Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring is coming!

I know, I know, I've been severely slacking around these parts for a while. There's a really good reason, though. Well, sorta. For those of you that don't know, hubs and I are currently expecting our first baby and I've been spending most all of my spare time dealing with preparations for that. And, one of the unfortunate side effects of pregnancy seems to be that my feet are never warm, so I've not been dealing much with shoes other than things I can wear nice, comfy socks with. Now that I'm nearly 6 months along, I'm a little paranoid about being front heavy so I'm eschewing high heels for the time being.

I've bought a couple of pairs that are sitting in my closet, lonely, and unworn, but they'll have their day. I also sold nearly 70 pairs in order to be able to get the soon-to-be-nursery freed up from my habit. Babies, to be so small, take up a LOT of room.

Now that I feel like I've got a handle on everything that still needs to be done before she gets here, I hope to be able to sit and write more. I really do have a ton to write about. There have been big changes at ShoeDazzle. JustFab has been really stepping up to compete with them and knocking it out of the park for the most part. Sole Society can still go to hell. I finally just said to hell with it and cancelled my ShoeMint account. I'll fill you in on all of these and more over the next few weeks and months.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Birkin-style craze

The holy grail of handbags is the Hermes Birkin. Ranging in price from $3,000 to over $20,000, their iconic style is probably one of the best known looks in the entire world of fashion. That being the case, every single handbag maker worth their salt has made a knockoff - or five. For the longest time, I resisted this trend. I've always been of the mind that if you can't afford the real thing, then don't try to fake it. While I still believe this with the 'lower' priced designers, like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel and even Ugg, I finally gave in on the Birkin trend. Why? Because no one expects it to be real and even if it was, no one would believe it anyways.

Unfortunately for me, I like a shoulder bag, and most Birkin styles are satchel style - to be either carried by hand or in on the forearm. So, I tried a whopping six times to find one that worked for me. Ultimately, I found two. 

Hearst Castle
First up, I bought Hearst Castle from JustFab back in May. I was warned that it is H-U-G-E. And it is. It is so large, in fact, that it ended up being my carry-on for our Jamaica trip. I fit my netbook, Kindle, all our chargers, small camera, magazines, travel documents, and my normal purse contents and still had left over room. It's MASSIVE. But it's gorgeous. Unfortunately, I knew I'd never carry it again, so I sold it shortly after returning to the States.

Then I attempted the undeniably gorgeous and wonderfully made Law from JustFab in pink. This purse was quite possibly one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen for $40. But it too is huge. Which wouldn't have been unmanageable if it were a shoulder bag without having to use the detachable strap. I just didn't like how it hung with that because the bag really has no structure. It would be better as a briefcase, and I just don't have a use for that. So I sold it also.

Around this time, I also tried Bullard from ShoeDazzle - which had a longer built in shoulder strap and was really pretty, but I just got bored with it because it was kind of plain. The shape was perfect though, even if it was a little on the large side.  So I sold it, too.

Next, I tried Bellarose in mustard from ShoeDazzle. They had a sale, I wanted a yellow bag, and the rest is history. This one was the best of the three I'd tried so far, but I just really didn't like the color all that much. Though, it was a good size, the shoulder strap was the right length, and it had just enough structure to not look sloppy. But, I just couldn't fall in love with the color. So, you guessed's for sale as we speak.

My next attempt at owning a Birkin style hit the jackpot - Visionary in purple from JustFab. This bag is perfect. While I wish the built in straps were shoulder length, the detachable strap isn't obnoxious. The bag is structured too, so it always just sits there looking pretty. And it sure is pretty. And the size is perfect. I am madly in love with this bag. So much so that I, who hates changing purses with a passion, may get the gray also.

Then, about a month ago I got Roam in black from JustFab. I do not actually own a black bag at this point in my life, so this was a true need. It's very similar in size and shape to Bellarose, but it's alligator, not ostrich, and the zippers and studs make this a true eye catcher. I think I've found my winter purse in this one.

I've never been much of a handbag lover. I tend to carry the same bag for at least an entire season, so I like statement bags that don't need to match my outfit or my shoes. For the longest time, I bought a new Coach twice a year and just carried that until it was time to buy the next one. Luckily, or not, I've not liked their patterns or styles for the last year or so. Which opened up the possibility of me looking at other bags to begin with. It's also helped me be more flexible in what type of purse I'm willing to carry and that's a good thing. Sometimes it's best if we step outside our comfort zone. Don't worry though, I'm not becoming the BagSquirrel anytime soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

One is not like the other, sadly.

