Monday, July 26, 2010

well heeled

Dear Bitches:

What is up with this "thing" you have for high-heeled shoes?


I Don't Get It.

* * *

Dear I Don't Get It:

We here at the Bitches get asked that question a lot. In the interest of explaining ourselves—and possibly luring over those poor souls who have yet to experience the joy of a 4" high peep toe pump—we have hereby posted a handy little FAQ to answer all the crazy questions you might have about us and the "shoe thing."

Why do you insist on wearing heels? What's wrong with a good, solid flat?

PIRATE: I never used to like heels. I used to be one of those Flat Is Better For Your Body people. I used to believe that anything that went higher than 0.001 inches was going to wreck me for life.

Well, it turns out that is not true. I wear heels several days a week, and run 20+ miles a week, and the two go together nicely (FYI, if my calves are shredded from hill work, heels are a great antidote). Shoe people these days seem to have a better understanding of how feet are made, and what women do in their shoes. They are not all evil!

MOI: Actually, flats in my opinion can be very difficult to wear. Nine times out of ten, they turn legs into tree stumps. Heels, quiet frankly, show off your legs to their best advantage. Plus, flats are for quitters.

But don't they hurt your feet?

PIRATE: Let me be frank: heels are not like flat shoes. The angle is awkward at first and does take some getting used to. Some heels are fine for wearing around the office, some are okay for working in all day. Others are what I heard a salesperson at Alexander McQueen call Dinner Shoes—you can wear them long enough to make it from the cab to the curb to the dinner table, but that's about it. Oprah calls them "TV Shoes," i.e. you wear them to look good on television. And then you go to your dressing room and put on your bunny slippers.

I think many people shy away from heels because they think wearing them is just one step below Japanese foot-binding. The antidote? Money. Simply put, good shoes cost money. Cheaper shoes are often not well made, which means they do not take into consideration the support required to cradle the human foot. Ergo, they tend to fit badly, which can mean too wide at the heel and too narrow in the toes.

Some of your favorite flat shoe makers make some really good heels these days. For example, Born make some good looking shoes that are wide in the toe box, with a substantial heel. Cole Haan have incorporated Nike Air technology into some very elegant looking shoes. Terra Plana makes some beautiful shoes that have flexible platforms. All of these are more expensive than your average PayLess special. If you like the look and you like your feet, spend the cash. No need to go broke, either. I shop carefully, and buy good shoes when they're on sale.

MOI: I would simply add that where comfort is concerned, save the stilettos for dinner or for those days at work where you remain largely shackled to your desk. Otherwise, look for a stacked or chunkier heel. If you do choose a stiletto, look for one with a forefoot platform (see below). That giant platform means that the angle between the heel and the ball of the foot isn't as painful as it looks.

The ne plus ultra of the stiletto pump: Christian Louboutin. Dribble. Drool.

The retro allure of a chunkier heel in, left to right: a spectator-style peeptoe; a slingback; a Mary Jane; an Oxford, and a classic pump.

An example of a stacked heel peep toe: The Jessica Simpson Astor that both Bitches currently covet for fall. Note as well: le platform for added support and stability.

Anna Sui is one of many designers that makes gorgeous boots with very comfortable lasts and sensible-yet-still-sexy stacked heels. This is what Moi calls a Buy Once and Fuggedaboutit Style. In other words, it may cost you a pretty penny up front, but because the construction is so good and the style so classic, you'll wear it until you die.

But you gals are runners—aren't you afraid you'll mess up your feet?

PIRATE: Well, I tend not to wear high heels when I am running, and so, I don't really have an issue.

All kidding aside, I have a desk job in which I sit on my ass all day. I don't really need to use my feet much, and so I can get away with quite a lot. Even so, I pick shoes that I can wear in my job. I only wear my big girl shoes at work—pretty much all of the rest of the time, I wear flats or no shoes, and stretch my feet and Achilles tendons often. Heels do tend to shorten your Achilles tendon, which you will notice when you're doing hill running (like we do). I compensate for this by stretching on a calf board for a few minutes every day. I also don't necessarily wear tall heels every work day of the week—I alternate with flatter shoes.

MOI: Uh, yup.

Okay, but, aren't they bad for your lower back?

PIRATE: Only if you don't take care of your lower back. As I say, I stretch, I run, I eat well, I sleep well. I take care of my body. High heels alone should not cause any physical pain in your lower back. If you are experiencing physical pain due to your shoes, you may have problems that you should seek professional help for.

MOI: Ditto.

I am not a sex-kitten. Why would I want to wear sexy shoes?

PIRATE: I'm not a sex-kitten either! But I do like to feel attractive and confident when I get dressed in the morning.

Let me see if I can explain what the heeled look does for me, in the basic terms in which it was explained to me:

* You are short.
* You have short legs.
* Using your own eyeball, which do you think is aesthetically more attractive: short and short, or tall and skinny?
* Do you want to look tall and skinny?
* Heels will make you look tall, and skinny. And sexy.

Sexy is a bonus—I really wasn't looking for sexy, but it turns out, I like looking sexy.

If you're one of those beautiful gamine women with legs up to her Adam's apple, good for you—show it off! Some of us don't have those assets, still want to look tall and skinny, and need a little help. Heels are the fastest way there.

MOI: We Bitches are also fans of a strong-looking leg. Heels do tend to show off more leg muscle than a flat shoe—so it's a look that works for us.

So, other than looking tall and skinny and muscle-ey, what's your payoff?

