Tip: How to Get Out of Your Work Black Pump Rut

23 09 2014
Photo: musingsofacitygirl.com

Nothing wrong with these… unless you find yourself wearing them EVERY DAY. Photo: musingsofacitygirl.com

Look at your shoes.

That’s right. Go ahead and look at them right now.

If you’re a woman and either on your way to work or at work — answer these quick questions: Are they black pumps? And are they the same ones you pretty much wear every day??

If so, this post is for you.

It’s really easy to get into the work black pump rut. I’ve fallen into it a few times myself, and we all know the extensive color collection I have in my shoe closet.

But why is it so easy? And how do you get out of it?

Well the first question has a simple answer. Anyone who goes to work outside of their home knows how a routine makes life much easier. You figure things out like, “if I make my lunch the night before and pick out my outfit before I go to bed, I can wake up and be out of the house in less than 45 minutes.”

But then life happens, and you realize often the last thing you want to do is pick out your clothes and all the accessories before heading to bed. So what do you do? Wake up the next morning and throw some black pumps on. Or leave your black pumps at work because you already know that’s what you’re going to wear every.single.day.

It’s easy. It’s simple. It’s convenient.

It’s also extremely boring.

So how do you fix it once you realize you’re in the rut?

I have a few quick and easy tips.

1: If you have shoes already at work, bring them home. This will force you to have to think about the shoes you’re wearing prior to when you get to the office.

2: Start to plan (maybe even just once a week) your outfit based on your shoes. Most of us do this the other way. We pick out our clothes and see what shoes match or don’t clash, but that makes it really easy for the shoes to become a non-factor.

When you plan your clothes around the shoes, you put the shoe at the forefront of your mind, and make it less likely that you’ll end up wearing some boring old thing.

3: Be creative. I know what you’re thinking. Some of you are saying, “but I don’t work in a creative environment, so I can’t rock my favorite hot pink pumps. Maybe not, but you can find other ways to wear even a black heel. Maybe it’s a textured heel instead of regular leather, or one with a peep-toe or a suede pointed toe.

My point is creativity doesn’t have to mean loud; it just means different.

4: Remember to have fun. One of the easiest ways to have fun (for me lol) is to play around in my shoe closet. I would suggest every woman take some time out to remember why you bought the ones you have in your repertoire. Pull a few out, and strut around your place. See how great they look on your feet. I bet that will make you want to figure out a way for others to see them on your feet more often as well.

Any other tips you all can think of that I missed? And do you ever find yourself in such a rut? If so, how do you get out of it?

PS: Thanks again to everyone who has offered their prayers, thoughts, and kind words in light of what’s been going on my life recently. It’s more appreciated than I could ever say. 


Shoe Tip: Picking Your Best Formal Shoe

17 06 2014

My handy photo guide lol

Later this week I have the pleasure of attending a gala with one of my besties, and while I was shopping in my closet for the best formal/evening shoes to wear, it dawned on me — it’s summer! Which means it’s also officially wedding season! And officially just the right time to give some tips for picking the best formal/evening shoes for whatever events you all may have to attend soon.

NOTE: I mentioned weddings here, but a) clearly I’m going to a gala, so these work for all formal occasions, and b) if you are attending a wedding at 2pm, formal shoes may not be your best bet. Always, always, always start off your choices by looking at what attire is requested.

Which brings me to my first point…

1) Formal attire has been requested, so yes that includes your shoes — Whether you’re shopping in your closet like me, perusing online catalogs, or traipsing through the mall, the minute you know you need to wear formal attire, certain styles are instantly disqualified (yes, even if you love them!).

These include, but are not limited to:

– chunky heeled shoes

– gladiator heels that extend to your knee

– (most) exposed platform heels

– really wacky and wild colors

2) Make sure your shoes don’t look cheap — This should be an all the time tip, but it’s especially important when wearing formal attire. The last thing you want to do is have on a gown that looks like it cost $500 with shoes that look like they cost $5. They can actually cost $5, but they shouldn’t look like it.