Carolyn from Sole Society
Flavian by Vince Camuto
I desperately want the Vince Camuto "Flavian" boots. Unfortunately, they're $250 and not the type of boot that I can justify for that price. They are gorgeous, but just out of my price range. So, instead, I bought Carolyn from Sole Society for $35 after credits and referrals, hoping that since they're the same tone on tone style that I'd be happy with them as a substitute. I would have, too, but they are the oddest fitting shaft I've ever felt. They are way too small on my lower calf and too tall and wide at the top of the calf. I just could not make them work. The foot fit well though, and they're made wonderfully with supple leather, but I just can't wear them. So, I had to send them back. I guess I'll keep pining after Flavian until my Shoe Fairy manages to get them for me. In the mean time, I'll just not remind myself that Shoe Fairies don't really exist.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trend Report

Or - a squirrel goes window shopping and wonders what in the hell is going on.

I'm too afraid of heights for these.
Is that a platform or a pink brick?
First up: I like my platform heels. I do not deny that. They can make an otherwise boring shoe pop. They also make it possible to routinely wear shoes with 6" heels on them. However...there is a limit and then the shoes cross into tackiness. For me, that limit is about 1.5" with a visible platform and 2" if it's hidden. Even at those heights, the shoes need to be a bit muted for it to work, or else they're going to get the wrong kind of attention. I wish designers would take heed and bring these things back down to less dramatic heights. They also make it near impossible to walk on uneven or sloped surfaces and that terrifies me.

Caution: Not for the short
A trend I love right now is booties. But I'm short and they make me look stumpy if I wear them correctly. So, the few pairs I have, I wear under my pants which totally defeats the purpose and the style. I really wish I could wear them the way they're meant to be worn, which is with either skinny jeans or a skirt/dress. They make my legs look super short though, and I wear heels to combat that in the first place. Why would I choose a style that negates that? I envy all of you that can wear them though. Side note: When it comes to peep toe boots and booties? Don't. Just. Don't. They are confusing and no matter what you think, they're unflattering. I'm sorry, but they just are.

Shoe or sculpture?
I don't get the heelless wedge trend. I know some girls love them and think they're the shiznit, but I just don't like them. They look awkward and the proportions are all wrong. I tried a pair on and they don't really feel any differently, but in the few minutes I had them on I could tell it would require sobriety and extreme caution to wear them all night. While I like for my shoes to make a statement and be on the artistic side occasionally, I don't want people looking at my shoes and wondering if I'm actually wearing art that's supposed to be in a display case in a museum.

I might give these Maddens a shot.
The trend that I'm almost ashamed to admit I am beginning to like is the wedge sneaker trend. But not the color blocked or blingy ones. I have seen a couple of pairs of simple, neutral, non-flashy ones that I could see myself wearing. Though the bright, flashy ones I've seen on other girls actually look pretty good, I just can't do those. I haven't broken down and bought any yet, but I expect that will happen in the near future. I may hate them when I get them, but I'm going to at least give them a shot.

I've already written how I'm digging the riding boot trend, so I'll leave that be. And although I love corset back heels, even I'm beginning to tire of them. Take that with a grain of sand though because I just ordered another pair from ShoeDazzle and also have my eye on one more pair that ShoeMint just released. I can resolutely state that I'm over studs though. There must have been a huge sale on them because pretty much every designer has put them all over everything. Hopefully they run out of them soon.

What trends are you loving and hating right now?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Now, with even more Squirrel!

Guess what?!?!?!

I've launched a general life related blog, Inside the Branches. It will be for everything that I want to say that just doesn't really fit on a shoe blog. Don't worry though, this blog isn't going anywhere, I'm just adding another layer to my content.

Check it out from time to time. Maybe you'll find something fun and exciting, or at least mildly humorous.

Friday, November 9, 2012

When contests go south. Part I

Also known as the "Sole Society Saga".

I'm sure many of you heard and even participated in the Sole Society "Sole Sister Connection" Contest back in September and early October. For those of you that didn't, the gist was to get current members to make "connections" with other current and new members by entering email addresses in the Friend Management area of their site. They were going to award a $49.95 credit for EACH 20 connections you made. Can you see the flaw in this contest from 3 miles away? Yeah. Apparently Sole Society was completely shocked and unprepared for the massive influx of the Facebook shoe community sharing ALL their email addresses in groups. Some of these lists reached 200+ legitimate email addresses. Copy and pasting was done in droves, and some women, myself included, racked up over 400 email addresses, which would have been 20 credits valued at $49.95 each, or a total of around $1,000 dollars in credit. The official contest said that the Sole Sister with the most connections would win a year's worth of shoes - $600 in credit.

