Review: Naturalizer Thea

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What I like about the Naturalizer Thea is the thick platform sole that adds height, the durable leather upper, the cutout design lined with a synthetic mesh screen that ventilates while keeping debris out. Espadrilles are so trendy right now and this one comes in four colors (Gunmetal Leather pictured above, white, black, and gold).

Gunmetal Leather can act as a neutral, pairing well with purples, blacks, white, olive green, and natural colors, to name a few.

In my opinion this shoe runs slightly narrow and long. I think it may be hard to fit because if you size up, the length may be too long, and if you size down, the width may be too narrow. My heel slips even with heel inserts. I can actually fit a whole shoe style insole in these in my regular size with heel inserts and my feet still slip.

These shoes definitely are not comfortable out of the box and will require break in. Here is a good article about how to break in espadrilles. It’s written specifically for Chanel shoes, but much of the advice applies generally to any espadrille.

Given the fit issues, I’d consider the Sloan, a wide-heeled mule offered in the same colors except gold. The bow wedge Breanna is also still available, as is the ankle strap stiletto Kinsley. I also like the look of the Emiline loafers.

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Naturalizer has finally made the Kinsley

naturalizer-kinsley-review

Now that I am finally starting to get tired of this highly uncomfortable yet stunning sandal style resurrected from the 90s, Naturalizer has come out with their version, the Kinsley.

That’s all I really have to say about that.

This would be my pick over Stuart Weitzman, Sam Edelman, possibly even Calvin Klein, because I expect these to be well made for the price point and more comfortable.

I wish it had a thicker heel.

It comes in five colors, and I kind of want all of them.

My current favorite at Naturalizer right now is the Breanna wedge with the vintage inspired bow detail. They remind me simultaneously of the 30s and 90s somehow.

Also love the Sadie and Westing half boots. They’re currently on sale!

Dear Naturalizer,

Will you please make a mule sandal with a Sadie-esque sturdy block heel and an enclosed toe box that is either square shaped like something Rachel Green might have worn in the 90s or a trendier more modern almond shape?

Thank you.

Block heel booties for small feet

LEFT

Eric Michael Patricia

Main Image - BP. Lance Block Heel Bootie (Women)

BP. Lance

Naturalizer Westing Boot

Naturalizer Westing

The BP. Lance looks like an updated version of the blogger favorite BP. Trolley with a slightly taller and narrower stacked heel and a more flattering boot shaft that dips slightly at the front for a leg-lengthening effect.

Years ago, however, I tried on an Aquatalia bootie that was super flattering and comfortable without a front dip. It was straight throughout the boot shaft, which ended a couple inches above the ankle, and rather wide at the opening. This style was so chic and timeless, but I didn’t purchase, and I’ve been on the lookout for this or a similar style ever since. Enter the Eric Michael Patricia (top photo) and Naturalizer Westing (last photo), which are the closest I’ve found this season to that style.

You have to be careful with this type of style though. The boot shaft ends higher up the leg than a true ankle bootie and can visually shorten already short legs, but with cropped pants trending, I really like the look of taller booties paired with slightly cropped pants in monochromatic colors (like black boots with black pants) and find that a monochromatic color scheme can work to visually elongate the leg even though there is a break in the silhouette.

I like the edgier style of the Eric Michael shoe, but the Naturalizer Westing is very classic, and Naturalizer has really stepped up its game lately, consistently striking the right balance between style and comfort at very reasonable price points.

Wedges through the ages, 1930s-now

1930s gold wedges | vintage 30s shoes | size 4.5 5 wedges

Today I’m rounding up wedges currently available for sale in small sizes starting with the oldest pair I can find, a pair of gold 1930s gems, pictured above. Apparently, Salvatore Ferragamo is credited with inventing modern wedges in the 1940s, but another source dates his invention to the mid 1930s, citing a limitation of leather and rubber as the reason he employed cork and wood. The same source says the lack of leather and rubber during World War II contributed to the wedge’s rise in popularity during that era. The wedge silhouette isn’t exactly the first shoe shape to come to mind when one thinks about the 1950s (understandable), yet examples do exist. Who knew the wedge sandal never really went out of style? But first, the 1940s.

Vintage 1940s 1950s Cream Studded Wedge Ankle Strap Peep Toe Sandals Shoes - size 35

1940s wedge.

