What came first, the City Flat or the Tieks?

...More importantly, why exactly would I pay $130-$200 for 'designer' foldable ballet flats that look exactly like the ones I can get at The Gap for $39.50?  

Perhaps if I were determined to get a unique color, like turquoise or tangerine, or if I really wanted to have those nifty robins egg blue soles and the luxe gift bag, I'd go with the Tieks (pictured above).

But if I'm happy with basic black, metallic silver/gold, or red, then it seems the Gap's City Flat will do just fine.  That said, now that I'm working in the city and walking at least a mile or more every day, I love the idea of foldable flats that tuck into your purse or backpack, rather than the 80s working woman look of bright white tennis shoes + suit.  These flats, whether you prefer the high end or the mass-market, are so much more practical and modern!

UPDATE: Thanks to my friend Mario for this tip - there are two new UK companies, Rollasoles and Afterheels, that are selling these kinds of foldable, portable flats...but the genius twist is that the disposable flats are only GBP 5 and are dispensed from a vending machine!

Who knew? Target makes fun and comfy shoes.

I guess I am a bit late jumping on the Target footwear bandwagon.  But I was there today for something totally different and found myself poking around the women's shoe section.  I could not tear myself away!  I came back with not one, but three pairs:

And best of all, they are so unbelievably comfy!  Who cares if they're made out of pleather?

Personal spring trend, "Shooties" or "shoe boots": Somewhere between an oxford and an ankle boot...

...lies a world of flat-ish, comfortable, and decidedly solid shoes that defy categorization. Some might call them flat ankle boots, though it's not quite accurate, because "ankle boot" should refer to something that actually covers your ankle. Maybe the Frye people got it right when they called it a "shootie" because that captures the neither-here-nor-there nature of such footwear. Or, as Garry quipped, sh'booties.

These shoes have been creeping into my consciousness through several other style blogs (jakandjil and thesartorialist), as well as girls selling vintage oxford/ankle boots on the laws of general economy.  And, of course, my recent acquisition of a pair of Cydwoq Vintage oxfords. Now, I have a full-blown shoe crush on my hands that needs consummation.  Some fine examples of the shoe boot/shootie phenomenon:
The only criteria that seems to tie this class of shoe-boots together are:
  • COMFORT.  You could walk in these shoes all day and still be happy as a clam.
  • Made out of high quality, structured leather
  • Low heel, less than 2 inches if possible
  • Super low  or non-existent shaft (exposed ankles preferable) with a no-fuss slip-on design
  • Cool details like buckles, ties, buttons and hand-tooling a plus
  • Decidedly mannish or androgynous in style.
These shooties tend to fall into one of two style categories - either the Western ankle boot or the embellished oxford.  Also, they seem to abound on vintage sites like Etsy (and sell for quite cheap, less than $50).  Which makes them both accessible and unique, as the unisex nature of these shoes means it takes a girl with some balls to pull them off!  

On that note, I am definitely l ooking forward to finding my perfect pair of oxford/western shoe boot/booties.  Here's the best of the rest:
P.S. If you have questions on where to find any of the boots shown above, please leave a comment or e-mail!

Someone plz stop me from buying up the whole Coclico site.

I've been tracking this site for a while.  I was a bit confused at first about what, exactly, the Coclico folks did.  I have some to the conclusion that they not only design and make their own beautiful shoes, but they also are purveyors of a handful of other fine shoes.

I think the shoes speak for themselves: poetic structure, sumptuous materials, lovely little details.  And they look rather comfortable.  Only drawback?  They are NOT cheap.  But never fear, many styles are on sale now at www.shopcoclico.com.  I've got my eye on the esska mary-janes with the teal straps and the esska black boot.

My burning love affair with Cydwoq shoes, part 2.

I was waiting for permission from the Cydwoq folks to post these pictures of some of my favorite designs from their Vintage line...The Modern line is pretty great as it were, but there's something about the Vintage line that captures my imagination.

I love the details, the slightly offbeat yet organic shapes, and the undeniable integrity of these shoes.  Time to save up so I can add to my collection of one =)
Check out the full line of Cydwoqs here.

My burning love affair with Cydwoq shoes, part 1.

It's been a couple months now since I wandered the shops of Noe Valley and found myself in the Rabat Shoes boutique, and coming face-to-face with one of the most beautiful pairs of shoe craftsmanship I had ever seen in my life.

Before I begin, know that these shoes are much more expensive than I am used to. I mean, compared high-falutin' shoes from established designers, they are not that expensive (most of their shoes, even the boots, don't exceed $500), but for ordinary citizens who toil for their food and generally find it difficult to cough up more than $100 for things you walk around in, these shoes are expensive.

Cydwoq (pronounced "sidewalk") is an independent label in Burbank, CA.  It began with a man who likes to walk, and comes from a line of Armenian shoemakers.  Watching the video below, you come to understand that each design, and even each shoe, has a story.  
The reason the shoes are so expensive is that a) the quality of the leather is downright seductive and b) each pair is made by hand, by American workers.  American labor is expensive.  But beyond the quality of the materials and painstaking attention to detail is that undeniable, intangible quality of old-world depth the shoes have.  I felt it the instant I saw them, and knew I had something special on my hands.

The shoes in question are called Decade, from Cydwog's Vintage line.  They are a unique take on the classic oxford shoe, managing to seem very old and worldly-wise and yet modern at the same time.  I think it's the combination of the mottled, rich brown leather and the low-cut profile of the shoe.  They were on huge discount at Rabat (about 40% off), but still I hemmed and hawwed for like an hour, trying them on and waking around the store and staring soulfully at my own feet.  It was really no use though, because as soon as I put them on I felt they had been made for my feet, because they fit so perfectly.  I was utterly taken.

In the end, because it was one of two pairs left in the store, the lady kindly knocked off an additional $30 or so, and that did me in.  I bought them, but at about $180 including tax they are still the most expensive pair of shoes I've bought to date.

It took me a while to think of a good way to wear them, and I experimented with a couple other new things I bought recently: a little chambray dress I got for $20 from Therapy and plaid Look from London tights (quickly becoming my favorite pair!).  And a very old plain black cardigan I bought from Express back in high school, which I also love to pieces.

Dilemmas: Which Flats Should I Buy?

As much as I love to wear heels, I live in San Francisco; hills, public transportation and walking a lot pushes me towards wearing flats almost daily.

I need new flats. I usually go for dark flats, but I'm feeling kind of summery and light (except for the last one). Please let me know which one I should get or if I should continue searching.

Wanted Shoes Bolero Ballerina with Bow $34.95
Wanted Shoes Dizzy Flat $49.95
Steve Madden Kazler Ballerina Flat $89.95

Update: Thanks to everyone that responded. I ended up getting the first one and it unfortunately doesn't fit me well! There's very little support and I don't have wide feet, but it sure feels like I do! Search continues...