Thursday, November 09, 2006

Princess Seeks Tall, Dark & Handsome Boots

The Mission:
To find a new pair of boots that are perfect for this season. It's finally starting to get cold, and I have nothing to model my newfound fashion sense in. They must be knee-high. They must be a shade of cognac-brown or burnt sienna, something that will stand out from the boring chocolate browns that everyone has, and will look equally fetching with an olive tweed jacket and skinny jeans as with a cardigan and black courduroy pencil pants. They should have wide enough calve space to accommodate tucked in pants. The heel should be at least 2 inches but not more than 3 inches, and the sole should be comfortable and have enough traction to support me all day and survive on slippery surfaces (icy streets, slick shopping malls). Nothing too stilleto in the heel, but not completely stacked either if possible (though I see stacked heels are back again, which isn't a complete loss). Leather would be most practical, but I have a soft spot for suede and will definitely consider it if the rest of the boot measures up. But please, no slouch! As for style, I prefer something with equestrian details, preferably the English riding boot style rather than the straight American cowboy boot. But I can be flexible for the right look. Oh, and I'm willing to pay up to $250 for them. But of course, if I can find something closer to $150, that would really rock this princess's world. As I explained in my last post, I'm broke, having depleted my wealth in London, Rome, Florence, and Venice. So I'm not even supposed to be shopping (please don't tell my husband). It's just that I burn with desire for the perfect boot of the season, and I do consider boots to be a good investment. So this is what will occupy my time until I find what I'm looking for.

The Background:
Let me back up a little. Upon returning from London and Italy, I was so taken with all the boot styles and innovative ways to wear them, I swore that I would bring this trend back to the States. So, I rummaged through my entire shoe collection under the far reaches of my guest bed and unearthed all previous boot purchases, many of which had been buried in their large boxes for some time now. To my sheer delight, I found 3 promising pairs that had been lost and forgotten, and I immediately set out to resurrect them with new outfits.

The first, a classic, substantial-weight dark brown leather straight knee boot, was dead in the water. I managed to squeeze my foot into it, but zipping it even to the beggining of my calf proved impossible. Gosh, had I really gained that much weight in my legs? I know I grew a little bit of a derriere, but can that really roam and find its way all the way down to my calves? In any case, old boots #1 were out.

The next pair was a marvelously tall, sumptuously soft, light camel suede creation that I had picked up at Lord & Taylor about 4 years ago. At that time, I had only thought to wear them with neutral plaid fall skirts, and since I hadn't worn too many of those colors lately, they had fallen by the wayside. Well, that and the fact that they towered on a 3-inch heel, which frankly, is a bit much for me to gallop in all day. I appreciate a nice set of heels like everyone, but boots aren't the easiest things to teeter in, and 3-inches is no small height. But, because they were a beautiful pair, and I had brought back in some lighter shades for my fall wardrobe, I put them on for a test run, this time over my new Italian skinny jeans. Lo and behold, they actually zipped. Not all the way at first, but eventually I coaxed them up to almost the top of the zipper. Mind you, they just about cut off my circulation with the jeans tucked in, but I managed to take them out for a spin for a few hours while running errands. The verdict: Not the most comfortable feeling boots, but they got me a few nods of approval, and they made me feel very tall, so with time, perhaps I could stretch them enough to wear them without losing feeling in my legs.

The 3rd old pair was about the same age, though I can't remember where they came from. They were a very classic, very plain, good quality black leather high boot with plenty of stretch vents and a conservative 1.5-inch rubber square stacked heel. Nothing trendy or interesting whatsoever, but the type of boot that saves you on a cold, treacherous terrain, allows ample breathing room in the calves, and lets you wear thick cozy socks. The kind of boots that will never, ever go out of style. But not the kind of boots that will ever get you noticed.
Deflated, I resigned myself to the fact that I simply had to go out and buy a pair of fashionable boots and that was that. How else could I stay warm during what promised to be a record-cold winter and look cute at the same time? How else could I do justice to the stylish new threads I had brought back from Italy and London? I would have to find a pair of stylish boots and soon. There was no time to lose.
It was off to the races!