This means no pleather, most likely. And probably not a lot of patent leather looks will work either (although there are exceptions). I wore cobalt blue patent leather and suede stilettos to a wedding a couple weeks ago, but again, that was an exception.

3) Look for something with a sleek, classic style — You know, I’m a fan of a pointed toe or slightly rounded toe classic pump without a platform, but that’s not the only style that fits here. As you saw above, I didn’t even include it as one of my “yes” looks. You could also go for a nice sandal heel, a pump with satin or classic embellishments like flowers or sequins, a slingback, or even in rare cases — a bootie (if it’s dressy)!

4) But whatever you choose, make sure you can walk in them with your dress — True story: While picking my shoes, I was stuck between two pairs of shoes that I really wanted to wear — a pair of black, pointed toe, suede stilettos without a platform and a pair of black suede sandal heels with a bow that ties across my toes. I was leaning towards the sandals, until I tried them on with my dress.

Now, a word about my dress: it purposely sweeps the floor, but it also has a lot of tulle at the bottom. When I attempted to walk with the bow sandals in the dress, I quickly found out a fatal flaw with my plan — by almost falling flat on my face! The bows kept getting caught in the fabric. So while the shoes are beautiful, I will not be wearing them with this dress. That’s not something I would have known prior to simply putting them on with the gown.

But this tip also applies to comfort. Chances are you may have to change into flats by the end of the night, but your chosen shoes shouldn’t be so uncomfortable that you need to change them within an hour. They serve no purpose, even as fierce as they are, lying under the table and not on your feet. Trust me on this.

5) Forget what’s trendy and go with what looks best on YOU — Part of why I love a pump is because I know that style elongates the look of my legs. When you’re 5’1, you learn these things. You also learn that ankle straps don’t work as well. But that’s me — you have to try on shoes to see what looks best on you.

Those are all the tips I have for today, but I know some of y’all probably have more. Share them in the comments!! And let me know if you’re attending a formal event this summer. I’d love to known what you all end up wearing.

Tip: What to do when you REALLY, REALLY want those shoes

4 04 2014
Envious? You don't have to be...  Photo: www.hcs.harvard.edu

Envious of these Christian Louboutins? You don’t have to be…
Photo: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu

A co-worker of mine came into my office the other day to complain about her daughter’s prom wish. “She wants a pair of red bottoms,” she exclaimed. “I didn’t even know what that was, and when I looked it up, I said hell no! You’re not getting shoes that cost $1000 for prom!”

Her indignation made me laugh, but I completely understood the concern. That is a lot of money for someone who a) doesn’t have a job, b) is still in high school, and c) should be taking any extra money she gets to put towards college. To calm my co-worker down, I suggested a few places she may be able to find a pair of Christian Louboutins for cheaper than $1000, and also what she could get as an alternative. She seemed to see red in her eyes just a little less after our conversation, so I was pretty happy. And then it hit me — I’ve never shared these with you all, so here we go!

I think we’ve all been there, right? It may not be a pair of Louboutins, but we’ve all seen a pair (or two or three) of shoes that we absolutely want, but we know we shouldn’t spend that kind of money on. Heck, I’m going through that dilemma right now (!) with a few pairs from the SJP collection. So what do you do when this happens? Well you can curl up in bed and cry and wish for a money tree, or you can try some of these suggestions instead:

Find legitimate sample sale websites — Hey, listen, the internet is your friend. And on the internet, you will find sites like Outnet and Gilt to help you with purchase designer shoes at a discounted price. Now, fair warning, if the shoe is from this year’s collection — it probably won’t be on any of these websites. But if it’s not, you may just luck up and see your favorite pair on there.

Go discount shopping in person — I know I just said the internet is your friend, but if you’re blessed to live in or near places like NY, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or really any major US city, you can probably find sample sales in person occurring on at least a monthly basis (NY is more like daily). In person, you also have the option to check out some of the higher end consignment shops that will feature designer shoes that richer folks have decided to part ways with.

