Thursday, November 21, 2013

Frump is relative

Having subliminally picked up on the idea that the non-platform stiletto is back (Blahniks rather than Louboutins, in haute terms) I ordered some shoes online last week. (I'm delayed-reaction suggestible. The "classic" black pump seems to have returned in 2011. No! 2010.) They arrived yesterday (free shipping winning out over instant gratification, and what's a week if one is three years past so-very-now), and are spectacular, if on impractical side. They scream Kate Moss. Or: random woman in Milan photographed by the Sartorialist.

This was not, however, the impression of Nordstrom shoe-reviewer "coatgirl," aged 40-44 of Los Angeles: "I was looking for a decent black patent pump but this was just meh. The point just wasn't pointy enough so they look frumpy."


I mean, maybe? (Is this look frumpy?) We learn from this, if nothing else, that coatgirl's other shoes aren't sneakers, ballet flats, and motorcycle boots. I hadn't thought of my usuals as all that frumpy until I put these on the shoe rack next to the rest. And, it's jarring. Of course, whether I actually wear the new pair remains to be seen.

But yes, in all shameful honesty, I see what coatgirl means. A really sharply-pointed toe is different from an almond-toe, and these fall somewhere between the two. I can see it, like, aesthetically, even if there's not a chance I'd be able to hobble around in whatever she'd deem sufficiently lacking in frump. 

14 comments:

fourtinefork said...

Phoebe,
Those shoes are not frumpy! Coatgirl is wacky.
Patent leather 3-inch heels are rarely frumpy, and those certainly don't have some super-frump magic to make them so.

Also, it seems I also need some non-frumpy, classic black heels. I went on a closet cleaning bender, and got rid of a bunch of stuff, and now find myself lacking certain basics. Oops.

As an aside, I ordered a Nars lip pencil holiday set from Sephora... it's at home, waiting to be opened. Can. Not. Wait! More colors to try. Weeee! Not that I needed to spend $45 on lipsticks, but I am apparently helpless in the face of Nars lip colors.

Phoebe said...

Ah, makeup... I'm so glad to own all the varieties I want. That feeling won't last forever, but yesterday I walked right by at least one Sephora and didn't feel the pull. Again, though, give it a few weeks. Some shade of this or that will suddenly become appealing.

And yes, closet-cleaning and loss of basics. I believe this was the source of my own shoe predicament as well. It'll be like, 'I never wear X, I should get rid of it.' Which fair enough if X is a pair of ill-fitting jeans, but if it's something only ever worn on special occasions, that it doesn't get much wear doesn't mean it needs to be donated/thrown out.

No idea yet, of course, whether to recommend these pumps in particular.

caryatis said...

It's the glamorization of the impractical and uncomfortable. Shoes that are designed with the least possible concern for how women's feet and legs actually work, and that expose large portions of the foot, are the most glamorous. I suppose it's about advertising the fact that the woman wearing them doesn't need to walk or keep her feet warm.

Lindsay Lennox said...

This seems like a good time for that old saw about how fashion =/= style. Style is classic, rarely flashy and never 'of the moment,' so fashionaholics sometimes get confused/misguided and label it frumpy. Personally, your new shoes don't scream 'couture' at me, but do convey style, which is better.

Phoebe said...

Caryatis,

I think that's right, and that painful shoes (I'd include the ones I just bought) shouldn't be necessary office attire. That said, I think there's some value in occasionally going for the less comfortable but more glamorous option. The issue is, the default shouldn't be painful.

Lindsay,

Maybe? The embarrassing thing is that these sort of shoes *are* in, and the stripper-inspired platform stilettos (Louboutins, etc.) are no longer in fashion. Granted, I never bought those when they were in fashion, so perhaps I can lay some claim to "style" after all.

Britta said...

Those shoes don't look frumpy to me, FWIW. Of course, since my default style tends to run towards a mix of bohemian/mod/lesbian park ranger, my opinion might not be worth much. I bought a pair of classic 3.5" black pumps from Nine West in 2010, with a slightly rounded toe, and I get compliments when I wear them. I find them quite uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. It might be that stilettos under $200 are never going to be that comfortable,* or it might be that 3.5" is just a smidge too high to be comfortable LT.

*not that I would know from personal experience, but a friend told me that this is the case.

Phoebe said...

Britta,

It sounds like our usual shoes are quite similar!