 

There was the lady who lived in a shoe, and then there is the shoe with the home carved into it by hand, apparently circa 1940s.

 

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50s wedge slippers.

 

70s slingback wedge. Another floral wedge.

 

1970s red velvet wedge platforms with flowers  - size 5 - 1970s platform sandals - red platform shoes - Taxi Driver - red platforms

Red platforms.

 

Psychedelic wedge.

 

Bright green wedge.

 

PEEP SHOW Vintage 1970s Suede Peep Toe Platform Sandals / Size 5 / Montgomery Ward

Peep toe platform by Montogomery Ward.

 

70s Platform Sandals w Fruit/ 1970s Wood and Leather Wedges/ See Thru Shoes/ Womens Size 5 5.5

Fruity platforms.

 

70s Vtg Whiskey Brown WOVEN Genuine Leather & Wood  Platform Wedge Sandals / Hippie Boho Stitch Bonded Made in California! 5 Eu 35

Huarache wedge. Similar pair for even smaller feet. Another similar pair.

 

Mix-matched lace-up slingback wedge.

 

Another red wedge.

 

Glitter wedge.

 

Striped foam platform wedges, circa 1990s.

 

90s Vtg Killer! Black + Silver STUD Velcro SPORTY Platform Wedge Sneaker BOOT / Club Kid Avant Garde Cyber Punk Deadstock! 6 - 5.5 Eu 36 35

Studded mega platforms.

 

DKNY clear wedge sandals / clear sandals / 90s sandals / platform wedge sandal / 5.5 - 35.5 / minimalist / clear heel sandals / clear wedges

Clear wedge.

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Marc Fisher wedge, circa 2017.

Currently thinking about: Kork-ease

Kork-Ease Style #K37306

Every now and then I carve out some “me time”. I go to my favorite place for discounted shoes and proceed to try on everything in my size, plus or minus half a size.

I love that at these places, no one appears to be working on commission, and so therefore, no one approaches every five minutes to ask if you are “finding everything all right?” You don’t have to bother someone with retrieving your size from a back room for every style you are mildly intrigued by but that you don’t think has any real purchase potential. You can just hang out in there, with one foot in a clog and another in a Stuart Weitzman wedding sandal, strutting down the aisle like it’s a catwalk at New York Fashion Week, and no one will care. Well, one time I caught an old high school classmate spying on me from around the corner. Who does that?

Anyway. I, like Carrie Bradshaw, love shoes, so this place is like footwear heaven. Sometimes there is nothing interesting, and other times I discover new brands that I didn’t know could work for me. This is how I found out Calvin Klein and Kenneth Cole Reaction and Franco Sarto make decent quality, affordably priced, on-trend shoes (in small sizes, too) that are surprisingly comfortable; how I discovered the quality and comfort of Vaneli, Aquatalia, and Via Spiga; why I know that 14th and Union is surprisingly not the bargain bin quality I had assumed it was for years solely based on the graphic design of its logo.

My latest discovery is Kork-Ease. I’ve seen this brand before, and thought it was “too comfort-driven”. I saw a pair today and thought I’d give it a whirl, and was stunned by just how comfortable it was. None of the other shoes there, including my Birkenstocks, were comfortable enough after trying the Kork-Ease sandals on.

No one else seems to be talking about these amazing shoes, but the best styles and colors are sold out everywhere, so maybe they’re the best known secret.

Do you have a pair? What’s your current go-to shoe?

 

Currently thinking about: grandma shoes

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For as long as I can remember until now, Birkenstocks were uncool and to wear them meant to cast yourself off from the rest of society into the lonesome role of “that weirdo.” Suddenly, I’m still not sure how, they became fashionable, and then extremely trendy. Now, they seem to be the final punctuation of every hipster’s tight pants-shrunken shirt outfit, the period at the bottom of a super-skinny exclamation point appended to the word “cool.”

So I bought a used pair of the Arizona sandals to see what all the fuss was about, and had to Shoe Goo the sole back to the upper because they were so worn. It seemed even more effortless to rock a pair of worn in shoes that looked like they had character and stories to tell than a pair of shiny new ones that may or may not be made of real leather any more.

They are my go-to shoe that fits into my current environment where “Grandma shoes” rule the roost. Everyone around me right now seems to be wearing something straight out of The Walking Company. Function is first and foremost, at the total expense of form if necessary.

