Saturday, October 13, 2012

Boot Season is Here!

Although I love the warmer months and prefer tropical temps to frigid temps, I worship at the altar of the tall boot. Of all styles of shoes, they are probably my favorite, hands-down. From soft, comfy Uggs, to sexy leather stilettos, I just love the style. I tend to wear them with pants tucked in, but made a few attempts at wearing them with skirts or dresses. 

From seasons past, I've built a decent collection of boots, but there are still holes where I have unfilled needs. One of those needs is for a basic, not too butch or biker, black riding boot. I wanted a boot with a little detail, but not much, and with enough shape that my feet don't end up looking like I'm wearing rain boots. I've tried several pairs for the last few years and kept being disappointed, either with fit, quality, or price.

Last month, I decided to take a chance on Lorca from JustFab. They're a pretty basic boot, with a zipper on the diagonal instead of straight up and down, and have a little bit of a point to the toe. Feminine but not overly so. I really didn't expect much, but the zipper intrigued me and I thought I'd like to see them in person. When they came in, I honestly wasn't swooned by them, then I tried them on for a style shot with a pair of my JustFab skinnies, and after wearing them for a few minutes I decided I really like how they fit and feel. The pleather isn't shiny, but it isn't too dull either. They're really soft on the inside, too, and are pretty comfortable. Although, they're not what I visualize when I think of the 'right' riding boot, they're pretty awesome.

I should add that I wore them to work and had two coworkers opine that they have a military vibe, but they're guys and they're dumb. If anything, they're un-military looking, which is what I want.

I'm going to keep looking for the perfect pair, but until then, these will more than suffice. And, well, for $40, they are a great deal.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

These Boots Were (not) Made For Walkin'

Sheila in purple
Last year, I got a pair of purple, faux suede, stiletto, tall boots from JustFab by the name of Sheila. It was a whim and I regretted it right about the time that the 30 day return window closed. So, I tried to sell them on eBay. For months. And they didn't sell, even though I wasn't asking much for them and they were really popular boots when they were in stock at JustFab. Finally, after some prodding from some Sole Sisters, I decided to give them a shot and try to wear them. Much to my surprise, I managed to wear them with some style and even felt pretty good about how I looked in them.

Odon in Pink
Fast forward to about a month ago. Someone posted in one of the Facebook shoe groups that had the Michael Antonio 'Odon' boots on sale in some colors for $23. These are the same boots as Sheila from JustFab.* Included in that sale were pink and blue. Having no clue where or how I would ever wear them, I grabbed the pink immediately. I figured if I had come up with a way to wear the purple, I could surely find a way to wear the pink. Then, in another group, the next day, someone else mentioned the exact same sale and convinced me that I should get the blue also. 2 pairs of boots for less than $50 is a steal, so I, being weak, grabbed the blue, too.

Odon in Blue
I wore the pink ones with my gray skinnies from JustFab on the very first cool-enough-for-boots day we had this year. They were quickly dubbed "Barbie Boots" by my coworkers. They're not the most comfortable boots, and balancing on that pencil thin stiletto wears my ankles out after a full day, but they're cute and for the price I paid, even if I never wear them again, I think I got my money's worth.

I haven't worn the blue yet, but considering they're the most muted of the three colors, I expect I'll end up wearing them more than the others. But, even if not, sometimes, a deal comes along that makes it worth stepping out of your comfort zone for.

*If you aren't already aware that a lot of the shoe club shoes are rebadged items from other brands, then consider this as me letting the cat out of the bag.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Fall Full of Iron Fist

Between JustFab,, and, I got some great deals on several pairs of Iron Fist over the last month or so.

Sweets For My Sweet
From JustFab, I won a credit in a Pinterest contest and used it to get Sweets For My Sweet. I had put off getting them since they're the same shoe in a different fabric/pattern as Key to My Sole. Which really isn't comfortable. But, they're adorable and even if I never wear them, I wanted demonic Pez dispensers on my heels.

From, I used a LivingSocial deal and got the Havana Breeze Platform and the Love Me Love Me Not Flat for a grand total of $10. (I got enough referrals on my LS link to get that for free!). Havana Breeze is the same shoe as Koi Samui, and is pretty steep. The colors are so vibrant and the bling on the bow is just adorable. I the Love Me flat is really cute and, again, vibrantly colored. They are a little thin and flimsy, like all Iron Fist flats, but their comfort and cuteness makes up for it.

Race With the Devil
Love Lace Oxford
And, from, I grabbed two pairs that I've been eyeing from previous seasons. I finally got my Race With The Devil pumps. These are BADASS. That is all. They're charcoal gray, with hotrod-esque striping and a chrome heel. But the real awesome thing with these? They've got little minature dice that dangle from the back. I'm not going to lie - those drove me nuts for the first hour or so that I had them on. They swing up and hit my ankle and it's irritating, but I did get used to them. It's a small price to pay for such an awesome shoe. My second pair from Punk was the Lovelace Oxford. I got these to wear with trouser shorts but then it turned off cold before I had the chance, so I think I'm just going to wear them as casual flats with jeans. They're even cuter in person and I'm glad I finally found them in my size for a price I was willing to pay.