As for expensive heels being comfortable, I think it's more that really cheap shoes are often cut with less attention to actually aligning in a way that allows you to walk in them. This isn't such a big deal for flats or chunkier heels, but a stiletto-type heel is another matter. I have a very glam pair of rounded-toe beige pumps ("nude" for my skin tone) that I can't wear, simply because of the way one of the heels pokes the wrong direction.

But as for what changes at $200-plus, I don't know either. This pair I just got was $75, but had been $150, which seems maybe the point at which these would be wearable as vs. amusing dress-up-type shoes. I now feel utterly compelled to wear them somewhere, but the only "event" in the very near future is Thanksgiving...

caryatis said...

Put me down for lesbian park ranger. Speaking of which, the relative absence of heels is noticeable in Alaska--even in the city, in summer. I love it.

fourtinefork said...

I have some experience with ridiculously expensive shoes (all purchased, I assure you, at the deepest of discounts at places like the Barney's Warehouse Sale, back when it was still good.) One sale, I got not one but two (!) pairs of Lanvin platform heels, marked down to $150 from $1,100. (Their original price is more than my current rent.) These were the shoes that launched that craze of wooden platforms...

Anyway. With the platform, they are 6-inch heels. They are comfortable. I even used to ride my bike (!) in them. I wore them the other day, as I happened to be someplace requiring what I referred to as "slutty shoes." They are exceptionally well made. Plus, the deal with the platform is that you subtract the platform height from the heel height, so with a 2-inch platform, they're really only like 4-inch heels. Plus, they have a reasonably robust heel, and the heel shape makes a huge difference.

On the other hand, one of the pairs of shoes I think I tossed in my closet-cleaning frenzy were black, seemingly classic heels from Lands' End. You'd think Lands' End would make decent black heels. Nope. Horrible. Far less comfortable than the soaring fancy heels.

But, I have yet another pair of Lanvin platforms that are extremely painful. So even within the same brand, although from different seasons, there's no guarantee...

Also, anyone who wants to dabble in Nars velvet matte lip pencils (with a velvet gloss one, too): the Promiscuous holiday set is great! Dolce Vita is a nice neutral, and I'm wearing-- probably ill-advisedly, but whatever-- Never Say Never right now. (With a Lands' End sweater.)

Phoebe said...

But... Sarah Palin!

I've never understood the comfortable shoes=lesbian stereotype. Has any woman ever actually conveyed this information via footwear? I ask because I've been wearing flats/chunky heels forever, and have yet to (as far as I know) set off a gay-dar. It seems like other things would set one off - a visible interest in women, say, or a visible indifference when a very nice-looking man enters the room.

I could maybe imagine certain footwear seeming to say 'straight' - as in, the thinking might go, why would a woman wear something so painful except to impress a man, and then Louboutin-wearing lesbians will speak up, as will straight and bi women who just prefer heels, because not everything's about men, and so on.

Phoebe said...

That was for Caryatis. Fourtinefork (and I'm almost wondering if you work for Nars!),

I think what you're describing is the difference between a platform and a pump. The shoes that look the most impractical aren't always the least comfortable, because platforms, depending one's balance, aren't necessarily so bad.

caryatis said...

"Also, anyone who wants to dabble in Nars velvet matte lip pencils (with a velvet gloss one, too): the Promiscuous holiday set is great! Dolce Vita is a nice neutral, and I'm wearing-- probably ill-advisedly, but whatever-- Never Say Never right now. (With a Lands' End sweater.) "

Sold out! Fourtinefork, what other quality NARS-brand lip products should we buy?

fourtinefork said...

That's a total bummer that the NARS set is sold out (it was a good value and allowed for trying several different colors.)

I happily endorse the velvet matte lipstick and the velvet matte pencils, in whatever color you personally like. My personal preference is for matte stuff, but others seem to quite like the satin gloss pencils, too.

I wonder if NARS maybe needs an on-staff art historian? That would help out on two fronts...

Britta said...

I've never understood the comfortable shoes=lesbian stereotype. Has any woman ever actually conveyed this information via footwear?

It's less shoes that turn out to be comfortable vs. shoes sold with comfort as a selling point. So, comfortable ballet flats =/= lesbian shoes, but basically anything by Merrell worn outside an explicit sporting context does, and especially in formal or dressy environments, or any time where other women would be wearing heels. Similar companies include Dansko, Birkenstock, Sorel, etc.

http://www.merrell.com/US/en/Womens_Dept_Page