The Contenders:
Day 1 - Started my quest at Marshalls, where all bargain shoppers flock. Well, there and TJ Maxx, and sometimes Filene's Basement if I can make it into the city. Checked 3 Marshalls stores but no dice. Prices were great, but the styles just weren't what I was looking for. Found several pairs of Frye boots (right) that are very of the moment, with plenty of cowboy detailing and interesting buckles, but they're all pull-ons. Not going to work! I mean, come on, if I can barely scrunch my jean-clad calves into a pair of zipper boots (unzipped), how on earth am I going to push the entire leg casing into a pair that doesn't even open up? Give me a break, that leg space is so tight in there, I can't even sit on the toilet without unzipping both legs to breathe. Too bad, because the prices are going to be hard to beat here.

Day 2 - Had to feverishly scurry about and clean every crevice of the house because my mother-in-law was coming over for dinner for the first time to see the new nest. Couldn't leave to do real shopping. Instead, scoured ebay for all manners of "equestrian" and "English riding" boots, after a while just settling for just "knee-high" in a "US Size 6". Saw a perfect pair just about to expire -- shiny black leather with burnt-orange top, totally classic English riding boots. They were slightly worn, but looked perfectly nice to me. The price was right too. At the time though, I wanted to explore a little more, as this was the first item that came my way, and I never buy the first thing I see. Well, after about 3 hours of browsing (not consecutively, mind you), I gave up. Either too cowboy-like, too heavy in the metal, not enough detail, or too perilous of a height. Not nearly enough boots in my size. Drats! Should have taken the first pair. Oh well.

Day 3 - Did some online reconnaissance. Trekked through,,,, Macy's, Aldo, Nine West, and Nordstrom. Found some definite hopefuls. Loved a lot of boots from La Canadienne, particularly:

Also adored the Biviel line, though the majority of their prices are closer to $300. These were an exception:

Other notables were from old standbys like Etienne Aigner and Vaneli, always known for high quality and upscale designs, but with far friendlier price tags. The Vaneli Narayan was an interesting almost olive color. That could work with a lot of clothes.

Finally, rounding out the mid-range price category was an eccentric little pair from Matisse. I threw them into the mix for a little uniqueness:

Good day of browsing! Not sure if I have found the one yet. All the contenders are possibilities, but each seems to lack something, whether it's a comfortable sole, mid-height heel, or just a little more equestrian essence. Will keep looking.

Day 4 - Panicked a little and wandered into expensive territory. Got an email from and clicked to see the new fall offerings. The Sara boots (right) are totally sassy and I love the turnlock calf closure! Too bad they're pull-ons. Oh, and that they're $498.

Moseyed over to to see this week's couture bargains. So many stunning Prada boots! Perfectly minimalist but so exquisitely elegant. As always with Prada. But even at the "sale" price of $784, it's a little much for me to splurge right now. Sorry Prada! Maybe next year.

Continued over to to torture myself. Oh, my, God -- shouldn't have done that. Forget Prada! The devil is wearing Gucci this fall. I'm still completely drooling over the Gucci ravishing red suede Britt Mid Heel Boots (right). And they're only $995. I fully expected them to sell out at over $1400. Very reasonable, I think. If you don't need to pay your mortgage this month. But it was fun to look.

The Coach boots seem like such a bargain now! Found a cute pair of Lacoste "Bonnie" boots in the highly noticeable shade of Carmin (left) at Zappos that could work when I'm feeling racy red. Back within my price range, too, at $224.95. These Michael Kors Hash boots in Redwood (right) aren't bad either, but do I really want to pay $333.95 at Zappos? I think I can do better on price. Anyway, enough horsing around. It's time to get my butt out the door and make an acquisition.

Day 5 - Finally got out to the mall and did some down-and-dirty shopping. First, I made a swift detour to DSW because I had a coupon to get rid of. Searched every aisle high and low but found only mediocre specimens. Took note of a couple of maybes, but honestly there wasn't anything earth shattering in there. Either too boring or too snowlike, which is great if you're looking for a waterproof fur-lined hot-pink number. Which I'm not at this time.

Entered Nordstrom, remembering that I had been invited to the women's half yearly sale. Heavens! Lots of shoes hung on clearance racks everywhere! Every style imaginable. I dutifully earmarked an attractive pair in a paprika red suede -- not a basic color but the rest of the boot was classic and simple enough that you could get away with wearing it with a lot. And strangely, paprika suede goes with a surprising number of fall colors. Plus it makes jeans really pop. But since it was my first stop, I had to keep moving to get a fair assessment of all my options.