Set the purchase as a reward for achieving a goal you have — Remember how I told you all about the SJP shoes I want? Well, I decided a good way for me to get a pair and not feel too bad about my splurge was to tie it into something else I’ve been wanting to do: create a gratitude jar. So that’s what I did. I started a gratitude jar this week (well technically, right now it’s a vase, because I couldn’t open the big jar I have in my house), and I told myself that I wouldn’t buy those shoes until the vase has been completely filled. This way, it’s a win/win for me. It gives me time to decide if I really want the shoes as badly as I think I do, save the money for them, and appreciate the things and people I currently have in my life right now.

If all else fails, check to see if your favorite boutique or department store has a similar version — I know this will sound sacrilege, but no item is one of a kind. So while it may not look exactly like the shoes you have your eye on, chances are you can find a pretty good alternative version at stores like Dillards, Nordstrom, Macys, Aldo, or Lord and Taylor. I almost said Neiman Marcus, but they would have the original ones you wanted, and then you’d be back to square one.

Those are my top tips for when you really want a pair of costly shoes. Do you all have any to add to the list?


Quick blog update — I will be heading out of town for a spring vacay next week, so this will be the last blog post until the week of April 14th. In addition, when I get back, the blog will be downsizing to two posts a week. This is so that I can spend a little more time focusing on completing my book (!!) and living life outside of writing. I hope you all will still come through and join in our discussions. In the meantime, please take this time to catch up on any posts you’ve missed and find some fun in the sun!


Shoe Tip: Find Your Favorite, Local Shoe Cobbler

17 03 2014

Has this winter been torture on your boots like it has on mine?

Well before you run out to purchase a bunch of replacements, let me offer you an alternative solution that will help you going forward on many of your other shoe problems as well — find yourself a shoe cobbler that you trust.

Now, most people know about the importance of acquiring a tailor to keep you on point with your clothing, but I’ve found that fewer folks have a cobbler they can call on. Why is that? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it’s because folks are more apt to just go out and buy new shoes when something goes wrong instead of repairing them, but I gotta tell you – one of my happier days in DC was when I found my shoe guy for this area.

So why is a cobbler such an important addition to your life?

Well, for many reasons, but here are my top three:

Sometimes a repair is much more cost effective than a new purchase

Depending on the need of the repair, you probably won’t spend more than $50 at your local cobbler (if it costs too much more than that, it’s probably time to just buy a new pair), and certain pairs of shoes are much more expensive than $50 to replace. For example, those boots I mentioned earlier in the post. Well, each pair would cost me at least $125 to replace, but it’s likely that I can make out with a much cheaper price by seeing my guy about getting my soles repaired when the season is over.

A little nip and tuck here and there can slow down the wear and tear of time (on shoes, not your face)

Maybe you’re someone who is hard on your shoes. Or maybe you have a few pairs of work flats/heels that are perfect, but that you tend to wear a lot (because they’re, you know, perfect). Well, that’s where your cobbler comes in handy. He can make sure that those shoes have a much longer lifetime than expected. I once had a pair of black wedges with off-white stitching throughout that worked perfectly for work. They were comfortable, and they were stylish, but after years of wearing them, the stitching began to loosen. My friendly cobbler was able to prolong their life for another 2 years before I finally had to let them go.

Some shoes just can’t be replaced

As much as I love all of my shoes, I’d be lying if I said that some weren’t more special than others. In those cases, it can be hard to get rid of the shoe even when something like the heel getting cracked happens. But that’s why it’s important to have a cobbler in your contacts. He can fix that bad boy like new and make sure that your favorite pairs stay around for as long as possible.

Have any of you ever gone to a cobbler to get your shoes repaired? What was your experience like?