Iron Fist is rolling out their Fall/Winter 2012 stuff now, and there are some previews out of the Spring 2013 stuff. With a few exceptions, I'm not madly in love with anything, and I may be over the Iron Fist kick for a while. Especially if they keep upping the heel and platform heights. Some of the proportions in their new stuff is just comical and not cute at all. I hope that's not the case with all of it, because their stuff just can't be beat for the "Wow!" factor.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Under New Management

Can they return to the Dazzle?
No. Not me, silly. ShoeDazzle. Well, not 'new' management. It's more like the old management came back because the 'new' management just wasn't cutting it. As many long time ShoeDazzle customers know, last fall, they hired a new CEO, Bill Strauss, to try and finally get the company into the black. When Strauss came in though, there were several high-level departures that took place shortly thereafter that went mostly unannounced, but the shoe and commerce blogs took note. Strauss proceeded to change the entire structure and focus of the company to something more akin to a typical online shoe and clothing retailer. They stopped the monthly subscription model and started offering more accessories and even started a clothing line. Instead of twice-weekly Dazzle Deals that brought customers to the site in anticipation, they started carrying various other items such as luggage, styling tools, lingerie, and gifts on a regular basis. In the midst of all of this, quality and customer service both took a nose dive, the former in the name of cost cutting, and the latter, from what I can tell, by reigning in their once legendary white-glove treatment (also in the name of cost cutting, I'm sure). Their shipping was changed to a slower method and warehouse processing times increased, even though many of us suffered through their infamous warehouse move last summer with the promise that the new one would make processing much better and faster. Many items were suddenly being offered at a higher price than the usual $39.95. They upped the price of shipping for Canadian customers and started charging shipping on anything below full price.

Their once vibrant and fun Facebook page slowly became a boring place where people only went to complain. They lost a boatload of longtime customers. Others, like myself, who stuck around, went from buying dozens of items a month to buying once every few months, if that. It just wasn't worth the hassle - there was a good possibility that there would be quality issues, which coupled with their new, crappy shipping and processing times, meant that it may be a full month, or more, for you to get an undamaged, wearable item. It was from this frame of mind where terms like "CrapDazzle" started to get tossed around frequently.

Then, last month, they very quietly issued a press release that was picked up by just a few style and commerce sites. Bill Strauss had resigned and Brian Lee, the original founder, was taking back over as CEO. Angels began to sing! All over Facebook, ladies were thrilled with the news. Would he put the Dazzle back in ShoeDazzle? A few sources inside the company were cautiously optimistic.

Only time will tell if it will make a difference, but there were some odd changes and offers in the days immediately following the announcement. They offered a $15 credit to all their existing customers. This was a payment credit and not a discount so you didn't get hit with the new shipping charges. Then, they started running a Buy-One-Get-One-Free deal for new customers, but it's also available to existing customers, but only vocally through Customer Service, or if you find a link for it - like right here. But, then, they started charging shipping on BOGO purchases, no matter what the total and whether or not you bought a non-BOGO item with it. And they're offering another $15 credit deal - which, again, gets around the shipping charges, so it begs the question: Why? Maybe it's an attempt to see what drives sales so they can reboot and focus on that.

Whatever it is, I hope that they figure it out soon. I used to love ShoeDazzle. I credit them with opening my eyes to buying shoes online. I've met some great women because of them, and they've got some great customer service agents and supervisors that I love to death. But, now, there are just too many other options to justify most of the hassle and higher prices. I'll continue to buy when I really love something, but unless they change their ways and regain some of their original luster, I don't know how much that's going to be or how long I'm going to stick around.

It's going to be very interesting to see what comes about in the next few months, whether it be good or bad.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A unicorn in the flesh

Last month, I was going through my Amazon wishlist and happened to see something that floored me. My unicorn - the Aldo Calcagni wedge in lilac suede was in stock...FOR HALF PRICE! I've been wanting these since last winter and refused to pay $100 for them. Then they were gone and I regretted it. They were the one shoe that I kept searching for, just hoping that I'd find them again.

I really shouldn't have gotten them, but I couldn't let them go again. Unicorns sightings are rare, afterall.

Now, for the shoes themselves. I wish I had a postal scale to weigh these one. I don't know how, with the thick tread sole, real suede, and uberpadded insole, they are so light weight. It's amazing. They are a little tight, but most Aldo shoes do run smallish, so that was to be expected. My one disappointment is that they were obviously a floor sample. The right one is a little dingy from where it was handled quite a bit. But, only a true shoe whore would notice that. I'm still thrilled with them and can't believe that I managed to snag them after all this time.