Briefly stopped into Nine West and Bandolino. I liked the Bandolino Crochet, especially for $99! Thought the Nine West Despina was very ladylike with the kitten heel and the buttoned cuff. But why do all the classy boots have to be in such conservative colors?

Dropped into Aldo's. Nothing. Talbots: nothing, despite the adorable shoe collection, particularly the dress flats. Avoided Cole Haan because I knew it was a waste of time, since they were currently slightly out of my budget. In general though, I rave about their shoes and they have a marvelous boot collection this season. I would have sprung for a pair, but the majority were pull-ons or had towering heels.

Moving on to Banana Republic. Thumbs up for the Luella boots, available in brown, black, and a lovely shade of ginger! Good heel height, smart detailing with the pull-on strap. Price is acceptable. But wait a minute, another pull-on? Forget it.

Getting a little tired, but since I'm all the way on the opposite end of the mall, might as well take a rest at J Crew. Hello! Nice Sedgewick boots! Seriously eye-cathing design. The canvas and leather (left) are very original. Even the dark brown suede (below) isn't everyday. Not cheap, at $278 for the canvas-leather and $298 for the leather-suede, but at least they'd stand out from the crowd. I don't know... Hold on -- is that a pull-on I see? What is with these people? Pull-ons are just not practical! Quelle letdown. I give up. One more store left, and then I'm going home.

Finally shuffled into Macy's, my feet pretty sore and developing agonizing blisters from the tightness and 3-inch heel in my old suede boots that I'm trying to break back in. There had better be some good pairs in here. Bingo! It was a boot extravaganza! All colors and flavors, all heel types and heights, trends for all tastes. And the prices? Very competitive. Plenty to choose from under $200 and even under $150. I tried on several pairs, including some sophisticated Arturo Chiang beauties (below), one of my favorite designers that Macy's carries. Equestrian detailing, check. Side zipper, check. (Yes!) Priced within my budget, check. I hesitated. Maybe it was my feet groaning, but I suddenly couldn't bear the thought of spending entire days working, shopping, and running errands in stacked 3-inch heels. The boots would have been perfect otherwise though ...

And the Winner Is:
After trying on countless pairs, I narrowed it down to one. They were:

Franco Sarto Cabot Boot in Cuoio

A tres classy style with all the right trends to look fresh this season but still work in coming seasons. Just the perfect little bits of details to make this classic fresh and right now: pointed toes, cowboy-shaped heels, equestrian stitching, and a rich British tan hue that's a little sassier than the run-of-the-mill black and chocolate brown on everyone else's feet. A shade that's sure to turn a couple of heads, but is still neutral and classic enough to complement many an outfit. And, heels that both I and my aching feet could agree on. Enough rise without towering uncomfortably, and a nicely cushioned rubber heel and sole. Good traction too. I could shop for hours in these boots. An added bonus: they go perfectly with my cherished Ralph Lauren caramel quilted leather gloves, and even my beloved Coach Calf Pocket Satchel. Now that is perfect!

The best part? The price!! Retailing for$182.95 at, $179.99 at, and 179.95 at, I beat that price by $50! Macy's sale price: $129. Go 3-Penny Princess!! With the money I saved, maybe I'll splurge on a new cashmere scarf ...

Mission accomplished! After a tiresome 5 days of shopping and trying on dozens of hopefuls, I have finally found a winner.

As I finish this post, I just received an email from Bloomies broadcasting their online boot sale: 25% off boots this weekend only. What a pleasant surprise! I can make room in my closet for one more pair. Maybe I could still use some spicy red boots ... or how about a white pair? White is the new black, after all. Looks like Bloomies' own house brand has just the solution: get both at just $99 each (see top for Bloomingdales Ainsley Tall Leather Boot, $99). What a fabulous deal!

Now, just keep your fingers crossed for that record-cold winter!
Oh, and those devil-red Gucci suede boots? They are officially sold out. And just when I was considering pawning a few bags ...


1 comment:

Shelly said...

they are truly tall dark and handsome boots