Tip: How to Find the Best Workout Sneaker for You

7 02 2014
So many options, but how do you pick what's best for you? I got you covered. Photo: http://www.womenshealthmag.com

So many options, but how do you pick what’s best for you? I got you covered.
Photo: http://www.womenshealthmag.com

If you’re anything like me, you want your workout shoes to be just as fabulous as the others in your closet. But how do you make sure they’re functional as well as fly? Well, here are a few tips I’ve gathered from friends over the years. Some I’ve done better at actually utilizing on my own (you’ll see what I mean later), and some I know from first-hand experience make all the difference for your feet and your confidence. Check them out below!

Determine the Purpose of the Shoes — ie: What sport or activity will you be doing with these shoes? I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve made the mistake in the past of wearing the right shoes for the wrong activity. Trust me — nothing feels worse than wearing running shoes while doing Zumba. No that’s not true, actually wearing dance shoes while biking is pretty horribly comparable. So make sure that when you are researching your athletic shoe, you have in mind what kind of workout you’re looking to do. If you’re planning to partake in a few different types of activities (the beauty of a gym membership), be prepared to purchase a few different pairs. Your feet will thank you later.

Invest in a good pair — Here’s where I’m totally guilty of doing the opposite of this advice and just picking up a pair of old sneakers in my closet to go workout in, but it’s definitely not what I would suggest anyone ever do. For one, old sneakers are called old for a reason. The support they probably provided initially is most likely completely gone. Also, when you purchased them, you probably didn’t do it with a specific workout in mind. So not only would you be violating this tip, you’d be violating tip #1 as well! Bonus reasons for investing in a good pair — you’re investing in you and your healthy future, but you’re also making a financial commitment to your workout journey. And I truly believe you can tell what’s important to someone by looking at where they spend their money.

Typically, you want to go up at least a 1/2 size when you buy — The last thing in the world you want is to have scrunched up feet while working out. Man, it is not a good look. And you can tell who didn’t follow this tip when you’re in a gym class. You see their feet bulging out of the shoe. They look all kinds of uncomfortable. And most of all, they are probably not able to perform at their highest level because their feet hurt! Listen — we all know the importance of protecting your feet when you work out. Well, allowing your feet room to expand (which they do as the day goes on), flex, and for your toes to be able to move are all a part of protecting those tootsies. Get that bigger size, girl.

If you can afford to splurge, go to one of the stores that fits you for a pair. I know what you’re thinking. I shop for shoes all the time; I don’t need someone to help me shop for athletic shoes. But you do. Because you’re probably doing it all wrong. If you go to one of these shops, while it won’t be all that cheap, they will be able to help you get the shoes that will eliminate whatever problems you normally have with your sneakers. Have problems with your arch? They’ll know what to do. Have really straight feet that feel uncomfortable when you bike? They’ll know what to do for that. Looking to find something that works for that obscure workout you want to try? I’m sure they can help you with that too. Basically, trust the experts. They most likely will not steer you wrong.

Can you all think of any other tips I’ve missed here?

Tip: How to Shoe-Shop for Someone Else

13 12 2013

Now that it’s officially Christmas-time, many people are in full swing gift-shopping mode. And if you have a shoe-lover in your midst, you may just be thinking of getting her a pair for Christmas.

Well, before you do, make sure you check out these next few tips. I certainly have been gifted with shoes before that I never wore, not because I didn’t appreciate them, but because they were either too small, too big, or wouldn’t go with anything I wear. So that you don’t put your person in that predicament, here are some tips to consider before spending your coin.

Know her shoe size — Yes, many women have more than one shoe size. For example, I wear a size 9. This will work with any pair of flats and some heels, but my feet are the opposite of narrow so for a lot of heels, I try to get a 9 1/2 to give my feet extra room. This is especially important if you’re attempting to buy a pointed-toe heel — you don’t want her toes to get squeezed into that little triangle.