When they were questioned about it during the contest, they said, in various formats, that:
  • They were aware of how many connections were being made
  • That the majority would not be penalized by the few cheaters
  • There were no catches
  • There were no limits as to how many credits we would each get
  • The only rule was that you couldn't use multiple accounts to rack up credits.
When the contest ended, they posted some blather about needing 7-10 business days to count the connections due to overwhelming response. On business day 10, they, at 5pm Pacific time, emailed everyone that participated and said "Here's one credit, that's all you get, because someone cheated".

Needless to say all hell broke loose. There are many BBB complaints about this, law enforcement was contacted, and lawsuits were threatened. Nordstrom, Sole Society's money bag, even turned a blind eye to what was going on much to everyone's dismay. Sole Society gave out a bogus, unmanned email address to everyone who had issues or questions about the contest, and said that the customer service reps would be of no help. Then, the real kicker was, and still is, they scrubbed their Facebook page. All negative references to the contest were deleted and the posters and commenters on those posts were blocked from the page.  I was blocked for suggesting that we leave their customer service reps alone and instead bombard their marketing department. I'm still blocked and can't post, comment, or like anything on their page.

Sole Society got in way over their head with this contest and not predicting that this would happen was, plain and simple, stupid on their part. They are completely inept when it comes to social media, obviously, and are a blight on Nordstrom's good name. They went and did exactly what they said, in writing, that they weren't going to do: they blamed a few cheaters for ruining it for everyone, when really, their marketing director screwed up royally and should be fired for not foreseeing this shitstorm.

After about two weeks, I finally threw in the towel and decided that me spending my credit would cost them more than any other damage I could do, I bought some boots, which I ended up hating. They're going back, and I'll reuse the credit on something else. At least they're getting dinged with the return shipping and they'll have to pay the shipping on whatever I replace them with. It's petty on my part, but makes me feel just a tinge better.

**Note: I put off posting this for over a month because I'm hoping they think that this has gone away, but it hasn't. It gives fresh fodder for Google to have waited this long to post. Also, I say this is Part 1 to this story because I'm hearing that there is new movement in getting Nordstrom involved in this fiasco. What may come of that, I don't know, but if anything does happen, I'll be sure to update as appropriate.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wedge-tastic, and not so much.

I have gotten several pairs of wedges from Sole Society lately. Some have been hits and some have been misses. About 50/50, really.

First up, the hits. I got Carmen in purple and love, love, love them. They're a great height, fit perfectly, and are an obvious Tory Burch knock off with the cute medallion on the vamp. I wish I liked some of the other colors that they have, I'd get them all.

I also grabbed Parker because I needed a leopard wedge and was sucked in by the pony hair. These are also a great height, fit wonderfully, and are superbly made. They are definitely worth the $60 they retail for. I have no complaints.

And now, the misses:
They're even darker than this in real life.
On the site - normal Zebra
Have you ever seen a brown and black Zebra? No? Neither had I until Margaret came in and aren't anything remotely close to what is shown on the site. On the site, they're an off white and black zebra stripe with silver hardware. In real life, they're a dark tan and black stripe with gold hardware. I was not pleased, to say the least. I like my zebras to either be au nauturel or pink. I'll give them credit for comfort though, so much so that I seriously considered swapping them for a different color in the suede version, but decided I don't like the color of the wedge on them. Instead I decided on a totally different pair of wedges, which brings me to Krista.

BCBG Trinity
I got Krista in black thinking they'd be a cute, but non-boring commuter shoe but I was wrong. They're definitely comfy and the perfect height and comfort for commuting, but they are deathly boring. the rhinestones on the toe and heel just don't stick out like I was hoping for. I sent them back and got Sheila instead. Luckily though, a few days later, I was at Marshall's and found the 'real' version of Krista, BCBGeneration Trinity in purple jewel and fell head over heels in love with them. They may not be a practical color, but they're the gorgeous that I was hoping for with Krista. I'm supremely happy with them.The best part is that they were only $40, instead of the $50 that I paid for Krista.