe that it is genetic. It may be to prevent thier toe nails pinging off into the fire while the wildebeeste cooks or less interestingly for hygiene purposes, but I digress.  The bottom line is this – you will never see a woman wearing sandals and socks. You may well see a woman wearing sticking plasters and sandals but that is only because we are prepared to suffer for our art.

I am pleased to report that I have had not one moment of discomfort wearing these sandals.

They even boast enough space at the sides for me to spread out my toes in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) while waiting for my train home.

Day 4 of the Shoe Challenge – Black is Always Back

There are black shoes in my cupboard – lots and lots and lots of them. So, I am afraid that this is the first pair of many.  These Prada pumps are over 10 years old and a bit battle scarred – I love them,  the discreet little platform and oblong heels.

I used to think that black shoes were a necessary evil. The joys of colour beckoned me during long years while I was stuck in my regulation matt black school shoes. However, I have recently had a bit of an epiphany in the area of black shoes.IMG_0169

Today  Rebecca Twigley appeared in the Daily Telegraph newspaper modelling a replica of the mini-dress that Jean Shrimpton scandalised Flemington racegoers with 44 years ago. The mini skirt has, in my opinion, always been a tyrannical and divisive trend. Either you have the legs for a mini skirt one or you do not. There is one trend which remains constant, the simple black pump. You may not want to wear black shoes all the time, but no wardrobe is complete without them. Men and women should both own a number of pairs of black shoes. It is to quote Linda O’Keeffe in her lovely wee book Shoes (Workman Books 1996) The Little Black Dress of shoes.

Funny, you don’t look like a lawyer…

I hear this quite a lot.

Once upon at time when I worked for the prestigious law firm of Rottman, Maughan and Nash*  I dressed aggressively in dark suits with sharp angles and spiky heels. I did so to demonstrate to clients that I was well worth the $400+ an hour the firm charged them for my time. Now my billing targets and my charge out rates are half what they used to be. I dress in a way that makes me feel relaxed and happy. On a sweaty, muggy Sydney day you are more likely to find me in a floaty maxi dress and strappy sandals than a crisp pencil skirt/silk blouse combo. Sweating does not become me. My husband tells me that I now dress, to paraphrase Dr Frasier Crane, in a way that says, “I’m listening and it isn’t going to cost you a bloody fortune“.

When I read recently in The Times that power dressing is back with a vengeance I was a bit alarmed.  I have so many wide shouldered suits; coat dresses and so on from the dusk of the power dressing years. Does the new power dressing mean that I should go all retro and dress for success as a scary high priced lawyer again? No. According to Fashion Law, if you were old enough to wear a trend the first time, you should really give it a wide berth second time.  Also, I have fought too long and too hard to escape the corporate bondage of the dark suit.

That said, I am in the blessed position that I am a senior lawyer in a small, specialised media and technology law firm not a graduate lawyer fighting tooth and nail with 100 other smart cookies for the same high paying top tier firm job.

If I was a baby lawyer again, I would be in a real dilemma. Would I dress in a manner that makes me feel good or would I attempt dress to the standards of others? If the latter, how exactly would I determine what those standards are?

Read any article about dress standards for lawyers (usually written by management consultants) and you will find the advice is gender non-specific. Dresscode.com defines business dress quite accurately and advises people in the corporate world that “Generally it’s best to ‘fit in’, so take your cue from your peers and try to dress to the same standard. This helps with interpersonal communication“. In a nutshell, standard thinking would have lawyers dress discreetly, expensively and invisibly. Presumably the underlying reasoning is that by doing so, you will  deflect attention from your physical appearance and direct people towards your (hopefully) shiny and sparkly mental abilities. How depressing that professionals believe that we can be subdivided in such a way.

Is a client going to look at my antique earrings and assume that I am incapable of negotiating a contract? Is the judge going to find against my client because I wear red patent leather shoes to court?  Are sartorial signifiers really matter so significant if you can do your job properly? Of course not. So I have three suggestions for young lawyers dressing to impress:  dress beautifully, dress tastefully (no toe cleavage please) and dress to suit your own personal style.

To that end, I shall share with you some of my style gurus–ladies who have helped influence the way I dress as a lawyer today.

1. Sheriff Rosie Morrison

I once had the very great pleasure of appearing before a Scottish barrister and part-time judge called Rosaleen Morrison. Billy Connolly has described her as one of the funniest women that he ever met. She was also good looking, stylish and eccentric with a penchant for semi-transparent black blouses over elegant underwear.  Everyone at Glasgow Sheriff Court when I was a baby lawyer called her Sheriff Rosie.

In the 1980s, Sheriff Rosie worked as a magistrate in Hong Kong. During her tenure a solicitor complained that her breasts were visible through her blouse, Sheriff Rosie replied:

“My breasts have given pleasure to many men. I would be more concerned if they were visible through my tights.”

Sadly, Sheriff Rosie passed away in March this year after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. There is a lovely photo of her here though. Stylish, funny, smart and passionate about justice, she is one of my heroes.

2. Cher  in Suspect

The film Suspect is a fairly workmanlike legal thriller. A homeless deaf-mute man is arrested for murder. Cher plays his public defender.  In typical legal thriller style, she has no other work to do and heads off to track down the real killer in the meantime unveiling a web of bureaucratic corruption. All of this stuff is secondary to the fact that Cher wore a black leather jacket in court (very Bryan Ferry circa the Bride Stripped Bare). and wild, Pre-Raphaelite black curls. I approve.