PIRATE: I get a lot of compliments about my shoes, and a compliment can make the difference between a piss-poor day and a really good day. I really enjoy it when someone says something nice about my shoes—and it's amazing how many women are fellow shoe whores. We are not alone! When someone say something nice to me, I feel taller (and I look taller).

MOI: Because more than any other fashion item in existence, shoes are transformative. Regardless of your height, weight, color, or religious affiliation, there's a shoe that fits. Not only that, a shoe can transform your outfit, taking something that is essentially blah to bam! in an instant. If you don't believe me, go try on your favorite jeans with a sneaker. Then a pump. See what I mean? Look, we're not talking shoes as serious therapy. If you have self esteem or other issues, get yourself to a good cognitive behavioral therapist. Get a couple sessions under your belt. THEN go shopping.

You are clearly asking for trouble wearing those big stripper shoes. You look like a hooker, fer cryin' out loud!

PIRATE: You know, in between compliments on my shoes, I do feel the occasional catty stare from women who look like they are judging me (especially when the Over The Knee Boots come out of the closet). Ladies, that's kinda rude: just because I'm wearing cougar print shoes does not mean I'm out to steal your husband (I have one of my own and one is enough, thank you very much), and it doesn't mean that I'm a trashy slut. Besides, why should you care anyway?

From my perspective, when you're a short engineer person who works with a bunch of engineers, wearing shoes that make you look a little like a Mexican pole dancer from the ankles down keeps you from falling into the Great Vortex of Frump. It also keeps my co-workers guessing.

MOI: Try not to judge a person by her shoes. Just because you don't like her shoes, doesn't mean she is evil. They are just shoes. Unless, of course, they are Crocs. Then by all means, judge away.

I only like shoes that look like lesbian shoes.

PIRATE: Good for you. Next?

Okay, okay, you've convinced me. I need to let my inner Dita Von Teese out for some air. How do I start?

PIRATE AND MOI: Low and slow! Try something square and stacked and about 1 to 1.5 inches high. A kitten heel is good, as is a low wedge. Wear them in slowly and alternate throughout the day with flats.

Helllloooooo, kitty! A kitten heel, with the added bonus of being an animal print—our favorite kind!

A low-heeled pump in a tres chic color.

Flirty retro fun in a comfy, low-heeled wedge.

Gradually add height and before you know it, you, too, could have a "shoe thing" of your own. We promise, you'll be glad you do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

you should learn how to say no

I love Courtney Love. Yes, I do. Sure, the girl is a wee bit bat shit crazy, but she's also mega talented, as witness the vivid, punch-to-the gut feminist ethos of Live Through This and the glossy denouncement of all that sparkles and tarnishes in 21st Century Hollyweird that is Celebrity Skin. I even adore the tragically ravaged America's Sweetheart, although I am as yet too scared to fully crack open Nobody's Daughter.

So, yeah, wail and pound away, Courts. Sturm und drang and bang and strum. Babylon on Twitter and rant and rave on Facebook in full-on stream of consciousness nonsensical noise.

But, please! Do not. Start. A fashion. Blog.

Shit. Too. Late.

What Courtney Wore Today

Read's hilarious deconstruction here, although they fail to mention the blog's most laugh-inducing facet: The three (?) people hired to actually write this thing (or is it Courtney herself, in all her addled glory? who knows?) pause midway through their slavish ramblings to devote one entire post to explaining that they are, in fact, ackshully edukated, in spite of the fact that none of them seem capable of forming a coherent sentence much less spelling something like, oh, I dunno, LOUBOUTIN, correctly.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

French Fried

Not only does J. Crew owe us Bitches at least a couple of gift certificates for the amount of virtual ink we continually spill over their sartorial offerings, so does BCBG.

I'm a big believer in finding one or two labels that season after season come out with pieces that flatter your body type, skin color, and pocketbook. For me, that label is BCBG. Probably half the stuff in my closet comes from this clothing brand, founded by French/Tunisian designer, Max Azria, who along with his wife, Lubov, helms the global fashion house BCBGMAXAZRIA.

BCBG stands for "bon chic, bon genre," which in Parisian slang means, "good style, good attitude." I would have to agree. While the brand does put out some pricey items (their shoes rarely retail for under $200 a pair, for instance, and I usually need oxygen to even look at the price tags for the Runway line), the majority of their pieces are well within the average working gal's budget. They are also beautifully made, exceptionally versatile, and manage the neat trick of being both on-trend for the season and yet also wearable year after year.

Best of all, unless you must have something NOW, as in, right this second or you're gonna die (which, you know, does happen on occasion), there is no need to pay full retail. BCBG is famously sale-happy, both at their outlets and on-line. Keep checking back and you can bet that the $150.00 boyfriend blazer you eyed last week will be slashed anywhere from 30 to 70 percent next month (what that says about the true cost of clothing production is a subject for another post, so for now, I'll just, la, la, la, la, la.)

Anyway. I just got BCBG's Pre-Fall 2010 notice. Yes. Fall. Because when it's 95 degrees outside with at least three full months more of sweat-producing weather to wade through, the stores are chock-a-block full of sweaters and boots. The fashion industry, it is just like Australia: it operates upside down and counterclockwise.

Here's what I'm lemming for so far:

I'm always intrigued by the expressions on these models' faces.
This one seems to be saying:
"Hmmmm . . . that looks like a quarter down there on the floor. Or is it one of those new dollar coins?"

And this cozy/chic lil' number:

Because in the winter? When I start stuffing my face and holing up in front of a full season of fall television? Nothing hides a holiday goody-induced extra 10 pounds like a floaty knit, some tights, and a pair of booties.