But Birkenstock doesn’t quite make my exact size. Then I read this article about the Dansko clog that made it sound like that shoe was the only shoe one would ever need for everything that would last forever, and I had to know what wearing a pair was like. “Beloved by…every soft-skilled woman in New York I know,” wrote the article’s author, and “an example of an extremely rare category of item that projects nearly nothing.”

It used to be that the only thing more tragic than sporting a pair of Birkenstocks was opting for a pair of clogs. At a friend’s wedding, someone stood up and derided the clog in order to express her loyalty to the bride: “We will never let you leave the house in a pair of clogs,” she proclaimed, “because that’s what friends are for.”

But now clogs are chic and cool in an understated and effortless way that puts style above fashion, and utility on par with aesthetic. Clogs are for creative people that birth revolutionary ideas into the world in spite of the resistance of the stiletto-wearing status quo. Clogs are for people that dress for themselves. Clogs are for people that spend a lot of time on their feet – doing things, not just talking about things that could be done.

I bought a used pair from an owner that claimed they were in “excellent condition” just to try it out. The rubbery plastic sole developed deep cracks and mostly eroded away after just one wear. They were comfortable enough and I felt like a trendsetter as the only soul brave enough to wear a pair of clogs in public here, but the leather toe box didn’t breathe well, the staples that attach the upper to the sole were lifting out, and the sole wasn’t a durable piece of wood that would lend itself to resoling. I threw them out, and haven’t replaced them for these reasons as well as the fact that Dansko just doesn’t carry my exact size.

Now The Strategist has made a very convincing argument that the Charleston Monterey (formerly Vivanz, formerly San Miguel Milagros Para Ti?, pictured above) is the greatest thing since the Birkenstock. After owning a pair of wedges with a stretchy, strappy fabric upper that is like wearing foot bandages for sprained ankles on a platform shoe, I’m not totally convinced. And you can’t easily find an affordable used pair for a fraction of the retail price.

Meanwhile, I ran into a man wearing a pair of Mexican leather huaraches in a rich, deep brown leather with thick rubber soles that could have come straight off an old tire. He had those shoes so long he had resoled them multiple times and couldn’t remember where he got them from, although one can still find a very similar product easily on EBay. Unfortunately, the women’s version of those is designed a bit differently. I’m not sure about quality or longevity of this modern version.

The idea of owning one well-made pair of shoes that can go anywhere (except maybe a fancy evening affair) is so appealing, but finding that perfect pair of footwear is fraught with difficulty.

Do you have a pair of shoes that you love and wear everywhere? What makes them so great? Is there such a thing as a pair of shoes that can go anywhere, or is that an unattainable dream, a fashion unicorn?

Review: BP Sky Wedge Sandal

Recommended by a fellow petite, what I love about this shoe is how lightweight it is. You would never be able to tell based on weight alone that this is a wedge just by picking it up. I’ve been wanting a nude, non-flat sandal for everyday wear for a while now but haven’t been able to find the right one.

I was hoping this one would be it! But when I tried it on in person I didn’t care for the “strappiness” of the upper. It just looked too busy, too much going on in the front. Leg-lengthening, they were pretty comfortable out of the box. The fit was dead-on, true-to-size for me and the curve of the insole matched the contours of my feet pretty well (way better than I expected).

There may be slight padding in the insole, but not much. Whereas you can’t tell weight-wise this is a wedge, you can definitely tell it is a platform wedge while walking in them. The thick platform at the front does help to separate your foot from the hardness of whatever ground you are walking on, but the platform is rigid and there is no flexibility at all in the sole.

It is a three inch equivalent heel height (4″ plus a 1″ platform), and it kind of does feel like you’re up in the sky on these but without the discomfort you’d expect of a typical non-wedge 4″ shoe. The platform was pretty stable considering the height, but I could definitely see some missteps happening that result in ankle rolling.

Thought the color might be too pink in person, but it was flattering and I think it would work for many different skin tones.

The comfort and quality is pretty good given the price point but it still felt like a trendy item not meant to last very long.

Ultimately I passed on these, primarily because of the inflexible sole, the busy upper, and the sky high platform that just felt too high for me.

The search for the perfect nude sandal continues…