3. Ling Woo, Ally McBeal

For a long, long time I avoided watching Ally McBeal. Calista Flockhart, her short skirts, her kvetching and her insipid helplessness made me want to set fire to the television. One evening, when there was absolutely nothing else on the telly  I resigned myself to watching an episode.  I was immediately and completely sucked in by the ferocious Ling Woo (Lucy Liu).

My favourite Ling quote? “I’m rich. I only go into work to wear my outfits! ”

My favorite Ling outfit? This one screams kick arse court dressing.

(*Firm name changed to protect the innocent, all two of them, it did have harbour views though… )

Guest Shoe of the Week – Angela’s Thongs

No offence to my adopted home and country people,  but Australians talk funny.  It is not that the Australian accent is funny in itself, it is actually quite charming.  I am still puzzled by the strange colloquialisms and abbreviations despite having lived here for nearly ten years. In particular I am confused  by the inability of the Australian press to refer to a person by their full name (Ex- Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins is commonly referred to as Hawko by the newspapers here, and bin men are called Garbos for example).

My most surreal Candide-esque moment to date in Australia was overhearing the following conversation:

“Yeah, thongs are for the beach and the weekend.  I would never wear thongs to work, that is just plain wrong”.

Now, ladies and gentleman, If you are from the United Kingdom a thong looks like this. Luckily for me Angela (@AngelaPJ on Twitter) despite being half Scottish, has enough Australian blood to ensure that this blog stays PG.

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ThongsMy relationship with shoes has always been casual. I currently don’t own a pair of high heels. I did have some nice shoes in my younger years, then I had kids. My feet grew two sizes over three pregnancies.  Two sizes! My nice shoes don’t fit anymore and tragically, neither do my Doc Marten boots.

Now I’m a work at home Mum who rarely goes out, it’s all about thongs, flip flops, double pluggers.

I thought I had three pairs but after a dig around, it turns out I have six.

I have three pairs of Havaianas. I love them so. They are the most comfy thongs ever. A young hip friend told me I MUST buy a pair. At $25 a pair I was outraged. For a pair of thongs? You must be kidding. After umming and ahhing for a few weeks, I decided I needed a bit of hipness in my life and $25 is a small price to pay really.

I adored them instantly and wanted more. They come in hundreds of colours/patterns. A pair for any occasion.

I currently have my original white pair with a little Aussie flag on the strap, purple with white writing and black with silver writing.

For special occasions I have my gold Giselles.

I can match a pair to any outfit. Except it’s usually a case of whichever pair I can find 2 of, in the mad dash to get out the front door in the morning. Mr. 2 in particular, likes to wear them around the house, never a matching pair, so I find them hidden in all sorts of places. A daily treasure hunt.

Now to decide which colour to put on my Christmas wish list. Blue? Red? Both?

Day 3 of the Shoe Challenge – the Wolf Shoes

Women in Japan have tiny little feet. If you want to know how the Brobdingnags felt meeting Gulliver, shopping for shoes in Japan is for you. Nothing fits.  That said the two hour rummage for shoes in the Ginza was a joy. It  lead me to these shboots by Parcours Paris.  After two days of blisters, bee stings and bleeding toes I just wanted the footwear equivalent of having a dog sleeping on my feet.  Noisy Boy calls these my wolf shoes. They are a reminder of the best holiday that I ever had.IMG_0134

Day Two of The Shoe Challenge – Cut Out Pradas

IMG_0085Day 1.  Feedback

Overwhelming praise from the wee lady in the coffee shop who told me that I looked ‘sexy’.  (Bearing in mind that I normally go in there with the Minx wearing yoga pants and a singlet, I think this was positive reinforcement rather than an overture). Our graduate lawyer (who plays football and does boy things) was completely perplexed by the fact that there were cherries in the heels. Results generally positive. The combined effect of a warm Sydney day plus cherry shoes on bare feet action brought up some blisters.

Day 2 –  Feet Rebel

Due to the bee sting deciding to throb on and off through the night I slept as well as a baby in a barbed wire hammock. The thought of  dressing in anything complex today was too much to bear. Consequently, I am wearing a frock and the last pair of Prada shoes I ever bought.  You will notice that my feet are not in them.  I would not inflict these on you today.

Day 1 – The Challenge

IMG_0082_2Last week I was drawn into a conversation about  shoes, much against my will, with my boss. She was both horrified and amused to discover that I have rather a lot (around 100 pairs including sandshoes which do not count). Being an elegant Italian she takes the less is more approach to accessories, provided that the less is Gucci of course. However, in the interests of science she has set me the task of wearing a different pair of shoes every day to work until I have exhausted all possible options.

Today is day one of the shoe challenge.  Outside conditions are good (fine dry spring day) but I am slightly injured. Yesterday while running barefoot on the grass with the Minx I stepped on a bee.  Now I have two big toes on my right foot.  However, the red lump will go quite nicely with my plan which is the Russell & Bromley cherry heeled mules. My pal CI talked me into buying these one warm Edinburgh day. He suggested strenuously that I should buy the bag that went with it.  To my regret, I did not and yes, I am sorry now.