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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So cute, but so impractical.

I got Sheila from Sole Society this week. I've been eyeing them since they were released, but I had to wait for credits and stock to meet at the right intersection for me to get them.

They're gorgeous, well made, comfortable, and so damned cute. But. (There's always a 'but', isn't there?) What appears to be black on the site - the strap, heel, platform and leopard spots - is actually chocolate brown in real life. Which is still pretty, but means that I can't wear these with a LBD now and that ticks me off. I have no clue how I'm going to style them now. I don't own anything brown and don't have a want or need to buy anything brown. The shoes are the bomb though, so I'll figure something out.
I always thought leopards had black spots.
This is the 2nd time that I've ordered something from them and the colors ended up being different in real life. (The other is a pair of wedges that I'll be discussing later. ) I also know that the pair that appears to be red in this shoe is a rust color and the leopard is a different color than shown. They really need to hire either a new photographer or web designer, because their current ones are color blind.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cotton Candy for my feet!!!!!

Y'all know I'm a sucker for pink, right? I can't say no to it, really. So, when JustFab released Rosalind last month, I about keeled over. They're sooooooooooo cute! But I had already blown my shoe budget on a furnace repair so I couldn't do anything about it. Until a dear friend offered up one of her credits to get them for me. :)

They're amazing in person. They fit like a dream, and came in perfect, though they were later pulled from inventory for quality issues. (I hope, for everyone who missed them's sake that they come back) The best part? They are the color of Cotton Candy and the faux suede is the perfect material to further that illusion. They're just so soft! I've had them less than a month and I've already worn them TWICE. That's unheard of for me.

So, thank you, Ashley, for the amazing gift!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The $200 Question

See this boot? It's by Charles Jourdan and it is $198.00. No biggie, right? You either love it or you hate it and you'll either pay that for a pair of boots or you won't. I've paid more than that for boots on more than one occasion, and I'm sure I will in the future, too. Again, no biggie. You may even be thinking that's a good price on them because that label tends to retail for over $300. It's not a fantastic deal, but it is still a deal. Once biggie. Right?

Wrong. These boots are a big deal because that price isn't at Nordstrom or Nieman Marcus, or even Amazon. It's at ShoeDazzle. Yes, I'm talking about the formerly subscription based $40 per month shoe club. Several months ago they started offering many things at a higher price - $42.95 to $59.95. This was met with lots of complaining from their members, just as the same had happened when Sole Society started the same price changes last winter. Women began to buy the higher priced items, some begrudgingly, others only when they had discounts available, some even happily. I guess this made ShoeDazzle think that if customers would pay $50, then they'd pay $200. How you make that leap in logic is beyond me.

The thing is, this could have worked for them, and it may still. But there was a huge marketing fail here. The entire "Designer Brands" line was launched without any prior notice, no mention of what it really was, and not even so much as a simple email campaign. The assumption by existing customers was that these were ShoeDazzle shoes that would be packaged as such. However, after talking to my contact over there, I found out that these have nothing to do with the ShoeDazzle name, and are merely sold by them. They are not rebranded, they will come in their original designer-labeled box, and are genuine designer products at (slightly) reduced prices. There should have been a big marketing roll out detailing all of this, but they totally missed that boat. This will not be the new norm over there either. The "Low Stock" label is NOT a conspiracy to make it look as though they're selling like hot cakes. They only ordered a few in each size as a test run. Depending on how these sell, they may add more 'real' designer goods later.

I think the big story here is who, exactly, these higher priced items are geared towards. They sure as crap aren't meant for the ones that refuse to spend more than $40 on any shoes, and they really aren't meant to make the girls that shop in the Penny Saver or on the Groupon site happy. These are geared towards two types of clients: the existing customers who aren't so hung up on the $40 price point and also spend 'real' money on 'real' designers on 'real' websites and stores, and new customers who routinely spend more than $100 on shoes elsewhere, and will gladly buy these or the other offerings in the collection that range from $60-$200, as long as they're reasonably priced for what they are. Those particular ladies aren't going to be on the site for the $40 stuff, most likely. They're looking for real materials and names. While I'm sure ShoeDazzle would love to see them grab a pair or two of the 'cheap' stuff with their $140 Chinese Laundry pumps, they'll make their money even if they don't.

It remains to be seen how all this is going to play out. It could potentially bring in higher end customers that buy higher margin items while raising their profits. It could also weed out a lot of existing customers and cause them to ultimately lose money on the lower end stuff. But, the business of business is profit, and sometimes a company has to think outside the box to accomplish that. It may work or it may not, but I give them props for trying. As for me, I'm not the least bit enamored with the inaugural line, but if they end up with something I like at a better price than I can get anywhere else, I'll be all over it. I'm an addict, remember? It doesn't matter where I get my fix, as long as I get it. And I think ShoeDazzle is banking on there being more women like me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'm baaaaaaaaccccckkkkkk!!!!!

You missed me, didn't you?

Seriously, I've had 3 really busy weekends in a row so my usual weekend chores have been moved to weekday evenings, which is my normal blogging time, so I've been letting the blog slip. Unfortunately, having clean clothes and groceries trumps telling you about shoes. Sorry. I'm a terrible shoe whore, I know.

But, now, I'm back. And my next few weekends look clear as glass. Yay! Which is great, because I have a whole list of things to blog at you about. I've gotten tons of new stuff, sold tons of old stuff, and been right smack in the middle of some Grade A shoe drama. (Sole Society, anyone?)

But, for now, I'm off to do laundry so that I can get caught up here starting tomorrow.

I will leave you some shoe porn, though. Are these not the most fantastic riding boots you've ever seen? I WILL find a way to get my hands on these and I will NOT pay $250 for them, or anywhere even close to that.
Vince Camuto "Flavian"