Not all women have this problem, though. Some have very narrow feet, so you have to be aware not to get anything that will slide off as she’s walking. In addition, some shoes run big or small, and since she’s not there to try on the shoes you’re considering, just make sure to consider all of these factors before buying the shoes.

Know her general style — There’s nothing worse than opening your box and seeing a pair of shoes that you would never, ever wear. So check to make sure she wears stilettos if that’s what you’re thinking of buying. Or if you’re considering getting her a bright color, check to make sure she’s not usually in black or brown pumps.

Getting her something a little out of her comfort zone is good, but you don’t want to come off as if you don’t know her, right?

Try to make sure she doesn’t already own that pair — Now this may be a little difficult if she hasn’t shown you her shoes closet, but that’s what her girls are for. They will probably have a better idea of what she has already and what she doesn’t have, and if you’re one of her girls — then heck, you got this one already! After all, it’s highly unlikely you’re buying someone a pair of shoes if y’all aren’t close friends or dating/significant others, right?

And finally, as always — Have fun with it — Get creative. Gifts are all about the thought behind them, so don’t stress too much about whether she’ll like them. If you followed the first 3 steps and you put some thought into it, chances are she’ll love the gesture and the shoes.

Anyone you all plan to go shoe shopping for this Christmas? And if so, what tips have you used to help you?

Tip: How Men Can Rock Comfortable, Casual, and Age-Appropriate Shoes

2 12 2013
men shoes

Photo featured in J Crew catalog

I know I spend most of my time giving shoe tips and shoe suggestions for women, but I recognize that men have (some) shoe concerns as well. And one of those, at least from what I can tell, is how to dress casually but not look like you’re still in college. Obviously, this isn’t a concern for those who are in fact still in college. But for those 27 or 28 and up, it just may be.

Well, while browsing through my J Crew catalog the other day, checking off my aspirational purchases, I saw the above photo and was inspired to help those particular gentlemen out a little bit.

So here are a few tips to ensure a cute, casual, but age-appropriate shoe look:

Change where you shop (even just for one pair) — This makes sense, right? Nothing wrong with owning a few pairs of shoes from Footlocker, but maybe they shouldn’t make up your entire shoe wardrobe. Instead, look at places like Macy’s (who are forever having sales on their men’s shoes — #jellybelly), Nordstrom, Aldo, and J Crew to name a few. Once you branch out to these places, you’ll notice the look/quality of the shoes change dramatically. Basically, even most of the sneakers wouldn’t quite look right with a pair of basketball shorts. And y’all know I love a good basketball short on a man, but not everyday.

Diddy Bop into your favorite soft sole shoe — This tip is for my men who find themselves wearing more hard bottoms than necessary. Listen, even Diddy loves a good soft sole shoe every once in awhile, and really they’re the best for the casual aspect of the look. You definitely don’t want to find yourself in hard soles all the time — that’s like a woman wearing heels 24/7; it’s just craziness and awful on your feet to boot.

Try on a pair with your go-to casual/cute outfit — And don’t try to act like men don’t have those. Even a guy knows what clothes look best on him and are easiest for him to throw on and feel good about his look. And if by chance, you don’t know this, feel free to hit up my girl Erika of Your Chic is Showing and she’ll help you (for a price lol). Now, back to trying on the shoes… this is helpful because you’ll instantly know if they match the feel of the outfit or not. For example, chances are that even your most expensive Nike’s will look silly with a pair of golf shorts and a t-shirt. But pair those shorts with a nice pair of Sperry’s and you’re in there!

Lastly, Always remember to have fun with it! — Most of the shoes in the above photo just happen to be in the grey/nude family, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with that color combination. What’s the point of spending all that money if you don’t love your purchase, right? This is why most of my shoe buying tips always end with “make sure you have fun with it,” because you absolutely should not look at this as a chore. Enjoy your purchase and the prospect of expanding your shoe wardrobe just a bit.

Those are just a few tips to get you started, but I’m sure there are more my helpful readers can think of. Any tips you all think I missed?

Happy shopping folks!!