Sunday, January 30, 2011

Self Portrait, in Flats

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a shoe girl. I don't know what it is, but I just find shoes fascinating. While clothing changes its shape depending on the wearer's body, shoes are perfect little sculptures, whether on the foot or in the box. The countless combinations of silhouette, material, and color in a well-stocked shoe department can be surprising and delightful.

However, I recently realized that the shoes I find the most surprising and delightful almost always have a heel. Maybe it's the sex appeal of a stiletto, or the Amazon height provided by a platform, but somehow footwear with a heel seems more of a shoe to me than footwear without. But going through an entire week in 4-inch heels can make even the sexiest Amazon cranky. 

So the back ache makes you pull those old reliable flats out of the closet, and then you walk around all day feeling short and dumpy. Seems like a lose-lose situation— tall, sexy, and in pain, or short, dumpy, and comfortable . . .

Keeping this conundrum in mind, I'm always looking for flats that have the personality of their taller cousins— shoes that have the look-at-me attitude of a stiletto— but none of the pain-inducing height.

These are two of my favorite pairs of flats. They have such strong personalities. The pale pink patent leather flats are sweet and girly. The knit flats are strong and sophisticated. They definitely hold their own next to the 3 and 4-inch heels in my closet. I even find myself pulling them out on days when my feet don't hurt.

And the extra height? Well, being petite can be sexy, too . . .

(Flats photos © Littlehouse of Style)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shoe Catalog

I was searching the New York Public Library's image archive today, and came across these amazing shoe illustrations that I had to share. They're all images of shoes from the Nineteenth Century. 


Each shoe is cataloged so well, and so beautifully, that you can practically feel the satin and beadwork. Pretty amazing for shoes that were probably worn out over 100 years ago.

In addition to the detailed little drawings, I love how the shoes are described so precisely, "Satin Oxford shoe, embroidered in steel beads in a floral pattern; deep red shoe with toe embroidered in gold thread; deep crimson shoe with embroidery of gold thread with white beads."

"Velvet shoe; shoe with silk embroidery in chain stitch and French knots; shoe of watered silk, with pink satin on the inside, and a single button strap." Pink satin on the inside! I never would have guessed . . .

Looking through the many pages, I couldn't help but think of my own shoe collection residing in disorganized boxes all over my little apartment.  It would be amazing to have a book like this with drawings of every pair . . . Any shoe-loving illustrators looking for work? ; )

(All shoe images © New York Public Library)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Parting Gifts

Over the holiday, I found myself browsing books in the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble. Nothing out of the ordinary, as I spend a good percentage of my time perusing the city's many bookstores. But this was different. The 60,000 square-foot store was closing, after 15 years in the neighborhood, and my boyfriend had suggested a farewell visit.

As a person who works in the publishing industry, and has experienced the massive layoffs first hand, seeing the nearly-bare shelves hit a little too close to home. Maybe bookstores are going the way of Virgin Records after all . . . I was feeling a bit sad, and sulked around the store for a while, before finally being seduced by a section of used books (the Lincoln Central B&N is one of the few to sell used books). 

I spotted a few promising spines, and absentmindedly pulled and re-shelved various art and design books. Then, my boyfriend quietly handed me a red canvas covered book, and the clouds parted. It was a Donna Karan lookbook from 2000, featuring Milla Jovovich and Gary Oldman.  

A few minutes after that, I found a Versace book from Spring/Summer 99 featuring models Malgosia Bela, Gisele Bundchen, Haylynn Cohen, Carmen Kass, and Frankie Rayder. Oh, and if that wasn't cool enough, it was shot by Steven Meisel— who is not only a legend, but also one of my favorite fashion photographers.

 Despite my sadness over the closing bookstore, I couldn't help but smile over my two fashion book finds— for $12.50 each, thanks to a 1/2 Off sign! I also walked out of the store with a great, out-of-print art book on logos. As I lugged the newest additions to my library down Broadway, I was filled with satisfaction— the kind that an Amazon purchase just can't match.
(Photos of lookbooks © Littlehouse of Style)